Ro-ro Rotterdam

It was a sunny morning. Yours truly travelled from Leuven in Belgium to Rotterdam in The Netherlands by an express train. Reached Rotterdam by 9 am and then headed straight to the tourist info centre close to the station. As usual, bought a city map and I was looking forward to the expedition in the second-largest city of The Netherlands.

The City Hall in Rotterdam

The City Hall in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is an international commercial hub thanks to its strategic location by the North Sea; it is also the second largest port in the world. Rotterdam has many (maritime) stories to narrate. It was destroyed in World War II. But the city’s spirit of survival and revival has made it one of the sought-after habitable places in Europe.

The White House, Rotterdam

The White House, Rotterdam

Well, it was no surprise to see a busy city mostly abound with students, as it is home to popular portals of higher learning such as the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Classy buildings made the skyline – no wonder the city is famed for its modern architecture. I walked passed many historic buildings such as the Stadhuis (the city hall), the Witte Huis (White House), Euromast (an observatory tower), Beurs – World Trade Centre, the Erasmus Bridge, etc.

The Erasmus Bridge

The Erasmus Bridge

The Erasmus Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge that connects the northern and southern parts of the city. It looked damn cool. It apparently made it to Jackie Chan’s movie, Who am I?

Delft Gate Building

Delft Gate Building

The Gebouw Delftse Poort (Delft Gate Building), close to the central station, is one of the tallest twin tower complexes in the entire country.

Cascade

Cascade

I came across a peculiar structure in the city called Cascade and I was told it was built to represent a growing consumerist culture where natural resources are slowly depleting. I got an opportunity to visit Het Haven Museum (The Harbour Museum) where miniature historic ships from ancient times were kept and stories of such ships were made available through printed materials as well as multimedia devices neatly housed within the museum.

Helena

Helena in the Harbour Museum

There was also a unique exhibition of those original ships lined up on the dock, of course with a neat description of each of them. (Quite strangely, this particular open-air museum hasn’t made it to many of the must-visit-places’ lists of Rotterdam; also there is no entry fee!) I met a couple of senior citizens who happened to be siblings. They told me that their father used to work for the shipping industry there. They felt nostalgic as they pointed to the ship named Helena in which their father used to sail.

Close to the Harbour Museum, a Walk of Fame was seen where celebrities had left their handprints behind. It was 1:30 pm and the weather was at its unpredictable best mood. Before the onset of a second cloud-burst, I wanted to head to my next destination, which was a restaurant. But, btw, I’d chanced upon a handprint of Bryan Adams.

Bryan Adam's...

Bryan Adams…

I traversed the plush-looking shopping areas of Rotterdam: Lijnbaan and Hoogstraat. These did have all the popular brands of Europe. I could manage only a quick window-shopping due to paucity of time. I next took a metro to a local university where I had to meet a friend, P. She took me around and then we had dinner at an Indian restaurant together with her mother. It was a nice evening.

It was time to head back to my abode, which was a cuboid. Yes, a cube-shaped room took care of me that day. Well, I’m referring to the famed Cube House of Rotterdam!

Can you locate the Cube House?

Can you locate the Cube House?

Cube House - close-up shot

Cube House – a close-up shot

Interesting indeed, isn’t it? 🙂

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Nature’s cookie, the Keukenhof

Hello there! After a hiatus, I’m back with my blogs – quite a few pending from last year’s sojourns. 🙂

Entry to the garden

Entry to the garden

We had planned to visit The Netherlands during spring. Well, around this time, a visit to the Keukenhof or the tulip garden is a must. So, there we were the two of us, along with our friend, P from the US. Keukenhof garden, also known as the Garden of Europe, is apparently the world’s largest, as it’s home to over seven million tulip bulbs. Situated around an erstwhile castle, the collection is the cynosure of all eyes. One of the song sequences of a Hindi movie Silsila was largely shot there.

The tulips

The tulips

Aren't they eye-catching?

Aren’t they eye-catching?

Here’s something interesting on the official website of the garden: “Have you ever seen more than 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, all in bloom? Come to Keukenhof, the world’s most beautiful spring garden. In addition to over 32 hectares of flowers, the spring garden offers 30 inspiring flower shows, 7 amazing inspirational gardens and 100 wonderful works of art. Keukenhof is world-famous, truly unique, and has for over 60 years provided a wonderful decor to the most beautiful photographs.”

A fountain in the garden

A fountain in the garden

Ah, we spent a few hours in the garden enjoying the flower arrangement and the exhibitions. An air of gaiety prevailed. We just loved the nature and its brilliant hues that surrounded us. There were so many visitors, and all had one mission: to enjoy the beauty and take back memories in the form of pictures. The tulips were arranged so artistically and elegantly. We also saw ducks and swans in the ponds and lakes of the garden. The garden also showcased fountains, patches of lawns and trees of varied types.

A swan there!

A swan there!

One of our good friends, U who lives in a nearby town had packed some yummy food for us! We had a neat picnic in the garden and then we had cappuccino at an in-house restaurant. After spending about five hours in the garden, we decided to go cycling around the tulip fields. Yes, before that, we spent some time picking up souvenirs: mugs; little Holland clogs; coasters; magnetic photos; etc. As we exited the garden, the trio hired three bicycles (for a pricey deal!) and went cycling for a few kilometers. It was around 4:30 pm when we reached the fields.  We basked in the sun while the tulips and daffodils danced in a sprightly way under the spell of breeze. Wow, what a wonderful moment that was! I was reminded of William Wordsworth’s poem, The Daffodils.

The tulip field

The tulip field

This year the garden is open from March 21 to May 20; the ticket is priced at 15 euros per person. Why don’t you plan a visit? The tulips and their mystical aura shall be etched in your memory forever!

Here’s wishing you a colourful 2013…! 🙂