Rotterdam, December 2023

We flew from Istanbul to Schipol, Netherlands.  After carrying toilet paper around for all of Greece and Turkey, it was only needed once we hit Europe!  The airport was untidy, the bathrooms a mess and the immigration line was 40 or 50 minutes long.  Even the Europeans were held in slow moving lines like cattle.  And following that long wait, we STILL had to wait for our bags to come through to the baggage carousel.  We took a train down to Rotterdam, which should have been a 45 minute door-to-door experience, but due to weekend rail maintenance couldn’t actually get direct to Rotterdam Centraal and had to go an indirect route.  It was rather a painful introduction back into Europe.

The next day we went 30 minutes west to the Hague for the day.  Our 1st stop was the Mauritshaus – which I always considered it my favorite museum in Europe.  Small, with a lovely collection it feels cozy as opposed to the feeling you get with a huge museum, such as the Louvre.  There was a very good interactive exhibition that looked at art being forcibly acquired (war spoils/colonisation etc.) and the ethics surrounding that.  One of the final panels said that the Dutch had so many wonderful works in their own museums, that they didn’t need to re-claim items in France (ex-Bonaparte for example) and that they considered they were sharing those with the world.

We spent an hour on a mid-20th century tram on a special circuit around the city centre and out to Schvenigen Beach.  While the commentary was in Dutch, and we appeared to be the only non-Dutch onboard,  we got a flavour of the city. 

The city was virtually destroyed in 1940 when in the space of 15 minutes 97,000 ton of bombs were dropped on the city. This utter destruction resulted in the city becoming known for it’s modern architecture.  The distinctive Markthall was buzzing with people eating and shopping.  The outer structure includes 200 the apartments (many with views back into the Market Hall) and apparently on the very expensive end of the rental scale. 

The mirrored Boijmans Depot museum and the cube houses are other iconic buildings

Of course there is a little of the historical areas still standing

Being December it was timely to see the Santa Claus sculpture by Paul McCarthy. It isn’t loved by everyone and is also referred to as the Buttplug Gnome 🙂

Also being December it was appropriate for Andrew to try Oliebolen, basically a fired doughnut usually eaten at New Year. And the Kruidnoten were a big hit, we carried a couple of packets back to NZ.

Rotterdam was really a work stop with a quick visit to see work colleagues, but we are really pleased to have explored the city.

Stayed at

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