The thing I miss most about Rotterdam is the remarkable Dutch architecture as soon as you leave the centre, positioned amongst tall luscious trees and flowers. Central Rotterdam is a beautifully-modern little metropolis, the first word that comes to mind is ‘shiny’. The small centre is jam-packed full of sleek, silver skyscrapers, each one entirely built with reflective glass, but still with its own unique design. If New York is a concrete jungle, then Rotterdam central is a jungle of mirrors. You can’t help but admire these futuristic buildings and, what’s more, the streets are immaculately clean. They have dozens of lanes of traffic, and you’ll have to nimbly avoid oncoming trams and veering cyclists. The thing that’s so endearing about Rotterdam, is despite the looming skyscrapers and their post-modernist presence, in every free space there are impeccably well groomed trees and flowers, constantly in full bloom, no matter the season.
When I think of Amsterdam Central, all that comes to mind is how insanely busy it is, ALL THE TIME. With crowds of tourists charging around wielding selfie sticks. Now I’m from London, so I’m used to the constant rush hour, but this was another level. Not only creating a mass stampede in every direction, but also apparently competing to be the loudest group of tourists in the Netherlands. It was as though these groups wanted everyone around them to know where they were from. The worst thing of all was the heavy commercialisation and gentrification of what used to be an astonishingly beautiful central. Now, you can’t walk an inch without having some form of garish advertising or neon light blinding your view. In my opinion, it’s not tourism or “I AM AMSTERDAM”; it’s selling out.
What comes as a shock to most people is that there are many coffee shops all over the Netherlands, not just Amsterdam; in fact, the best voted coffee shop is in Maastricht. And yes, Vondel Park is a lovely place to frolic about, but Kralingse Plaas and its gorgeous lake rivals this, especially in the summer when people from all walks of life go for a dip. Undeniably, Amsterdam’s nightlife is incredible and an adventure in itself. But who says Rotterdam doesn’t have one on the same scale of brilliance? Yes, there aren’t as many venues, but there are still a good deal to choose from. Be it a tiny underground club with expanding walls, or an outrageous monster of a warehouse. Or even the same warehouse, only on the 10th floor, accessible only by a mammoth lift. Maasilo, despite the fun and games, is the one place I would fear for my life if it weren’t for the many techno enthusiasts and their funky Dutch dancing to keep me company. So it’s definitely worth going against the grain and visiting Rotterdam.
Featured image from David Pronk Fotografie.