5 out of 90 days passed, times are running so fast. There are still things I am curious about this city, about what is in there, are there any nice spots, where to do this and this, how people interact and socialize with each other, etc. I was touring this city few times either alone or with my classmates or with weenepad’ers (Weenepad is the name of the dormitory in which I’m living), but still many spots I cannot reach; later I know that it is the second-largest city in the Netherlands. Even though it is big enough, it is really well organized; urban planners can easily smell it.
Two days ago, IHS organized a city tour, but they only took us to the city center and explained some memorable spots. The next day, I spent couple of hours to travel around the city and found some interesting things to be shared.
1. Big Canals
When you are in Rotterdam, you’ll get to find many big canals spreading all over the city. In the past, this city experienced tremendous floods as large parts of the city are below sea level. To manage this situation, many protective dikes and dams were built in order to channel the water and separate it from the land. These canals are my favorite spots, as they give refreshing beauty to the city. If this is not freezing winter, I don’t mind to spend hours just to sit and enjoy the view of canals, watch on how birds splash over the unfrozen part of water, and how threes stand as the guards of the area.
While enjoying the beauty of the canals, I remember the flood in Jakarta which happened few days ago. In the city like Jakarta which has high rainfall frequency, it needs lots of dikes and canals, and of course more open space as catchment areas. Horizontal buildings doesn’t seem suitable to the condition of limited space like Jakarta. Therefore building vertically might be one of the answers to save more space for green areas and transportation system. However, this requires big efforts which often leads to controversy.
2. Wide roads and convenient public transport
Trams are the key element of transportation system in Rotterdam, even though of course you still can use metros, buses, trains, or you ride and bike. Public transport in Rotterdam is really well organized; the trams, buses, and metros operate and link perfectly with precise time of schedule. The first time I noticed about this city was the space for transportation system, particularly tramways, is so wide. You’ll get to see two or more tramways in one side and two or more on the other side; it doesn’t include underground metro lines, also lines for private vehicles, buses, and bikes.
Moreover, trams, which are the main transport modes, are running incredibly fast, so you won’t spend much time on the road. Therefore, traffic jam becomes unusual for this city, I reckon. Space for public transport and convenient transportation modes are the key to avoid traffic congestion.
The other interesting thing I found was that in order to be able to use any public transport, you need to have OV-Chipkaart. This card is pocket-sized card that will be scanned every time you get into the public transport. You can use this card for trams, trains, buses, and metros. We can recharge the credit of the card using machines or going into the service office in the Rotterdam Central Station.
3. Erasmus Bridge
This bridge becomes one of the landmarks of Rotterdam, linking the northern and southern regions of Rotterdam. You’ll get to see the picture of this bridge in almost all postcards in Rotterdam. This bridge, which has architecturally impressive design, is called ‘Swan’ due to its white color. I’m wondering if this bridge is climbable like Harbour Bridge in Sydney.
4. The City center and open market
I have been to this city center quite often, either for shopping or just looking around. This city center is the heart area for shopping; you can shop till you drop, particularly in sale seasons like this time.
When shopping, you will find things from the cheapest to the most expensive ones depending on your budget and your preference. This afternoon, I and some other students was walking around the city center and did some shopping after Sunday Service. Guess what happened, I bought a cute coat for only 10 euro, and when about paying to the cashier, a generous couple offered me a 5 euros bonus as they no longer needed that voucher. So, the coat is only for 5 euros!
On the other part of the city center you’ll also get to see old buildings around town hall. In the past, the city center was severely damaged because of bombing during war world 2, destroying entire historic city center. There were only several buildings remained including town hall, cathedral, and municipal office. Therefore, most of the buildings that we can observe now are modern architecture.
In the middle of the shopping, you can also enjoy ole bollen, a kind of Dutch doughnuts for only 1 euro each. This ole bollen is must-try 🙂
Talking about the city of Rotterdam is not complete if not talking about its open market, called Blaak Markt. This market in which we can buy things in a really good price, is open every Tuesday and Saturday. You’ll get to see people selling fresh meats, veggies, fruits, and flowers, also other basic needs such as clothes, bags, and cooked food.
Having shared all these things, I still have so many things to tell you about this city, particularly about the people. My story about people, including people at church will be coming up next, stay tuned :p