24 hours in Rotterdam on a Monday
Rotterdam, the Netherlands
I left Chris standing on a platform in Belgium waiting for a train to take him Brussels airport; from now on, I am solo travelling.
We had both planned our last night together in Brussels but the Belgian rail workers had different ideas and planned a strike for the day Chris was to take the Eurostar back to London, the day I would take trains to Amsterdam, en route to Scandinavia.
A few last-minute travel alterations and we fled Belgium a day early. With this extra night to spare I decided to break my journey overnight in Rotterdam, hastily booking a youth hostel near one of the train stations.
It turned out to be an excellent decision, just a shame it was a Monday: most, if not all, the museums close on a Monday.
The StayOkay HI hostel in Rotterdam is definitely one of the quirkier hostels on the set. It is located in the overtly 80’s cube houses near the attractive Oude Haven.
These peculiar buildings are all angles and corners, well worth checking out even if you don’t stay at the hostel. Inside they are a little surreal and furniture needs careful consideration and placement: gravity defying curtains anyone?
If you do stay at the hostel, the included breakfast is awesome!
I decided to catch a late afternoon train to Amsterdam, leaving me with most of the day for exploring.
I teamed up with a lovely Chinese girl from my dorm, Wei. We had a loose route planned to walk some of the city, unfortunately we were way to early for the kooky shops, bakeries and hair salons on Oude Binnenweg, there was a least a couple more hours before they opened.
Instead we simply meandered, taking in the avant-garde architecture and enjoying the clear, sunny day.
Dramatically lit by the late autumn sun, the eclectic buildings looked striking against the blue sky.
We came across some interesting detail, the 100 metre sprint was rather tempting but we’d been walking for ages so I felt a little weak and hungry!
We’d walked through parks, across ponds and along the flag parade. I geekishly tried to name every country but failed miserably!
We rested our weary feet and filled our bellies at the remarkable Markthal.
This eye-catching structure houses a mouth-watering array of fresh produce, restaurants, snack food and treats, all beautifully presented.
It had only opened its doors last month, it is brand new!
Markthal stands monumentally on a square next to Rotterdam Blaak station, and a handy five-minute walk from the StayOkay hostel.
Arching over the stalls is a sky of falling food: huge raspberries, cauliflower clouds, butterflies and baguettes. A mammoth artwork partly inspired by ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’.
I’d popped in here when I arrived, grabbing a quick meal of spanikopita and some baklava from a Turkish stall. I’d had to battle my way through the Sunday afternoon crowds!
It was much quieter on Monday and we were able to browse at leisure, grazing on this and that as we passed through.
Wei opted for some – apparently delicious – paella and that gave us a table on the terrace above the stall. A little closer to the mesmerizing roof and a comfortable chair to relax in.
What was going to be a quick lunch ended up being the rest of the afternoon, we sat up there, under the heaven of food, and talked for a couple of hours sharing travel stories and cultural differences.
The sun was heading south as I picked up my bag from the hostel, said my goodbye to Wei and set off to Rotterdam Blaak station, just a stone’s throw from the hostel, where I caught the train to Amsterdam.
If I’d had another day I would have definitely checked out a couple of museums but unfortunately I had reservations in Amsterdam that night, so I shall just have to return.
Can anyone tell me what this sculpture is all about?
Try these posts:
Antwerp, All Sorts of Art! from Art Deco to street art, Antwerp is inspiringly arty! I really loved this Belgian city.
Ghent: Alterpieces, Dragons and Veggie Burgers Europe’s most vegetarian friendly city is full of interesting history!
Amsterdam: James Bond, Ships and a Vermeer I get on the trail of 007
Miniatur Wunderland It’s the world’s largest model railway, and you absolutely have to see it!!!
Bruges in the Rain Out of season on a rainy Autumn weekend Bruges can be beautiful!
Copenhagen on a Budget 8 things to do in beautiful Copenhagen that cost little or nothing.