Finally, finally I’m going to tell you about some places I’ve been instead of just moaning about teaching and my deep inner feelings. For once. We’ll see how long this lasts. First up is Rotterdam, a medium-sized city on the way between Brussels and Amsterdam. When I told people this was my first stop for February break, I got either blank looks or a rendition of some song I had never heard that goes “It could be Rotterdam, or anywhere…” I guess I should have looked this song up on youtube, but I still haven’t. Take that, Internet.
After meeting Tessa & Tijmen, I got settled in their apartment and was contentedly drinking tea until they asked if I’d like to come to a weird show at a squatted butcher shop. Um, yes.
Squatting just became illegal in the Netherlands only a few months ago, I believe, but people who were in a squat before the law went into effect could keep staying where they were. This was an unused butcher shop and now people have shows and sleep here. Brilliant! There was even a letter on the door explaining to the landlord that there were squatters inside. It amazes me that things like this could happen…I’ve never seen something like this at home, but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places.
We had this the next day at brunch — baguette, butter, and chocolate sprinkles a.k.a. delicious breakfast heaven.
Before going to see the National, my hosts showed me around Rotterdam a little. Rotterdam’s architecture was a really nice mix of pretty old buildings (think the kind you’d see in Amsterdam) and interesting modern developments, like these cube houses. People actually live in these — there’s also a youth hostel in them, but it seems kind of complicated in terms of furniture placement (Imagine playing the Sims with a cube house? Where would you put your pool table?)
The EuroMast is maybe Rotterdam’s most recognizable chunk of skyline at 186m above the ground. You can go up and check out the city from such great heights — there’s even a restaurant — but I decided to just stay on the ground and explore the park where I took this picture.
And of course, it being the Netherlands, there were bikes everywhere! I hope wherever I move to next I’ll be able to bike to get to work, at least half of the year. I kept freaking out whenever I saw stylish Rotterdamites (-ers? Idk) riding past. More Dutch cliches abound: Rotterdam features many of the Netherland’s famous coffeeshops. The most touristy one, according to my hosts, is called Coffeeshop Nemo — just look for a little cartoon pufferfish smoking a joint. Oh, Europe, you so crazy.
Rotterdam was a fun, quirky city that I’d love to visit again. Vous me manquez, les pays-bas!