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giovedì 26 luglio 2012

In the land of Erasmus

I went to Rotterdam in February for a couple of days for work. I had been to Amsterdam a few times but never in this part of the country. I have to say that when I just got there I didn't really have the greatest impression: it was grey, wet and dull and the city looked very sad. The hotel where I was staying Hotel Rotterdam was not too far from the railway station and was undergoing some refurbishment therefore I was not too happy about it. However both the hotel and the city turned out to be a nice surprise in the end. The first day I basically ran from one place to the other seeing people from work and in the end completely exhausted I went out with a friend of mine who came to see me there from Amsterdam to a Thai restaurant and then collapsed. It was actually the next day on a sunny Saturday that I realized that Rotterdam had a lot to offer. It's a very different approach from Amsterdam and it's very different from other cities even because it's completely reconstructed. I took a long stroll throughout the whole city and I have to say I enjoyed it very much. Locals really seemed to really taste the saturday morning laziness and relaxation and so did I, sitting in the sun outside a beautiful cafè in the center, which is very nice and very lively : completely the opposite of what I thought the city was when I first arrived the day before. Down from the center I went to see the cubic houses in Blaak neighbourhood "designed by architect Piet Blom and based on the concept of "living as an urban roof": high density housing with sufficient space on the ground level" (from Wikipedia). They look very interesting but all the architecture in the city is very impressive. I walked from my hotel in the north of the city up until the commercial harbour where I took a boat trip with Spido and went on Delfshaven a lovely little harbour with galleries , restaurants and nice houses. I was taken to a lovely and very elegant fish restaurant Zeezout in the area by a collegue the day before and when by myself I had lunch in Loos a very nice intellectual, bohemian chic cafe, which I strongly recommend. In the evening instead I had dinner in Dunya Lokanta an Anatolian -Mesopotamiam restaurant not far from my hotel. A lot of food by the way ... However since I was walking all day and all night I think I kind of balanced the whole thing. Another thing : remember what I wrote in my post about Beirut? Well in a different way but Dutch men are also very dangerous... and you ladies know what I mean. Delfshaven The next day I went to lovely Delft home to Paul Vermeer who portraited it in a few paintings in 1660 or so. Well , when you see it now it has stayed exactly the same and looks just like the paintings. I spent the whole day wandering around the canals and the bridges and had a very relaxing and lovely time. At the railway station when one gets off the train there is a bycicle parking which contains thousands of them even on different double level rows. Very difficult to explain in words but amazing. I would never be able to find my bike in that mess and actually I saw a guy who took twenty minutes to find his. When I got back to Rotterdam I went to have dinner at very famous Asian restaurant Izakaya where you can order through a touch screen system on the table which also projects the image of the dish in your plate so you can see exactly what it looks like. Quoting my trip advisor review: "It's quite something to have the chance to see what your dish looks like in your plate before you order or to look in the kitchen with a webcam to see the chef preparing your food. The fact that you order with a touch screen system on your table is a lot of fun and so is changing the pattern of your table cloth. As far as the food is concerned it is Asian inspired . Good but not exceptional. A little pricy." So I know Amsterdam is what it is but if one has the chance to extend their staying and want to see something different I would go and pay Mr.Erasmus a visit. Images of Delft