Maritime Museum Rotterdam
Since Rotterdam does happen to have one of the largest harbour’s in the world, you would think that I would have made it to the Maritime Museum a little sooner than I did. However, I always glanced over its name on the museum list thinking “ships…b-o-r-i-n-g”. Little did I know that the Maritime Museum Rotterdam is filled with loads of fun things, which had I known, I would have visited much sooner than I did! The Maritime Museum is located in the city centre of Rotterdam, about half way between Central Station and the Erasmusbrug. It is a large building, which apart from the ships behind it (only one of which is actually part of the museum) looks rather boring, even if there was a caged tiger making roaring sounds outside (not real of course!). Once inside, you get your ticket, hang-up your coat and head off to explore. However, the best bit in my opinion, of the whole museum is the free entry onto one of the former naval ships dating back from 1868, known as De Buffel (The Buffalo). The ship itself isn’t huge but it does have several levels that you are able to explore. The ship is filled with information (in several languages), has loads of hands on activities (of which I only managed to break one but it was quickly fixed, phew!) and all the areas are kitted out with replica furnishings, realistic sounds and even some dodgy mannequins. I could have easily spent hours aboard, especially as there was little chance of sea-sicknesses but I was pulled off the ship by a Resident Cloggie who didn’t find shoveling coal into the furnaces as exciting as I did. All-in-all the Maritime Museum Rotterdam is a pretty cool museum to visit and the exhibits they have change regularly. Access to the Buffel is via your museum ticket so don’t forget to pick it up at the entrance.
Museum De Dubbelde Palmboom- CLOSED
De Dubbelde Palmboom, is one of the three locations that make up the Museum Rotterdam. As you probably guessed the museum focuses on things about Rotterdam. The exhibitions change over time but on this particular visit they focused on technology through the ages, recycling, rooms and shops from earlier time periods and a couple of smaller exhibits. You aren’t allowed to take photos in the museum which was really disappointing because not only were the displays worth taking photos of but so was the building, a double gated warehouse from the 19th century. We had a great time. We started off playing with the old phones, as I attempted to connect RC’s telephone call to another telephone in the area via the old fashioned switchboard. We played records on the turntable, laughed at the Sony discman, attempted to beat each other at Atari and left messages in morse code for future guests. Downstairs we printed off stickers, dug for broken artefacts and walked down the carpeted street complete with life size, old fashioned shops and home interiors.
Rotterdam Centraal Station
This was a day trip from Amsterdam, we took the train - about €30 for return - between Amsterdam and Rotterdam on a weekend. Our final destination wasn't Rotterdam we here here to visit Kinderdijk it's a lovely windmill place as you will notice in the next destination.
Fort de Roovere
In the early 17th century, Maurice of Nassau had an idea. He proposed a series of water based defences that when combined together with natural bodies of water would have the ability to transform the economic heartland of the Dutch Republic (i.e. the province of Holland) into an (almost) island. It was a smart idea – one which was fully completed by his half-brother, Frederick Henry. The original Dutch Water Line ran from the Zuiderzee, now known as the Ijsselmeer, down to the river Wall with fortified towns dotted along the line. The water was always just deep enough to cause a hindrance to enemies who might be trying to pass through on foot but deep enough that boats couldn’t be used to breach the defence. Over the years the water line has changed from its original form to a more modernised version after the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed and then again after World War II, until it was dismantled by the government in 1963. Nowadays the water line has become known for its natural beauty. A number of the old forts are open for bikers and hikers, who frequent the paths, to stay the night and some of the former fort areas have been renovated in an attempt to preserve what once was. One such location is Fort de Roovere, in Halsteren. This was the largest fort on the West Brabant portion of the water line. The fort was surrounded by a defensive moat – good for keeping enemies out but not so good for letting visitors in. Therefore, an extra element needed to be added to allow visitors to cross the water. But when someone goes to so much trouble to keep enemies away; it seems a bit disrespectful to mock the effort by building a bridge over the water, letting everyone in. From the side, it almost looks like people are walking through water And that is where the architects Ro&Ad came in. Their sunken bridge design means that the only thing you might see bobbing across the moat are the tops of visitors’ heads and it is this appearance of walking through wa
Restaurant Safir B.V.
Descending the stairs into the Restaurant Safir is like stepping into another city. It might not be quite Morocco but the decoration, music and staff outfits all work together to transfer you straight out of Rotterdam.Starters of Moroccan soup with lamb and couscous salad with paprika, aubergine and carrot were accompanied with fresh bread, olives, toasted bread and a tomato, olive oil topping. The main course consisted of chicken with roasted potatoes and olives for me and lamb with dried fruit and almonds for my friend, Anna. Both were well cooked, deliciously seasoned and attractively presented. Safir goes well out of their way to create a pleasurable atmosphere. From the serving dishes and tangines to the Moroccan style tiles and carpets, every detail has been thought about. This attention to detail, in addition to the tasty food, clearly pays off because the restaurant was almost full after about 7pm. However, even this had been well thought through with tables spaced well enough apart that you didn’t become part of your neighbors conversation.
De Smaak van Afrika
When you first walk into De Smaak van Afrika you are hit with three things – the smallness of the place, the wonderful smell from the food and the amazing décor. The restaurant is small, especially in the colder months when the outside area is not in use. But it still manages to fit in a good number of people without feeling like you are sitting on the lap of your unknown neighbour. The décor features painted murals, colourful lights and a wide-range of African ornaments that you might pick up whilst on holiday in Africa. For some it may come across as a bit cheesy but I think it added to the atmosphere. For my meal, I chose from the East African part of the menu, mainly because it comes with the added attraction of getting a ready supply of enjera’s, which according to the menu, are wholemeal pancakes. You can see them in the photo, they are the items on the left. Your meal isn’t served with cutlery, so you rip off a piece of your pancake (using only your right hand) and then you pick up some of your meat and vegetables with the pancake. My dish was called Alicha Dorho and was made up of chicken, potatoes and vegetables. De Smaak van Afrika really was a fun place to visit. The dishes were different, the eating method fun, the environment enjoyable and the food was really tasty. I shall definitely be returning.
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
In 1935, the last piece of work to be carried out by H.P. Berlage, one of the Netherland’s first modern architects, was completed. Sadly, Mr. Berlage died one year before that building, the Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag, was finished. Now the low brick building that overlooks a rectangular ornamental pond is home to the largest collection of Mondrian paintings in the world. Berlage was a fan of using brick in his buildings as he felt it added visual strength and mass to the walls. He specifically used brick rather than marble or stone for the Gemeentemuseum because he felt the building should not impress the public but instead should invite them in. In addition to the Piet Mondrian collection, you will find works by Picasso, Appel and Klee, amongst others.
Happy Italy, a “fast Italian” restaurant is located on the Binnenrotte, near the Rotterdam library and within the vicinity of the Tuesday/Saturday market. Since we were having a rare sun appearance, we decided to sit outside at one of the handful of bistro tables. We were quickly noticed and a cheerful waiter chuckled along with us as we mumbled the Italian words that made up our order. If you are in the mood for pizza, pasta or even a panini, then you are not going to be disappointed with the menu. The dishes on offer are varied and extensive. Struggling to choose but in the mood for pasta, I went for the salsiccia con il vino – a topping of white wine, salami, fresh spinach and goats cheese - and since I was with company, I went for the easy eating pasta option of penne. It is quite a large venue, creatively decorated (a lamp fixture made out of lamps!) and with a play area for children downstairs. My cioccolato (code word for chocolate cake) was again a large portion and well presented but lacked the punch of flavour I was hoping it would have. But for €3.75 perhaps my expectations were a bit too high. Happy Italy has several things going for it – huge portions, decent prices, a great interior, a large menu – but its real gem is the staff. Everyone we came into contact with was friendly, helpful and just downright nice. A few additions to their dessert and starter options and you’d have a pretty excellent