JOIN ME IN AN INTERVIEW WITH EDYTA FROM ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS.
EDYTA, ALTHOUGH A LOCAL OF ROTTERDAM IS RIGHT NOW BLOGGING HER HEART OUT ABOUT THE BEAUTIFUL PORTUGUESE ARCHIPELAGO MADEIRA. BE SURE TO CHECK HER BLOG IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO VISIT IT’S BEAUTIFUL ISLANDS.
Which is the best month to visit Rotterdam and why?
I always say that the best time to visit the Netherlands is end of April. On the 27th of April, Kingsday celebrations are held. Kingsday can be compared with the Irish St. Patrick’s Day where everyone wears green and parties on the streets. The same way, during Dutch Kingsday, in the Netherlands many people dresses orange or red –white-blue and go out to celebrate. There are many concerts, events, parades, performances and street fairs. Perfect time of the year for those who love flea markets, concerts, parties and do not mind the crowds.
It’s also a good time of the year, because the flowers are in bloom. As a tourist, you would probably love to see the famous Dutch flower fields. Although the famous flower park – Keukenhof – opens mid-March, I would say that the flowers look the nicest usually around mid-April. After Kingsday many are already cut by the farmers, so the best time to see them will be before the Kingsday. From Rotterdam, you can easily reach those flower fields by car or even with the public transport. The most popular area is called Bollenstreek and once you get there with the public transport, you can rent a bike and drive around the flower fields.
Which is the most convenient and favoured transport of Rotterdam?
The best way to get around Rotterdam, just like every other city in the Netherlands, is by bike. The Netherlands is famous for its goods cycling infrastructure. If you do not feel like riding a bike – no worries at all – there is a very, very good subway/train/tram/bus network in Rotterdam. You even have water buses and water taxis. I recommend you download the app called 9292. By simply putting the destination address or the stop name, the app will calculate and show you the best way to get everywhere, whether it is by a subway, bus, tram, waterbus or a mix of the different modes of transport.
What are the top 3 must visit places in Rotterdam?
Rotterdam is famous for the Erasmus Bridge and the Cube Houses and that is a good starting point…
Number #1: The Erasmus Bridge.
Whenever I have international guests, we usually take the subway and get off at metro station Leuvehaven. From there, we walk across the Erasmus Bridge. It allows my guests to take different shots of the bridge from both sides. Once there, we walk west on Wilhelminakade to the famous New York Hotel. Behind the hotel, there is Rijnhavenbrug- a small bridge for bikers and pedestrians. If you cross this bridge, you will get to Fenix Food Factory, which is another interesting spot in Rotterdam. It is sort of an indoor food market and a food hall. The walk from Leuvehaven to Fenix Food Factory is a nice way to spend an afternoon. I would suggesting to start the walk around 11a.m., to have enough time to take pictures and still get to Fenix Food Factory around lunch time.
Number #2 would be the Blaak area. It is easy to reach with the subway, train or tram. When you leave the underground station, the first thing you’ll see are the famous Cubic Houses. On the opposite side you will see a modern food market called Markthal. Take a walk through the Cubic Houses Patio, above the busy road and you will get to the Old Harbor (“Oudehaven”), which is a nice spot to get a drink or eat lunch.
Number #3 isn’t really in Rotterdam, but I am sure most of the readers will appreciate this tip: Take the public water bus to get to Kinderdijk! If you are travelling on a budget and would love to see the famous Dutch windmills, do not buy any of the overpriced tourist tours. Just take the regular waterbus, which costs only 4 euro one way and takes you all the way to Kinderdijk. You can board it just next to the Erasmus Bridge and this affordable trip will also mean you will have spectacular views while passing through Rotterdam. Be sure to get a good spot for taking pictures – do not sit down on one of the seats, I would recommend staying close to the back of the ferry/bus, where people leave their bikes. Yes, you can take your bike with you.
Which is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Rotterdam?
I already mentioned Kingsday, which is celebrated across the entire country and it’s similar to the famous St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.
I could mention here the Zomercanaval, which can be compared with the Notting Hill Carnival in London. It takes place in the summer. During the entire weekend, there are multiple Latin American and Caribbean parties and events such as a Battle of Drums. On a Saturday afternoon, a parade through Rotterdam takes place. If that sounds interesting, consider booking your ticket for 23-27 of July 2019!
Which is the most happening area in Rotterdam and why?
Tourists usually like to visit the Blaak area, where you can visit the Cubic Houses, Old Harbour and Markthal in one go. Due to a great choice of restaurants and bars in that area, it is a great place for dinner.
The most popular going out area with nice pubs and places to dance is Witte de Withstraat – street with laid back pubs. Another area for going out is the Town Hall Square. Rotterdam is not a big city, so it is possible to change the venues and areas easily.
Where can one find amazing street food in Rotterdam?
Across the city you can find some street food stands, most popular of which are:
– famous Dutch herring stands; where you can get a fresh herring with or without onions. If you are not a fan of raw herrings, you can get some other sorts of deep fried fish such as kibbeling.
-stroopwafel stands; where you can stuff your suitcases with delicious Dutch waffles. They are a perfect souvenir for your relatives.
-oliebollen stands; If you visit Rotterdam around Christmas or New Year, you will also see the “Oliebollen” stands. Oliebollen are delicious caloric bombs – can be compared with small donuts without a filling, and can have different tastes. The most popular one is a Oliebol with rasins and covered in caster sugar.
Except for some organized events, I do not think that Rotterdam has any fixed street food street, but I could recommend trying out the Fenix Food Factory food hall and Markthal, where you will find different kinds of products and dishes from all over the world.
Where to head for affordable shopping?
This one is a difficult one. There is a market around Blaak area on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, but I do not think that all the stands are interesting to tourists. Next to fruit, cheese, flower and a couple of second hand/vintage stalls, you have a lot stands offering imported low-quality products. Markthal is a nice place to get a lot of good quality products, which you could take with you as souvenirs, but it is definitely not cheap, even for the locals.
We don’t really have an affordable place to shop in Rotterdam. There are a couple of second-hand stores in the centre of Rotterdam, which are very well maintained and offer a variety of second-hand products.
Those who love flea markets are advised to visit the Netherlands at the end of April during the Kingsday, because that’s when most of the free street markets take place. On that day, everyone is allowed to sell, so people usually clean out their houses and organize garage sales on the busiest streets. If you wait until the end of the day, the sellers tend to give away the stuff almost for free, as they just want to get rid of it by the end of the day.
Which is the most loved local food in Rotterdam, both sweet and savory?
If you have ever heard about the fast food dish called “kapsalon” I have an interesting fact for you. The dish was actually invented in Rotterdam! Kapsalon means actually a “hairdresser”, but in the Netherlands it can also mean a dish served in a small aluminum box, consisting of french fries covered with a layer of usually doner meat, melted Gouda cheese and some lettuce. This is a typical fast food dish that people grab after a whole night of partying. A lot of “kapsalon” places are open throughout the whole night to feed the hungry crowd.
You might also want to try some Dutch “kroketten” and “bitterballen”- soft roux filling covered with a crunchy outer shell that is formed during deep frying. “Bitterballen” are shaped like a ball and “kroketten” are slightly bigger have a cylindrical shape. The most common filling is a beef and they are considered a snack more than a dish.
Which side of the road does Rotterdam drive on? Is it cycle friendly?
We drive on the right side of the road. It is absolutely cycle friendly – cycling is the best way to see the city. There are bike routes throughout the whole city and although it can get busy at some points in the centre, it is nothing compared to the busy biking paths of Amsterdam.
Would you recommend any popular local apps to tourists for transport, food and hidden gems?
If you’re using the public transport you must get the app called 9292. It is the best personal public transport planner, available in English and covering all the public transport modes in the entire country.