Friday, September 30, 2016

My New Home, Rotterdam

It has been six weeks since I've settled in Rotterdam, this city of 600.000 that is the second biggest in the Netherlands. Finally, a post in which I can introduce my town! Hehe. In the midst of the transition from summer to fall, Rotterdam is still incredibly sunny yet the wind is strong enough to make you put on another layer of shirts - the modern city, although it has different landmarks from the rest of its neighboring cities, is still typically Dutch. The town is filled with many people riding bikes, but a variety of public transportations are available from buses, metro, and tram. With Rotterdam being the fifth of the Top 10 Cities on the Lonely Planet: Best in Travel 2016 list, you will not be disappointed in what this city has to offer.

The building pictured above is the Markthal - one of the recent landmark built in Rotterdam. The uniquely shaped building is actually a resident building with an array of kiosk, shops, and restaurants inside. Decorated with the biggest mural in the world, the Markthal -- or the Market Hall as many say it, is often visited by both tourist and the locals alike. I usually do my grocery shopping here as it is close to other shopping district and the city center. Every Tuesday and Saturday, there is also a pop-up traditional market on the big court right across the building which sells fresh produces and other kind of products sold by your friendly local neighbor.

Rotterdam is a city apparent of its growing number of modern architecture, from the Notable Cubic House (which some are available for rent!) to the Erasmus Bridge. As the city was bombed within the World War II period, the event allows Rotterdam to revamp its city to what it is today. A place filled with urban developments and modern design. The city is vibrant and the people are active and busy, as this city hosted the largest port in Europe and the fourth biggest in the world. Yet somehow, everyone here knows how to work hard, play hard and when to take a break. The pace of the people and the city still gives you enough room to breathe and have fun as I find the city to be slower than many other big cities, especially in comparison to the ones in Asia.

Despite the city being on the modern side, there are still areas that are still deemed more traditionally Dutch such as the Delfshaven that were not affected by the bombs. One of the places I visited is the windmills of Kinderdijk which is recognized as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. The Kinderdijk is the village whereas traditional windmills stood still and displayed to the public. There's a waterway and bike lane if you're interested in going to take a look around the area. One interesting sight is that you can see residents who are housed in some of the windmills casually living their lives and disregarding us tourists.

Also, I spent my first week in Rotterdam in The Student Hotel before getting into my apartment. It was a super nice hotel with amazing design and great common room. As the name suggest this hotel is very youth-friendly, with playing room, gyms, and lounge that is accessible in the common area there are also a library, study space, and printing services. It was honestly an experience just to stay in the hotel that I often visit here when I just need some time to study or hang around with a friend who also resides in this hotel.

Rotterdam so far has been an amazing city for me. I am glad I made the decision to spend my semester here, but at the same time I gotta keep moving and look for what the rest of the world has to offer. At least it's good to go back home to a city that I have fallen in love with.