Rotterdam city trip

I know it has been very quiet here, I have been struggling to keep up with the blog and life but I promise this week it is catching up time. There are quite a few posts waiting to be read! 

Last month I jumped across the border and went city tripping in Rotterdam. So close by and still it was years since I had been here. I had left Antwerp very early because I wanted to get as much as I could out of my 36hr trip. Having breakfast at Picknick was first on my to do list.

I easily forgot about the morning rush on the train when I stepped into this relaxed café and found a seat at one of the wooden tables. Organic, seasonal and homegrown are the keywords on their breakfast and lunch menu, and their coffee is made from in-house roasted beans. The acai berry smoothie looked just right for me, until I saw they had sausage rolls and all my healthy intentions slipped away. Not your ususal greasy snackbar one though, this sausage roll was wrapped in a brioche and came with a sweet homemade tomato sauce. Yum! When I started talking to the barista I heard that the team behind Picknick also has another great eating spot in Rotterdam called Aloha bar, located in a former subtropical swimming pool of all places!. That night they had 'cheesy Wednesday' fondue! And there it had already started, another list of things to do on my next Rotterdam visit!

Picknick is only one street away from Rotterdam's latest architectural project: Markthal. Designed by MVRDV architects, the building is quite unique: the imposing arch draws you in at the end of a big square. It looks like an upside down U, the outside is made of residential flats with balconies but inside this food cave is a market hall as big as a football field.
I know where I would do my shopping if I lived in Rotterdam! From delicatessen to supermarkets, you can find a whole range of food shopping here. I saw Spanish chorizo, Moroccan couscous, Asian noodles, Dutch cheeses and Belgian chocolates! It was like travelling through food world, under a colourful sky, the 'Horn of Plenty' an artwork by Arno Coenen.

I couldn't stay long in foodie world because I had a lunch meeting with a great photographer! I met Sophia Van de Hoek a few months ago on Facebook. She had been to one of my favourite Belgian restaurants 'In de Wulf' and had taken some amazing pictures there. Since then I have followed Sophia's foodie travels on her blog Un-Folded. She went to Noma in Japan and on an Australian adventure in Melbourne and Sydney. I love the way she can capture a mood in a restaurant that gives you the feeling you are there (or wished you were there!) and I knew from her photos that we would have a love of food in common! So happy to have met her for lunch that day and in a very special place too: the rooftop restaurant of the Schieblock building. I will tell you all about it tomorrow!

I wasn't lucky with the weather in Rotterdam that day and then in the afternoon the heaven turned a very dark shade of grey. Time for some indoor activities! Art and cocktails, isn't that a great combo.

During WWII the centre of Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed and most buildings you see in the city now were made post-war. The skyline on and around the Wilhelminakade is impressive and best displays the city's oeuvre of modern architecture. Crossing the Erasmus bridge - also called the Swan because of its shape - you feel the power of all those high rise buildings around you. The latest to arise there is De Rotterdam, one of the tallest buildings in The Netherlands designed by the firm of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Constructed with the idea of 'vertical city' this building houses residential apartments, a hotel NHow, offices, restaurant and bar.

If you can, you must definitely go to the go Fotomuseum just a few steps from De Rotterdam. When i was there I saw the interesting 'Rotterdam in the picture' expo (until 17.05.15) and discovered more than a century of city photography. From the 1870s to present time with old video footage and even a 3D experience from 1905. I was so impressed with the history of this city, I knew about the bombings during the war but had never seen the impact on the city landscape this way.

I didn't really discover the Rotterdam nightlife (this time!) but I did treat myself to a nice apéro cocktail in the swanky NHow hotel bar. Sipping on my Gin Fizz while watching the rain and wind spectacle over the Eramus bridge, great way to end a cold but interesting day in Rotterdam. 

Gin Fizz

Over a hundred years old, this cocktail has got class and fizz! Great on sunny evenings, or rainy ones when you want to pretend it is sunny...

5 cl gin
3 cl fresh lemon juice
2 cl sugar syrup
soda water
slice of lemon

Shake the gin, lemon juice, and sugar with ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Add club soda and a slice of lemon. Cheers!  

Rotterdam addresses

Pannekoekstraat 120

Grote Markt

De Rotterdam + NHow hotel
Wilhelminakade 139

Wilhelminakade 332

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