We've been living in the Netherlands for over a month now. We're at the point where we feel relatively settled we can start wandering a little further from home. For our first excursion, we decided to take a day trip to Rotterdam, about a 50 minute train ride away. Rotterdam is one of the largest cities in the Netherlands, but it's particularly known for 2 things: being the world's 3rd largest port and having some pretty awesome architecture.
Disclaimer: The following was written by a former Social Studies teacher who is conscious enough of sounding like a class lecture to try and "dial it down" but simultaneously doesn't care much about "dialing it down."
The importance of Rotterdam as a port city is rather impressive - Shanghai and Singapore are the only larger ports in the world. When you consider that Shanghai's population is about 7 million more people than the entire country of the Netherlands and Singapore's population is roughly 1/4 of the Netherlands' population, it's a little staggering to think that Rotterdam even appears as a blip on the global scale. But geography plays an awesome hand for the city: It's situated on the Rotte and Nieuwe Maas rivers and connects to the Rhine and Muese rivers, allowing water travel from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Switzerland. We took a port tour by boat that let us see just a small portion of the port - and our minds were blown. The title of "World's 3rd Largest Port" seemed a little more real after just 75 minutes on the water. We joked that we would look for our shipping container with our things from the States - but there are so many shipping containers, we're not actually sure how anyone finds anything. And now for your enjoyment: a slideshow of our tour of the Port of Rotterdam.
Rotterdam City Center, 23 May 1940. Taken from: http://www.annefrank.org/en/Subsites/Timeline
The devastation forced the Dutch army to surrender 15 May under the Nazi threat to blitz more cities. With plenty to rebuild after the war, Rotterdam accepted and encouraged architects that helped the city embody its perception of a phoenix rising from the flame, the result of which has been a lasting tradition of using architecture as art and identity. And as our grand finale, another slideshow - of our pictures walking around Rotterdam.