16 September 2012

Day Trip: Rotterdam (01.09.2012)

We took a brief hiatus from the blog - several factors contributed: our things finally arrived from the States Wednesday 5 September (yay!) so there was much to unpack and plenty to still organize, Little Man and Mama each getting knocked down by a head cold, and Poppa's workload jumping up with a new project. We've been busy/laid up, but before all this happened, we were able to make a day trip the first weekend in September!

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.

The architecture in Rotterdam is equally amazing as the port. The city came into its architectural fame as a result of the legacy of World War II. The Nazis invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940 hoping to gain a surrender after a day. The Dutch were tougher than the Nazis expected, so the German Luftwaffe bombed  Rotterdam on 14 May 1940 and leveled most of the city, as you can see from this picture taken a few days after the attack:

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.


  1. I love Rotterdam! Jesse and I stayed for several weeks every summer we were living in the UK. Nels lived there, in a squat by the Erasmus bridge. It's an industrial city for sure, but so much to see and do. Thanks for posting great photos, it made me feel nostalgic :)

    1. That's awesome! We definitely plan on going back regularly (especially since it's an hour away) - we only saw such a little portion. I'm glad we could make you feel nostalgic. =)


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