Ik hou van Rotterdam! This simply translates to “I Love Rotterdam”. Though it wasn’t exactly love at first sight, I felt like Rotterdam would grow on me the way this entire Dutch lifestyle has. That’s not to say I at all detested either, but I never had that feeling where I felt I was MEANT to be there. Nonetheless, it’s a place I know well enough to soon call home.
Are you seriously telling me I can get Asian Food, African Food, Dutch Food and even Spanish Food all on the same block? Count me in. The Netherlands gets a rep for housing people that are tall, blonde and clog wearers. I can burst this bubble for you quickly. (Except for the tall thing, I find myself getting neck strains. That could be also because I am just average height.)
This second largest city of The Netherlands has grown into a major international hub for expats and job seekers. It’s the “Gateway to Europe” as nicknamed by many. It was once the busiest port in the world made up of Dutch, Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccans and Antilleans. I find it great that I am nowhere in this demographic and making up 10% of the Rotterdam population.
Erase that saying “Amsterdam to party, Den Haag (The Hague) to live, Rotterdam to work”, even though Rotterdam is a proud working class city. It’s the home of a rich hip hop culture, that crazy fast music from the mid 90’s called Gabber and yet it’s also a place I can enjoy smooth jazz with my guy on a Wednesday evening romantic date night.
Oh- and for my fellow Puerto Ricans, Rotterdam broke the world record of the most couples salsa dancing in one place at the Carribean Carnaval in the summer of 2011. That’s right sister- you can get your salsa on.
Quiet, yet busy
I often find myself
complaining b*tching about how crowded New York City is. Rotterdam is a city, but sometimes, it’s not. When we take the Metro during rush hour, my boyfriend apologizes about the busy commute and I tell him this is nothing even compared to Sunday’s rush hour!
The most noise I heard from the two apartments I stayed in with my guy was a car alarm that only went off for half a minute and the occasional boat toot from the Rotterdam Port. Even then, I’d laugh at the boat toots because, well, it’s a funny noise.
I appreciate that I can sit on the couch and not hear loud UNTZUNTZUNTZ noise from my neighbors, I can walk around the city without feeling claustrophobic and that I can sleep at night to silence, not arguing drunk people on the street corner.
Which brings you to the introduction to my apartment. We choose a cozy little place on the Roosevelt Island of Rotterdam. I jokingly state this because the geography of this island resembles the Roosevelt Island of New York City.
My guy was undecided about the place; trying to find the perfect spot that included a balcony, two bedrooms and a good proximity to the city. I was only able to view the apartment through a personal Skype tour, but I knew it would be our home.
I absolutely love our spacious apartment. There is plenty of space for my clothes, we have HEAT!, and a gorgeous view of the Swan.
It truly feels like our home.
Proximity to other European cities
Getting in and out of Rotterdam is easy when you’re a big hub for connections to other European cities. On the high speed train, you can get to Paris in less than half a day. If you fancy a flight to Madrid, that’s only 2 hours; shorter than a flight from NYC to Puerto Rico. Or perhaps you want to go on a road trip to cross over the German boarder to enjoy some bratwurst.
I love the mental possibilities I make in my head for future trips. Europe, get ready for me to explore the crap out of you.
The Skyline & The Future of Rotterdam
I’m spoiled- the Manhattan skyline has been my home for 26 years and I’m proud of it. I admired it from Brooklyn during turbulent times and when I visit my sister in New Jersey, it’s my oasis from insanity. But, I can never regret that New York City is my hometown.
Rotterdam’s skyline continues to grow; every time I come back for a visit, there is a new building or infrastructure rising tall. I love taking photographs on the Kop van Zuid to watch the passing boats, or the tourists looking for the Hotel New York, as I once did when I first visited. I am proud when I can answer a Dutch person’s simple question, like “What time is it?” because I can actually answer. (Unfortunately, I cannot continue a conversation unless it includes the sentence: “Ik spreek geen Nederlands.”
And Rotterdam too is proud just like me, of being home to what was once the tallest office building in Europe in 1898. The Witte Huis is an infamous part of the Oud Haven and It also features the tallest office building in The Netherlands at the moment, the Maastoren, and the tallest residential building, The New Orleans Tower. one of my favorite places to people watch.