Thursday, 17 November 2016

this could be Rotterdam

Wednesday 26 to Sunday 31 October - 'Five go to Antwerp and Rotterdam'

(or if you'd prefer to start this holiday at the beginning, please start with "in the midnight hour")


Early morning at the palatial Antwerpen Centraal - an incredible station with layer upon layer of platform levels and huge cathedral-like spaces inside.

We also spied Antwerp Zoo right next to the station - we've got to visit that next time we return - looked amazing on the outside and it's said to be one of the oldest zoos in the world, founded in 1843.
And yes, we are still inside the station . . .
 awaiting the crowded 9:45 to Rotterdam - we had to stand all the way, it was jammed!!
We travelled through a thick white mist as we crossed the Belgian/Dutch border but as soon as we hit Rotterdam the sky cleared and the sun came out.  We stashed our cases in the left luggage and headed straight out to the bus terminus to await our bus to the Spaanse Polder industrial zone, north-west of Rotterdam.

Waiting for the bus was a dream on these swivel seats.

First stop a wonderful 2 hour tour of the incredible UNESCO-listed Van Nelle Fabriek.  This was a real treat and such an incredible modernist building built in 1931.  We heard all the fascinating history of the family and it's use as a tobacco, coffee and tea factory.  It was designed by Leendert van der Vlugt.
View of Rotterdam from the roof of the Van Nelle factory
and of the De Schie Prison below - designed by Carel Weeber
And somehow the Van Nelle factory preservation got me to wondering what they will do with the old purpose built modernist Cadbury's factory in Moreton where so many of us worked over the years.  Its 70 acres now empty and up for sale.  So much inside: all the different old production lines and packing stations and the staff theatre, recreation and dining rooms. And all those old clocking-on machines in the entrances!!  I hope they allow tours before it's possibly demolished for much needed housing.  Might have to turn urban explorer if not . . .Now I know I am diverging from Rotterdam, but a quick google and I have uncovered that the landscaping around the factory, still there to see from the Merseyrail, was the work of Geoffrey Jellicoe as this fascinating post explains - The Cadbury factory, a pivotal modern landscape.
But back to the lovely Rotterdam . . .
We left Van Nelle, walking through the estates it's workers had lived in, and took the tram into the city centre.  Our next stop was the beautiful Rem Koolhaus art gallery, the KunstHal
first stop, you've guessed, was for lunch and I had a pretty amazing lentil soup
loved this Anthony Gormley figure on the top
and how about this for a green transport system . . .
loving Rotterdam very spacious and modern with a great excitement and outward looking feel about it.
This was a theatre designed by Bolles and Wilson, right next to our hotel
And we finally check into said hotel, the fabulous Nhow - also designed by Rem Koolhaus
and this was the view from our windows on floors 19 & 20 as night set in - the famous Erasmus Bridge by UNStudio spanning the River Maas - you'd think it didn't get much better than this - but wait til you see the morning light on it tomorrow!!
Anyway, after a great 4 course tasting meal in the panoramic restaurant, we strolled along the quay to the New York Bar for a final nightcap then wandered back to our hotel with all the city sparkling at our feet along the river.  Magical
So ofcourse I had to finish with this one, as it was swirling around in our heads all day!! Click and enjoy . . .

and tomorrow was our last day in Rotterdam so be sure to tune in and read all about it.

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