The first hours of the morning passed by in some sort of brain fog that had nothing to do with the weather and a lot with being a grown up lady who is not OK to act as a drink taster in dark dens. I can’t remember if we had breakfast or not but I remember coming back to Belgium in one of those wonderful Flixbuses with super nice drivers (the sarcasm level here is immense). Our next destination was Rotterdam, which rang a bell due to Mr. Erasmus (humanist, philosophist, philologist and theologist from the XV century) and therefore I imagined the city having a sort of Renaissance style, or in millennial terms, old. And on the subject on millennial trends: we went to Rotterdam and you can’t imagine what happened next!
After leaving all our stuff in the hotel and eating some quick noodles, we hired two bikes from the Donkey Republic, a company that allows you to hire a bike for 24 hours (12€) and take it wherever you want. You download the app, register, pay, put the phone near the lock and voilà: habemus bike. When you stop, you close the lock and when you need it again you unlock it with your phone. Maybe those of you who have grown up with a smartphone as an extension of your upper limbs are not impressed but I almost saw Ms-Dos being born so I am amazed by these technologies.
A wee thing I want to make clear, when I link pages it’s not because I get a commission or anything, it’s because I like them, full stop. So I can say the good and the bad, and the bad is that my bike had a slightly loose seat and it wasn’t being kind to my bum when stopping at traffic lights.
The first stop was Markthall, a market where you’d want to live. Lots of cheese and lots of waffles. And much more, according to the official website there are around a hundred stalls…you could even find serrano ham “de bellota” there… Advice number one if you visit Rotterdam: don’t go to the Markthall after eating because you’ll have a hard time. And you’ll end up eating anyway despite not needing it at all.
The magic of this market resides not only in its stalls but also in the building itself, an edifice with an unique structure and design: residential and office space on the outside, delicious and colourful in the hollow inside.
In other circumstances you’d think these people have gone bananas with that building, but no, they went bananas with all of them. From the train station to office spaces, libraries, metro stops, bridges, houses…
I think they design with a pencil in one hand and a joint in the other. Oops, sorry if I’ve offended anyone, I meant a mouse and a joint, these things are now digitally done… there’s no other way to explain that originality and that lack of respect for basic notions of physics that leads them to place windows upside down or lay a cube house on a vertex…
Surprisingly these houses are not just urban decoration but real houses with normal people (sort of…) living inside. In fact, one of the inhabitants has decided to earn some extra cash by opening the doors of one of these 38 creations and for 3€ you can observe his marvellous collection of Star Wars and LOTR figures (I’ve been informed that this is not part of the exhibition, but eh, they’re quite nice) and of course, appreciate how it feels living inside the Kuboswoning: unsettling. I guess you’ll get used to it eventually but the question is: why?
After taking a thousand and one pictures to show we weren’t imagining things (it’s a real possibility in this country…) and that buildings were certainly weird, we continued our cycling route crossing the Willems Bridge over the river Mass. And resuming that thing I said about expecting a Renaissance style city and being let down: apparently this city is known as the San Francisco of the Maas. Maas because that’s the name of the river we were crossing riding our donkeys and San Francisco… Exactly, because it looks like San Francisco. With the gigantic bridges and the glass skyscrapers and everything. Here is a picture of the Erasmusbridge from the Willems:
And here is one of the Willems bridge:
And we’ll finish with one of the skyline from the other side of the river, a beautiful sunset that we were supposed to admire from a tower in that area according to Mr Maps. After years of taking me to my destination I wasn’t expecting this treason: the app guided us to a business building with a PRIVATE lift. I’ve forgiven it because the views from that side were actually nice and because I don’t know where to go if the phone doesn’t tell me the way… the sense of direction is not my best skill, as I’m sure would be corroborated by those who know I once got lost because they moved the cars I had decided to use as an accurate unmovable spatial reference…
Back on our non-motorized vehicle and to the city, to end the night having some sort of kebabs for dinner and going for a stroll in a park with “wee turds”. I’m not sure how else to describe this park where some genius urban space designer decided it’d be a great idea to build, in a neighbourhood riddled with coffee shops, pubs and happy ‘shrooms shops, a grass park with a completely green puddle in the middle surrounded by benches in the image and likeness of giant coloured turds. A magic world in which to live extrasensory experiences… although not as nice as the nearby “Cool District” neighbourhood, with hanging lights and plants. But, being honest, you don’t need to go up much on the beauty scale to surpass the park with the rainbow shits.
We decided to finish that night a little earlier, partially because I’m an old lady who does not go out on Sundays, especially after giving it my all in previous nights, and partially so we’d be OK to explore some more of Rotterdam the following day, before going back to Eindhoven airport.
On the next day, after a massive breakfast in Markthall, we went back to the neighbourhood we visited the night before, a very hip neighbourhood with urban art and graffiti, which we read was done by people with disabilities or mental health difficulties. And as it’s well expressed by popular wisdom, a picture (or five) is worth a thousand words.
We ended our journey in Het Park, before eating in the station and taking a train back to Eindhoven Airport, where a stupid plane would take us back to routine, bringing this wee adventure to an end…
Hasta la vista, babies 😉