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Rotterdam: Holland’s Modern Cultural Haven June 17, 2013

Posted by karamstrasser in Travel Log.
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We (slowly) woke up and enjoyed a late breakfast of coffee, juice, eggs, bread, and outstanding strawberries while watching Scrubs.

[Fun fact: In Holland, they watch nearly all American television with Dutch subtitles. Holland is too small of a country to do voice overs on every show/movie or to have enough stations of all Dutch broadcasting.]

Then, we headed out to see Rotterdam. Rotterdam has quite some interesting history to it. After being bombed by Germany years back, much of the historical and traditional European style buildings have been destroyed. There are a few remaining districts where things are still old-fashioned looking and quaint, but for the most part, the city is quite modern. Rotterdam is home to the largest port in Europe and also some of the larger buildings as well. Many of these are brand new and are popping up all over the city! Some extremely interesting architecture, too. We walked over to the South side of the city, crossed the ever so famous Rotterdam bridge, saw the tallest and the largest buildings in Holland, and sat down for a bite to eat along the port. Our Dutch accompaniments ordered Bitterballen – a combination of beef/veal, flour, and spices, breaded and fried and served with mustard. I’m still unsure as to if I actually enjoyed this…but we tried in nonetheless.

Continuing our tour of the city, we walked through an outdoor market and stopped at a food truck for some fresh, homemade, stroopwafel! Man I could eat stroopwafel all day. Imagine 2 thin, warm, crispy waffle type crepes with a vanilla-y carmel in between…mmmmmm 😀 I had tried stroopwafel when I was in Panama but the real and fresh version was a million times better!

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We finished our walking tour of Rotterdam through the new and lively outdoor shopping complex and then back towards the apartment. Along the way we saw some entirely strange outdoor art that even the people of Rotterdam cannot explain. But hey! It adds some color and culture to the city. After a little siesta at the apartment, Missy and I headed out to walk a bit more and grab a bite to eat a Sijf (our hosts had prior dinner plans that evening).

Three generations ago, Holland brought many Turkish and Moroccan citizens into the country as slave labor. Although liberated many years ago, to this day there there still is a very big influence of the Turkish and Moroccan culture in Holland. Missy and I enjoyed a nice meal with lots of olives, curry, hearty foods, and finished with mint tea and…..stroopwafel! Ah 🙂

We returned to the apartment, made some new Dutch friends, hung out for a while, then headed to another “typical Dutch bar.” Cafe Fout (translated: Cafe Mistake) was again…interesting. Songs played for 30 seconds at a time and I felt as if I was listening to music from 7th grade. The bar was beyond packed and the music was blaring, but hey, we were experiencing something! We stayed at Cafe Fout until around 5:00 AM (I think I began yawning at about 2:30) and then went to the Rotterdam version of McDonalds/Waffle House for the “traditional Dutch fourth-meal food” which they call Kapsalon (translated: hair dresser). Kapsalon was named after a hair dresser who whipped up this concoction years back and the name stuck. It’s a combination of fries, lettuce, onions, gyro meat, a garlic dressing, cheese, and a spicy sauce. I know, I know, it sounds terrible. But surprisingly, it was pretty darn good. Upon leaving the  restaurant, we saw the sun rising. At 5:45 AM! Being so far north, Rotterdam currently has a very late sunset and a very early sunrise. Really quite something! We bid adieu to a few friends and returned to the apartment…beyond ready for some sleep.

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