We. Are. Rotterdam.

Resilient.  Re-built.  Re-designed.  Re-vamped.  This.  Is.  Rotterdam.
Flattened like a pancake during the Second World War, its historic and medieval edifices bombed to smithereens, Holland’s second largest city is a testament to the spirit of determination and perseverance, successfully rising from the rubble to re-build and restore.  Its stunning landscape, juxtaposed with old-world charm and cutting-edge modern, pushes the envelope of architectural creativity, ingeniously melding steel and concrete into a showcase of design and innovation.

The Erasmus Bridge.  The Euromast.  The Cube Houses.  The list goes on and on.  So much to see, so little time.  So, there we stood, two clue-less tourists with only a couple of hours in which to discover this bustling maritime port, oblivious to the plethora of landmarks that dotted the scene.  With neither map nor GPS to guide us, we wandered, directionless, meandering along the riverfront in hopes of stumbling upon a watering hole picturesque enough to warrant an hour or so stay in which to guzzle a beverage or two before moving on to the next best thing. 

Our only issue being was that we were unable to come to a consensus regarding the type of establishment to park our weary tootsies in.   Quite the big deal if you only have four hours or so to document and explore.  Whilst I was gravitating towards hanging out on the top deck of a quaint and artsy boat, my travel companion was edging towards a more trendy venue, arguing that an outdoor patio would offer more of a cosmopolitan feel, an urban oasis where one could mesh with both locals and tourists alike.  There’s something to be said about indulging in a bit of imbibing and when interspersed with a smidgen of people watching – Voila! - You have a near perfect recipe for a dose of cultural observation mixed with a splash of mindless entertainment.

So immerse ourselves we did.  What better way to understand the vibe and soul of a city than by settling into one of the denizens of outdoor bistros that littered a bustling pedestrian promenade?  Sipping vino after vino we languished the afternoon away, curious observers of human urban behaviour at its finest – From casually eavesdropping in on undecipherable foreign lingos, or bug-eyed in astonishment at the hordes of over-budgeted shopaholics schlepping home the bargain of the day to giggling hysterically at the frenzied antics of a bus-load of clue-less globetrotters out to conquer the world – was perhaps not the most productive way of biding one’s time, but certainly one of the most entertaining! 

And, to add icing to the cake, guess who was approached by a pack of lost and stranded travellers, querying for directions to the monument of the day?

So, then, that leaves the question that begs to be asked.  Did we squander our time away?

If only for a few short hours:  We.  Were.  Rotterdam.  Nonetheless, we were in Rotterdam.

And, as for those incredible “not to be missed” landmarks?  Well, there’s always next time.  The perfect excuse for a return visit.

Come languish the day away on an outdoor patio with a view, assimilating with the locals, playing tour guide to clue-less tourists and appreciating the ambiance of a cooler than cool urban Dutch metropolis.  This.  Is.  Rotterdam.

Next post – in two weeks!!  Stay tuned for the adventures of Pink Sneakers on the Go with side-kick Mr. Oz in the Netherlands.  Catch up on Wed, April 1st!!

Let the journey begin...en route to Kinderdijk…will we ever see the windmills?

“Are we there yet?”

One could rightfully argue that the Plan was either too simple or perhaps not convoluted enough.  Why journey to your destination via the quickest and most efficient form of transit when you can just as easily complicate the expedition by throwing an obstacle or two into the mix.  Why take the direct route when you can just as readily trip yourself up and opt to instead forge along a maze of roads, without a map or a clue as how to get there.   Not asking for directions is a sure-fire key to the “success” of failure, a guaranteed path to ensuring that you’ll never ever get there – all the while encountering a highway of roadblocks chock full of stumbles and bumbles.  Whoever said that getting there is half the fun has apparently never had the privilege of travelling with Pink Sneakers on the Go.  On the Go to somewhere or most likely on the road to nowhere.  

Let the journey begin. 

Luckily for my travel buddy and I, our only obstacle to arriving at our prospective venue was none other than you know who – yes, me!  Harbouring a bucket-load of irrational fears and worries - from issues with planes, trains and automobiles (just to name a few) - my inner claustrophobic adamantly refused to place a pink-sneaker clad tootsie in any type of confining space whatsoever.

Yippee!!  On the train to somewhere or perhaps to nowhere

So there we stood in Rotterdam Centraal, two stranded voyageurs, engrossed in heated squabble about the mode of transit we should embark upon en route to Kinderdijk.  Will it be metro, tram, bus or buggy that would whisk us to our destination?  The most rational and pragmatic of the bunch (not me!) voraciously lobbied to jump on the metro to get there lickety-split (a few short stops to Rotterdam Zuiplein and then continue on by Bus 154), whilst I (cuckoo ol’ Auntie) won the battle, delirious with glee at the prospect of hopscotching for hours on end between fleets of trams and buses.

Might as well have a quick catnap whilst waiting for the bus!!

Languishing the day away waiting for the bus

Exasperated beyond belief, questioning the supposed sanity of his travel-a-holic pal, my globe-trotting side-kick stoically endured countless stares and glares from information kiosk agents worldwide, all perplexed as to why someone would elect to forgo the rapid whoosh of metros versus the laboured trudge of trams and trollies.

Had it not been mid-October, we would have been effortlessly ferried by boat to our destination, a picturesque canal glide that, alas, was only offered in peak tourist season, from early April to the end of September.

And let’s get real here, after all, the journey, with all of its spills and tumbles, is what makes traipsing the globe all the more memorable.  And let’s not forget the most important and crucial element here, as any hitch of a glitch sure does make great fodder for who know who’s Blog on the Go.  And as for those phobias, peculiarities and eccentricities of a certain Cuckoo on the Go…well, let’s just say that they’re the brainchild of a certain pink-sneaker clad ol’ Auntie’s cleverly concocted Plan.

Or, are they?

And, as for those windmills, the pictures speak for themselves.

Pink Sneakers on the Go Fascinating Tidbits of Info:

Did you know that the descendants of the Cat and the Cradle kitty are known as the Molenkatten or Windmill Cats?  These feral cats are fed and sheltered at the De Kattenmand  (Cat Shelter) and are tended to by volunteers and the Dutch SPCA.

And, as for what happened to the baby that was found inside the cradle that washed up on the shore of Kinderdijk?   Legend has it that a young boy found the cradle, in which a baby girl was snuggled and that many years later, the pair fell in love and married.  

Next blog – Wed, March 18th!!  Where to next?  Perhaps sightseeing in Rotterdam? Stay tuned!!