It's Thursday (Day 6), May 19, 2011. I decided to take advantage of the hotel's free shuttle to Leiden Centraal at 9am, which is their last trip to town. The distant to Rotterdam from Leiden is about the same as to Amsterdam, but the ticket cost slightly less, at 13 Euro, plus the 50c service fee.
I arrived at Amsterdam in less than 30 minutes, and went straight to the VVV. There is a smaller VVV office called the Info Cafe, right next to the Grandcafé-Restaurant Engels. It is not completely obvious where it is coming out of the station. But if you look for the Engels cafe, it is right after the corner.
There is heavy construction going on at the Central Station. I can imagine it will be a pretty and modern site once it is completed. Right outside the station is also RET office where you can get the day pass.
I stopped by the Info Cafe and ask for a map or a walking guide of some sort. There is a Roaming Rotterdam guide available for free, or download able from the VVV website. There is a small and simply map with the walking tour route in this free brochure and it became the guide I use for my walking tour.
The Info Cafe also sells a 1 Euro Map which I decided to purchase. The map is larger, will 3D images of tourist spots. And with the purchase of the Rotterdam Welcome card, the map is included. The welcome card cost 9 Euro but includes a 24 hour public transport day card which cost 7 Euro, and a coupon book. Since I was planning to purchase the day card, I decided to get the Welcome Card.
From the Info Cafe, it wasn't too obvious which direction I should go. A compass might have helped. But since I have lost the ability to use my Samsung Vibrant, I neither has GPS nor a working compass with me.
I followed the walking guide, and roam through many new and old buildings, squares and sculpture. As I am not really interested in sculptures, I will mention them as I upload some of the pictures I have taken.
My first meaningful stop was the Central Library. The library in dutch is bibloteek. I followed the suggestion of the guide and went up to the 6th floor of the library using it's escalator. There is a pretty nice view of a part of the city (much of it is under major construction), and the cube houses which sit next door. There are also many beautiful looking young people reading or studying surrounding the escalator. The top looks like a quiet done, with special glass enclosure.
Outside the library, there is a flying saucer looking Metro Station. There is suppose to be some special light displays showing the trains passing through the station but I can't find it, and had no desire to.
Immediately to the right of the Library is the famous Cube Houses Complex. One of the houses have been converted to a museum open for tourists. It is called the Kijk-kubus museum and there are signs directing you to it. There is also a hostel operated by Stayokay. The welcome card coupon book has a coupon for a 1 Euro discount from the normal 2.50 Euro entrance Fee. It only took me about 10 minutes to tour the whole 100 square meters, 3-story house. According to the attendance, it costs about 200 thousands Euro now a days each. One owner decided to open it up and make it into the Kijk-kubus museum.
This is definitely not a house I want to live it. I find it claustrophobic, and since I am afraid of height, I hate the stairs, especially when come down. And forget about heavy furniture, it would trickier than moving stuff in one of the old dutch houses.
After touring the cube houses my next destination is the city landmark Erasmusbrug bridge. You will see pictures of this bridge on postcards and everywhere. On the way, I passed by some old harbours, and saw some nice looking ships. Before crossing the bridge, I decided to take a boat tour on the Spido. Their ship looks modern, and I thought it if is faster, it may actually cover more areas. The ticket, after 25% discount from the coupon book was only 7.30.
I boarded the ship in just a few minutes and there weren't many passengers today. I found a good seat on the top deck and have a good view. The ship take a short detour to show us the Willemsbrug bridge, and back under the Erasmusbrug bridge towards to the port area. I took good amount of photos of the bridge from different angles only to find out later that I have set my ISO to 800 the night before. The 75 minutes boat tours pretty much is the high light of my few hours stay. Rotterdam is famous for its port and architectures. However it is no longer the busiest port in the World. It has been surpassed by Singapore and Shanghai. However, from watching documentaries in the past, I know the dutch is very advance in their ship and port related technologies. And of course they are the master in canals and land reclamation. I learned from the Marine Museum that the Palm Island in Dubai is built by a Dutch company.
After the boat tour, I walked across the Erasmusbrug bridge and took some more pictures.
From there, I walked along the sea side, and head towards the Euromast. If you are interested to take a good view of the city and the port, this is where you can claim high and look. I arrived at the tower and saw three people coming down from the viewing area of the tower using robes. It's kind of exciting. If I weren't so tired walking already, I might have gone and try.
By this time, the fews day of walking has caught on me. I could barely walk and wished there is a tram or bus stop closeby. However, I don't know what I will miss if I skip the walking tour.
So I walked back pass the Het Park. Once I came out of Het Park, I proceed through a long street called Parklaan (Park Lane). This is a wide street surround by beautiful houses on both side, which many of them have been converted to private offices. There is a piece of green in the middle and it is so peace ful walking through this street. Of course, there is another statue right in the middle.
I then came to the Museum Park and the first building I saw was the Kunsthal. Kunsthal is an art exhibition hall. I can see a large pumkin displayed inside through the large glass window. But I had no desire to venture in. So I went around it and head towards the central of the museum park.
At this time of the day, I was exhausted and hungry. I sat down and ate my Kinder Choholade, and some cookies. My hear towards to the Central Sation, it's pretty much streets filled with shops and restaurants. I stumbled across a Picasso sculpture on the way, and many more statues and sculpture.
I thought of using my transport pass to go around town once more, but at this point I had no motivation to see anything else. Since it is a Thursday, the day the shops open late, I decided to go back to Leiden to meet my wife and tour the shops in Leiden.
Perhaps in a few years, when all the new construction is finished, we will see some new faces. Some of the building which I got to see, and didn't have chance to see are truely interesting. They like to build structure that looks unconventional.