Rotterdam was a “complete 180” from Amsterdam. It felt more like a city as us Torontonians understood a city to be. The buildings were taller, structures were wider, and the urban skyline made us feel like we were closer to home.
Amsterdam was luckier than Rotterdam in WWII. The Rotterdam Blitz destroyed everything, which is why the architecture in the city is much more modern and what we understood “urban” to be. The buildings were much taller and daring in comparison to Amsterdam. Rotterdam Centraal Station was a piercing structure itself. The sprinkling of sprinkling of 17th century-inspired structures among contemporary designs made us instantly feel comfortable.
Although there were tons of new and ongoing developments, the Dutch still manage to integrate city life and the natural landscape once again in Rotterdam. Boat tours are also popular here and we had the chance to go on one through the Nieuwe Maas distributary of the Maas River.
Later on in the day, some of us decided to walk around the city throughout some neighbourhoods and do some research for our projects. Markthal (Market Hall, opened in 2014) featured an open market on the ground floor under an arch of apartments. I had never witnessed housing and retail combined in this way before. Even though I spotted the balconies outside of the building, I hadn’t actually realized what I was seeing until I was inside. You can read more about Markthal here.
The change in ethnic diversity from Amsterdam to Rotterdam was noticeable, but this possibly could have been because most folks were walking through the canal network and we didn’t notice them. Nevertheless, our group blended right into Rotterdam and the stares decreased drastically. I saw many condos and even a basketball court nested in between a small apartment complex. The lights and street art gave life to the city.