On Day 4 we were scheduled to explore Rotterdam … and we did!
During WWII the center of Rotterdam was completely destroyed… As a result, there are many, new and quite diverse buildings in Rotterdam. It is a city of many contrasts. For forty years, from 1962 to 2004, it was the world’s busiest port (now surpassed by Shanghai). But where are the ships? The primary port – still the busiest in Europe – has been rebuilt, outside the city center.
Below is a view of the Erasmus Bridge and in the background, our hotel, the Nhow Rotterdam. You also can see the Oasis of the Seas docked AT our hotel! It was in-town for a three-week refitting and thousands came out to see the HUGE ship.
Rotterdam is a vibrant, active city with diverse museums, high-end shopping, and an active nightlife! The architecture in the city reflects this diversity. There are skyscrapers in Rotterdam – you don’t see that often in The Netherlands. During our full day in the city, we were able to tour various neighborhoods. I was struck by how different parts of the city looked. You could definitely distinguish between the old and new parts (What an incredible train station!).
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
After touring the city by bus, our first stop was the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. The museum opened in 1849. It houses the collections of Frans Jacob Otto Boijmans and Daniël George van Beuningen. In the collection, ranging from medieval to contemporary art, are works of Rembrandt, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Salvador Dalí. We had too-brief a visit – so much to see in this museum.
Our next stop was the SS Rotterdam, the first steamship of the Holland America Line. The Rotterdam was the last great Dutch “ship of state”, employing the finest artisans from the Netherlands in her construction. Her career spanned forty-one years. Now she has been returned to her former glory and is moored in Katendrecht, operating as a four-star hotel. After a delightful lunch, we took part in a private guided tour, led by the Hotel Manager.
If you are a ship enthusiast looking for a unique experience, this floating hotel is a historical option. Do go for the larger cabins… they are surprisingly spacious.
Our did a brief site inspection at the Hilton Rotterdam. This hotel is located in the center of town – it’s an excellent location. I really liked this hotel, far more than the Nhow Rotterdam.
From the outside, the Hilton Rotterdam does not look like much. But inside, all the rooms have been renovated. Despite the chaotic and busy streets outside, the interior of the hotel was serene and quiet. The rooms were larger than standard Euro-hotels, the staff attentive, and the hotel exuded service… I would certainly recommend staying here if you’re headed to Rotterdam!
Heading to Maastricht… and Chateau Neercanne
After Rotterdam, we headed about 2.5 hours southeast to Maastricht, the oldest city in The Netherlands. It’s a beautiful, an almost fairy-tale-town, with many restaurants, art museums, and some of the best shopping in The Netherlands. I have been fortunate to have visited before and I would heartily recommend its inclusion in any visitor itinerary.
Our first night in Maastricht, we went to the incredible Chateau Neercanne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Château Neercanne is the only terraced castle in the Netherlandsand offers panoramic views of the Jeker valley and a Michelin 2-star restaurant. Of all the meals we had in The Netherlands, this was my favorite. Great food, wonderfully matched wines… this is where I’ll be returning my next trip to Maastricht. We also visited the wine cellars and had an excellent port. Can’t wait to return! If you are a foodie, this is a “must-do” experience.
These pictures do not do justice to Chateau Neercanne… you have to go see and experience this wonderful location.
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