We are loving the Netherlands on this trip. Easily my favourite country I’ve been to in my limited experience in Europe, thus far. We spent 3 days in Amsterdam when we first arrived but they were jet lagged days and just long enough to make us want to stay longer. So, although we were happy to zip off to London, we agreed that we wanted to spend more time in the Netherlands and decided to go to Rotterdam on the way back.
Rotterdam was lovely. It was a totally different from Amsterdam, having been completely flattened during the war, and only a few of the old buildings remain. In their place is a new, modern approach to architecture and while you still have the post war traditional apartments, you also have all sorts of interesting “art pieces” for buildings, all over the city. With a prominent University, Rotterdam has a young, up and coming vibe and construction is everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Modern malls and shopping areas fill the centre. You have all the same shops in Amsterdam, but they just happen to be in a building from the 1600’s. We were surprised to find that the H&M we just went to (one of about 10 in the city) used to be a SS Recruitment Office during the war. This photo was done by an amazing master of Photoshop who juxtaposed modern images of Amsterdam with images during the War and liberation. I love this photo collection, particularly after walking around these very streets. On the left of the image you have modern Amsterdam just right of the Dam Square. On the right of the photo you have what is now the current H&M flagship store:
Here is another arresting image, with a story of a mass shooting at the end of the war. The bravery of the resistance during WWII always amazes
The historical consultant who created these images is Jo Hedwig Teeuwiss and you can find more here.
So after a week in Rotterdam, and a day trip to beautiful Delft, we decided to return to Amsterdam and that’s where we are now. We spent our days walking. About 6 hours a day, we explore different sections of the city and canals, stop for a coffee, tea or beer and some writing in a cafe. We don’t spend much money as we cook our dinners or buy a falafel. Sometimes we just sit on a bench on a canal and look at different canal flats that we imagine buying. For less than the price of a flat back home, we can buy a small apartment in Amsterdam and there are no restrictions on foreigners owning property here. You don’t get a visa to stay here long-term necessarily, but you can still own a flat. It’s our dream to live here one day…
We are trying to extend our stay here in Amsterdam by another couple of days and then we’ll probably head into Germany. We have a booking in Berlin from December 3rd, for an apartment which we rented for a month! I’m very excited to become a temporary visitor of a city I love so much and to spend Xmas and New Years in such a festive place! Before we get to Berlin, we may visit Koln/Cologne and Munich! The Christmas Markets are starting and I love them.
For now, we are enjoying each day as it comes, keeping warm, getting sore feet and getting fat! I seriously have to cut down my consumption of, well, EVERYTHING. I think I’ve gained 10 pounds since we arrived. Oliebollen, cheese, stroopwafels, beer. The list goes on. Ah well, at least we are walking a lot and I’m saving up vices for my New Years’ Resolutions! Until next time!