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The Randstad Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips Part 2


ROTTERDAM

Rotterdam is not your quintessential Dutch city. Bombed to oblivion on 14 May 1940, its centre is ultra-modern, with mirrored skyscrapers and some extraordinarily innovative buildings. The city prides itself on this experimental architecture, as well as having the world's largest port.

Orientation

The heart of the city is formed by the pedestrianised shopping streets based around Lijnbaan. The VVV (414 00 00), Coolsingel 67, is open 9.30 am to 5 or 6 pm Monday to Saturday (until 9 pm Friday), and from noon to 5 pm Sunday from 1 April to 30 September.

The main post office is at Coolsingel 42, opposite the VVV. Internet users should head to Time2surf, Stadhuisplein 32, near the VVV.

Things to See & Do

Rotterdam's sights lie within a region bordered by the old town of Delfshaven (accessible by metro), the Maas River (Maas in Dutch) and the Blaak district. Those interested in architecture should buy the guidebook Two Architecture Walks (5 €) from the VVV.

The most famed sight in Delfshaven is the Oude Kerk, Aelbrechtskolk 20, where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail to the New World.

The city's many museums are headed up by the Boijmans van Beuningen, Museumpark 18, a rich gallery of 14th-century to contemporary art (closed Monday; 4 €).

The Schielandshuis museum on Korte Hoogstraat 31, the only central 17th-century building to survive the German bombing blitz, gives insight into that tragic day (closed Monday; 3 €).

Spido runs daily 75-minute harbour cruises (8 €) and day trips (20 €) to the harbour's heart at Europoort.

The Euromast, a 185m-high tower, pricks the skyline at Parkhaven 20 (8 €). A combination ticket for a Spido harbour cruise and the Euromast costs 14 €.

With an Escher-like design, the Kijk-Kubus (Cube Houses), Overblaak 70, offer a new angle on modern living. The display house (2 €) is open from 11 am to 5 pm daily; take the metro to Blaak.

Around Rotterdam

The Kinderdijk, the Netherlands' picture-postcard string of 19 working windmills, sits between Rotterdam and Dordrecht near Alblasserdam. On Saturday afternoons in July and August the mills' sails are set in motion. One windmill is open daily from 1 April to 30 September - get the metro to Zuidplein then bus No 154 (2 hours).

GOUDA

Think Dutch cheese, and most people will say Gouda. This pretty little town, 25km north-east of Rotterdam, is best known for its cheese market, held at 10 am every Thursday morning from July through August. Enormous rounds of cheese - some weighing up to 25kg - are brought to the Markt where they're weighed and sold. Surprisingly, the Markt is the largest in the country, as Gouda was a major player in the cloth trade in the Middle Ages. For more information, the VVV (0182-51 36 66) is at Markt 27.

UTRECHT

Lorded over by the Dom, the country's tallest church tower, Utrecht is an antique frame surrounding an increasingly modern interior. Its 14th-century sunken canals, once-bustling wharfs and cellars now brim with chic restaurants and cafes.

Orientation

The most appealing quarter lies between Oudegracht and Nieuwegracht and the streets around the Dom.

The VVV (0900-414 14 14), Vredenburg 90, is five minutes from the train station; it's open 9 am to 6 pm weekdays and until 5 pm Saturday.

Things to See & Do

The 112m-high Dom Tower has 465 steps leading up to excellent views. From 1 April to 31 October, the tower is open 10 am to 5 pm weekdays and noon to 5 pm weekends. The rest of the year it's open weekends only (4 €).

The Museum Van Speelklok tot Pierement, Buurkerkhof 10, has a colorful collection of musical clocks and street organs (closed Monday and Sunday morning; 6 €).

For religious and medieval art buffs, Het Catharijneconvent Museum, Nieuwegracht 63, winds through a 15th-century convent and has the country's largest collection of medieval Dutch art (closed Monday; 5 €).

 

 

 

The Randstad


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