Places To Go… Rotterdam!

by farrah on May 20, 2013 · 17 comments


Last week I was in Rotterdam for the travel blogger’s conference Thursday- Sunday. I’m going to be honest and tell you that I could have stayed in a yurt in the middle of nowhere and been just as happy since I was going without children. Imagine my surprise to discover that the entire city rolled out the proverbial red carpet for us- and hosted the 200 + group in style for several days.


rottharborHarbor view from The Mainport

The city of Rotterdam is unlike anything I have seen before in the Netherlands. A mixture of pre war pockets show hints of what was before the bombings in World War II, but  what you see today is a boom of construction in the most modern form of architecture.

On 14 May 1940, during the Second World War, almost the entire city centre was destroyed in a massive bombardment. Without any hesitation, the reconstruction programme was launched within two weeks of the war’s end. Rotterdam made a radical break with the past and blazed a new trail, redefining the face of the city. Light, air and space were the watchwords. In 1954, the Lijnbaan was completed, the first pedestrianised shopping street in Europe. Rotterdam owes its contemporary image to this drive for innovation.— From

‘Blaze a new trail’ they most certainly did- and the growth, change and overall electricity is still going strong in this city which dates back to the 1200s.

Where I stayed:

The Mainport Hotel hosted our meetings and lunch- but many of the group also stayed here at a discounted rate. I was THRILLED to have stayed in a Corner room- just look at this divine bed! Saying that it was like sleeping on a cloud is such a cliché, but that’s exactly what it was like. And with no little people to wake me up at 5:30am- let’s just say I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

roomMy Corner room on the Far East themed floor

What I ate:

A breakfast buffet in Europe isn’t always as hearty as what we experienced at The Mainport. For the first time in what felt like forever I was treated to crisp- American style bacon which I probably ate more of than I should have.

Two of the afternoons I ventured out into the city and found my own lunch. The first day I had such a marvellous salmon ‘burger’ at Bagel Bakery & Burgers that I actually returned the next day, brought friends, and ate the exact same thing. And they served ice in my glass which had me swooning!

foodThe salmon burger that made me come back for seconds

My favorite dinner was at Floor Cafe– a suggestion made by my friend and companion Emiel from The Act of Traveling who lived in Rotterdam years ago.  An aussie in our group-  Jenny from Perth’s A Taste of Travel,  joined  us and we marveled at our luck having a personal tour guide! Here I encountered he best crab bisque with shrimp in my entire life. Finished off with a glass of red and two skewers of lamb tapas style- the mint sauce alone has me taking a mental note for a return visit.

Evening festivities:

manhattanView from atop the Engles Grandcafe- that’s the Manhattan Hotel on left

Every night there was an event to be had. Ah how I wish I had the stamina of 10 years ago! My first night in town there was a meet and greet event at the Maritime Museum. We were treated to a variety of beverages and fresh shuck-as-she goes-oysters which I had to try and my friend Anja from Curly Traveller was kind enough to document in her post. We were treated to an exceptional show of drums and dancing which made me wish I had spent Carnaval here!

The second evening we went to Rotown and mingled in a more historic atmosphere with an excellent DJ spinning music that I actually liked and hadn’t heard in ages (Joy Division for example).  The bar that gave start to such bands as Franz Ferdinand was lively, fun and overall a colorful venue.

Sadly,  my last night as a pampered rock star had come to an end. But this day the heavens parted and the sun shone down on us as we experienced the rooftop at Engels Grandcafe. Met at the door with a pink glass of bubbly we walked to the roof and saw the city in an all new light. Here I was also introduced to a dangerous Monte Scroppino ‘Ice Cold Symphony’ of vodka, prosecco and creamy lime. I allowed myself two and had to force myself to return to the hotel. I could easily see two leading to four and one massive headache in the morning.

With a train station, metro and tram system in place- this is a city that I can’t wait to return to with the kids. There’s a zoo and so many other wonderful places for us to see including the luxury five-star Manhattan Hotel where my husband and I plan to visit come August. Being just a quick hour and a half away by train I’m yet again humbled at the sheer amount of options we have to visit during our time here in the Netherlands.

If you get a chance check out my Instagram feed @Momofthreeunder. I have more of this beautiful hotel (including the insane jacuzzi tub with bubble explosion) and some oddities that I spotted over the weekend.

Have you ever been to Rotterdam? What’s your favorite part of the city?


Special thank you to the entire city of Rotterdam for hosting such a fantastic event. We can’t wait to come back! And special thanks to TBU organizer Oliver for making my first travel blogger’s conference an extremely worthwhile experience.

Tip: Our keynote speaker was awesome. Dad blogger + Brit humor- I think many of my American readers can appreciate Mark Richards from ‘Best Dad I Can Be@BestDadICanBe.

PS- I did indeed get to meet Ann! Can I just say how fantastic it is to meet someone in person after starting an online friendship? We hope to work together soon and I really hope you check out her blog Travel Turtle. She’ll be one of my features on the next Blogs To Brag about in case you forget 🙂

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 christie May 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I shouldn’t read this when I am hungry. Salmon burger…yummers. Glad you had a good time. That hotel looks swankers! Yay!


2 farrah May 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

It was SO good. I could never make one like that either- sob!


3 Gayla May 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm

This is a great post! Rotterdam really did a great job of welcoming us. We saw it from a whole new perspective on this visit…and the Monte Scroppino was a REALLY nice touch 😉
It was so nice meeting you. Hopefully, we can get together again in the near future 🙂


4 farrah May 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I hope so Gayla- it was a really fun (and informative) trip. I was so happy to have met you and your husband. Really hope you can make it to Oisterwijk so we can show you around 🙂


5 Emiel May 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Thanks so much Farrah and glad you loved the food at Floor! I enjoyed our dinner very much, it has been a pleasure meeting you and Jenny. Hope our paths will cross again soon! If you ever make it to the beautiful town of Deventer…well, you know how to find me 🙂


6 farrah May 20, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I do! Glad to meet you in person Emiel. And Deventer is a place we really want to revisit- there are so many gems here in Netherlands.. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to leave!


7 Anja van der Vorst May 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Nice post, Farrah. How izzit to be back home with ur kids again?


8 farrah May 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Thanks Anja! Oh you know.. one of the boys had a tick on him and they all have colds. But my husband had one impressively clean house upon my return 🙂 Great meeting you!


9 Leigh Ann May 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

This sounds fantastic! I’m so jealous of that room and bed. 🙂


10 farrah May 21, 2013 at 6:55 am

The bed was jealous-worthy, I’m not going to lie. And with no little people to wake me up with a foot in my face was heavenly 🙂

But I am, of course- back to reality!


11 jenny@atasteoftravel May 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm

We really did have a fun time didn’t we! Rotterdam was a surprise…it’s got a feel about it that makes you want to return! It was great meeting you Farrah & I look forward to seeing you in Australia!


12 farrah May 21, 2013 at 6:56 am

I was surprised too! So nice to know we have options the next time we go. And yes, please save me a spot on the beach. We plan to make it there sooner or later!


13 Ann May 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm

And I’m jealous of that clean house!


14 farrah May 21, 2013 at 6:57 am

That was pretty awesome. But he said (and is correct) that it’s a double edge sword: If the house was a mess I’d be bummed out. If it was clean that was nice but it meant I should go away more often. So I was just happy and didn’t say too much about it – ha!


15 Monique May 21, 2013 at 7:38 am

Rotterdam is totally underrated, right? Sounds like you had a great time.


16 farrah May 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

Absolutely! I was disappointed that you weren’t there, but saw how you were pretty busy running the world instead. Always great to see another city in the Netherlands – and want to return again and again!


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