A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
One thing you’ll notice about Rotterdam is how hard it is to walk through the city without commenting on the buildings. The entire city looks like a modern art exhibit, with architecture that seems to defy the laws of physics. I was there with my friends for the CAMERA Japan Festival（カメラジャパンフェスティバル）which was showcasing a wide variety of the latest Japanese films. But before we jumped into that, I insisted we spend time exploring this Dutch metropolis! We followed our friend, a Rotterdam local and therefore our de facto tour guide, through the city in surprisingly pleasant weather. Here’s what we saw.
To get into the city from the central station is a short walk with lots of greenery. We encountered several abstract sculptures that left us puzzled.
After finding a nice outdoor café for lunch, my friend ordered a plate of escargot, insisting it was an important part of Rotterdam cuisine (which I’m now pretty sure he was lying about). This garnered groans from the rest of our group. I’m usually a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to “adventurous” food so I watched as others tried and made faces and sounds of disapproval.
We then headed to the Rotterdam Market Hall, which was a fun experience! The dome-like structure has colorful images of food, and you can see into the windows of the apartments of people who live in the hall. The lower floors also showcase archeological discoveries made while constructing the building. I couldn’t leave without having a delicious Belgian waffle.
Making our way to the harbor, we passed by the well-known cubic apartment buildings (people in Rotterdam really live in style) and gazed at them in awe for a while before moving on. I personally liked the harbors of Rotterdam the best. The breeze blowing past as you walk across impressive bridges is a great feeling.
Below is the Erasmus Bridge. To the left there’s a row of “typical” Dutch buildings with new, taller ones in the background. Most of Rotterdam was leveled during WWII, which explains the rise of modern architecture that rebuilt the city.
Although I kept my expectations low for whatever reason, the film festival was great! We watched The Case of Hana and Alice (2015), an animation directed by Shunji Iwai. It had a very unique art style and told a heartwarming story about friendship and heartbreak in high school years. I think it left us feeling pretty nostalgic, and we concluded our day with some good Chinese food and a train ride home.