Oh Rotterdam. It couldn’t be more different to Amsterdam. It’s a lot more chilled, slower paced and people are just…chilled. I could soooo up and move there! The adventure started in Rotterdam getting the train from Amsterdam Central Station to Rotterdam Central Station. You can get the fast train or normal train to Rotterdam Central. The fast train has less stops but the normal train only takes about 45 mins to Rotterdam Central so we opted for that instead. Travel Tip – Clarify whether the train you are getting on is a fast train or not BEFORE you get on the train. Seems simple enough but we got into a huge muddle trying to work out if we were on the fast train or not. The idea is to figure that out before getting on the train rather than after and once the train has started moving! Ha!
Freshly arrived in Rotterdam, we made our way to our awesome studio apartment in Hillegersberg and got settled before heading off to the North Sea Jazz festival, the reason we were in Rotterdam to begin with. And then the fun began!
The festival was absolutely epic! I love Love LOVED it!! To be honest, I felt like every act I saw was a highlight but the standout moments for me were watching Buena Vista Social Club on their farewell performance (I had tears in my eyes) and getting caught on camera grooving to Nile Rodgers and Chic! Just an amazing time!
If you are planning to go for the North Sea Jazz festival, do make sure that you book tickets in time. Tickets sold out very quickly for this festival and unless you have boat loads of cash to shell out and lots of luck to buy a ticket from a ticketholder (not to mention avoid getting scammed by a tout!), then make sure you get them in time. Tip – wait for the PLUS concerts to be announced in case you would prefer to go for an ALL-IN ticket but buy the 3-day ticket asap after that announcement, because they will go very quickly. I didn’t get to see Stevie Wonder on the Saturday unfortunately but I did get to go to a pre-carnival party for a band performing in the Rotterdam Carnival which was absolutely hilarious!
In terms of getting around Rotterdam, it was relatively straightforward. There’s an extensive tram system – a bit mind boggling for a Londoner who lives nowhere near a tram! – together with the usual buses and metro. Our flat was about 15-20 minutes from the Central Station and roughly about 40 minutes to Zuidplein, where the festival was being held. It is also super easy to do a walking tour of the city, and if you’re feeling brave enough, why not navigate the city by bike? We were not feeling brave enough, but did manage a boat ride and get to discover the city on foot, at least what we could do in the time we had.
Last day in Rotters (as it became affectionately known in our little trio) and we went out to discover the city. We fell in love with Rotters, such a beautiful, unique, friendly city. If you’re into architecture, then head to Rotterdam. It is an architectural dream, lots of uniquely designed buildings standing side to side. I’m not that big on architecture myself but I still loved it!
I’ll be back for sure next year for the North Sea Jazz fest AND the Rotterdam Carnival. I plan to be on a float in the Carnival shaking ma thang!!! Just you wait!