I have always associated trips to Rotterdam with gloomy industrial installations and lots and lots of oil tankers and barges. That association is not entirely wrong.
Rotterdam was for man years the world’s largest port, until recently when it got overtaken by Shanghai. It is huge, and the traffic that runs through it heads all the way down the river Rhine and even as far as the Danube. Much of that traffic is in oil, coal and other commodities that arrive in Rotterdam by sea and then are shipped onwards into the heart of Europe. But see the city in the spring and it is cast in literally another light.
I stayed at the atmospheric Hotel New York on Wilhelminaskade, a stone’s throw from the imposing Port of Rotterdam Authority tower, which administrates the business of the port, and down the road from the striking NHow Rotterdam building which looks like it has been made from misaligned blocks at nursery school.
I preferred the faded charm of the Hotel New York, a hotel that was built on the spot where the Holland America Lines had its offices, and from where Dutch men and women set sail for the New World. The site has been a national heritage site since the year 2000.
This is a really pretty part of the city, just down from the Erasmus bridge which crosses the Nieuwe Maas.