There are ample travel guides, blogs, websites and Wikipedia pages that can tell you anything about Rotterdam’s highlights and hotspots. Nevertheless, you will only find out the real insider tips once you go explore and visit Rotterdam by yourself, which is exactly what I have done for you. Here I present to you the list of 10 fun and little-known facts about Rotterdam that only locals can tell you.
1. Rotterdam has its own “red light district”…
Amsterdam’s red light district might be world-famous: Rotterdam has its own red lights that deserve some more fame than they have now. In case you are planning on visiting or studying in Rotterdam, you must have found out by now that the city of Rotterdam got completely bombed by the Germans in 1940. The red burning flames that can be found all through Rotterdam in the ground represent the fire line of the bombings. Everything within the fire line was bombed and everything outside of the fire line survived. In total there are 400 lights all through the city and even at the Kralingse Bos, forming a 12km long line.
2. … and a few canals, too.
Have you heard people say that Amsterdam is the city full of canals and Rotterdam exists of only concrete architecture? Those people are wrong! If you go to Delfshaven, Rotterdam’s historical harbour, you still get the Old Dutch vibe that is around in all other cities in the Netherlands.
3. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world…
Rotterdam is the most multicultural city in the Netherlands, hosting inhabitants of over 160 different nationalities. Rotterdam’s current mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, is Moroccan and with that the first Moroccan mayor in the Netherlands.
4. … and the only city in Holland with a Skyline
Rotterdam is the only city in the Netherlands with a skyline. A very beautiful skyline, I must say. When crossing the Erasmus bridge, Willems bridge or any other bridge over the Maas in Rotterdam, you will see what I am talking about. The reason why the other cities do not have a real skyline is that they have no skyscrapers around a river or harbour.
5. Probably the only city in the world with a Butt-plug statue
No, this statue does not have anything to do with Fifty Shades of Grey. In the middle of Rotterdam at Eendrachtsplein there is a statue officially called Santa Claus, which represents Santa Claus holding a Christmas tree. However, something not taken into consideration when creating this piece of art is that the Christmas tree resembles a butt plug. That way, the nickname “Kabouter Buttplug” or in English ‘The Buttplug Gnome” was born.
6. Knows how to throw a frat party
Frat parties are not something tied to American college movies only. Just as crazy are the Dutch student associations. Rotterdam hosts 6 different student associations that you can be part of as a student. However, it has to be said that it is more fun to participate when you speak Dutch, mostly because most associations have a 10-day hazing period in which a committee of the current members of the association scream at you in Dutch. Nonetheless, male-only student association RSC throws international student parties once a year (open for both boys and girls) and Laurentius hosts Open Parties about 5 times per year. Would you like to join an association but you do not feel too comfortable about your Dutch? Try out a student sports association! Erasmus Hockey Association Never Less for instance has ample international players and organise a lot of parties and other activities for its members. Talking about sports, this leads me to my next little-known fact.
7. Keeps you fit – cheap
Looking for a place in Rotterdam to keep in shape? Look no further! Erasmus University hosts its very own Sports Centre right on campus. In August or September you can buy fairly cheap student card for about €165 a year. However, if you really want to save money but still want to exercise, it would be wise to join a student sports association. I already introduced you to Never Less, the student hockey association. Playing hockey here for one year will cost you €125 (AY2014/2015) and the sports card is already included then! Not only do you save money, you can also play hockey every Monday and meet new people, both Dutch and international. The activities are cheap and a great way to get to know your fellow teammates. Never played hockey before? No worries! Never Less facilitates hockey practice for both beginners and advanced players. In fact, some of their members have never even hold a hockey stick in their lives before coming to Never Less!
8. Has the best bar in the world (-fact!)
In 2009 prestigious travel guide Lonely Planet named the bar De Witte Aap at the Witte de Withstraat in Rotterdam the best bar in the world. If you come in on a Thursday or Saturday you are assured to be part of a big crowd inside of this bar.
9. And it’s the city that never sleeps
Rotterdam might not be the Big Apple, it is a city that never sleeps as well. Mondays are great for going out to the Irish Pub at Rodezand or to the Après-Skihut. On Tuesdays Club BED hosts international parties, just like Blender on Wednesdays called Crossroads. Every Wednesday, study association STAR from Rotterdam School of Management hosts social drinks at Divoza as well. Thursday is student night so you can basically go anywhere you like. Café Beurs is a place where a lot of Dutch students go to, but both BED and Blender hosts another weekly party on Thursdays as well. During the weekend you can basically go to any place in Rotterdam and you will run into a party there.
10. Has one pretty unusual party venue
This old ferry, the SS Rotterdam from the Holland-America Line is now a hotel, party- and wedding location, and restaurant all in one. Bought by the owner of Hotel New York in Rotterdam the boat is transformed into a hip and trendy location. The initial plan for it was not too costly, but in the end over €250 million Euros were put into restoring this ship a great state. Want to go for a swim in summer? There is a pool on one of the roof terraces, which you can enter for free!
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