If you are into food halls like me then you should head to Rotterdam where you can find the mother of all food halls. It is huge and features fresh, modern architecture – a recurring theme in Rotterdam (see the unique, cube houses near the Blaak station). The modern architecture differentiates Rotterdam from the other Dutch cities. This is so because most of Rotterdam has been destroyed during the war and has been rebuilt. Rotterdam also boasts of the largest port in Europe with about 30,000 sea-going vessels visiting the port every year. Don’t forget to visit the Maritime Museum to learn more about the maritime industry and get a chance to see some historic vessels docked outside the museum. There’s also a lot of fun activities for kids and a sailor-themed play area at the top floor.
Delft is a small university town (TU Delft) It is famous for the Delft Blue pottery. The origins of the Delft Blue can be traced in the 16th century when the Dutch East India Co. also brought Chinese porcelain along with spices and other products. This inspired the Dutch to also manufacture their own version of blue and white porcelains. We had a chance to visit the factory and saw the craftsmen busy with their work. The pieces are still hand painted according to centuries old tradition (est. 1653). Each piece has a hand painted trademark and comes with a certificate of authenticity. From the factory, we took the tricycle (operating like a hop-on hop-off) to the historic city center of Delft (shown in one of the photos along with the town hall) and spent the rest of the afternoon people-watching in a cafe along its pretty canal.
Utrecht is bigger than Delft and also a university town (TNO). We only planned to take the kids to the Miffy Museum (yup the little konintje has her own museum). Miffy was created by Dick Bruna and is very popular with the toddlers here in the Netherlands. However, it happened to be the Open Monumentendag the day we visited so we got to visit museums for free. One of which (the building in the photo) is the Renswoude Foundation. It was founded by a rich lady who gave a grant to talented orphans to further their training in the field of arts. The building itself has the best preserved rococo-interior in the Netherlands. Because it is owned by a foundation, no one really had the interest to renovate and modernize it, according to the tour guide. It was curious how in those times the architects paid a lot of attention to symmetry. So in the building, where on the right has a door, the cabinet on the left was designed to look like a door too. And in the facade, the doors in the left and the right of the building are perfectly symmetrical. When you go inside one door however, there is a staircase going a few steps down because the terrain is uneven but they just had to keep the doors in the facade symmetrical so that’s that. Curious Utrecht.