Rotterdam, Holland, is an eco-haven of cool. Xav Judd checked out electric buses, eco-friendly eateries and bicycle tours for TNT.
Last time I mentioned the term eco-friendly to someone, they looked
at me as if they’d just swallowed their granddad’s false teeth. But
being green nowadays, whether it’s to do with bars, restaurants or even
travel, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice substance or style.
As I am to find out, this is nowhere more evident than Rotterdam, the Netherland’s second most populous city.
Neatly split into two by the vibrant blue river Nieuwe Maas, this
coastal metropolis is Europe’s biggest port. However, it was almost
completely flattened in World War II by the Nazis. Such brutal
devastation never dampened the people’s spirits, so after the conflict,
the architectural and philosophical foundations were laid to make
Rotterdam an eco-haven of cool.
A great, green way to explore the city’s plethora of sustainable and innovative buildings is to hop onto the saddle; Rotterdam ByCycle do edifice and green tours. The geometric collision of yellows, greys and whites that adorn Piet Blom’s 1980’s constructed Kubuswonig (cube houses) is eye-catching as you whizz by.
Just as intriguing is the Netherland’s Architecture Institute, all
well-placed shimmering strips of steel and glass, and the glimpse of
the future afforded by the floating pavilion. It’s a shiny amalgam of
silver semi-spheres in the harbour, and can also adapt to climate
This town has absolute abundance of swanky eco-friendly eateries.
I tuck into steamed biological wild salmon, rocket and herb salad and compote of red onions, in the organic café De Unie. And even though I’m slightly allergic to nuts, I can’t resist the delicious smorgasbord of flavours, including hazelnut ice-cream and baked banana, in their dessert.
There’s a variety of similar restaurants from the Italian Oliva to the Gallic Zinc, while JuicyDetails has sandwiches, salads and tasty, 100 per cent pure-liquefied fruit smoothies.
Despite enjoying my first glug of biological wine in Rotterdam, my eyes aren’t deceiving me when I catch sight of an electric bus.
Energy-saving and sleek, it moves far faster than the Popemobile, as I had cheekily previously imagined. These vehicles demonstrate just how much this place is dedicated to sustainability, whether it’s the functionality of the majestic cityscape and green open spaces or a host of eco-friendly stores, including ones specialising in clothes, furniture and Fairtrade products.
To my astonishment, even some of the clubs in this town are environmentally conscious. Worm is an artistic centre with a trendy vibe. Much of the décor is recycled, with furniture crafted from old car tyres and seats.
I end my stay in Rotterdam in the swanky mishmash of neon that is the ordinary energy-guzzling restaurant-cum bar-cum-nightspot Blender. But I think I’ve done my bit for the green lobby, and besides, I’m no saint!
Eat, Drink, Sleep
Where to eat
Check out design-led eatery De Unie, in Mauritsweg 34-35 (deunie.nu).
Feast on sophisticated international cuisine at the cool De Machinist, Willem Buytewechstraat 45, (demachinist.nl).
For tasty Italian fare, visit Oliva, Witte de Withstraat 15a (gustoliva.nl)
Where to drink
Sip back classy cocktails at Blender, Schiedamsevest 91, (blenderrotterdam.nl).
Join creative types at the bohemian De Witte Aap, in Witte de Withstraat 78 (dewitteaap.nl).
Enjoy exotic cocktails at Hawaiian surf bar Tiki’s, Hartmansstraat 16a, (tikis.nl).
Where to stay
Crash at Hostel Rotterdam (stayokay.com), which offers rooms from £22 per night.
Hostel Room Rotterdamin Van Vollenhovenstraat (roomrotterdam.nl) offers dorm beds from £21.50 per night.
Suitehotel Pincoffs, Stieltjesstraat 34 (hotelpincoffs.nl) offers standard rooms from £107 per night.
Need to know
WHEN TO GO: In June and July to catch the Summer Sun Days (Sundays
only) which includes music, theatre performances, comedy and other
far-out zaniness. Or catch the annual free Metropolis Festival on July
3. Former headliners include The Strokes, Wu Tang Clan and Smashing
GETTING THERE: CityJet (0871 66 33 777; cityjet.com) go from London
City to Rotterdam from £163.91 rtn. Flight time is 45 minutes. Alternatively, Eurostar (and Thalys combined) fares on high-speed
services to Rotterdam are available from £115 (08432 186 186;
eurostar.com). The fastest journey time from London to Rotterdam is
GET MORE INFO: holland.com