Tuesday, August 22, 2017
   
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The real thriving beating heart of modern Holland

PATRIC BAIRD enjoys a real Dutch experience far from the madding crowds of stags and hens in raucous Amsterdam...

THERE’S much more to Holland than the weekend stag and hen magnet that is Amsterdam. For a more relaxed, yet vibrant and authentic Dutch experience, visit Rotterdam.

A mere 25 minutes away by train from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Rotterdam is Holland's second largest city - a dynamic metropolis with lots of arty happenings, numerous shopping opportunities, first-class restaurants and a world-class port. It's Dutch to its core, yet it doesn’t rely on kitsch touristy images of clogs and Edam cheese, or promises of legalised sleaze to lure visitors. Despite being 650-years-old, the spirit of this city is as modern and cutting edge as it comes.

Famous for its art and architecture, Rotterdam is like Holland's Berlin, yet it's not intimidating for visitors seeking a fresh take on the Netherlands as it's totally geared up for tourists.

It’s also a good gateway for visitors keen to immerse themselves in the full Dutch experience, with attractions including the pottery factories of Delft, the model village at Madurodam and the famous cheese-producing town of Gouda, all a short rail journey away.

While Paris has its Eiffel Tower, and New York the Empire State Building, Rotterdam has its Euromast (www.euromast.nl). The best way of getting a feel for any city is from above its rooftops, so a trip to the highest lookout tower in the Netherlands was in order.

One of the numerous water taxis which zig zag between the opposite shores of the city delivered me to Parkhaven, from where it was just a few steps to the towering, futuristic Euromast. Built in 1960, it measures 185 metres and boasts a tower-top restaurant as well as a viewing platform, from where you can enjoy fabulous views over the harbours, the skyline, the football stadium and the stunningly modern Erasmus bridge.

To read the rest of Patric Baird's feature on Rotterdam and see all the pictures, pick up a copy of Northern Ireland Travel News...

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