Her Perfect Winter Getaway
..featuring films, fashion, fun and Dutch hot chocolate
Journeywoman is always on
the lookout for a getaway destination that is safe, economical,
do-able for a single woman traveller and just a little different.
Last winter, I chose the Netherlands, a place I've visited many
times before at the height of the summer tourist season. Now, I
was trying the flip side--the city of Rotterdam in the off-season
and during their International film festival.. Air fares were less,
hotel prices down and any tourism hype had all but disappeared.
I revelled in Dutch hospitality for one full week and went to the
movies many, many times!
Be Weather Wise
The sun might be shining but
take note that average December-February weather in The Netherlands
is 38 degrees Fahrenheit. So what? Just be prepared for all winter
eventualities -- wear a warm coat, thick soled shoes, dress in layers
and bring along an umbrella. Too cold? Just pop into one of the
many cozy cafes for a cup of wonderful Dutch hot chocolate or a
bowl of their famous split pea soup.
January is Reel Magic in Rotterdam
Try to time your trip for
the end of January when the city gears up for its annual worldclass
film festival. Small enough to be intimate and large enough to host
top-notch international directors, this cinematic happening has
the harbour city of Rotterdam hopping. The hub of the festival is
at the Hilton Hotel with screenings at theaters around the city.
From Hollywood big budgets to short independents, a seemingly endless
stream of movies are on view from early a.m. to late p.m. There
are seminars, workshops and celebrity interviews. Dress is casual,
discussions lively and, you don't have to be part of film biz to
attend. Who's that interesting looking man having coffee at the
Hilton bar? He might be a viewer just like you or he might be the
star of the film you're going to see that evening. Go on, chat him
up. It's all part of the festival game and, everybody's playing!
Concerned about being solo? You really don't have to be. There's
so many single people at this event, you're bound to make some new
Journeywoman Slept Here
In Rotterdam, I chose Hotel
Inntel, a no nonsense four-star chain very popular with business
people. Modern rooms are small but immaculate. The staff is young
and so anxious to please. Location is lovely--close to restaurants,
across from underground transportation and, for film festival attendees--just
steps away from the IMAX theater. Bonus - almost every room overlooks
the city's port. (Leuvehaven 80) Tel: 31 (0) 10 413 41 39
Even the most ardent cinema
fan needs a few food breaks. True to Journeywoman style, I took
my direction from other women I met standing in film queues or while
making my way around the city. From fast food to traditional establishments,
these are a few of their dining choices.
Try Engels, located
right next to Central Station. A truly unique concept offering six
specialty restaurants all in one. From German to Spanish, schnitzel
to paella--just choose the taste treat that calls out to you and,
its yours! Service welcoming. Prices moderate.
Sheila, travel writer, Rotterdam
Cafe Popular is a happening!
Film goers throng to this tiny spot for their pre- and post-screening
nourishment. Decor is minimal, atmosphere relaxed and, their spareribs
are prize-winning! Journeywoman found the service fast, the clientele
young, music loud, prices moderate and there was always someone
interesting to talk to. Whether you're a youngster or an oldster
it's definitely worth a try. (West-Kruiskade 26)
Antonella, a Women's Film Fest Organizer, Trieste, Italy
Expect a more sedate atmosphere
and some traditional Dutch dishes at Blaeu in Ould Haven
(Old Harbour) This used to be a mapmaker's studio. Now the floors
are stained a stylish brown and century old maps grace the walls.
Journeywoman passed on offerings from the grill but filled herself
to the brim with "stamppot"-- a hearty traditional Dutch mashed
potato mixture. As a main course, three varieties were served--with
spinach, with cabbage and, with bits of apple. First, second, third--all
wonderful. Just like Dutch grandmothers like to make. (Wijnstraat
Ella, Front Desk Clerk, Rotterdam Intel Hotel
Are you ready to sin? Try
Dutch "patat" (french fries dipped in mayonnaise) available
just about everywhere. M-m-m-m good! Have them once and be ready
to fight an addiction.
For a big meal in a bowl,
order "erwten soep", a hearty Dutch split pea soup guaranteed
to keep you fortified for hours. And for a wicked dessert delight--indulge
in "appelpunt", a apple flan featuring lots of cinnamon and
heaps of whipped cream. Wow!
Suzanne, a student visiting from Utrecht
A true film-fest-goer has
little time for anything else but watching movies. But the other
sights and sounds of Rotterdam really do beckon and, Journeywoman
can never resist some "explorations" from a woman's point of view.
The Boymans-van Beuningen
Museum offers visitors a mixed bag of tricks--old masters, modern
art, plus a fab collection of precious objects and everyday items
dating as far back as the Middle Ages. Expect to see everything
from Breugals to beadwork, Picasso to pewter and Kadinskys to old
clocks. Try to find Reuben's "Bath of Diana". A "must see" stop!
(Museum Park 18-20)
From city central, take a
water taxi ride to the posh New York Hotel situated across
the river Maas. Close to a century ago, this building was the head
office of the Holland-America Shipping Line. Today, this is a must
visit spot offering accommodation reminiscent of a grander era.
The theme is old world nautical with port holes, steamer trunks,
and a vast eating area seating 400 diners. Each of its 72 bedrooms
is elegantly decorated in an art deco medley of grays, blacks and
whites. Double rooms only. Very expensive! Make a wish, make more
money and comeback with someone you love. (Tel: +31(0) 10 4390500)
is the most historical part of Rotterdam --a lovely little area,
away from the hustle and bustle of downtown traffic. Meander the
tiny winding streets. Pop into galleries, antique shops and the
corner pub. Discover the talented craftspeople who work in the area
and make special note of the shop at Voorhaven 4. This where the
Queen's very royal clocks and watches are repaired. P.S. Heard of
the Pilgrim Fathers? They set sail for America from this spot.
Finally, book buyers beware!
A visit to Donner Booken (Lijnbaan 150), might be more than
you bargained for. But be brave! This is Holland's biggest bookshop--eight
floors, ten thousand English titles, and one of the nicest selections
of travel books you're likely to come across anywhere. P.S. A must-buy
guide is "Roaming 'Round Holland" by Sheila Gazeleh-Weevers and
Pat Erickson. These women cover everything from hotels to women's
organizations, and babysitting to Dutch taste treats. Definitely
a female's collectible!
Attention Women -- FYI in
Are you an information junkie?
Foreign visitors give rave reviews to Rotterdam's Central Library
(beside the city's landmark cube houses) for its wide selection
of books and easy access to the stacks. Those homesick for a look
at an English, French, German or Turkish newspaper can visit their
newspaper reading room located next door. .
Need some gentle exercise?
Tropicana is a subtropical swimming and relaxing paradise
located alongside the Maas River at 100 Maas Boulevard. This mostly
glass structure includes swimming facilities, a sauna, a solarium
and if you're travelling with kiddies, there's an inviting wading
pool for the little ones. (Tel: 402 0770)
To market, to market! Rotterdam's
open-air market is held 9am-5pm every Tuesday and Saturday.
The city's experts tell us that very interesting items can sometimes
be found in the flea market section--located on Mariniersweg near
St. Lawrence Church.
Important numbers to have!
For medical emergencies during the night or on weekends in Rotterdam
- Doctor's Help (010) 420 1100 (7pm-7am)
- Dentists Help 455 2155
Interested in making contact
with a women's social organization? Try these contacts:
- American Netherlands Club of Rotterdam: 34025, 3005 GA
- Pickwick Club: Call (010) 418 7002 or British Embassy
- L'Amite Club: Call (01890) 15680 or French Embassy
Have a yearning to be strolling
the aisles of a supermarket ? Albert Heijn probably the biggest
and best supermarket chain in the Netherlands has branches all over
the country. Besides everything from meat, cheese and liquor, this
is a great place to pick up inexpensive but yummy Dutch chocolate
The original source for most
of the bits and pieces in this FYI section is: Roaming 'Round
Holland, an insider's guide to the country. For information
about this book write: 3319 Dent Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007
Know Before You Go
1998 Rotterdam Film Festival
January 28 to February 8, 1998
For any further information check the Film Festival's Website: http://www.iffrotterdam.nl
Fax: +31 10 4135132
It's Oh -So -Easy to get to
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flies
to Amsterdam several times a week (sometimes even daily) from many
North American gateways. And, from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport
there are continuous trains leaving for Rotterdam (which is an easy
one hour ride away).
It's oh-so-affordable to visit
Holland this winter! Find out about KLM's deluxe package called:
"Absolutely Amsterdam". And, if
you're an American Journey Woman, call 1-800-3-747-747 to inquire
about their Super Stay program.
For information about The
Netherlands check their very comprehensive website at: http://www.goholland.com
or call: 1-888-GOHOLLAND.
To find out everything you
need to know about KLM's schedules, and travel tips, visit their
site at http://netherlands.klm.com/