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Newsletter

 

Rotterdam-- Her Perfect Winter Getaway
..featuring films, fashion, fun and Dutch hot chocolate

 

Evelyn Hannon

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 international pals.

 

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

 

Food Breaks

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 20)
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

 

Postfilm Pastimes

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)

Delftshaven 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 Rotterdam

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 call:

  • 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 Rotterdam.
  • 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 bars.

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 or.....
Fax: +31 10 4135132
E-mail: iffr@luna.nl

It's Oh -So -Easy to get to Rotterdam

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/

 

If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest that you try....
Netherland Notes From Journeywomen Near and Far
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport -- Everything She Needs Under One Roof
Her Go-Alone Amsterdam

 

 

 

 

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