Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rotterdam Events & Festivals

One of the nice things about living in Rotterdam is that it hosts many festivals and events. Luckily for us, we live in a great location to be able to easily take full advantage of these opportunities. In the summer months, there are numerous free concerts and festivals in the park just down the street from our apartment, Het Park. For example, it may be a music festival where they set up several stages throughout the park, each with a different band or type of music playing throughout the day. There are also vendors selling food, drinks, jewelry, clothes, etc. I even found my green jacket with the flowers on the shoulder and sleeve at such a festival.

There are also a few parades through the city center such as the Dance Parade, Summer Carnival, and others such as Queen’s Day (described in a separate post). On the Witte de Withstraat, a trendy, cultural street in the city but near our house, they often shut the street down to car traffic and host open block parties or festivals. Rotterdam also hosts an International Film Festival each year, and occasionally the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Each year, there is also the World Harbor Days (Wereld Haven Dagen), which is held along the river shoreline right next to our apartment. There are several large ships that dock that you can walk on and tour. There are displays on the river from the fire brigade and rescue crews, including a mock helicopter rescue off of a boat.

Speaking of large ships, there are often big cruise ships that come up the river to dock right by the bridge. You can really see how large they actually are when you compare them to the buildings on the shoreline. The ships are taller than most buildings, and are about 2/3 of the bridge height. It is also interesting to see when they turn the ships around using tug boats. The cruise ship takes up almost the entire width of the river.

Another interesting event by the river was the Red Bull Air Race, in July 2008. Unfortunately, they decided to change the free show to a paid show where you had to buy tickets to sit inside the barriers that they put up along the river. We could still hear the planes, and watch when they made the high aerial loop at the end of the route by the Erasmus Bridge.

Rotterdam also hosts the Bavaria City Racing each August. They shut down all of the major streets in the city center and held an exhibition for Formula 1 race cars. We stood on the side of the street and the cars were incredibly loud as they flew by. The city also hosts one of the fastest marathons in the world each year (probably because it’s so flat).

Ironically, just as in Pittsburgh, we are in an ideal location to see several fireworks displays each year. The Erasmus Bridge is “the” spot in Rotterdam for fireworks for many occasions and holidays. We can actually see the higher ones from our front window or balcony. If we want the full display we simply have to walk a couple blocks down to the riverfront.

Although I think Chad and I are growing a bit wary of living directly in the city, and all of the noises and craziness that comes along with it at times, we do like the convenience of being in the middle of the action. So, wherever we live in the future, although it might be further out of the city, we will need to ensure that there is an easy way to get to the action with public transport. That is a tall order in the US, but hopefully we can find a place like this.


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