Saturday, 4 October 2008

Rotterdam & De Biesbosch

The last trip with ESN [Erasmus Student Network] was quite successful and worthy! So when we heard of this trip to Rotterdam, we couldn't help but sign up for it. At the standard price of 24 euros, we got a transport to/from Rotterdam, a tour of De Biesbosch [wet-/swamp-lands of The Netherlands], a harbour tour of Rotterdam, free time to roam, and entrance to the Euromast! So here we were, a group of IMMIT students once more still struggling to integrate with the international [exchange] students. At least on this trip we had our newly-formed 'Dutch' friend Jeffery [who happens to be a magnificent photographer; check out this excellent picture of Wasiq by him!

Firstly in the morning we stopped off at De Biesbosch, one of the largest national parks in the Netherlands, and one of the last freshwater tide areas in Europe, rich in flora and fauna. It was pleasant stroll through nature, but nothing that I haven't seen before, cows, grass, trees, and geese: the norm. The only thing rather fascinating here was that colonies of beavers inhabit the area. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to see any since beavers are known to be nocturnal animals.

After this it was straight on to Rotterdam, the 2nd-largest city by population in the Netherlands. I’ve always heard about this city but I knew nothing of it, except that it had one of the largest ports in the world [now the largest in Europe]. A total contrast from Biesbosch: I was totally astonished by the modernity of this city; it was definitely the first modern European city that I have seen since I came here. Contributing to this effect was the magnificent skyline and weird-modern architecture and design [like the Kubuswoningen, or cube houses among other buildings]. Even if the buildings don't mean anything, even if they're just apartments, they're built with style and with an expensive/high-tech/futuro-look to them. It was interesting, different, and satisfying. There was an enormous shopping district, and the diversity of people quadrupled over Tilburg.

While there we saw four main sites that we couldn’t have missed. The Port of Rotterdam, ESN gave us this boat tour, and it was nothing less than informative, and as we are currently following a series of courses pertaining to logistics, and supply chain management, it was quite exciting to see this mammoth sized port, and imagine how everything is coordinated and structured. To try to explain how large this port is, imagine 40 kilometers of harbour! Next was the Erasmusbrug, or the Erasmus Bridge, of course this was moving for us since we’re part of this Erasmus Mundus Programme, and I believe most of the Erasmus concepts began in Rotterdam. When one goes to Rotterdam I think it’s fairly necessary to see the Kubuswoningen, or cube houses, even if you don’t appreciate modern art. It’s very strange to see these cube-shaped buildings in the middle of the city, and wonder what the hell the artist was thinking when he created them. What’s even more amazing is that people actually live in them [it must be quite tight inside, and it requires a lot of imagination on what furniture to buy and how to arrange them]. Lastly, we had a rotating elevator ride [and guided tour] on the Euromast, a tower in Rotterdam that is about 185 meters high, and where you can see views as far as the North Pole [they claim].

The day was fun, and the only thing that was a bit harassing was how cold and windy it was, but otherwise, it was well spent.

For more pictures, see:

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