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Rotterdam is Europe's largest port and the second largest city in the Netherlands. During the Second World War, central Rotterdam was virtually flattened by German bombs, leaving extensive rebuilding to be done when the war was over. In the decades following the war, the city attracted many prominent architects and actively encouraged a modern style. Visitors won't find many of the typical old buildings that make other Dutch towns so appealing, but the modern architecture make this city well worth a stop.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinderdijk lies close to the city of Rotterdam. The Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout consists of 19 windmills, built in 1740. If you want to appreciate the windmills, it is best to go on foot or better; rent a bicycle and take a ride along all of the windmills. Sometimes, it is possible to visit one inside. For more detailed information visit the Kinderdijk website.
Rotterdam was the city where the Tour the France, the world's biggest and best-known cycling race started. At the 3rd of July, there was a timetrail of 9 kilometres, through the inner city of Rotterdam. On the 4th of July the second stage started in Rotterdam, and the cyclists headed south into Zeeland, on a route that took them over three dams, that belong to the Delta Works, and from there headed into Belgium. For more information, also visit the official Tour de France in Rotterdam website.
In 2013, the Dutch throne was passed on to King Willem-Alexander and what used to be Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) will from 2014 become Koningsdag (King's Day). The date will be changed to the 27th of April, which is the king's birthday. In 2014 however it will be on the 26th of April because the 27th falls on a Sunday. On this day the streets of almost every sizable town in the country come alive with activity.
Rotterdam weather is typical of what you get in the Netherlands: mild winters with rare snow, and reasonably warm summers. Winters might be a touch milder compared to areas more to the east. Summers from June to September have high around or slightly above 20 °C though occasionally temperatures can rise above 30 °C. Winters are mostly above zero though snow is possible on some days.
Rotterdam has a small airport called Rotterdam The Hague Airport, formerly Zestienhoven. It's mostly used by Transavia, Correndon and VLM airlines. The first two are specialised in holiday destinations, and the last services a lot of the smaller airports in the Netherlands and Begium, and connects from Rotterdam to for example London City Airport, Manchester Airport, the Isle of Man, Hamburg Airport and Jersey. Skywork Airlines has a weekly flight to Bern in Switzerland (winter only).
Although the Dutch like to complain about the trainsystem in the Netherlands, it is quite good. From the bigger stations in the Netherlands there are almost always intercity trains going to Rotterdam. Rotterdam is also connected the network of nighttrains, that connects most of the bigger cities, in the middle and the south of the Netherlands. The Thalys is the best option for connections to Brussels and Paris.
A regional light rail system called RandstadRail connects The Hague to nearby cities, Zoetermeer and Rotterdam and was completed in August 2010. Check the map online.
There are several motorways which run to/from Rotterdam. The following four are part of its Ring Road system:
The following two other motorways also serve Rotterdam:
Eurolines connects Rotterdam to a lof of other cities in Europe. Near to the central station you can find the office of Eurolines where you can reserve tickets. One street away, on the Conradstraat is the busstop of Eurolines in Rotterdam.
The Icelandic cargo ship Eimskip has two vessels, the Dettifoss and Goðafoss which travel the route Rotterdam-Hamburg-Göteborg-Århus-Fredrikstad-Tórshavn-Reykjavík. It takes 8 days in total and the return trip goes via eastern Iceland and Tórshavn only. The vessel can take a maximum of 3 passengers but only between mid-April and mid-October.
You can also take a DFDS ferry to IJmuiden from Newcastle in the UK, and from there it's a 50 minute car drive to Rotterdam.
Every half hour a water bus (Waterbus route 1) goes from Rotterdam to Dordrecht and vice versa. The trip takes an hour, inclusive stops along the way. The ferry can carry about 130 passengers and there is space for 60 bicycles. The stops are Rotterdam Willemskade - Krimpen aan den IJssel Stormpolder - Ridderkerk De Schans - Alblasserdam Kade -Papendrecht Westeind - Hendrik Ido Ambacht Veerweg - Zwijndrecht Veerplein - Dordrecht Merwekade.
There are lots of parking garages in Rotterdam, which generally offer better value than parking on the streets downtown, which can be very expensive and usually include a maximum number of hours as well. Note that still parking is expensive. Also avoid Rotterdam during rush hours: Monday to Friday from 7:00am to 9:30am and from 4:00pm to 6:30pm.
Internet cafés are not as widespread as you would expect, but you can easily find one in the popular cities. Most hostels, hotels and camp sites have several computers, so you can keep connected with folk at home. Here is a list of internet cafés that could come in handy for travellers. Otherwise, most libraries have lots of computers and prices are around the €2-3 per hour range, although sometimes it can be even more expensive.
Wireless internet access using wifi is becoming more popular and is usually available at most hotels and increasingly at train stations. Also in trains (at least in most first class wagons, but also more and more in second class) and some buses you can use wifi. Finally, places like McDonald's and Starbucks have free wifi, and smaller individual business like cafés and restaurants are on the rise too offering these services. More often than not, these service tend to be free of charge, though there might be a limited time you can use the internet.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country code for the Netherlands is 31. The outbound international prefix is 00. The general emergency number is 112, like many other countries.
0800 numbers are toll-free and for 09xx numbers are charged at premium rates. Mobile phones have numbers in the 06 range, and calls to cell phones are also priced at higher rates.
From internet cafés, it is also usually possible to make long distance international calls. Like in other countries, telephone booths have almost disappeared, though some are still found around public transport stations, where you can use a few coins to make calls. It is only recommended for local calls.
The cellular phone network in the Netherlands is GSM 900/1800. The main providers of cell phone networks are KPN (Dutch only), T-mobile and Vodafone, who cover the whole country. Other operators, like Hollandsnieuwe, Simyo or Tele2, use one of these 3 networks basically.
It is best to buy a SIM card when in the Netherlands for use in your cellphone, as this usually works out cheaper than using the one from home. If you are planning to study or work in the country and stay for several months, buying a cellphone is the best option. A simple one, sometimes with €10 worth on it, can be bought from around €25. The simplest smartphones are around €75.
The rate for sending a postcard or letter up to 20 grams within the Netherlands is €0.64 (2014). Since 2010 there are stamps available for domestic post which no longer include the value in €. Instead, there are stamps available with either a '1' or a '2' as a substitute for value. The '1' can be used for letters and postcards up to 20 grams, while 20-50 grams require you to use the '2'-valued stamps (or two '1'-valued stamps of course).
Sending items to other EU countries and the rest of the world (there is one price since 2014) will cost €1.05. Stamps are sold at post offices, supermarkets and smaller shops/kiosks; often the place where you buy your postcards can also supply you with stamps.
Sending parcels abroad is more costly. A standard-sized parcel between up to 2 kilograms will cost you €9 for destinations within the EU and €18 (both without Track & Trace) to the rest of the world. Prices with Track & Trace start at €13 and €24.30 respectively. Parcel service is available from major post offices only; standard-size boxes are on sale there as well. For sending parcels, it might be just as competitive and fast to use a company like TNT, UPS or DHL.
If you need to receive mail while moving around, you can have it sent poste restante (to be called for) to a post office of your choice, where it will be kept for a month. If you come to claim it, bring a valid ID, and make sure to have told the sender that the name on the envelope must be an exact match with that in your passport. For addresses of post offices, as well as more information, consult the TNT website.
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