Kyrylo Silin

Full-stack developer at Airbrake.io. Core team Pry. Passionate about open source, debuggers and food.

Rotterdam

The Netherlands is a country that I had always wanted to visit. In my head it was a little paradise, where people follow the rules, nobody knows trouble and cycles all day long. Did it live up to the expectation? Rotterdam will tell.

The city is very clean, has a lot of high quality asphalt and… not many people. I don’t know, maybe I’ve become too used to the Philippines, but Rotterdam has a lot of space and barely any life.

And by clean I mean really clean. This place is one of the few that has some litter.

A lot of modern and spectacular buildings stay dark at night because there’s nobody inside.

I can’t say Rotterdam is concrete jungle but nature is definitely being ousted here. You can see little specks of soil here and there, maybe a few trees, but it’s a very controlled environment.

Those few brave trees who survived fled to the river. That’s the only way to withstand urbanisation.

My dreams about the wonderland with obeying people were ruined because… you know, people are still people, no matter where. Breaking rules is in our nature. I had no idea that bicycle lanes can be shared with mini cars and mopeds.

So hear me out! With every mini car on a bike lane, one real bicycle gets sad.

It can get suffocating even when you park.

Despite that, cycling in Rotterdam is still very enjoyable. I spent a few memorable hours doing nothing but cycling wherever the road takes me. I stumbled upon an underground tunnel just for cyclists. I couldn’t believe this existed!

I also found a home of the worst oatmeal ever, Quaker Oats. I have to admit that the area around smelled yummy, but don’t let this deceive you.

Speaking of food, you have to try the stroopwafel, a Dutch specialty. A stroopwafel with a hot cup of tea is my bread and butter (by the way, bread and butter is also nice with tea).

The Rotterdam metro is trying to look like McDonald’s. Sometimes it blends nicely.

There’s a good criteria that separates rich countries from developing ones. Tap water is drinkable in the former.

Another good criterion is having a freaking helicopter on a yacht. Merely yachts don’t impress me anymore.

So yeah, Rotterdam is an incredibly rich city. As result, everything looks expensive, quacks expensive and is expensive. You want electric cars? No problem.

Cruise ships? You got it.

Retro cars? Check!

I don’t see much commonality between Netherlands and Ukraine, but one thing that made me chuckle is the casinos. We have exactly the same thing at it looks equally ugly on the outside.

Okay, maybe there’s one more thing that unites us. My granny used to grow these flowers.

Because Rotterdam was destroyed during World War 2, it has a lot of modern architecture now. Some of it looks nice.

But other parts remind me of Soviet Union.

Really old buildings are maintained properly. They don’t have air conditioners or plastic windows, so they look fashionable even until now.

This is probably the worst looking piece of “architecture” in the whole city.

This church looks old enough, but new buildings block it. It was really tricky to find an angle to take a picture of the entrance. Even then the sign blocked the view of the door.

Islam presence is growing, and new mosques get open frequently.

China is also expanding its influence. I didn’t expect to see Bank of China here (it also exists in the Philippines).

As for Ukrainian presence or influence… well, that’s about it.

Remember I told you that all the trees fled to the river? Well, there’s actually a park with a lot of greenery. Dutch people are so used to wheels that even in the parks they use segways.

And when they sit down they won’t stop cycling. Hup Holland hup!

When you don’t want to give up rap music but work as an office clerk.

This is the first cruise line in the Netherlands that connected Netherlands and United States.

What do you see here? I see a wedding ring, a wine bottle opener and a swatter. Art.

This is how a proper bicycle parking rack should look like. Now take a look at your nearest hipster restaurant and notice the abomination near the door that they call “bicycle parking rack”.

One can say that Dutch people take pride in what they do.

A typical Rotterdam porch: a glass door, mailboxes and a few vases with flowers.

I had heard that Dutch trams were modern and silent. They do indeed look modern, but I wouldn’t say they make no noise. It’s quite noticeable (which isn’t necessarily bad if you have trams cruising in half a meter from you).

A lot of boats and ships occupy rivers. They’re stationed forever and serve as hotels or places to live for locals. Do rent a boat at least for a day because it’s a unique experience.

But always be mindful of pirates.

Full ahead onto the next journey.