Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rotterdam Redeemed

—guest post by Owen

Until a couple of weeks ago, I had only negative associations with the name "Rotterdam."
  • Rotterdam is the setting for the unhappy beginning of the Ender's Shadow series by Orson Scott Card. This series also led me to mistakenly believe Rotterdam was in Belgium.
  • Our trans-atlantic shipment of household goods was held hostage in a Rotterdam warehouse for two months.
  • Our trip to Prague fell through because our flight out of the Rotterdam airport was canceled.
  • We were once nearly stranded in Rotterdam overnight because Dutch public transit stops at 8pm on New Year's Eve. (Kudos to my amazing family for being so chill through that unexpected part of the adventure.)
  • And on top of it all, "Rotterdam" starts with "rot." (It doesn't actually mean "rot." In fact, the name "Rotterdam" comes from a word meaning "mud.")
But none of this is Rotterdam's fault. So I'm pleased to report that our latest intra-Netherlands excursion (incursion?) has lifted the mental stigma I've attached to Rotterdam in the past.

It started when a friend of Clara's noticed that one of the entries on a list of beautiful libraries was in the Netherlands. "Have you been?" she wanted to know. No, we hadn't, but a little digging turned up that it wasn't too far away, so we filed the idea away for later. A couple weeks ago, we had a Saturday free, and decided to go.

Photo from

This amazing library—the Boekenberg, or "book mountain"—is in a suburb of Rotterdam called Spijkenisse. Here are some pictures from our trip:

Our first trip on the Dutch metro system we didn't know existed. It goes all the way from the Hague to Rotterdam!

The outside of the Boekenberg.

The top floor is a study area where we read Our Town together.

The inside of the mountain has rooms for reading, like this children's section.

Elsewhere in Spijkenisse, we saw our first example of yarn-bombing in the wild.

We also caught this beautiful rainbow.  Our cries of "Kijk naar de regenboog!" did not seem to excite passers-by, though.

We explored a bit of downtown Rotterdam as well.  The cranes are so beautiful.

The architecture is beautiful too.

That's it for today! Thanks for reading. Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a place you'd put off visiting?


  1. There are a TON of places in AZ that Dan and I have on our list to visit, but because we live here we never do, does that make sense? we keep putting it off… This week we don't really have a full day off, but I'm thinking next week we will make one of them happen! thanks for the inspiration :)

  2. Thanks for the interesting post. I have pictures of us arriving in Rotterdam by ship in 1953! There are lots of places in Western New York that I have never seen, but Doug and I had a nice visit to Glens Falls with Emma last Fall--his first.


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