If you think about Holland, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Probably Amsterdam and all the “folk” activities that over time we have heard and memorized. A bit like in Italy: pizza, mandolin and spaghetti.

Well, this is the travel diary in which I will let you discover the real Netherlands (Holland is a region of them mistakenly associated as an entire nation), to discover the most authentic and representative places of a country that lives in the future, never forgetting their origins.

This journey has for me the scent of destiny for various reasons. First of all because I had already been in this country years ago, but I had always had the desire to visit Utrecht.

Secondly it was a trip realized in partnership with Minube App (remember my trip to Peru? Well it was with them), application that brings travelers from all corners of the world to share and get lots of travel tips. The other partners of the trip I will tell you in my diary on the basis of my personal experiences.

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How and where to get to the Netherlands.

My departure is from Rome Fiumicino, where I meet the Italian team: Daniel Mazza and Stefano Tiozzo, I really could not wish for a better team!

On the wings of a Transavia flight (the low cost of the Dutch national carrier KLM), we arrive in Rotterdam, the first stop on our tour.

I immediately realize that The Hague Airport is a very good choice for flying to the Netherlands and how much I have done wrong in the past.

A small and super comfortable airport, we found our suitcases waiting for us a few minutes after our arrival and in less than no time we were already in the city center (bus 33).

Rotterdam is about 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam, so it is certainly a much wiser choice than Eindhoven, if you want to fly low cost and get to the capital of the country.

But do not just stop in Amsterdam! The beauty of the Netherlands is that everything is very close, so you’ll be able to see a lot even in just one weekend; I sincerely prefer the much more authentic atmosphere of the city outside the super tourist capital.

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ROTTERDAM, the city on a human scale of the future

Rotterdam is a city of the future. I still remember the feeling of disorientation that I felt the first time here. The skyscrapers frame the sky and suddenly you are catapulted into a book of history of contemporary architecture.

The skyline of the city has the shapes designed by all the most famous archistars of our era: Renzo Piano, Alvaro Siza, MVRDV, Rem Koolhas, etc.

A city completely destroyed by the bombardments of the Second World War that has been able to stand up proudly and become a reference point for urban design on a human scale and design.

Do not forget to take a bike ride through the city center, it’s the best way to experience it! Our tour on two routes was with Urban Guides, which also organizes thematic tours, such as the one to discover the city’s architecture.

Waiting for the arrival of the Spanish team, the boys and I have honored the city by visiting his heart. What was not destroyed during the war: the ancient port of Delf, a city incorporated in the course of time in Rotterdam.

We sat along the banks of the river to catch the reflection of the medieval buildings left as a sentinel of the city and a memory of a past that always marks the future.

A quick shower at James Hotel, a newly opened design hotel in the city center, to move towards a craft brewery (THOMS Brewery) in the company of the rest of the team. A cin, cheers, salute, salut and proost with a beer tapped directly at us at the table and night falls on Rotterdam.

The following morning, one of the city’s main museums awaits us: the Kunsthal, created in 1992 by the famous architect Rem Koolhas for becoming the center of contemporary art in the city. We find an exhibition by Viktor & Rolf, a famous Amsterdam-based fashion house.

The Cube Houses are the next stop. One of the symbols of the city together with the Erasmus Bridge.

Built to be a sort of urban forest that served as a link between the oldest part of the city and the new one.

Absolutely unmissable if you are in Rotterdam it is a visit to the famous Mills of Kinderdjik, about 30 minutes by boat from the Erasmus Bridge or 1 hour by bus from the central station.

One of the most beautiful moments of this trip; we stopped losing the last boat of the return and we waited for the golden hour listening to the sound of the wind among the vegetation, with a view to the eyes of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Where to eat (and drink) in Rotterdam

I will tell you about restaurants and food places where the focus is not just food. I will tell you about a city that has made its urban space a laboratory where you can experience the sustainability of life of the future. Each space that I will present to you is not just “for food” but is dedicated to sharing, design, experimentation and attention to the future.

  1. Thoms Brewery: craft brewery, perfect to share a cutting board and enjoy a beer to be tapped directly at the table.

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2- Op het Dak: absolutely my favorite spot. A rooftop that looks to the city skyline with an urban vegetable garden. Definitely vegan friendly. The flowers you admire are the ones you will find on your plate. Really super!

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3- Fenix Food Factory: a perfect example of redevelopment of former industrial areas. Street food market where you can find many typical products and a super cozy atmosphere!

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4- Foodhallen: a contemporary concept of food market. Here is where you will find kitchens from every corner of the world.

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5- Markethal: last but not least, absolutely to visit. The perfect combination of architecture, food and meeting place. A futuristic structure where the central space is dedicated to the numerous street food stands. All around, as if to embrace it, apartments, offices, etc that directly overlook the central space.

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Our tour in Rotterdam ends like this, but the Netherlands still has so much to give us to fill our baggage of wonderful memories and experiences that make us believe in a better future where progress means evolution in a positive way. See you soon with the second part of my travel diary!