April 20, 2013

my rotterdam.

if you'd told me a year ago that i was going to have quit my job, saved a reasonable amount of money, packed up all of my treasure and moved to holland, i would have given you this face. i still have to slap myself to believe i am actually here, i'm living with a boy (first time for everything) and a cat (i'd prefer a pug) and i am loving it. rotterdam has never been a city on my world tour agenda. i'd never even stepped foot inside the country until last july and that was to visit two of my favourite australians. 

march 1st was day one of an incredible new chapter of my life. i had little expectations for places to go, food to eat and people to see in rotterdam as i was honestly more afraid of things not working out with the boy. his idea of taking 3 weeks off work when i first arrived was just genius, as i settled fast and fell deeply in love with my surroundings. within days i was riding my dream bike, sussing out local produce and vintage treasure at the market, learning the best deals at the supermarket and seeing some of my favourite art within minutes of my new home. things fell smoothly into place and i was liking rotterdam and it's handsome inhabitants more by the minute. 

after 7 months of whatsapping, facetiming and vibering, the dutchman had a pretty good idea of what he was in for. packing away my aussie life was made easier by knowing that he understood the importance of having a beautiful piece of retro pottery (or several) in my posession, delicious baked treats to indulge in and a mint green bicycle to ride at my leisure. all three things were ticked off the list within days of arriving in tulip town. i've been wanting to share these places with you ever since i got here, but the baked good indulging, bike riding and vintage ferreting has kept me happily distracted. the responses i've had on instagram, the beautiful emails from aussie girls sharing in similar european love stories and my own love for playing show and tell, has led me to discussing some of my favourite things about rotterdam. 

i have to begin with the market. on tuesday and saturday, a large market is held in binnenrotte, the biggest market square in the netherlands. from april to december there are also markets on a sunday. that means that for three days of the week the city centre is transformed into a vintage collector's, herring and cheese appreciator's and flower lover's heaven. whether it's a 1 euro retro LP case, someone's collection of old paris postcards, beautiful bertoia chairs or a 60's light fixture...my vintage adoring heart skips a beat everytime i visit. we also usually end up buying a huge bag of olives, fresh veges for the week and anything else i can fit inside my oversized bike basket, spending very little money in the process. even for an aussie who knows very little dutch, i always seem to find myself conversing with the stall holders about my love for vintage floral and bavarian pottery, requesting the biggest and best bunch of powder pink carnations and asking for several tastings of homemade dips. 

when it comes to beautiful bakeries, my sweet treat radar is always on high alert. i can sniff out a slice of red velvet cake from several hundred metres away. i never say no to good fudge and i most definately appreciate a beautiful looking cake shop. it wasn't strange then that a few days after being here my radar sounded long and loud for urban bakery. hands down my idea of a perfect setting, urban is located in one of the historial arches of hofbogen and boasts a diverse range of seasonal fruit pies, cookies, cupcakes, tarts, fudge and cheesecakes. as soon as i stepped inside i was overwhelmed by the sweet scent of freshly baked cookies and american style fudge that called at me from the counter. as it's an open bakery workshop, you can choose from the incredible array of sweet delights whilst watching the small team baking away busily in the back of the shop - the perfect combination! open wednesday - sat (9.30-6) i'm currently wondering why i'm sitting here blogging and not filling my belly with their fine offerings. see you soon urban! (voorburgstraat 209

another cutie pie cafe that cannot be missed is 'zoet & zout'. i'm currently still working on my pronounication for the name but it's obvious that we all speak the universal language of enjoying good coffee and sweet treats whilst nestled in an eames chair only minutes from the city centre. after a busy morning of wandering the city market, the boy and i took refuge here with armfuls of pre-loved treasure, only to be delighted by the perfectly designed interior and a gooood cup of coffee. the counter tops were dressed in a myriad of freshly baked sponge cakes, macarons and cookies. we sat under a huge array of fresh flowers and flicked through cooking magazines whilst adoring the large wooden table and dreaming of filling our home with eames delights. local designer's postcards, tote bags and screenprints adorned the wall behind me and wooden crates clustered along the back wall held handpainted picnicware and organic condiments. with it's super lekker lunch offering of pannini, lasagne and quiches, i feel a lunch date fast approaching. (pannekoekstraat 93a. open 9-6 tues-sat and 12-5 on sunday)

labelled as 'your vintage design megastore', a visit to SPAM is hard to resist. we stumbled across this vintage collector's dream after a wander around the biggest and best cookshop in town. this showroom of retro delights has three floors of cavernous spaces to explore. the showroom style street level layout is enough to fill your heart with pure joy, and it isn't until you realise that there are two more floors to investigate that you truly need to rest your weary head upon a perfectly maintained 50's dining room ensemble. take tissues, those tears of joy will soon follow. we stumbled across the motherload of west german vases and being so well priced i had two tucked under my arm within minutes. mental wish lists were being created at every turn and the hard techno beats were subconsciously urging me to buy everything. a truly inspiring place for anyone who appreciates an eclectic beauty. i can only hope that one day i'll get married and that this store offers a gift registry. go, enjoy, i dare you to not take photos of everything. (zaagmolendrift 53. open tues-sat 11-65)

if you were to order a box FULL of washi tape and record your facial expression as you opened it, it would be an exact match for the face i had when i first walked into elle aime. through the delightful world of instagram, lisa and i were already aquainted. we'd been following each other's feed for some time and it wasn't until i moved to rotterdam that the chance to visit her perfectly crafted world was on offer. washi tape adorned lampshades, geometric wrapping paper, jars upon jars full of beads, buttons and assorted ephermera encapsulates the counter top and sunlight filled work space. lisa is a talented and successful illustrator who offers weekend workshops in crochet, porcelain painting and stamp making with many more planned for the summer. it was a complete honour when lisa asked if i could stock her little slice of craft heaven with some of my screenprints. this will be underway in early may and i couldn't think of a cuter shop to collaborate with. whether it's a handcrafted gift you're after or an afternoon of inspiration, lisa's second home has it covered. i do warn you though, a 15 minute wander will turn into a couple of hours of tea and chat. perfect way to spend a sunday afternoon, no? (zwaanshals 271b. open tues-fri 10-6. sat 10-5)

a gallery that boasts the work of koons, rembrandt, kusama and dali will always have me clawing at it's door. i got my first glimpse inside when we had the ingenius idea of buying museum cards, and my heart has been yearning for more ever since. the awesome museumnacht, where rotterdam's galleries are open into the wee hours of the morning allowed me to catch a short but sweet insight into boijman's extensive collection. whether it's an eames or panton chair, a dutch masterpiece, a lobster phone or a giant metallic easter egg...boijman's has your art experience sorted. the iconic building designed by architect van der steur opened in 1935 and amazingly surivived the bombing in 1940. if you ever decide to stop by, you'll find me lovingly acosting the eames furniture on ground level. (museumpark 18-20. open tues - sun 11-5)

other places worthy of a mention are: 

* the delightful 'picknick' - where great coffee and cute as pie brunch platters abound.

* the 'sonneveld house museum' - an ultra-modern 1930's gem filled with turquoise bathrooms, gispen furniture and interior design to die for. 

'hotel new york' - where you can dine on super lekker sandwiches or an indulgent seafood platter inside the former head office of the holland - america line down at wilhelmina pier.

'kunsthal'- with more than 3300 sq metres of exhibition space this building boasts incredible exhibitions from pastoe, jean paul gaultier, leonardo da vinci and pop art.

'harold's - art supply heaven...i've never experienced an art shop as beautiful as this.

'depot' - we spend A LOT of our time window shopping here and dreaming of a house filled with their beeeeeautiful selection of mid-century modern design.

'cafe van zanten' - with it's gezellig atmosphere and delicious array of beers and finger food, this place was where i first met my boy, so it holds a special place in my dutch loving heart.

market love.

the gorgeous elle aime.


zoet & zout.

urban bakery.

vintage love at SPAM.


sky-blu-pink said...

Oh how wonderful Rotterdam looks! I have had a love affair with Amsterdam for decades, but have never visited your fair city. It's on the Must Go list now!

Zara said...

Laura all these shops sound amazing. all magazine worthy in their cuteness. so many and all around you. the temptation must be huge.

Anonymous said...

Lau, you should be writing for a Rotterdam Tourist Magazine! Even I want to visit these shops... ❤ Dad

Hannah McCawley said...

I bet anyone who reads this blog will be desperate to swap places with you.. just like I am! You have definitely put Holland on my list of places to go! You are living a dream :) x

moose and bird said...

Falling in love from afar. Enjoy lovely lady. Melinda x

Amanda said...

This all sounds so lovely and beautiful!

Sarah said...

I love your posts about Rotterdam. It's seems like such an interesting place. You have inspired me to book a trip there later on this year :)

Milina said...

I really, really, love your story. And now I really, really want to go to Rotterdam. x

millefeuilles said...

Inspiring and beautifully written! Your colours are truly stunning and I must confess Holland appeals to be enormously. Enjoy this new, exciting chapter of your life.

Greetings from France,