Port of Rotterdam
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You can feel that sense of energy and industry as soon as your ship pulls into Rotterdam's vast deep-water harbor, which is almost a city unto itself. Little tugboats steam briskly past heavily laden river barges, while freighters unload cargo crates into stacks that stretch like buildings from the docks toward the sky. The north and south banks of the river, both lined with high-rises, are linked by the dramatic spans of two cable bridges -- including the asymmetrical Erasmus bridge, a city landmark.
Rotterdam was founded in 1340, but you'd never know it by looking at today's modern skyline. Centuries of history were wiped out by Nazi bombs in May 1940. Afterwards, the rebuilding of Rotterdam was embraced with a vengeance -- and continues to this day, with new buildings popping up every year. This constant buzz of energy and expansion makes Rotterdam one of the most dynamic places to visit on any European itinerary.
For the first-time visitor, it can be jarring to see steel and cement instead of canals and cobblestones. But what Rotterdam lacks in historic charm it makes up for in cutting-edge architecture, world-class museums and sunny sidewalk terraces perfect for enjoying a Dutch beer or two. And the past isn't entirely forgotten; look closely enough and you'll unearth a few remnants of the city's history, like a 1920s statehouse, a 15th-century church and a 400-year-old statue of Erasmus -- a ghost from the past who seems to smile benevolently upon Rotterdam's bright future.
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Where You're Docked
Most ships dock at the main cruise terminal on Wilhelminakade, across the Erasmus Bridge from the city center. Smaller ships dock closer to downtown along Boompjes, between the Erasmus and Willems bridges. However, with the larger number of riverboats plying the waterways, boats can often be moored further down the Maas past the Willems Bridge.
Good to Know
Nearly all of Rotterdam's museums are closed on Mondays.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The local currency is the euro. There are banks and ATMs throughout Rotterdam, particularly in the downtown shopping districts. For current conversions, check www.xe.com or www.oanda.com.
Dutch is the official language, though many locals speak at least a little English.
The Netherlands is known for its Gouda cheese and wooden shoes. Either (or both) makes a great souvenir.