Monday, 24 March 2014

Rotterdam with kids

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Rotterdam with kidsNo ideas on what to do and where to go with kids in Rotterdam?

Plaswijck park could be perfect solution for a day out with them.
It is in the north part of Rotterdam (here how to get there).

It is an amazing place that mine kids adore.
The park is really thought to be at kid's size, with respect for adults at the same time. It has many different playing areas, both outside and indoor. The thing that impressed me is that even when the park is really crowded, you never really have the feeling of being overwhelmed by people. But this is maybe linked to the fact that I come from Rome, a very big city, where whatever you decide to do, there will be other thousand people there with you, and you always feel a bit stifled by others.

One of the first thing kids will get crazy about are 2 huge slides at the entrance of the park.
To slide down they have to climb a big wooden tower.
If it is nice weather - belive it or not, sometimes it is good weather here as well! - you can sit on nice tables while watching your kids sliding down.

One of the other crazy thing you have there is an amazing trampoline: kids start jumping up and down and then the only issue is having them getting off from it!

Rotterdam with kids
Plaswijck - outdoor trampoline

he other thing that drives my kids crazy is the car area: they can "drive" small pedal cars and going around a small city, where there is also the petrol pump.

There's a nice carousel kids will also love.

And when kids are tired of jumping up and down, you can always take them for a tour of the park in the small train.

Before leaving you have to visit Plaswijk zoo!  There are also some cangaroos.

If you want to get some relax, assuming your kids are old enough to sit quietly for more than 2 minutes, you can always opt for a tour on the pedal swans on the lake.
Be careful because with good season there's also a slide for boats: kids may ask to go there :)

And what if it is bad weather?
You still have the option of the indoor area.
First time we went there my older son said excited "there are thousand games here!".
They can easily spend hours there.

And everything is so well thougth that you can also stay hours there without getting bored!

If you want to spend the whole day there, it would be easy to do it. There's also a restaurant, with many - Dutch - alternative for kids, but you can also choose to have your own food in one of the many tables outside.

You can buy online tickets
If you live closeby, could be useful to consider the annual family subscritpion: if you go there a couple of time, it will be already worth while.

Now we're looking forward to the good season: there is an amazing pool as well, and we still have to try it!

Will you join us?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Rest and relax in Rotterdam.

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Wellness centre Rotterdam
Elysium wellness centre

Have you got a crazy week?

Do you need some rest and relax?

You have to visit the spa Elysium.

It is a top class spa in the north of Rotterdam, 5 minutes from Hillegersberg, close to Rotterdam airport.

There are several different swimming pools, hot and cold, many bathing areas and Jacuzzi.

There are over 25 saunas. Not really sure about the difference between one and the other... but anyway you can choose among many of them, and they are all beautiful.

As an alternative to sauna you can also experience the Arabic hammam.

There is also an outside saltwater pool - I didn't dare to visit it last Sunday.

There's a nice bar and restaurant.

To conclude the relaxing day you can also have different kind of massage and treatments.

Overall extremely positive experience….

If you manage to survive to the cultural chock of having everyone going around completely naked!! :)

Not really the most common thing around Italy.


Monday, 17 March 2014


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In Rotterdam

Did you ever heard of Restaurant Week? Is a trend very popular in NYC, and I happily discovered that even The Netherlands are feeding the foodies.
The concept is very simple: for a week (usually more than a week in reality) the restaurants are offering their 3 courses menu with 60% off.
If you are fast enough you can even get the chance to book some Michelin starred restaurant, where you can eat a real gourmet meal for something like 50 Euros per person.
I’ve already tried one in Rotterdam last week: Quartier Du Port, the restaurant of the Quartier du Port hotel on Van Vollenhovenstraat 48-50.
The atmosphere is nice and warm, food was good (even if honestly I am not sure worth the full price menu) and well presented.
We definitely had a good time!
My next try will be a 2 Michelin star restaurant: FG, and I will share my opinion on that one next week.
For now, give a look to the link below, you will find the Restaurant Week program and the link to the Quartier du Port.


10+2 good reasons to learn Dutch

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Living in the Netherlands you can actually decide not to learn any Dutch: here everyone speaks quite good English.

Even when you do your grocery it is very common to find someone that would gently answer to your “Sorry I don’t speak Dutch; do you speak English?” with “yes a little bit”. And their “little bit” is better than any average English spoken in Italy.

Even Dutch people are not encouraging to learn Dutch. Some of them would ask “why would you bother??”

Despite that, some of us decided to take some Dutch lessons.

Is definitely not an easy language; and probably not the most musical one.

We anyway think that learning a new language is more than only learning few new words.

And here are our 10+2 good reasons to learn Dutch.

1)      It is a way to better understand the culture and the way of thinking of the population that for a certain period is hosting you.

2)      It is a way to get more integrated: it can help feeling “a part”, rather than “apart”, slightly reducing the feeling of no belonging that expats may sometimes have.

3)      If you want to meet people here, it is always nice to start the conversation with some local words. Then of course it would take some time before you can actually properly continue the conversation….but this could be a good excuse to continue talking even if in another language.

4)      And despite the will always deny it is useful, Dutch people will appreciate the effort you are making to learn their language. And as soon as you will show some wiliness to learn, they will immediately help to practice and learn new words.

5)      Learning new things, facing new linguistic obstacles, it is a safe way to get out from your comfort zone, without too many risks. It can become a sort of gym to get trained to face more difficult situation in your life.

6)      If you are here to find a new job Dutch would definitely help, and it will be anyway good for your CV.

7)      Even if people in the streets speak English, majority of the documents you receive via mail are in Dutch. It would be better to understand what they are asking you when is the moment you need to pay your taxes, or your water bill.

8)      When the man cleaning the windows of your house is coming.

9)    Learning a new language make you feel younger: you feel like going back to school time, when you had not time to study and the teacher was looking at you like you were really behaving badly 

10) When your sons will start speaking Dutch before you, even if they go to an English school.

11)  If you find the right people joining you in the adventure of learning the new language… it could be good fun!.

12)  And… you never know how long you will remain in this country….

Tot ziens!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Discovering Haarlem

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North of Holland

Time to start.

Time to start writing.

And what better than a Sunday spring day to start talking about the Netherlands?

Yesterday was wonderful weather here.

And it is important to underline this, because as an expat coming from Italy, I would always refer to the weather. My expectations on Dutch weather before moving here were soooo horrible, that anytime I see a bit of sun, I think is wonderful.
Yesterday was anyway not only about expectations: yesterday was really a sunny and warm spring day.

We took the opportunity to go and visit Haarlem, without actually knowing a lot about it.
It is actually quite close to Amsterdam (20km west from it). And it was a very positive surprise.
Here some more tips on things to do and visit in Haarlem.

We arrived around 13.00 and not many people were around. We sat for a quick lunch in a bar in the main square: Grote Markt. A fabric market was held. Nice because was making the city alive. I was though not really positively impressed by fabrics quality. Was anyway funny to walk there.

In the Grote Markt square there's also St. Bavo Cathedral: wonderful.

We got a nice hamburger with cheese and bacon at the Grand Café’ Brinkmann: one of the sunniest and hence most crowded places.

After lunch the town seemed to get alive: also taking advantage of the nice weather, everyone was in the streets. We went walking around the town and we discovered it is full of nice restaurant, and interesting shops. You can still breathe the artistic and cultural atmosphere that was here in the 17th century.

Immediately outside the city center there’s a nice canal with boat. A couple of families were just on the point to go for a tour with their boat. Three kids lying on couches, parents in t-shirt to enjoy the nice weather, a couple of wine glasses …. Sometimes Dutch people seem to be really able to enjoy life in the proper way.

Walking back from the canal we discovered Frans Hals Museum in a delicious street, a bit far away from the crowd of the city center.
But the most important thing we discovered about Haarlem is that is very famous for its tulips cultivation, and, we learned that in May there will be the 2014 flower parade.

On Saturday May 3rd at 9.30, the annual Flower Parade will travel its 40-km route along the main roads from Noordwijk to Haarlem where it will arrive at about 21.00. The flower parade is free of charge.

On Sunday 4th of May it will be possible to admire the flower floars in Haarlem until 17.00.

Check here for more infos.

Absoltely must have visit from my point of view.


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