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Martijn Hordijk has lived in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the Netherlands, for more than three years. In addition to working a job that regularly takes him to Aberdeen, Antwerp, and Paris, Martijn shares insider insight about his home base as a blogger for Spotted by Locals. “Rotterdam is constantly evolving so everyday I experience something new,” he says. Here are a few of Martijn’s favorite things about the port city that’s been called “the Gateway to Europe.”

Rotterdam is My City

When I have visitors, the first place I take them is for a walk to the brand new Meent via the Pannekoekstraat. With trendy shops and restaurants like Depot Rotterdam and Coffee Company, we usually get stuck there the first day.

Have a dip in the SS Rotterdam's pool -- and don't forget your souvenir! (Photograph by FaceMePLS, Flickr)

Have a dip in the SS Rotterdam’s pool — and don’t forget your souvenir! (Photograph by FaceMePLS, Flickr)

My city’s best museum is the Wereldmuseum at the Willemskade because of the exclusive and exciting exhibitions. Don’t forget its brilliant restaurant as well.  You’ll have a perfect view of the city.

The famous cruise ship SS Rotterdam is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

You can see my city best from the Willemsbrug. You’ll have a perfect view of the Erasmusbrug, the eyecatching Maastoren, and the distinguished Red Apple.

Locals know to skip the city center and check out more lively and colorful streets like Pannekoekstraat and de Witte de Withstraat instead.

In the past, notable people like the great Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus, boxer “Bep” van Klaveren, and architect Rem Koolhaas have called my city home.

July and August are the best times to visit my city because there are many wonderful festivals like North Sea Jazz, Metropolis, and Pleinbioscoop.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Kralingse Plas. Enjoy life in our own big garden by walking, sitting on a bench, or even running like a lot of people do.

My city really knows how to celebrate big events like F1 racing, North Sea Jazz, and World Port Days

Erasmusbrug links the northern and southern regions of Rotterdam. (Photograph by Elisa Dudnikova, Flickr)

Erasmusbrug links the northern and southern regions of Rotterdam. (Photograph by Elisa Dudnikova, Flickr)

You can tell if someone is from my city if they ride a bicycle and have a distinct Rotterdam accent.

For a fancy night out, I usually go to Wijnbar Jansen & van Dijk, then head across the city to visit Het Eigendom. Or, I start at Café Pol and Sijf, then end the night at Café Boudewijn.

Just outside my city, you can visit The Hague, where you can see the Dutch government, the International Court of Justice, and Queen Beatrix’s home. (As of April 30, 2013, her son, Willem Alexander, will be king!)

My city is known for being busy and introverted, but it’s really passionate, friendly, and cozy.

The best outdoor market in my city is at the Meent every Tuesday and Saturday. As with all markets, the best time to go is at sunrise.

Pierre, a delicious French bistro, is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Café Van Zanten is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the local newspaper De Ster or go to a café located at the Meent to check out the news flyers.

My city’s biggest sports event is the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Watch it at Ahoy Rotterdam in February!

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I still want to be part of all the excitement in the city, so I just go for a walk.

To escape the crowds, I go running on the city border.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be film director Steven Spielberg because like his movies, my city inspires people and is adventurous.

Visit the nearby Hague while you're in town. (Photograph by PhareannaH[berhabuk], Flickr)

Visit the nearby Hague while you’re in town. (Photograph by PhareannaH[berhabuk], Flickr)

The dish that represents my city best is an Argentine steak at El Gaucho and a Paulaner beer at Café Pol is my city’s signature drink.

Het Witte Huis is my favorite building in town because it was Europe’s first skyscraper and it represents the old and new part of Rotterdam very well. It’s still is an eye catcher today, even though it’s surrounded by the Red Apple skyscraper and local cafes.

The most random thing about my city is that Erasmus University is the fastest rising European institution in the Times Higher Education rankings.

Bird at the Mini Mall is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out late nights at Blender.

In the spring you should have a drink on a terrace around Oude Binnenweg or the Meent.

Stroll or bike along the paths in this scenic riverside city. (Photograph by Hollabackpackers, Flickr)

Stroll or bike along the paths in this scenic riverside city. (Photograph by Hollabackpackers, Flickr)

In the summer you should cool down at a park or, if there’s bad weather, relax at Café de Tuin.

In the fall you should get a bike and ride out to the Maasvlakte.

In the winter you should go ice skating on the river or lakes and warm up in a café or club.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo. Your kids will love the elephants and the polar bears. So will you.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to get a public transport chip card (ov-chipkaart) to gain entry to the subway and trams. It makes visiting Rotterdam much easier.

The best book about my city is Brandgrens by Koos Hage, which takes readers on a tour through Rotterdam in the 1930s and in the new millennium, highlighting the variety of people and architecture that makes the city so unique.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Rotterdam embraces you. A poem from Dutch writer Jules Deelder says it all: “The surroundings of the man is his fellow man.”

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