We arrived too early (as we were informed by the slightly bitchy girl manning the reception), so we parked our car and walked around. We spotted the Euromast and walked there -- I had been there with O.'s stag party, so I knew about the oriental supermarket opposite there, which we visited. Stocked up with food we returned to the hotel.
Our room (which we had to reach by walking down a corridor with space-age decor) was a split-level studio: the 'ground'-level was the bathroom, featuring such amenities as a two-person shower and a two-person bath. Up the stairs was a small sitting area (with only one chair) and the bed. The bed was equipped with a beamer, a 5.1 sound system and a DVD-player -- downstairs was a DVD library. There was also a music system that featured an iPod adapter -- you could borrow one downstairs that came pre-loaded with playlists with titles like 'chill', 'afternoon' and 'move out'.
Some of the reviews we read before setting off were quite negative -- stuff didn't work, it was noisy, etcetera... But we managed to get everything working without too many problems.
After chilling a bit (watching The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which klik hadn't seen yet), we set off in search for food. Yes, Stroom is also a restaurant, but after reading the reviews we decided we wouldn't be trying our luck. We had seen something that looked interesting when we were exploring the area before, and we managed to find the entrance too (after a bit of wandering around...). Turns out that this was Restaurant Ivy. Just when we stepped in, we looked at each other: it was that kind of restaurant, where the pages of the wine menu outnumbered the pages of the food menu, with lots of trendy people, big plates and little food. The people manning the front desk were a bit incredulous we had 'just walked in' without a reservation -- it's not exactly in a high-traffic area and they had just opened the week before!
I had my credit card with me, so I thought we should just experience something like this once in a while! We chose the five course dinner and took the suggestion of the wine arrangement, and we didn't regret it! The food was delicious and creative. The wine complemented the food very nicely. The 'extras' like the appetisers were very good as well. The service was professional but personal, and we felt really at home. OK, so you do pay almost ten euros for a cup of tea -- but the assorted (home-made!) sweets and the presentation mean you also get a lot too.
At the end, we were quite full and quite tipsy. It'll be a long time before I spend 10% of my monthly income on a dinner for two again, but if you're willing to splash out for something really special, Ivy is certainly not a bad place to do it!
After we got back, we had a bath together. We had planned to watch 'The Lady in the Water' after that, but we fell asleep soon after...
The next day, we first visited the Euromast. On Friday the weather was kind of drab, so we couldn't see very far, but on Saturday it was a bit better. It wasn't very crowded (yet), so we had all the time to take a good look around. Fun times.
After that, we took the tram to the city centre to do some shopping. We managed to spend a full hour in a store selling artistic supplies. Stocked up on brush-markers, paper and some cutting tools. I asked for rubber carving blocks (stamps cut out of erasers aren't made for eternity because they tend to break sooner or later), but they didn't have those -- they suggested cutting the design out of a sheet of rubber instead and mounting that on a piece of wood. I'll have to experiment on that (and I did buy the sheet of rubber, obviously).
The city centre of Rotterdam is just like any other -- lots of the same stores, so there wasn't much that overly interested us. Of course, we stayed on the main drag, which is too expensive for most 'specialty' stores, but since we didn't know where we were supposed to go for the more interesting stores that was all we saw.
We went back to the hotel and booked a table at Bla-Bla, a vegetarian restaurant in the historic part of Delfshaven. The food was delicious and plentiful, and the service was so upbeat and personal that we didn't mind (much) almost getting overlooked twice... I'm thinking that gertvr and xaviar_nl would have a great time there. A bit cramped though, but certainly a good place to dine!
Then, after an evening stroll through Delfshaven, we went back to the hotel, had another bath and then finally watched the movie before falling asleep soundly again.
Today, we checked out and after dumping our stuff in the car, we went to the Dutch Architecture Institute. We arrived too early, so we had a stroll through the park and a cup of coffee at the restaurant of the Kunsthal before going in. klik is more of an architecture nut that I am, but it was very interesting to see how cities have been conforming to Big Plans since the Housing Law of 1902 obligated municipalities to plan their own expansion. Also interesting to see how high-rise flats were designed with the best of intentions -- but no-one wants to live there anymore because as a social experiment that type of quarter has failed.
We spent all day in the Institute, and I wasn't bored for a moment. Fun fact: they have a large table with lots of Lego, so that you can design your own building -- and I only saw adults playing around with it. All the kids were at the top floor making their own scale models of fantasy building, no time to play with Lego! :)
And now we're back home. I'm actually quite tired and my feet hurt. As a way to get some much-needed rest, this short break was a total failure. But as a way to see and do new fun things, it rocked!