Last weekend my rambling friend from the Peak District and myself took a ramble around one of the best loved green places of Rotterdam: the Kralingse Plas.
This 100 ha lake is man-made; for years it was the main source of peat in the Rotterdam area, so you would expect the water to be brownish black, but in fact it was crystal clear in the places I was able to look down into the water.
We started our ramble on the south side of the Plas (plas = body of water)and we weren't alone...The Kralingse Plas is busy-busy with all kind of Rotterdam folk who are aching for some greenery and fresh air. So the above photo is deceptive - there were hundreds and hundreds of people there, believe me!
Right: how Dutch can you get?
There are two windmills there, De Lelie (the Lily)from 1740 and De Ster (the Star) from 1886, which you can visit, and where cooking spices are still being milled, and some really nice restaurants.
Lysanne took me to the one next to the mills, and as it was sunny we were very lucky to snare the last available table for lunch. Our rambling boots got a few glances...most people there either dressed to impress or to skate or jog...
The Kralingse Plas is adjacent to the Kralingse Bos (bos = wood), the green lung of the north of Rotterdam. This neighborhood is very sought after to live, thus expensive. But next to Kralingen is Crooswijk, where many immigrants reside, and the Plas had a lovely mix of both kinds of people all enjoying the same sunshine.
This is the restaurant; nice, eh? It is called De Tuin van de Vier Windstreken (Garden of the Four Compass Points) and I can recommend it.
After lunch we did the thing everybody does there: take a walk around the water. From the north side, looking towards the centre of Rotterdam, the wonderful skyline was a thing to behold. It must be amazing in the dark as well, but Lysanne told me she would not be seen dead after dark there...it is a notorious cruising spot for folk up to no good.
But on this Sunday afternoon it was tranquil, as was the water. And here our hiking boots came in handy, as we could take the more adventurous trail.
The last quarter took us along the beach; empty now save for a bunch of enthusiastic dogs chasing sticks and balls. Part of this beach is a designated nude area; this made me pause for thought. How on earth does this work? I must go back in summer and see this for myself - I can image women in headscarves and long sleeves next to women with bare boobs&bums...or rather, I cannot.
We took in one of the nice citizen initiatives: the Kralingse Botanical Garden. It is tiny. But very full of lovely shrubs, flowers and trees all the same. Lysanne apologized for the appearance of everything, dying down, but my botanical knowledge is good enough to be able to imagine how it must have looked when everything was in bloom.
I really like this plant, Giant Gunnera, even now when it was all brown with holes in the leaves.It is our Wetland equivalent of jungle plant, being more than man high. I have its tiny brother near my house, and it is the first thing that blooms at the end of winter, with cheerful little yellow marigold-like flowers which appear way before the leaves shoot up.
I took 15.638 steps, boiling down to 10,18 km.
It was sunny, with temperatures reaching a high of 20 degrees at 2 pm, rather unusual for October!
The Kralingse Plas is famous for the Dutch Woodstock (The Holland Pop Festival in 1970); look up the documentary about it called Stamping Ground. I desperately wanted to go, but as I was only 12 at the time my parents successfully vetoed!
And it is also famous for the first official gay "meeting" area.
You can reach Kralingen by both metro, tram and bus.