In our attempt to start doing more exploring, a few weekends ago we headed west… to Rotterdam. My initial plan was a spontaneous trip to Berlin, however, it turns out that Berlin is still 6 hours by train, so that took a little of the spontaneity out of that one. Then I thought perhaps Antwerp, Belgium since that’s less than 2 hours drive. But it was going to be cold out and who wants to wander around a city in the freezing cold? In the end, since we had one sick child on board, we opted for the zoo – feeling it would be low key and easy on a cold spring day.
Rotterdam is about an hour drive to the west from where we live in Naarden. While we didn’t see any of Rotterdam itself, it is known as having the largest port in all of Europe. Given the tiny size of the country it’s located in, this is a rather impressive feat. As you can imagine, the zoo is located on the outskirts of the city.
The zoo itself is called the Diergaarde Blijdorp and is one of the oldest zoos in the country, having celebrated it’s 150th anniversary only a few years ago. The Dutch seem to really like their zoos and amusement parks as there are many of both here in the Netherlands. I’m not complaining since we like both… just pointing it out.
Not wanting to bore you with details as a trip to the zoo is not exactly high on the list of super exciting things to do, let me just mention a few things.
- The zoo was massive – I think probably the largest zoo we’ve been to. We spent 5 hours there and didn’t cover everything.
- The habitats were all nice sized, larger than what you would see in most zoos, and well maintained.
- There was a decent sized aquarium complete with glass ceiling walkway with sharks and rays swimming all around you.
- There was an awesome amazon area full of beautiful butterflies. It was also nice to get a little bit of warmth after spending so much time in the freezing outdoors!
- And what I think was our favorite part – there were polar bears, including twin baby cubs!! Seriously, I have never seen anything so adorable ever!
- Nothing was in English. Before you say or think anything about the fact that I’m in a foreign country, I should mention: Zoos are a tourist attraction all over the world. It behooves the zoos to have information in English since it is a universal language. I was surprised that in a country where so many speak English that nothing in the zoo was in English, especially the descriptions of the animals (the names were in English and Dutch though). It was by no means a deal breaker on us visiting again, just an interesting observation.
- There was a really great play area for the kids. Supposedly there is also a huge new indoor playarea too but we never found it. I guess that means we just have to go back.
The pictures don’t come close to doing this amazing zoo and aquarium justice. This place was not just massive, but well organized, beautifully maintained and had a huge selection of animals from all over the world. We will definitely be making a trip back when the warmer weather arrives!