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Top five places to eat in Rotterdam


When going away on holiday, the issue of where and what to eat is a tricky one. The solution of which depends on many factors: are you on a budget? Do you want to sample something local or go with something familiar? We’ve tried to compile a little list of suggestions for your next P&O Ferries trip to Rotterdam.

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One of the most popular restaurants in Rotterdam is Vis aan de Maas, which is located right next to the river, 10 minutes south of the city centre (Schiemond 40B, Rotterdam 3024EE). It specialises in typically Dutch food, especially seafood and fish, and has a lovely view over the river Maas. Although the fish dishes are fantastic, both fans of meat and desserts will walk away satisfied.

A bit further north, and less focused on local cuisine, is Tai Wu (Mauritsweg 24-26, Rotterdam 3012 JR). This Chinese restaurant looks deceptively plain from the outside, but the combination of great prices and even better food makes this a lovely little place to drop in, especially if you’re on a family trip. The high amount of Chinese locals going there hints at the high quality of the food – try the duck and the dim sum.

Pizza is the ultimate comfort food . It’s like sex – even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. While on holiday, you might get a craving for something cheesy from the oven to mix things up a bit. Luckily, there’s Angelo Betti, Rotterdam’s best pizza place (Schiekade 6/A, Agniesebuurt). No reservations, tiny dining area, cheap, children-friendly, thin crust pizzas with only the freshest of ingredients – what’s not to like?

Dudok (Meent 88, Rotterdam 3011 JP) does a very nice breakfast and brunch, but also caters to hungry eaters in the evening. However, we would recommend to visit around late morning for a coffee/hot chocolate and a slice of apple pie.

Another very good place to eat with your family is middle-eastern eatery Bazaar (Witte de Wittstraat 16, Rotterdam 3012 BP). Here, your best bet is probably to go for one of the to-share platters including olives, pitta bread, lamb meat, etc. The decoration is slightly leftfield, with lots of lanters hanging around creating a lovely laid-back atmosphere.

To check out any of these places, maybe on a day visit to Rotterdam during your next trip to Holland, you can take one of P&O’s ferries to Rotterdam’s Europoort from Hull.

Image credit: JeHu68

July Festivities in Ghent 2011


Ghent Festivities

With July just around the corner the city of Ghent in Belgium is preparing for its annual festival season. A trip across the channel next month will give you the chance to attend 6 different international festivals all in the same city.

Over 1.5 million people were in attendance last year for a diverse line up of events from street puppetry to jazz and jousts. The Medieval centre of Ghent goes all out to make the most of the city’s heritage with all sorts of tournaments and displays of crafts and warfare relics from the Dark Ages..

If you want to keep on going, the ’10 days off’ festival is a techno extravaganza that promises you a party that will last all the way through to the early hours. Some of the very best DJs will be coming from all around the world, as well as the UKs Floating Points and, from across the Atlantic, America’s Moody Mann.

If Techno isn’t your thing there will also be a Jazz Festival and a Boom Town Rock Festival to cater for all tastes. The entire city turns in to one large carnival, with marionettes from the puppet buskers’ festival wandering through Ghent and mixing with the International Street Theatre Festival that will be putting on open-air shows all across the city.

Tickets are available for either individual days or there is a full 10 day pass. And you won’t want to miss the night of the 21st which celebrates the midpoint of the festival with a huge fireworks display.

Image credit: evsmvf

Julidans 2011


JuliDans 2011
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An international modern dance festival takes place annually in Amsterdam for the first 10 days of July. 2011 will be the 21st installment of this modern dance extravaganza that promises a program to keep you entertained throughout your stay in Holland.

Tickets come to 14 Euro, but and there are a variety of free events too. This is a bargain price to see some of the world’s renowned choreographers’ work’s displayed by professional dancers on a global stage. There will be performances of modern dance in all its forms as it is found around the world from North Africa to the Middle East and even further round the world to China, an exciting opportunity for spectators as well as dancers to see a different world.

There will also be performances from up and coming dancers with Julidans NEXT, and food from across the world will be served with a chance to meet the artists and dine with the choreographers.

Some of the venues that will play host to this festival include Amsterdam’s Bellevuew Theatre, the Melkweg, the open air theatre Vondelpark and Bijlmer Parktheatre.

To get to Amsterdam P&O ferries have a frequent service from Hull to Rotterdam and from there it’s just a short drive to some of the best modern dance performances that the world has to offer.

Image credit: vidamarie

Go on a Hemingway trail in Paris with P&O Ferries


Paris in the 1920s was the hotbed of literature and art – European and American artists flocked to the French capital to get inspired by the city’s unique aura, hang out in its cafés and bars, and enter into gloriously doomed relationships with each other. With a short ferry ride with P&O, you can visit Paris and revisit some of the places that represent this era of artistic splendour.t

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Ernest Hemingway wrote beautifully about Paris in his memoirs “A Moveable Feast”, and lists some of the people he met and the places he used to frequent with them. Among his Paris crew were poets like Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound, as well as Pablo Picasso and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This clique of artists mainly hung around the Notre-Dame-des-Champs district or Paris.

It was at Gertrude Stein’s house at 27 Rue de Fleurus that Hemingway and Stein discussed the art of writing and became close friends. Stein was a voracious art collector, and in her flat she had works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Picasso and Paul Cézanne.

Her flat, which she shared with her art critic brother Leo, was only a few minutes away from the Jardin du Luxembourg, which Hemingway loved for the respite its green spaces and gravel walks offered. He often crossed through the park on his way see Stein when he was particularly hard up, so that he wouldn’t have to look at the cafés and restaurants.

Hemingway himself lived in the Latin Quarter on the other side of the Jardin du Luxembourg, at 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine. Then a dirt-poor area, it is now a bit more gentrified.

On the south corner of the Jardin du Luxembourg was the Closerie des Lilas, a café where Hemingway and his writer friends sank many café crèmes, wines and spirits. He also used it as an office – he wrote several short stories sitting at its tables, and started what would later become his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.

Another of Hemingway’s favourite places was the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, which was run by an American expat and contained hundreds of novels – a godsend for a reader such as Hemingway. The shop’s original location has changed beyond recognition, but the new incarnation, at 37 Rue Bûcherie (on the southbank of the Seine, next to the Ile de la Cite), is every bit as cosy and well-stocked.

To get to Paris and visit these haunts and many more, you can take a P&O Ferry from Dover to Calais.

Image credit: pablo.sanchez

Bastille Day 2011


Bastille Day

Bastille Day is celebrated on July 14th each year; it commemorates the storming of the prison fortress Bastille (1790) and the subsequent celebration, Fête de la Fédération (The National Holiday) that marked the one year anniversary in 1780.
The holiday is still celebrated annually as a symbol of uprising – nobody quite does revolution like the French. The storming of the Bastille was a flashpoint in the revolution and one of the birth pains of modern society when old ideas of hierarchy began to crack with the subversion of the aristocracy.

Today, Bastille Day is celebrated with huge military parades in Paris from Cadets of the Royal Horse Artillery with international participation from Britain and Germany. As it is a national holiday in France, tourists should expect some areas to have closures, although hotspots should be fine for public transport and retail. We do recommend you make full use of a cash machine beforehand though.

The celebration starts early and throughout the day there are a variety of parties, dances, communal meals, live music and firework displays. One of the more unique traditions of Bastille Day is the Firemen’s’ Galas, where fire stations across the country open their doors to the public for a look around the stations.

Bastille Day is celebrated in French communities around the world, but for those of you wishing to pay a visit to the land of beautiful women and good food, P&O ferries’ Dover to Calais service can get you there and back at a low cost on a service that runs up to 46 times a day.

Image credit: irene

Top five beers to bring back from your trip to Belgium


One of the best things about trips to the continent is the chance to sample some of the local brews. By taking your car over to Belgium with P&O Ferries, you have the chance to bring some of your favourite tipple back to the UK. We’ve compiled five beers you should at least try when you’re in Belgium.

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Probably the most well-known Belgian beer brand is Leffe. Out of the different variations, our favourite is the Leffe Blonde (6.6%). Not as heavy as many other blonde beers (such as Hoegaarden), it has a unique sweet, almost syrup-y flavour and a body fuller than the Northern Line at rush hour. Best served in round, wine-glass-like beer glasses.

Out of the Flanders Brown beers, the Goudenband, brewed by the Liefmans brewery, is one of the best ones. It usually comes in wrapped and corked (!) bottles, but it’s not a case of style over substance. Malty and sour yet fruity, with cherry, raisin and banana flavours tickling the drinker’s palate, this 8% beer is best sipped slowly and in good company.

For the ale drinkers among you, the Grottenbier (named ‘cave beer’ because it is aged in limetone caves) might be worth a try. Dry and crisp, not unlike champagne, with a range of spices coming to the forefront – this is no ordinary beer, and you should be careful not to sip it absent-mindedly or as part of a meal. This one deserves your full attention.

The Blanche De Namur is a wheat beer, and as such goes down a treat during the summer months or with a meat-heavy meal. It pours a light yellow and carries with it hints of orange and lemon. Refreshing, and at 4.5% a bit lighter than many of the Belgian ales.

Finally, there are the Saison beers, brewed seasonally in the French-speaking region of Belgium (Wallonia). The Saison Dupont beer is a great example of this refreshing, aromatic beverage. Amber in colour and with a fluffy head, its flavours oscillate between apple and pepper to make for a unique, light beer.

To go to Belgium via P&O Ferries, get the ferry from Hull do Zeebrugge for only £119 each way (two people, one car).

Image credit: Ben Sutherland

Jump on board with P&O ferries and admire fine European art in Tournai


Belgium is slowly developing into a country renowned for its arts and culture prowess. The Museum of Fine Art in Tournai is a good place to check out this trend first-hand.

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Built as a home to the collection one of Belgium’s most generous art patrons, Henri Van Cutsem, by the architect Victor Horta, the Musee des Beux-Arts (Museum of Fine Art) remains a splendid hub of European art more than 75 years later.

As one of the pioneers of the stylish, decorative Art Nouveau movement, Horta made sure to make the experience of visiting the museum building on the East side of the Citadelpark as stimulating as possible, and it’s safe to say he succeeded.

The sumptuous entrance hall with its glorious skylight leads on to the seperate different rooms, where art works by European giants such as Vincent Van Gogh and Hieronymus Bosch, as well as the Belgian porcelain painter and Tournai local Piat Joseph Sauvage (1744 – 1818) and the French impressionist Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883) are on display.

The Tournai’s Museum of Fine Art manages to cover European art from the middle ages until modernity while retaining a focus on Belgian artists, and the result is a thoroughly inspiring and enlightening visit.

Tournai is located in the West of Belgium, near the French border, and is only a short drive away from the Belgian P&O port in Zweebrugge.

Image credit: Detail from Hieronymus Bosch’s The Last Judgement centre panel, courtesy of ideacreamanuelaPps

P&O Ferries: Netherlands MotoGP 2011 Assen


AssamMangalam
This June motorcycle enthusiasts will be flocking to Assen in the Netherlands to see the MotoGP 2011, Karim Beerahee gets the scoop.

The MotoGP bike races in the Netherlands is just a week away (24-27 June), drawing masses of people to see the Road Racing World Championship. The Assen track in Holland was first used in 1925 it has since been replaced, but the Dutch TT has continued on the road circuit through de Haar Hooghalen and a couple of other places.

If you intend to take a trip to the Netherlands to see the Assen MotoGP then transport on to the continent with your bike can be done at minimum cost with P&O ferries. The frequent passage between Dover and Calais opens up a great opportunity for a roadtrip, cross a couple of borders and arrive at Assen’s TT Circuit in time for the start of the race. This tour can be done quickly pulling in at Bruge, Ghent and Antwerp or you can take a coastal road and hop across some of the islands between Calais and Rotterdam before cutting through Utrecht on your way up to Assen.

The MotoGP attracts such a large viewing audience that hotels set up local packages that include roaming passes and invitations to street parties as well as special deals with local facilities. The ‘Night of Assen’ takes place on the Friday before a weekend of racing, the town turns in to one large fair with stalls, bars, bands and rides.

Image credit: adriaan4
P&O ferries can get you and your bike across the channel so you can get a taste of the open road and burn across northern Europe for the motorcycle Championships

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