Kgomotso Matsunyane

Going Dutch in Rotterdam

2008-01-31 08:39

Kgomotso Matsunyane

If you're going to be flying KLM anytime soon, you better pack your own scuff tin. We left Jozi at 23:30, were fed tomato soup and salad an hour and a half later (starter portions with no bread), and the next time we saw anything that resembled food was 10 hours into the flight.

I ate those bland eggs, tough sausage and a stale bun like my very life depended on it! As soon as we cleared customs I literally ran to Burger King and had the most delicious, juiciest "whopper" burger ever to be made.

I'm attending the Rotterdam Film Festival, an hour from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Film festivals are like summer camp for adults. You wake up early for a gruelling day of workshops, interviews and pitching sessions, usually followed by a cocktail session for schmoozing purposes, and a dance party that goes on late into the night, and of course in between watching copious amounts of film. I know, my life is rough, but somebody's got to do it.

As a city Rotterdam is adorable - beautiful and historic buildings, a very laid back lifestyle, and tons of public transport (trams, trains, buses and taxis). The streets are relatively clean, but the rivers are full of plastic bags, which are always an eye sore.

The quality of life is truly outstanding here, even for European standards, and I feel slightly guilty for enjoying the 24-hour, uninterrupted electricity supply. The best part of course is the ability to walk everywhere, day or night, and where a car is quite unnecessary if you don't fancy one.

I'm somewhat relieved to see Dutch TV also suffers from too much cheap American programming, like re-runs of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and even Dr Phil - all subtitled into Dutch.

Note to self: in my next life I must invest in a long running production that sells to almost every territory in the world. Can you spell cha-ching? The truth is, I work in an unforgiving and fickle industry where you're only as good as your last film or TV production, and where the chances of success are almost comparable to winning the lotto.

Smoke gets in the eyes

I'm a great believer that if you travel, you have to allow yourself the full experience of the new environment, you know, when in Rome, blah blah, so of course we walk into a couple of the (in)famous Dutch coffee shops, where marijuana, hash and coffee are sold legally over the counter.

They tend to be patronised primarily by men in their twenties and thirties, and by giggly and curious international types tickled pink by the concept of legalised drugs. I know what you want to know, and yes damnit I did inhale, and loved every minute of it.

It also just happens to be the day Bafana is slaughtered by Tunisia, and we leave the establishment depressed but not entirely surprised. We kill the resulting munchies with a huge dinner of the best Chinese food I've ever had.

Overall, Rotterdam gets a solid 8 out of 10. There's not one city in the world that is perfect, and Rotterdam has its fair share of crime. But here's why I could live here: you're not always looking behind your back to see if someone wants to rape you or grab your laptop from you, and being killed for a stupid cell phone is a concept that seems like a terrible horror movie pitch, as opposed to being the daily reality South Africans have to contend with.

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