I am not particularly interested in maritime history, but I have to say I was rather fascinated by the Haven Museum‘s collection of historical vessels and old dock cranes permanently moored at Leuvenhaven in the heart of Rotterdam. I think it was the enthusiasm of one museum curator that won my interest when he waved a Haven Museum flag on the end of one particular crane by swooshing its arm back and forth over the harbour. Onlookers (including myself) rather enjoyed this jovial display and from the glee on his face whilst operating the crane, so did the curator.
The outdoor display of the Haven Museum is permanently open and free to anyone wishing to wander around the harbour at any time, day or night. There is a visitors centre nearby offering more information about the vessels and cranes on display, open during office hours. Aptly positioned overlooking the harbour is Rotterdam’s Maritime Museum where the Netherlands’ second largest city’s maritime history is further and proudly celebrated with an array of indoor displays and models. I am sure both are as equally fascinating as the harbour display, but I have to admit that my maritime interest had been completely satisfied with the earlier crane wiggling, and so I chose not to venture into either on this particular occasion.
As I left Leuvenhaven and walked back along Schiedamsdijk that ran parallel to the harbour, I was rather surprised to notice that the walkway ahead looked newly paved with plain slabs and bricks. According to my guidebook, this walkway was supposed to be Rotterdam’s answer to California’s famous Hollywood Boulevard, where concrete handprints of various celebrities should have been littering the length and breadth of the walkway. I walked up and down Schiedamsdijk for some time but I couldn’t spot a single handprint anywhere. Intrigued to know why, I did a little online research and learnt that the Star Boulevard Walk of Fame Europe did indeed exist, but had only months earlier been relocated to Zuidplein, a couple of metro stops south of central Rotterdam.
The official website to the Walk of Fame Europe (only available in Dutch) looked rather impressive with photographs of the moment celebrities predominately from the music world and some rather legendary indeed (Tina Turner and Johnny Cash to name just two), immortalised themselves in Dutch concrete. As I went through the list of celebrities, albeit short (around sixty names), I decided I just had to venture out to Zuidplein to see these handprints for myself.
The result and location of the Walk of Fame Europe however, was not as glamorous as I had imagined it to be.
As I left Zuidplein station and walked along Metro Square underneath the metro-rail flyover, I came across a sign for the Walk of Fame …
… but it didn’t indicate in which direction the Walk of Fame was.
Underneath the neon sign were two further indicators that the Walk of Fame was nearby.
As I stared back towards the metro station wandering where on earth the pavings were, I realised with a sudden sense of dread that they were exactly where I was standing …
Oh well. At least the names behind the handprints were impressive …
According to the website, the relocation of Rotterdam’s Walk of Fame Europe was to help with the regeneration of Zuidplein, a slightly rundown residential district of Rotterdam that is currently experiencing a wave of redevelopment and investment to improve its fortunes and desirability. I understand and totally respect the thinking behind this relocation which commendably has been achieved by charitable and voluntary efforts alone …
… but there is no escaping the fact that this location couldn’t be less glamorous or ‘Hollywood’ if it tried.
The Rotterdam Star Boulevard Walk of Fame Europe can be reached by taking metro line D southbound towards Slinge and getting off at Zuidplein. The tiles are just beyond the exit to the station. The far more fascinating and glamorous Star Boulevard Walk of Fame Europe official website can be found by clicking here.
Emotive art, innovative architecture and a rather cheeky statue of Santa Claus. It can only be Rotterdam