Tales of a tattoo traveller: to Rotterdam and back

This year I am going to Holland to explore the tattoo scene in the city of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam is known for its port but also cultural vibrancy. Photo: Visit Holland.

For the last few years I’ve blogged mainly about tattoo artists, styles and studios here in the UK because a) this is where I live, and b) we are KICKING ASS when it comes to tattoo art.

That being said, it’s a thrilling concept for me exploring tattooing across the world. I’ve previously blogged about ancient tattoo forms and tattooists doing great work in non-UK countries like America, Poland, Canada and Germany. But I’ve never personally travelled abroad specifically to discover and unearth the tattoo culture in one particular area. Well, today, I am so pleased to announce that this year I am off to do just that!

Thanks to Visit Holland, I’m travelling to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to document and experience all that the lively and cultural city has to offer — from tattooing and art museums to restaurants and bars.

I’ll be heading over to Holland at the start of August and sharing my journey in a series of blogs, tattoo artist interviews and social media posts. I can’t wait to scout-out this new corner of the earth and see what the tattooing world there has to offer.

Tattoo by Rotterdam artist Moira Ramone.

There will be a bucket-load of artists and studios for you to be introduced to at a later date, including one of Rotterdam’s best tattoo shops, 25 To Life. This hub of tattoo talent is headed up by owner Nico ‘Slick Nick’ and home to Moira Ramone who I’m excited to be getting tattooed by during my visit.

I’ll be travelling to Holland with my mum who I’ve never been on holiday with before, just the two of us — it’s ridiculous that it’s taken 30 years for us to make that magical thing happen. Where does the time go? As well as enjoying a few days in Rotterdam we’ll both be seeing what Amsterdam has to offer too.

One of the oldest photos of the SS Rotterdam. Photo held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, from Wikipedia.

Having worked on cruise ships for eight years (and eventually giving up that fun-filled chapter to create me — sorry ‘bout that ma), my mum already has a relationship with Rotterdam, which is home to Europe’s largest port. She first sailed on the SS Rotterdam in the ’80s and it was in fact the first ship she worked on so it holds a real sentimental value in her heart: “I was excited and nervous to join the ship in New York on my first ever contract.”

Once a beautiful ocean liner, the SSR is now one of Rotterdam’s most luxurious hotels. Today, my mum re-visits Rotterdam for annual ‘shipmate reunions’ and many of her close friends from her sailing days now live in Holland.

It’ll be great to visit the city with someone who is a fountain of knowledge (or rather, passion) when it comes to Rotterdam’s shipping history. Coupled with my own co-incidental thoughts and reflections on tattooing’s journey into the modern-day, via sailors, there is in fact a gorgeous coupling together of themes here.

Yep — she’s a ship geek, I’m a tattoo geek. This may well turn out to be a poignant story of travel and adventure, sailors and tattoos.

I’ll be counting the days until this journey sets sail.

My mum by the SS Rotterdam, 1980. Its original white helm had been painted blue — the hotel has just recently restored the ship to her original all-white look.

Have you visited Rotterdam before? Share your travel tips with me!

Words: Rebecca Rimmer.
Trip thanks to
Visit Holland.
The above article was written and first published in June 2017.