Bombed by the Nazis during World War II, ROTTERDAM has now become a Dutch cuisine, night life, art and architecture capital.  It’s a popular destination for tourists and cruise ships, but not in the extreme.  This, of course, might change as the word gets out.

Manhattanizing ROTTERDAM is now building the tallest skyscraper in Europe.  It’s no longer the ‘second city’, and these days it’s holding its own against rivaling AMSTERDAM.  <PHOTO ABOVE – the Erasmus Bridge> ANTWERP, Belgium, is another favorite of mine, with two brand new museums to visit – the Museum of Modern Art, and an exceptionally fine Fotomuseum<PHOTO ABOVE – Antwerp’s unique railway station, which is on several levels; BELOW – feeding time for the flamingos at Antwerp Zoo>A TORONTO surprise in ANTWERP was brought to our attention by SABINA, a tour guide we happened to meet on the street and asked for directions. She said the Peter Paul Rubens painting ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’ had returned to Antwerp, the city where it was painted. It’s on loan to Rubens House from the Art Gallery of Ontario.  The painting is reportedly worth about $200,000,000 – a gift from the Thomson family.This painting crossed oceans and mountain ranges, survived wars, been lost and found, and set an auction record. But it had never been exhibited in a European museum.When it returns to TORONTO you can be sure this masterpiece will receive more attention than usual.The ‘Queen of the Adriatic’, otherwise known as VENICE, was the third city we visited. A watery land of canals, magnificent architecture, history wherever one looked, this ancient city lives up to its reputation and then some. How amazing that it still exists.IT WAS GREAT SEEING ALL THREE OF THEM AGAIN.