RotterdamSeptember 27, 2016 in the Netherlands ⋅
Another ferry and then on to Rotterdam
We did 34km on bikes
Another ferry and then on to Rotterdam
We did 34km on bikes
The next stop after Zaanse Sachs was Zandvoort. First glimpse of the North Sea. The coastal section was quite pleasant until the wind picked up later in the afternoon, direct headwind but fortunately only for the last 30 km.
Went through The Hague and then settled down into a campsite at Hoek van Holland. The ride was slightly longer than I had planned at 136km.Read more
So the good weather was short lived as today was pretty much non stop rain. After starting in drizzle to soon changed to heavy rain and was just a case of getting to Rotterdam. I could have taken a more scenic route but the shortest possible was option for the day with a large section alongside a motorway into Rotterdam being most direct.
My hostel (King Kong Hostel) located on the very cool Witte de Withstraat street in Rotterdam was a very welcome site and a beer and coffee was quickly ordered. Really nice area where the locals drink and had a real East London feel. Good evening and less said about the England game the better!Read more
Finally time to check out of our nice houseboat, and head south-west away from Amsterdam. Our host gave us a lift to the station (fantastic, since I wasn't looking forward to a 30 minute walk lugging our bags), and we caught our train direct to Rotterdam with no issues.
Rotterdam is in many ways the polar opposite of Amsterdam. It's the busiest port city in Europe, and where Amsterdam is touristy and still very rich and monocultural, Rotterdam is none of those things. Not touristy, not that rich, and very very multicultural. Lots of people from all over the world here living side-by-side. Rotterdam doesn't have the greatest reputation, and in the past I think it was well deserved, but the city seems to have changed a lot these days.
Arrived at the central station around 11am, and since we couldn't check in to our hotel until mid-afternoon, we dropped our bags in a luggage locker and headed for our main spot for the day. This was of course a World Heritage site, the Van Nelle factory on the western edge of the city. Caught a bus out there with no dramas, and arrived in plenty of time for the 12pm tour I had a ticket for. Since we had Schnitzel with us, we'd agreed that I would go in on the tour, and that Shandos would wait outside with him.
The factory is a large modern building, built in the late 1920s with that classic optimistic style of the period. White walls, steel fringes and lots of glass meant that the workers had a nice environment, rather than the gloomy brown-brick factories of the 19th century. It was very impressive, and the tour was quite good. Lots of photos and filming of course! Although the factory was originally set up to process coffee, tea and tobacco, these days it's home to many design companies, marketing companies, architecture firms and the like. Lucky them.
Back on the bus to the main central station where it was now 2pm and fast approaching check-in time. Had a bit of drama since we'd both thrown out our train tickets, and couldn't get back into the station to retrieve our bags. Managed to talk a security man into letting us in - there is a large security presence here apparently because of drug dealers and stuff. Hopped on the underground a few stops to our hotel and checked in.
Nice spot on the waterfront, seven floors up and with a view over the main river and some nearby canals. Very unusual to be staying in a hotel, first time since Paris!
Headed out for a walk since I was absolutely starving by now, only having had two pieces of toast since 8am! Walked into the Cool District nearby (yes, it's called the Cool District) where there's a lot of outdoor restaurants and nice venues to check out. Eventually settled on a burger place where the food was excellent - apparently among the best burgers in the Netherlands!
Sufficiently refuelled, we wandered a few more blocks around the area, before grabbing some small snacks for dinner and breakfast and then headed back to the hotel where we spent the rest of the day/evening.Read more
How exciting to be in the city of one of my heroes, Erasmus of Rotterdam. We sailed through a very long canal leading to the city, passing oil refineries, reconstructed windmills and thousands of high rise apartment buildings.
In Rotterdam sagen wir dann über Nacht - und den folgenden Tag auch noch. Schön, dass man hier vom Schiff sehr schnell in die Stadt kommt.
Den Hinweg haben wir noch den Shuttlebus genutzt, kamen aber schnell zu der Einsicht, dass wir zurück auch laufen können. Nachdem wir die tolle große Markthalle und die Innenstadt gesehen haben machten wir uns zu Fuß zurück über die wohl größte und schönste Brücke der Stadt - nur leider ohne unsere Rechnung mit Petrus zu machen, denn es stürmte wie verrückt...
Am Abend war das Hellau auf dem Programm - Karneval auf der AIDA Prima und Miri gewann quasi den Preis für das schönste Kostüm... und landete wieder im TVRead more
Ännu en världsstad att besöka i Holland. Denna gången satte vi riktningen mot Rotterdam. Vad vi visste om Rotterdam var typ stor hamn, fina hus.
Fick tips från en gammal skolkamrat om att deras saluhall skulle vara fin och en tur i hamnen.
Vilken saluhall och alla dessa husen runt omkring, så grymma. Går inte att beskriva ett måste om ni kommer till Rotterdam. Bara gå runt där in o provsmaka mat från världens hörn. Sedan hittade pappa sitt ställe. "World of drinks" över 700 sorters öl på ett ställe. Där skulle man vilja bosätta sig ett tag. Man gick runt bland alla dessa öl och valde en så serverades den i baren i butiken. Härlig känsla.
Sedan satte vi tassarna mot ett huskomplex i närheten gjort som kuber. Riktigt nice, fanns även en visning lägenhet i området. Och det var intressant att se hur de såg ut på insidan. Värt sina 3 euro. Dessa lägenheter kostar 3 miljoner. Så har man lite över o ett var till salu, så...
Vi kom överens att ta en tur i hamnen som skall vara rejäl. På vägen dit gick vi förbi en flaggparad, dvs minst 250 flaggstänger vid kanalen med olika länders flaggor. Där åt vi mackor som vi hade med oss. Ungarna gillade o kolla alla dessa flaggor.
Båtturen skulle ta ca 75 min och kostade ca 35 euro för oss. Och det var en rejäl båt och fick goa platser på taket. Det stekte bra där med solen. Satt och njöt av hamnen medan båten åkte framåt sippande på en kall öl. Livet kunde inte vara sämre. Tyckte det var mycket intressant o se hamnen. Även ungarna uppskattade turen.
Sedan var det en tur till city med spårvagn och kolla hur det såg ut där. Fachinerade hus få jag säga i denna stad. Men någon gammal stad fann vi inte mest massa affärer på gågator.
Tog lite fries på ett ställe och bestämde att vi drar hem till campingen och grillar.
Just det vi tog tåg till Rotterdam istället som till Haag spårvagn. Lite snabbare tog det. Till Haag tog det ca 45 min med spårvagn och till rooterdam ca 25 min.
Gick från stn till campingen till barnens"glädje" de var sådär med att gå. Men fram kom vi. Kvällen avslutades med att vi började att packa ihop för imorgon var vi tvungna att dra vidare, få se var vi hamnar. J vill ha lite strand o bad...
Tills dess krama varandra i trafiken och over and out.Read more
A city that rose like Phoenix after having been destroyed completely in World War 2.
From the viewing deck of the Euromast tower you can see all of Rotterdam and more. It's quite something. The Erasmus bridge, the Nieuwe Maas, Rem Koolhaas' new skyscraper (which, I admit, I actually like now I've seen it in person). Because the Netherlands is so flat, the horizon seemed to be infinite. I could, for example, easily see the skyscrapers of the Hauge. Looking the other way, I could see the Hook of Holland and the port I had come from in the morning.Read more
The ferry was great. The sea was smooth, and I have to admit it, the band were good too. Really good, in fact. I think I may have witnessed the next Beatles. OK, not really, but they did know what they were doing.
I went to bed around 12 and slept like a baby. That was, until, the captain (who liked the sound of his own voice, it must be said) came on the tanoi at about 6am to inform everyone that breakfast was now being served on level 8, should anyone be feeling hungry. Well I wasn’t feeling hungry, and so I went back to sleep. I slept from about another hour before rousing myself, and making my way out to the lounge.
What a pleasant surprise to look out the window and see blue skies. Given that we had set off from Hull under a dark, black cloud, I was fully expecting it to be raining in the Netherlands too. Far from it. The sun was gleaning of the barely rippling sea. Rotterdam is a huge port - by the far the largest in Europe. Up until 2006 -- when China finally woke from a 600 year sleep -- it was the largest port in the world. And as we sailed along at a languid pace, the shoreline was nothing but miles of containers. There were hundreds of pristine white wind turbines, all in a perfectly straight line, like poplar trees lining a French road.
I wanted to stand and watch for longer, but I had to go and change the last 30 quid I had in my pocket into Euros. Man did I get ripped off. 30 pounds, on a P&O ferry, gets you 27.30 Euros. That is called getting stung. Then (again!) the captain came on the tanoi; this time he was asking all car drivers to return to their vehicles. I did, and twenty minutes later I was driving the Up off the pride of Hull.
I showed my passport to a security guard and hit the road. I didn’t know what to expect driving on the right hand side of the road, but everything seemed to be intuitive and natural. That was until I got to a roundabout. Roundabouts are squeaky bum time, very confusing. Anyway, I was soon on a motorway, heading towards to Rotterdam and all was well. The Dutch roads are silky-smooth, like a baby’s bum. It was easy.
Five minutes down the road, halfway across a bridge, there was a traffic light on red, instructing me to stop. I stopped, and down came a barrier. Then the middle section of the large, four-laned bridge started to rise, vertically. The whole of it, even the lampposts. It crawled up vertically, and a huge cargo ship -- stacked high with crates -- passed through the gap. What an impressive sight - it was the first time I’d been glad to get stuck at a red light for as long as I can remember. The whole thing took about 15 minutes, then I was off again.
Just as I was getting the hang of driving on the right hand side of the road, I came to a barrier with a ticket machine on, of course, the left hand side of the car. Normally, you’d simply wind the window down, press a button and be on your way. Obviously I couldn’t; I had to get out the car, walk round to the machine and start faffing about with it. For whatever, reason it wasn’t working. It wanted 4 Euros off me, but didn’t like my card. An elderly Dutch couple stopped their car and came over to help me (the Dutch are super friendly). After a minute or two, the three of us had figured out, and the barrier raised. I had to run, through, quickly round to the other side of the car, climb in and head on before the barrier came back down.
Why was there a barrier in the first place? My sat-nav showed a river ahead, and I presumed it was for a toll bridge. However, when I got to the shore, it was obvious that there wasn’t a bridge. This was a river crossing by boat (another ferry!). There was myself, a tractor with a trailer full of hay and a few other cars. We sat waiting for the ferry to return. And, as we were doing so, I noticed we were parked next to a cafe. As soon as I saw the cafe, I felt a pang of hunger. It was breakfast time. I decided that once I’d crossed the river, I’d find a place to stop and eat.
Lucky for me, then, that on the other side of a river was the beautiful little town of Maassluis. As soon as I drove off the boat I was greeted with a picture of utter Dutchness: canals, bikes, windmills, bridges, boats and men with moustaches. I parked up and went in search of a cafe or a pub or anywhere where I could sit down, drink a coffee and eat a bit of food.
The first place I found was a pub alongside a canal on what I think was called the Havenstraat (harbour street?). I entered and everything, suddenly, went dark. Outside was bright, inside wasn’t, and my eyes found it hard to adjust. I could just about make out a snooker table in the far corner and a bar to my left.
‘Hello, sorry, spreekt u Engels?’ I asked what I thought looked like a human figure.
‘A little,’ came the response.
My eyes came round, and in front of me (behind the bar) was a middle aged woman. I ordered a cheese and ham toastie and a cappuccino. The bar was lined with brown, green and clear liquor bottles, and the decor of the rest of the pub was a dark, varnished wood; wood decor in the quintessentially Dutch style. This town -- this whole town -- was Dutcher than a Dutch place. The toastie came and I wolfed it down. The woman asked me where I was from. Manchester, I told her.
‘Oh yeah,’ she said. ‘I’ve been to the UK before, to Middlesbrough.’
‘Oh really,’ I said, ‘have you been anywhere else in the UK? London, for example?’
‘London? Oh no, I’ve never been to London. Just to Middlesbrough.’
Fair enough I guess.
I finished my cappuccino and felt a million dollars. I was in tune with the place. I left the pub and wondered about the canals, taking pictures of the boats, the wooden sail boats, the windmills. There is no such thing as Europe, I thought to myself, if, as is the case, people wander languidly alongside the canals of Maassluis while at the same time Putin shells the streets of Donetsk.
I couldn’t believe a town so quaint could be just 12 miles from Rotterdam, but it was. After exploring it for about two hours, I made my way back to my car and left. Maassluis, what a beautiful town.
I was in tourist mood now. I hadn’t been on the road for more than another 15 minutes, when I saw a cluster of red eye symbols on my sat-nav (red eye’s mean there is something of interesting to see). I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by, so I took the next turn off and head towards, what I came to find out, a town called ..dam.
..dam is larger than Maassluis, so not as quaint, but equally as beautiful. It’s windmill galore - I think I counted six or seven of them. The canals were wider than Maassluis’, but architecturally the buildings were of the same 17th century style. I spent another wandering them, until I felt canaled-out. What a beautiful place small town Holland is.
So: after 18 miles, four hours, one boat trip, and two excursions later, I’ve finally made it to Rotterdam. Check in is at 2pm, and here it is currently 20 past one, so I’m sat in the lobby. And what a posh lobby it is, too. Far too posh for me. I have a suspicion that I smell like cheese. And given that I’m wearing yesterday’s clothes, I don’t think that’s an altogether unjustified suspicion.
Now, I’m just writing a quick blog, waiting for 2pm to come around. And when it does, I’ll check in, shower, and head off out to Rotterdam zentrum.
P.S. My sat-nav and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but so far it has been more than impressive. A nice touch was that, after turning it on, it proceeded to tell me all about the quirks of Dutch motoring; what the drink drive limit is, the various speed limits, etc. Top marks VW.Read more
You might also know this place by the following names:
Gemeente Rotterdam, Rotterdam