On Saturday morning my alarm was set for 4.20am and after a 20 minute torturous doze I was up and ready to tackle the pre-dawn London transport system on my way to The Netherlands.
Three buses and a fair amount of panic later (one bus didn’t show so I had to re-route myself), I made it to the Eurostar check in. There was just 20 minutes to spare and the attendant was pretty shocked I got there so late. Fortunately, there were no queues! What a stroke of luck.
I got to the platform with 15 minutes to spare at 6.45am and finally breathed again. After a two hour train journey I stopped in Brussels (and scoped out the Belgium chocolates on offer). Then I caught the train to Rotterdam. My phone decided to die at that moment and it was time for some more panicking. I switched to MacGyver mode and decided there must be a way.
Starbucks power points! I found a socket on the floor and combined my European adapter with my NZ adapter and the USB cord. Five minutes later it had charged enough so I could I call my friend. I decided it would be best if I stayed in Starbucks so he could come and find me – I didn’t trust myself navigating Rotterdam Central station after the morning’s events!
He arrived, instructed me that it is three kisses in The Netherlands and then we were on our way to Euromast Tower to take in the view. When you walk into the tower, people can go abseiling down the side but the instructors hold the ropes right where people walk past, so it would be really easy to trip over the rope!
We went up the tower so I took snaps of the amazing views.
Then we went down for lunch at Hotel New York. I had a mushroom Croquette with various bread slices – sooo yum.
After that we drove to Amsterdam! Now THIS is a crazy city. There are so many young tourists here and it really does smell of that popular green plant everywhere you go. In Amsterdam, coffee shops are now ‘Coffee Shops’. I went to a bar cos I was desperate for the bathroom and as soon as the doorman saw me he explained that it wasn’t a ‘Coffee Shop’. I just said I wanted a beer and he was surprised.
“Oh yes we sell beer, come on in!” He exclaimed.
After dusk we went on their one hour boat cruise through the canals which was so wonderful. As we did it by night, all the bridges were lit up and I was mesmerised. My friend couldn’t quite understand why I was so wowed by the bridges when it was so dark and because there were little lights everywhere, we decided I must just love anything shiny. The tunnels were cool too!
It was very strange to sail past Anne Frank’s house and realise how it actually looked. I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was 11 so I had pictured the setting in my mind but to actually see it is something else.
After the cruise we strolled around more and ended up in the ol’ red light district. It was a bit like K Rd with old buildings and hundreds of tourists. It’s odd how it’s so much of a tourist attraction now. We didn’t stay very long. Gazing into shop windows is not quite the same as at Selfridges or Smith & Caughey’s… you feel rather awkward.
For dinner we had pizza, further reaffirming the notion that I have to go to Italy for an eating-weekend at some point. Perhaps scheduled in between two intense weeks of exercise??
Finally we went home and I conked out, ready for another day of adventures on Sunday!
The next morning we had oven heated bread (bliss… By this point I had definitely given up on my gluten-free trial…) and drove to see the Kinderdijk Windmills!
They are just stunning. There are 19 of them that were built around 1740.
Then we met friends for lunch at a beautiful cafe. I learnt that the bridge had one short curved railing and one taller flat railing, which was because the horses used to pull the boats along the river so the short railing allowed for the rope to tow the boats! Amazing! I took a photo of it, although it’s hard to see the other railing in it.
After lunch we all drove to The Hague to walk around the parliament buildings and the King’s Palace. Our friend took great pride in stating that there is the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Silly Walks. (They were fellow Monty Python fans).
Unfortunately after taking in all these beautiful historic sights we had to rush back to the car so I could get to Rotterdam Station in time for my train back to Brussels.
It was a very surreal, magical weekend and I’m very grateful to my friends for their generosity in letting me stay and showing me around The Netherlands.
Hartelijk dank voor het spreken Engels met mij en uw vriendelijke gastvrijheid. Elk land met mensen die bieden drie kusjes op bijeenkomst is een soort land op dat.
Dutch people are very kind so you all must visit The Netherlands when you can!