Welcome To The City
A couple of days in Utrecht had been fun, and it was time to move on to the next Dutch city – Rotterdam. A quick train ride from Utrecht, then a short walk to the hotel and I checked in to yet another cool place to stay. This time I was in a pod hotel in the aptly named Cool District. I had planned just a couple of days in the city, so I dropped my stuff off and was straight out to explore!
I walked with no sense of purpose, just having a wander to see what was about. The shopping district is close by, so after getting a little lost in the streets there I found myself back by the giant gnome I’d passed walking from the station. Slowly getting the lay of the land, I grabbed some food from the supermarket and made my way back to the hotel. I had some research to do with things to do here and day trips, and as I got back to the hotel I decided that as I’d found somewhere nice to stay, I’d stay a bit longer and use Rotterdam as a base to do some day trips.
So Many Pretty Buildings!
My first full day in Rotterdam started a little later than planned, but I was straight out and on my way to the cathedral. It soon became evident that I’d taken a wrong turning somewhere as the cathedral was nowhere to be found. Instead of just checking Google Maps, I spotted a sign for the cube houses and just wandered in that direction. The cube houses are a really interesting architectural feature in the city, and it set the tone for the day. After a tour of one of the houses, I made my way to the nearby Markthal which is another great piece of architecture.
The surrounding market was fun to explore, and the food market inside the Markthal was of course also fun to look around. I’d done a fair bit of walking by now, which meant just one thing: coffee and croissant o’clock! Taking a bit of time to google what other cool buildings were nearby, I was soon finished and on my way to Erasmusberg, one of the bridges across Nieuwe Maas.
The plan was to head to Fenix Food Factory, and on the way I passed so many cool and breathtaking buildings. I’ve always loved interesting architecture, and every turn in Rotterdam presented something else to be in awe of. It took a while to actually get to Fenix because of taking so many photos, but also because I made a complete tourist rookie mistake. While waiting to cross the road, I couldn’t spot a button to push for a green man to appear. Instead, I figured it was on a timer with the traffic so just waited. And waited. The traffic must have changed over 3 times, and still I stood there wondering how to get a green man to appear to allow me to cross the road. Eventually a man arrived and casually touched something on the lamppost I hadn’t spotted. Seconds later the green man made an appearance. I couldn’t help but laugh, and it’s a long road so he had definitely seen how long I’d been stood there.
Eventually arriving at Fenix, I was somewhat disappointed. I’d expected a large food market and what I found was a fairly compact warehouse with about 6 mini shops/stalls in it. Ah. I had a quick look round anyway, and when trying to work out what kind of drinks the last stall were selling I ended up in a conversation where I just couldn’t refuse buying one. Making my way outside with a glass of I didn’t know what, I took a seat on the funky benches and concrete blocks, watched the world go by and finally realised I had a beer. I don’t like beer, even craft or fruity flavoured stuff. I drank what I could – hey, I’ve spent money on it! – before throwing the rest in a bush and returning the glass.
The walk back to the hotel seemed to last forever, I hadn’t realised how far I had wandered. Eventually close, I had enough energy left to grab a take out and spend the rest of the evening watching Netflix in bed. It had been a good day!
Take An Umbrella!
Rainy days are never as fun, and my plan to visit The Hague for the day hung in the balance. I wasn’t sure if I’d come back to Rotterdam in the future, so it was a now or never kind of thing. Hoping for the best, I took the train out to The Hague for the day, and returned a few hours later looking like a drowned rat. It had rained, and it had rained a lot. As luck would have it, the sun broke through as I arrived back in Rotterdam. So after attempting to dry out my shoes I hired a bike and took a mini tour of the city. This was also the moment I remembered how scary it can be riding a bike surrounded by cars. Needless to say I won’t be joining the Dutch in their great love of bikes anytime soon.
A Cheesy Kinda Day…
The next day had a better forecast, so it was time to attempt another day trip! This time, I was off to Gouda to check out the cheese market. Although the rain had threatened a little, it stayed mostly dry and after exploring the small city centre I made it back to Rotterdam. Realising I’d had just a piece of cake and a coffee all day – it was a great piece of cake though! – I grabbed some dinner before heading to Museumpark to take a walk in the rose gardens I’d cycled through the night before.
Finding Home Comforts
After a few busy days, I was ready to just relax. With the hotel room extended for a few more days, it was time to tackle the fun side of backpacking – laundry! Although it’s not a great way to spend a morning, the feeling of warm, freshly laundered clothes is a lovely home comfort, and can nearly make up for the trek in the rain to find a launderette. The afternoon was just as lazy, and after sitting for too long with a coffee I thought it’d be a great idea to visit the Rotterdam museum. Turns out, the museum would close about 30 minutes after I’d get there. So instead, I spent the evening on my laptop researching my next stop and watching. a film. As the evening got later, I started to feel quite unwell, probably from so much takeout food the last few days, so got to sleep early.
Not All Plans Go…To Plan
Amsterdam boat pride had been on my agenda for a while, and I woke early to get the train back to Amsterdam for the day to finally see it for myself. As it turns out, the early night hadn’t worked the wonders I’d hoped, and I still felt really unwell. There was no way I’d be going far, so I went back to bed and had a super easy morning. By afternoon, I was feeling a bit better but still didn’t want to venture far. It seemed like the perfect excuse to visit the Rotterdam museum that I hadn’t got round to yesterday, and upon arrival found it was free entry on the first Saturday of the month (which it was!) – bonus! After feeling well educated about Rotterdam’s history, present and future, it was time to get my church fix.
Super light and airy, I really enjoyed the quick tour of the Grote of Sint-Laurenskerk. Continuing on I had a stroll through another shopping district, before practising the best self restraint ever in Hema. One of the joys of backpacking is that every time I want to buy something I instantly think about having to fit and carry it in my bag before it usually returns to the shelf. Works wonders for the budget!
With my time in Rotterdam coming to an end, it had been a week of ups and downs. I spent my last evening packing – it’s amazing how far stuff can spread in a tiny room – and taking a walk in the picturesque Het Park checking out an old Norwegian seaman’s church and the iconic Euromast. What else would you expect to find in a Dutch park?!
The next day I was finally moving on, and leaving The Netherlands to head for Belgium. While not my first time in the country, it was my first time to Antwerp, and I was looking forward it!