Day 3: Rotterdam

So A and I had been planning to head out of U’s apartment around 8:45 in order to spend in the day in the Hague, but we were all up way too late chatting (as always!), and then I had problems sleeping (yes, pathetic to admit I’m having insominia while on vacation! Too many things to figure out/plan/research …), so we didn’t end up even getting up until 10 or so. We decided to put off the Hague, and instead hit up Rotterdam, which I’d heard didn’t really warrant a huge amount of time to see.

After eating and getting ready here, we hopped the bus to the Utrecht train station, and then were off. By the time we got off the train in Rotterdam, it was about 1 p.m. Happily, there was a little tourist office a couple blocks from the station, so we stopped in to pick up some maps and guidebooks. We intended to go on a couple recommended walking tours, but the streets there are pretty confusing (not to mention the fact that some don’t appear on the maps at all!), so we took a fair amount of detours. But we did see the cube houses (that’s what the shot above/right is of), an outdoor art park, and got in some light shopping. A was hoping to finally venture into a “coffee shop” (ahem), but we weren’t able to find this one recommended by the guidebook, so I guess she’ll try again in Amsterdam.

Here’s a shot of a library (or “bibliotheek”) in Rotterdam:

And a pic of a cool boat we saw off the old harbor (Rotterdam is an interesting mix of the old and new, and there’s construction going on all around town):

We had a drink and some curly fries (seasoned, with nacho-cheese sauce on top) and then hopped the train back to Utrecht around 5:30 p.m.

On the train ride back — which takes about 30 minutes — we made the unfortunate mistake of sitting in the “silent car,” which was indeed…silent. The lack of sleep and activities of the day caught up with me, but since A was already zonked out for the ride, I had to make sure to not nod off myself, or we definitely would’ve missed our stop.

Other random info:

— A and I both tried our Visa cards today — and they worked! So we’re fully functional now with both our debit ande credit cards.

— The Dutch are taking some getting used to.. they’re a bit in their own worlds, kind of like a stereotypical New Yorker. When A and I were lugging our various bags onto the train from the airport, no one offered to help us. And people seem kind of annoyed when we ask them touristy questions (“Is this were we catch the train to Utrecht?”). I guess we’ve been spoiled by all the nice folk in Seattle. I’m not saying, of course, that all the Dutch are like that. We’ve had a few good encounters with service people and one random lady on the street who asked if we needed help finding something.

— As most everyone knows, the Netherlands is big on biking, and that’s how a lot of people get around town. All streets have devoted bike lanes. But it’s so weird to see people just riding around in normal clothes — no bike shorts (or, as my friend Julia would say, “Lance Armstrong gear”), helmet, flashing lights, much less “on your left/right” as they pass other bikers. We’re quickly getting used to looking both directions for cars *and* bicyclists before crossing streets — those bicyclists seem to rule the road!

— We’ve lucked out with the weather so far. It’s been dry, windy, and cool (though not really cold until after the sun sets), with even some blue skies and sunshine now and again.

— Apparently my cousin always falls asleep on the couch at night, so she’s nicely given up her bedroom (and double bed) to A and me. We’d packed sleeping bags just in case, but it’s of course much more comfortable to sleep on an actual bed. The sleeping bags may still come in handy later during our trip, when we stay in hostels.

OK, off to bed now. Hoping to finally get into Amsterdam tomorrow!

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4 Responses to “Day 3: Rotterdam”

  1. Darn! I have a heap of friends from Penn State in Rotterdam… though they were probably all working today, anyway.I'd have to agree that you might be spoiled by Seattleites, and the American service-culture in general. ;) (But compared to the French and Icelanders, I always thought the Dutch were super nice… hope that doesn't alarm you about the end of your trip.) Vive le difference! (or vive le culture shock, I don't know) :)

  2. And btw, it's not insomnia… it's jetlag. Give it a few days, eh.

  3. Oh my God! Rotterdam! Seeing your pictures brings back such memories …. I went on tours of both the cube houses and the library! Glad to see you are having good weather so far!

  4. Ah, no worries, Johanna (though it would've been nice to have local help getting around town! We keep getting lost!). Good to know to expect even more aloof people in Reykjavik ;o)Yeah, I guess my being up at night could be jet lag, but it sure feels like my usual insomnia; I don't just pop awake in the middle of the night or something, I have all these thoughts racing through my head: "God, I'm going to hate having to repack my suitcase … What will I pack if we do a quick two-/three-day minibreak? … Should we shell out to go to Prague? Or pay a little less to see Brussels? … What are we going to see in Rotterdam/Amsterdam/wherever tomorrow? … etc., etc. Ugh!Lara, I of course thought of you when we were in Rotterdam (and even remember seeing your pictures of the cube houses)!

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