Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rotterdam and beyond

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Had a bit of a sleep in then up and usual breakfast etc . Then headed of to the bus/train. 1 hr journey through Dutch country side and saw lots of water - canals, small and big.
We took the train as the locals advised against the use of the car - to much hassle in getting form a - b and then there is always car parking and why use it if the public transport system is so great - clean and punctual.
Both Amsterdam and Rotterdam are 4 meters below sea level and so far touch wood the dykes have not ever been breached - if they did many will have to learn to swim in a hurry.
Anyhow eventually got into the Train station and txt our friend Dees = still 20 min away so we grabbed lunch at the nearest foody place - Burger King.
From there we had a good walk about - first up the Euro Tower - caught lift to the top and had a 360 degree walk - saw Rotterdam from the air. Then on top of the tower is a revolving enclosed platform that gave a good audio and highlighted special landmarks. Wohoo
During walk through the more boring inner city shopping center Dees treated us to a typical Dutch waffle - a Stroopwafel, which is essentially two thin waffles "glued together" with honey - very rich and filling.
Dees then took us through part of the town and showed us various sights - the most crazy one a new-ish housing development where people live in cubes (as in rubic) that are not flat on ground but rather high up in air A N D standing on their points!! What a way to live.
It was then arranged to meet Sunny and Anya - Sunny being a Dutch guy and Anya ex Mexico - and both are regular Scout link chatters.
Anya has her parents from Mexico over here for Christmas too - and they tagged along as well. We met in a cafe - needing to warm up again as it was cold outside - and had 7 people on the table communicating with 4 languages a n d hand and feet!! Most hilarious conversation - yet everyone seemed to understood everyone and we all shared in the convo!!
From there we went to the home of Dees - via more train - and 10 min walk - and had a typical Dutch evening meal served.
Meal - for the kiwis - was essentially bangers and mash with gravy - but not as you would know it. You cant get these bangers in New Zealand and the mash was just divine. This was followed by cold creamy custard - yummmm

Spade / Broom / Brush - you better put me on a diet when I arrive at Staveley.

Anyhow - Dees lives by herself in 50 square meter apartment - one bedroom only and she shared how difficult it is getting decent living space in Holland.
Due to the fact the space is now such a premium - u will need to put your name down and then wait 5 - 6 years before you get a place - and if you are single you are on the bottom of the list.
Dees had sent an email round asking any Scoutlink Dutch folks to come round for a chat - but the only other regular chatter the I knew - did come - Voske. He was full of life and it was nice meeting him in person too. Funny hes Dutch as you get but speaks his english with a good north english / scottish accent - something he has picked up from working with his boss.
Given the train back home it was all to soon to say goodbye (after we left our presents) and did the return journey.
We arrived back at Zwanenburg by around 11.30 pm - this after the bus journey that should have taken 20 min took 10 min - which was not to surprising given the the driver went through the first two red lights and I am sure broke the local speed limit on the schnell-strasse.
Den still lovely and warm - went straight to bed - didn't even check email!!

Monday 15th Dec 08 -

Seeing we had to wait for Radar to show after her appointment - we decided to sleep in and duly where granted our wish - the wind changed and all planes came in from a diff approach so did not get woken up by 747's roaring overhead. Yah.
Had breakfast and started to pack - slowly - and were almost ready when both Radar and kes showed up. Had a quick chat and then said our farewell's. Bummer - I did enjoy staying there.
We had mapped out a 3 day journey - dictated by Mamabear's wish to drive through the Rheine-valley. We had no trouble finding our way out of Amsterdam - apart from one wee wrong turn - and headed south - only to be met by fog - all 500 km of it. At least the autobahn's were not to0 busy and traffic flowed steadily - despite the massive building / renovation / extension program both in Holland and later in Germany.
Did hear in the news of one bad accident somewhere close to us - both directional lanes closed and a massive stau - up to 4 hours waiting time - and what traffic was diverted caused more staus in other areas. Glad we were not part of that.
Got as far as Koblenz and decided to have a early stop and rest up - then head off the following day through the scenic route - if the fog clears!!
Left the Autobahn in search of a place - short of Koblenz - not much available in the villages so ended up in Koblenz direct and first up hotel had a room free. I suspect the owners are french folk - as it is their first choice tongue between them.
Ended up having a very nice meal at the hotel - plain and simple but ohhhh the flavour!!!!! Mamabear says I will have a culture shock when I arrive at Staveley - food wise!!!
Interestingly enough the local hotelier is multi lingual - German, French and English which made for more interesting table talk!
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