Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dam Tourists

Escaping Belgium

I breathed a sigh of relief as the train accelerated away from Bruges station and whisked me over the border into the Netherlands. First stop: Rotterdam.

I jumped on a tram at Rotterdam Central station and was dropped off outside a huge 1920s building, a fairly unusual sight in the city centre since most of it was flattened in the second world war. I was very impressed with the hostel which was big and solid and not too expensive. A singer / guitarist set up for the evening and I enjoyed a quiet night of live music and beer before settling into my bunk bed for the night.

Rotterdam's Weird

Sadly I only had 24 hours to spend here so I spent the little time I had walking round the city and taking photographs of the fascinating sculptures and buildings. I was told that, since so much of it had to be rebuilt following the war, the city has moved away from tradition and adopted an 'anything goes' attitude to architecture that allows for some very interesting and adventurous designs. Here's one of my favourite examples:

The Cube Houses - a self contained estate based on trees
Back to Amsterdam

I've visited the capital several times before, so there's an odd sense of 'going home' there. But this time I was going to meet a large group of friends from London, some of whom had been before and some of whom were coming for the first time. This actually made quite an odd combination - who wants to go to the Van Gogh museum again? But who'd want to miss it?

So the mission became very simple: get drunk and go clubbing. This is a dangerous way to behave in a city that's hungry for your cash and will charge for anything (50c to use the club loos!).

L-R Gurvinder, Rob and me
I had booked a campsite on the edge of the city, thinking that Cecil and I could park there and enjoy some luxury for a few days. Of course, with Cecil not feeling too well that just wouldn't work, so I attempted to cancel. The policy of the campsite was to retain 50% of the booking as a cancellation fee, and since I'd prepaid online there was no way to guarantee I'd even get the balance back. So instead I switched to one of their wooden cabins.

It actually proved to be rather a lovely retreat... the campsite was in fact a small island accessible only by bridge and therefore very peaceful. Its facilities included a tiny private beach, canoe rentals and a petting zoo. And the tram stop on the bridge was serviced very frequently, taking just 7 minutes to reach Central Station.

I was in the yellow cabin in the middle
Yesterday I flew back to the South of France and was kindly collected by my father. This morning we drove to the garage and dropped Cecil off to have his oil leak seen to, something that should be finished on Friday according to the mechanic. My new fuel gauge has arrived although we're not sure what to do with it yet.


  1. Best of luck with the repairs. X

  2. Have you disappeared, Emily..?!? ;-P

    1. Yeah, a bit! I'm expecting news tomorrow - promise to update you soon as I hear :-)

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