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.
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|
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|
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|