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My sister works in Merchant Navy, so she is frequently away at sea (or at least in a port of some kind), this week I went to go see her. This took me on a wonderful trip to Rotterdam, Holland.
I left Teesside by train, headed for Hull late Saturday morning. The trip was relatively uneventful until ending up in a carriage of a bawdy hen party. Having been accosted several times by these ladies, I eventually met up with my Dad in Hull and we were set to board the Pride of Hull P&O ferry to set sail to new lands!
I have experience with being offshore, but nothing quite like the force nine winds that were rolling over the North Sea for our trip. Needless to say; at around 03:00, I was awoken to the smashing of large rollers hitting the bow of the ship. I can only assume the course of the ship changed, and as we stopped a gentle roll and began pitching. We formally woke up bright and early at 07:30 continental time, grabbed a coffee and watched as we glided into Europort.
On a coach trip into Rotterdam we were able to see more of the beautiful country that is the Netherlands. As this was my first time in Holland I was astounded at the sheer amount of bicycles – they are everywhere! Being a keen cyclist myself, it was great to see the well built cycle infrastructure built throughout the country – the UK really has a lot to catch up with.
Meeting my sister in Centraal Station, we took a tram into Schiedam and then walked past canals and windmills to the Seven Atlantic; a dive vessel working in the North Sea. We were offered food and given a tour of the huge ship. The amenities offered to the crew are second only to the size of operations on that thing. We were even given a tour of the engine rooms, where we donned full PPE. I think that a hard hat and orange suits me!
At night we wandered Schiedam and found what I believe to be an Israeli Restaurant, and enjoyed a mystery dish. I can only describe it as being similar to some mild beef curry. After, we headed to some local bars ending in the Ships Mission of that port. European lager easily tops the chemically infused muck served in British pubs – that’s why I drink ale! Amstel on draft is amazing; as was the bottled Grolsh we drank at the mission.
The next day comprised of a walk around Rotterdam before we were required to head back home. Although Rotterdam was well built up, it seemed to be sparse in people unlike UK cities. I believe this to be because the streets are considerably wider, and there were several plaza’s located around the city. The Dutch from my experience have always been polite, well mannered and helpful , this stood true in my trip to Holland.
I would very much like to visit the country again, but perhaps have the chance to visit rural Holland. The Dutch seem to do so much right in, the country was so clean, the people are so nice and the transport infrastructure is fantastic. I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Holland for anyone, and I will certainly be visiting again.