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2015 MAY NETHERLANDS - A WEEK IN ROTTERDAM AND BEYOND.

Let's get acclimatized and ready to pedal.

Tuesday 26th May 2015 (day twenty-two)

The Lemons did not arrive until close to midnight last night, they had managed to get a little lost during the ride from the station to the apartment, but made it in the end all excited as they had been upgraded to business class on the last leg of their flight. (lucky buggers)

The search for bikes continued today. I googled bike shops in the central Rotterdam area and marked them on the city map I had picked up somewhere. Lyn and I then borrowed the Lemons bikes to ride around to these assorted shops to see if they had any good second hand bikes available. Unfortunately, we had absolutely no luck whatsoever. We visited about 6 different stores, and more that were not even open but none had any bikes for us and the new ones they stocked were way out of our price range. So looking grim on the bike purchase front.

We returned to the apartment at lunch time deciding we would take a visit to The Hague the next day and try our luck at a couple of second hand places we knew there from previous bike purchasing missions. But this afternoon we had a date to meet up with Peter 12 - an old couchsurfing buddy from a couple of trips ago who we still keep in contact with. We met up with Peter outside the market hall, which was a short walk for us. We had a stroll around inside and it was not half as crowded as it was yesterday on the public holiday. Peter asked Toni if they had eaten poffertjes yet and when she replied no, that was our next stop. The Poffertjes Saloon is supposedly the best place in town, so we grabbed a table outside in the sunshine, ordered a beer and some poffertjes.

Poffertjes are a traditional Dutch batter treat.
Resembling small, fluffy pancakes, they are made with yeast and buckwheat flour.
Unlike American pancakes, they have a light, spongy texture.
Typically, poffertjes are served with powdered sugar and butter, and sometimes syrup.

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We walked around some more, looking a few shops etc, and finally ended up at an all you can eat ribs place that we had eaten at with Peter last time. The ribs here are fantastic and great value at E11.50 = $ 16.00.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015 (day twenty-three)

Our aim for today is to find bikes and I am happy to say we had great success.

We caught the train to The Hague and after a quick stop at Hema for a quick coffee and tompouce, we headed to the second hand shops.

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After visiting a couple of shops we finally found 3 little beauties - a bike for me, a bike for Lyn and a bike for Sarah. Whew! Finding these bikes was a load off our shoulders. We now had our transport, which meant we were ready to go! Now just getting them from The Hague back to Rotterdam. Option one: take the bikes on the train, option two: ride the bikes the 25km back to Rotterdam. Well this is a cycling holiday so we took option 2. However I think the 25km may have stretched to 35km by the time we finally found our way back to our apartment. Toni was the lucky one to take the train and she was happy tucked away in the warm apartment, while Lyn, Shawn and I rode the bikes back. It was not too bad we made it back before dark and it gave us a good run to test out the new purchased bikes.

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As we climbed up the 4 flights of stairs to our apartment I overheard Shawn saying to Lyn, "I love you guys, but this is definitely the last biking holiday we will ever do!" And we haven't even started yet!

A few beers were needed after this inaugural ride.

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Thursday 28th May 2015 (day twenty-four)

Today we woke to an overcast sky, which did not look like a good day to be heading outside. Not letting a few clouds stop us, after breakfast we headed out anyway, for today we travelled about 15km to the town of Delft. Lyn decided to stay at home as she is still fighting a head cold and did not want to risk going out and feeling like complete shite!

Delft is a city and a municipality in the Central West of the European country Netherlands.
It is located in the province of South Holland, where it's situated north of Rotterdam and south of the The Hague.
Delft is known for its historic town centre with canals, Delft Blue pottery (Delftware), the Delft University of Technology,
painter Johannes Vermeer and scientist Antony van Leeuwenhoek,
and its association with the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.

Toni, Shawn & I had a great day in this very pretty town. Nobody was interested in cycling the 15km after yesterdays effort, so we caught the metro from Oostplein, close to the apartment, to the Blaak train station where were transferred to a train to Delft, which took less than 30 minutes. We had ridden through the town yesterday on our epic journey after purchasing the bikes, but today we could take our time to look around and wander the streets - which is what we did.

Walking from the station we spotted a tall windmill that was actually turning, a rare sight (see video on FB).
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As the day progressed the weather improved after an initial light shower of rain. It was still cold enough to warrant wearing a jumper all day, but the day was very pleasant walking around in the sunshine through the canaled streets. Very pretty place.

The local market was on and for lunch we had a very cheap meal of Lekkerbek for just 2 euro = $2.80. This deep fried fish was freshly cooked and tasted delicious. 90_DSCN1379.jpg
We had this after a visit to the Cheese shop where we were able to taste test about 20 assorted cheeses. The cheese aroma in this shop is enough to get my taste buddies working overtime.

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The whole town is very pretty and there were quite a few tourists visiting today also. While meandering the narrow cobbled streets we happen to come across a hardware store that was selling the butane gas bottles we need for our cookers. Somewhat on the expensive side but at least now we have fuel to cook on the road when we take off in a few days. These canisters which are so readily available and very cheap at home are not so easy to come by here which make me very nervous for any future hot meals, but for now we are sorted so we can spend the rest of our time in Holland relaxed knowing that all our housework is now done.

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Before returning to the train station we made a quick stop at the Hema to pick up a couple of tom pouce to have for later. To tell the truth I was amazed they made it all the way home uneaten. lol.

Train and Metro back, we were home again just before 3pm, minutes later Lyn came puffing up the stairs with Miss Sarah in tow who had just arrived today. So now our little group is complete. There are a few more day excursions planned (some involving our bikes to acclimatize ourselves to them) while we are still based here in Rotterdam.

We stayed in tonight, after stocking up on some more lemon beers, catching up planning the coming days.

Friday 29th May 2015 (day twenty-five)

Today we took the train from Rotterdam to Amsterdam.

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The weather did not favour us today, and although we did not have a down pouring of rain it did spit on and off and the wind blew through us for the majority of the day making itself felt right to our bones.

We managed to score some really cheap train tickets from our apartment host and got return Rotterdam to Amsterdam train tickets for 10.30E = $14.80 each. This was a bargain price ticket. The sky was looking ugly when we left the apartment to walk the short distance to the train station, but previous days had looked like this and ended up sunny and clear so we did not worry too much. Unfortunately, today did not live up to the standard of weather we were expecting and maybe put a little damper on our visit to Amsterdam.

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After arriving at the Amsterdam Central station I walked over to the tourist office to try and find a map, but the only maps they offered were for sale @ 2.50E = $3.60 so we decided to wing it. Toni had read about a market in a magazine so we found a street 'you are here map' to direct us to which tram we should catch to take us there. Our OV swipe cards are good for transport all over the Netherlands so it was easy to find the correct tram number, climb aboard and hope we get off at the correct stop. Locals are pretty helpful when they see you are struggling to find anything that looks like our stop by advising where to get off.

The market was smaller than expected and seemed to be just an extension of the shops that were in the same street. The food stalls are always a winner for me and there were a few selling fresh fish and my favourite is the cheese stall. We did purchase some cheese as it was cheaper than we'd seen in the supermarkets, and you never can have too much cheese now can you?

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Feeling a little peckish by the end of the market we all stopped for a cone of patat met = a cone of hot chips with mayo! They were hot and yummy, just what we needed to warm us up and fill a hole.

After this vegetarian lunch we needed to hightail it to Waterloo Plein to meet up with our free walking tour of Amsterdam by 2pm. I had made the booking online last night and although touted as a free walking tour it is not actually free as the guide works for tips. Fair enough, we have done a couple of these free walking tours in other countries and it still is a cheap way to get a short tour around, shown some of the sights and learn a few interesting facts. Today was no different and I'd like to share 3 things that we learned today.

1. The Netherlands was a republic until Napoleon Bonaparde invaded in the 1800's and declared his brother, Louis, the King of Holland. Louis saw the town hall in Amsterdam (which at the time was the biggest town hall in the world) and decided it would make a good palace for him. The only thing he added to the building was a French balcony where he could stand and address his new subjects. Trying to impress the locals with his newly learnt language, Louis stood proudly on the balcony and declared ' I am your rabbit!'. The Dutch word for rabbit and the Dutch word for King are very similar in pronunciation, was his language teacher taking the piss or what?

2. Amsterdam is built on a swamp and the canals were hand dug. The elm trees that line the canals are there for a reason. The roots of the elm trees grow straight down and become support for the canals so they do not cave in. There is a government department that is solely responsible for the welfare of all the elm trees.

3. Most of the buildings that line the canals are very narrow. This is due to the fact when built there was a tax payable on the width of the canal frontage. Wealthy families and business would show off their wealth by the width of there premises.

4. 50E = $72.85 will buy you exactly 12 minutes of suck and fuck from one of the prostitutes sitting in the windows in the red light area. (We only know this fact because Sarah asked the question. She asked our guide not an actual prostitute).

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So all in all it was an interesting tour and we got to learn some stuff too. Pity the weather was drizzly and the wind just blew straight through us. After more than 2 hours walking around we had enough and went searching for the nearest Hema for a hot coffee and cake. Of course being late in the afternoon they were sold out of tompouce.

Back to Rotterdam again by train, it is easy to loose track of time when it does not get dark until 10 pm. We had a late dinner back in the apartment happy to be out of the cold.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 13:55 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam delft tompouce Comments (3)

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