Sat. July 12, 2014:
Rotterdam to Delft, Netherlands
There was no coffee-maker in our room; apparently this is just a North American thing as far as I can tell. Our hotel also did not include breakfast. Thankfully there was a McDonald’s nearby and we got to walk along the waterfront to get to it. We had a very nice walk; we passed through an early morning flea market. I wish I could have bought stuff; alas my luggage was full enough as it was. My heart broke when I found an egg-cup holder shaped like a chicken (the egg goes in the chickens back): there was no way that would survive in my backpack if we were moving around from city to city every few days.
McDonalds served donuts for breakfast instead of muffins. The donut was surprisingly fresh which made up for the coffee being crappy (at least it is consistent; no matter where you go it sucks). We walked through “downtown” which took us past the weird gnome statue again. We stopped at a grocery store for some snacks, half a donut is not a lot of food. They did not have any Stroopwafel cookies which I ascertained to be the country cookie according to the mini bar in the hotel. I did find a Milka Chips Ahoy and a bag of mini Daim bites. I was tempted to buy a Chocolonely bar but that would be overkill. We devoured the bag of Daim bites. They are basically like little Skor bites: all the tastiness of it with none of the teeth-wrecking. Just past the gnome statue, past the town square there really wasn’t much so we turned back.
On the way back we stopped at a liquor store to peruse the selection, with low hopes given we were no longer in Belgium. I did manage to find a fruit beer, St. Louis Kriek, I had not seen in Belgium, which was a nice surprise. We stopped at McDonalds for lunch on our way back. I did not see the weird McBites on the menu (we had looked it up on the website beforehand) so I just settled for a triple cheeseburger instead. For a triple cheeseburger it was really rather light on the cheese. Towards the end I was regretting not having ordered a soda. We had to wait a really long time for Brent’s fancy chicken sandwich, so long in fact that Brent took it go. While we had sat there waiting we watched as a pigeon walked into the McDonalds through the automatic door, it looked so confused but not all that out of place.
Back in the hotel I noticed that to get to the spa you had to take a separate elevator, the “panorama” elevator. There had to be a great view up there for them to have named it that. Off we went in search of a great view of Rotterdam. When we got to the top floor it was all conference rooms. We noticed that one had an open door, looking in we saw a guy pass outside the window: there was a walkway outside, a panorama deck of sorts. We cut through the conference room and went outside. From there you could see all of Rotterdam, and it turns out that if we had walked in the opposite direction we could have seen a whole lot of cool stuff including a giant bridge and the main canal. From high up we could see the network of canals, one drawbridge had been raised to let a tugboat pass. Trying to go back inside the way we came, the door was locked. We found another door but you needed a keycard to unlock it. Crap, we appeared to be stuck. Thankfully we found the fire exit. We had to take the stairs down two floors before we found an unlocked door so we could take the elevator.
Our walk to the train station was much shorter. GoogleMaps had failed to realize that if you are looking up walking directions you can cut through the town square. I quickly learned how much the Dutch love their bicycles. Apparently when crossing a bike lane you have to look both ways. I was on autopilot and so not paying attention. I almost got slammed by a cyclist who in turn almost wiped out trying to avoid me. We stopped at the town square so Brent could eat his fancy chicken sandwich. While we sat we watched the pigeons fight.
When we got to the station the train was already there, and 15 minutes later we were in Delft. There were no lockers at the train station, we were hoping that the Prinsenhof Museum would have lockers but they did not either. Off to the hotel, maybe our room was ready, even though it was only 1:30pm? The guy at the front desk said he good news and bad. The bad news was that apparently the Orioles suck. Brent corrected him that in fact the Orioles were doing well, the guy mistook Brent’s Blue Jays hat for an Orioles hat. The good news was a lot less confusing: our room was in fact ready.
We went off in search of the Information Centre, the handy city map said we could buy a pass to a few of the museums were going to. The map however misled us. We could not for the life of us find this Information Centre- in such a tiny town!! We gave up looking and went to the New Church. Luckily our admission fee there included admission to Old Church. We started off with the stair climb to the top. A good way to start off a visit to a new town: climb to the top of the belfry and look down on everything below. I did not care for this stair climb. It was a tight, narrow, winding staircase with no rest stops. I had to plaster myself against the wall to let people pass. There were a few stops along the way to the top; the view did not change much. The view from the top however was worth it, we could see for miles. We could see past the historic town into the regular parts of the city, off in the distance we could see McDonald’s and IKEA (needless to say the view of Delft has changed since Vermeer’s day). From the top we could look right down onto the square below. Going back down the stairs was much worse. I got really dizzy looking at the stairs as I slowly descended. There were a lot more people on their way up. Some of the steps were wooden, adding to the nightmare scenario.
As we wandered through New Church we were on the lookout for Vermeer’s grave. Our casual haphazard wandering soon turned into a desperate search. We would consult the indecipherable map, interpret what we saw, head there only to be disappointed. What was going?! The map seemed to have been printed as a reverse mirror image. It also lacked a marker for William of Orange’s tomb, which is the big draw and main attraction (if you can call it that) of the church. Sure, Vermeer was not very well known, but if his grave was mentioned on the map why was it so damn hard to find?! After two more rounds of the church, reading all the tombstones as we stepped over them we gave up. Too proud to ask someone, we left and went off to Old Church. At least we had gotten to see William of Orange’s tomb.
Old Church was not nearly as interesting, it lacked décor and fancifulness. Brent pointed out a tombstone with a picture of a goat on it, laughing at the idea of someone being represented by a goat. I took one look at it and swore under my breath: VERMEER! What a sight it must have been: two clear tourists standing by Vermeer’s grave, one points, the other curses and they both start laughing, one throws her arms up in the air, the other opens up the map. After a careful study of the map we realized it was double-sided. No wonder we had not been given anything when we entered Old Church-we already had the info and map!
As we walked the church, the organ music followed us. It echoed off all the surfaces, the church had great acoustics to make up for the lack of décor. I seriously contemplated switching to this parish: they get cushions to sit on during mass. We walked down the street to get a better view of the Old Church, mostly just to see the crooked tower (which explains why there was no stair climb to the top, we’d fall out).
Back in the hotel we looked up the hours for the museums. We decided that it would be better to leave the hotels for the next day than to rush through them. We took some much needed time to relax in the hotel. It was nice to sit there playing Candy Crush, drinking my fruit beer Anker Boscoli and eating a Chips Ahoy Milka chocolate bar.
There was still time before our dinner reservation. We circled the outskirts of the historic part of town. There was a windmill but the view of it was obscured by construction. We walked along the canal. We passed two swans and their brood but thankfully they did not hiss at us. We sat by the canal watching as a funny-looking black duck with a white forehead pecked at and chased other similar ducks. Another duck was sitting atop a giant nest. We watched as he switched with another duck, I guess his shift of sitting on eggs had ended?
The street vendors were packing up their stuff and heading out. There was now enough room for us to be able to walk down the streets. It had been really packed before and hard to get around. We passed some cats in windows, just lounging not caring at all. When I tried to pet another cat, it walked away. We settled back down in the hotel. We had an hour until our dinner reservation at De Prinsenkelter which was right around the corner.
The restaurant was mostly empty except for one other group. We sat outside in the courtyard patio. It was all well and nice until a stupid wasp appeared, trying to steal my food/scaring me. We did not swap plates halfway because Brent had ordered lamb and I was not too keen on giving up half of my guinea fowl, it was too good. Even at this fancy place we were served fries on the side, this time with mayonnaise. We split a crème brulee which at first appeared enormous, until I sunk my fork into it: the dish was shallow.
After dinner we went out for an evening walk as usual. It was almost 10pm and still it was barely dark outside. We wandered past the town square and then double-backed, alas it was not lit up very nicely. Walking back past the bars, everything was full. Everyone was watching World Cup soccer as Netherlands played Brazil for 3rd place. Even the cops had stopped to watch the game. One bar was so crammed that people were standing on a ledge with their backs against the window. The hotel staff were watching in the hotel bar.
While we were out we had left True Detective on pause so it would load. The whole time we were gone and only 2 minutes had loaded. I could not fall asleep that night, the church bells were dinging so loudly.