Monday, September 12, 2016

Voyage of the Vikings Cruise - Cruise Day 18 - Rotterdam Day 1

Today is the halfway point of the cruise and we’ll be in Rotterdam; it certainly has gone by fast.  We sailed into Rotterdam before 6:00 and were docked by 7:00.  Val and I planned to go out on our own today so we were up around 8:00. 

The cruise terminal in Rotterdam.
The Hotel New York in the upper left corner was originally the Holland America
headquarters and is now a national heritage site in The Netherlands.
The plan for the day is to take the train to Delft, which is a small town near Rotterdam.  After getting off the ship, we caught a taxi to Rotterdam’s Central Train Station where we attempted to buy tickets for the train.  Unfortunately the automated ticket machines didn’t take our credit cards as they required the European chipped cards that require the use of a PIN number; our cards were chipped, but American cards don’t use PIN numbers.  The only way into the station was by going through gates that only opened by reading tickets so we were getting frustrated.  I found an information booth and found that we had to walk all the way around the station to another entrance that had ticket windows with people selling tickets.

We found the ticket windows and after a short wait we had our tickets.  We found the train and were soon on our way to Delft.  The train was very crowded as there was a large gay pride celebration going on in Amsterdam and most everyone on the train was going to that.  It only takes about 20 minutes to get to Delft and the train station is near the center of town.  We walked to Market Square, which is a large plaza area.  It is bordered on one end by the historic city hall building, which was built in the 1600's and on the other by Nieuwe Church, which was first opened in 1496. The market square is surrounded by many shops and outdoor cafes serving all different types of food.

Waiting for our train to arrive in Rotterdam Central Station.

The historic city hall building.

The Nieuwe Church originally built in 1496.
There was a flea market going on in Delft so we checked that out.

We visited a cheese shop and purchased some Dutch cheese to take home with us and then decided it was time for lunch.  We had a very good lunch sitting in one of the outdoor cafes watching the world go by.  It was a beautiful day, mostly sunny and a nice mild temperature.

These narrow brick roads ran all over town and were for bicycles and scooters.

Delft is known for its Royal Delft Pottery and Val wanted to tour the factory.  We found a tourist information booth and purchased tickets for a shuttle to take us to the factory. The Delft factory was located in what looked like a residential/business part of town. The shuttle was a small golf cart like vehicle, which was well suited for the narrow streets of Delft.  In the main part of town, automobile traffic seems to be minimal with most people riding bicycles and scooters.  There were literally 1000’s of bicycles everywhere; you really had to be careful not to get in their way.  There were a few large roads to accommodate cars, but there were also narrow roads made of brick for the bicycles, scooters and even our little shuttle.  The lack of autos made for a very quiet town.

We did the tour of the factory, which was pretty interesting because the history goes back centuries.  After the tour it was time to get back to town and  we went out to catch the shuttle back.  We waited a while and were beginning to get worried, but finally a shuttle showed up and took us back to the Market Square.  

There was a peaceful outdoor area in the center of the factory.
Inside the Royal Delft Pottery factory.

An artists table where new designs are worked up.
The various stages of a piece of pottery.
There were many pieces on display that were designed for historic events.

We walked around the town a little more and then decided it was time to get back to the ship.  We made our way back to the train station, found the proper train and within minutes we were on our way back to Rotterdam.  The train service is amazing and you can get almost anywhere you want. 

After a 20 minute ride back to Rotterdam, we caught a cab and returned to the ship.  We relaxed for a bit and then I went out on the deck to see what was going on and enjoy the beautiful day.  After that it was back to the room and time to write up my memories of the day so far.

This bridge was just off the rear of the ship.
Before dinner we went to the MIX Lounge for the evening trivia.  I’m not overly fond of this, but it looks like it’s become part of our evening routine so I guess I’d better get used to it.  Our team actually won tonight so that was some compensation.  After trivia it was dinner time, but there would be no after dinner casino tonight as the casino was closed while in port.  We returned to our room after dinner and called it a night.  Tomorrow is our second day in Rotterdam and we have an early excursion so we have to be up by 6:00 AM, way too early.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds pretty brave to me. Trains, taxis and golf carts all taking you farther from the ship. I see why you picked the first day of two to do it. You don't want to miss your ship. Your bravery paid off! You got to see places and people you never would have otherwise.