Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 3: Kinderdijk and Rotterdam, Netherlands

I was tired from yesterday's cycling, so it is probably a good idea to move around by public transport. One of the more interesting places is Kinderdijik, the place with plenty of windmill and an UNESCO heritage site.

I had breakfast at Bagels and Beans, which is a cozy little cafe which sell bagel (it is a donut shape bread with various flavors, such as Tomato, Cinnamon and Raisin, etc.). There is a breakfast set for EURO 5+, which include bagel with sour cream and jam, coffee and orange juice. One interesting fact about Europe is that they charge money for sauces, and the cost of different sauces varies. The bagel is hot, not too hard (or soft), and goes well with the sauce (sour cream), and I can't help it but to order another bagel for EURO 1.50. There are some interesting tapas set which serve minimum of 2 person, would most probably try it when Mei Ru is around.

Deciding on the route to Kinderdijk is quite a challenging one, where I basically have 3 options i) following the easy instruction on the website by taking a train to Utrecht Centraal followed by an hour bus ride ii) take a rain to Rotterdam and rent a bike to Kinderdijk (10 miles) iii) follow some more complex instructions on 9292 (website and app). Since I was out late (10.30am), I pick option 1. The train to Utrecht Centraal is below an hour from Den Bosch for EURO 10. There are 3 bus station at Utrecht Centraal with 2 exits; after consulting the Station Information counter, I need to get to the West Bus Station and board bus 90. The bus stop is in the open air, so people are standing out in the cold without much cover, but luckily the bus arrive within 20 minutes. I can buy some manual ticket from the bus driver, which cost EURO 10 to Kinderdijk.

The journey is about an hour, but it's quite scenic as most part of the road is along the river canal and farm land on the other side. I wish I could cycle along this part, which made me realize I should select cycling routes which are along river canal. The weather is good, and everything went smoothly.

Finally arrive at Kinderdijk (thanks to Offline Google Maps and gentle que by the driver, I know where to stop). The visitors walk on the center walkway, where both side are flanked by canal and windmill. We can't really get near to the windmill, except the only one opened to visitor as a museum (around  EURO 5). The pathway is pretty long, I was contemplating to rent a bicycle (not sure of the price), but I didn't. One thing for sure, this place is very windy, where I am wearing double layer of jacket to keep me warm. What more could I describe about Kinderdijk: canal, windmills and strong wind.

I walk until the end of the pathway for almost 45 minutes, and I certainly doesn't feel like walking back to the bus stop. With my handy Offline Google Map, I cross a bridge into a farmland and into a residential area. Some houses actually have water canal at their backyard, which seems interesting. The people here do spent quite some time tending to their garden and walking their dogs, and cycling. It's interesting to stay in this area, where a UNESCO heritage site is just behind my house. After getting some direction from a local man who is tending his garden (his wife was born in Indonesia), I found a bus station soon enough and happens to board bus 90 again towards Rotterdam (actually most bus go towards Rotterdam, just make sure you are on the right side of the road towards Rotterdam). The ticket is EURO 6 and take about 30 minutes. I was a little worry that the bus might not stop at a central enough location as its destination is a place called Zuidplein; soon enough I realize though it's quite far away from central, but Zuidplein is a Metro station (city train) and a shopping complex, hurray!

The Metro ticket is quite interesting, as you don't buy your ticket by destination, but you pay EURO 3.50 for a 2 hour pass. I choose to visit Delfshaven, as it is an interesting old neighborhood. This street is filled with immigrants, mostly african and middle easterner; which means good variety of restaurant, especially kebab. The buildings here are fairly interesting, but still rows and rows of brown-colored buildings (perhaps I am not the guy to appreciate architecture). I walk towards central, and trail of immigrants had lessen along the way. Interestingly, there are rows of Chinese restaurant near the train station, mostly of Cantonese origin. Finally I stop at a Kebab (Doner) stall, which offer a kebab burger for UERO 3+ or EURO 5+ for set meal (with fries and drink). I opt for the wrapped kebab (mayonnaise and hot sauce is free, an good) , which is really full, but the meat is not necessary tasty.

Rotterdam is a big city (they have Metro and Tram), yet might not be an interesting one (perhaps I didn't do enough research), and I didn't have time for Den Haag. Perhaps I dislike big city, just rows of shops and tiring walking around; and the restaurants here are expensive, so I can't indulge myself in great gastronomy adventure. Most of the shop here doesn't close by 5pm, but in comparison, Den Bosch seems like a cozier place to visit. It makes me wonder what we really enjoys during our travel? I would say trying now new food (but internationalization of restaurants means you can eat almost any type of food anywhere, which make the experience less satisfying), view the magnificent scenery (sadly, most of these places are overcrowded or too expensive) and finding the hidden gem (which remain hidden, or became too popular). In a certain sense, which visiting the local grocery and trying to live a different live in a different city seems more interesting at times, but this cannot be experience with just over one week in a place and staying in hotel. Perhaps my concept about traveling is starting to change. I usually enjoy hiking trip: nature, beautiful scenery all the way and no city hassle or thinking what to do next.

Finally took a train back to Den Bosch for EURO 16, which need to switch at Utrecht Central. The transportation cost of the day is pretty costly, add up to EURO 42. Perhaps cycling around Den Bosch to the next towns are better value for money, for EURO 7.50 per day.


rey said...

hi i'm planning to visit this place in march.should i book the train ticket online from amsterdam central to rotterdam?does the cost of the tickets go up as your nearing the trip(like the thalys tickets)or is it fixed?i have a limited time,pls help me i just want to see windmills,authentic ones.thanks in advance

Desmond Lua said...

No ticket booking is necessary from Amsterdam central (it's local train after all).

You can use or Google Maps to check for the train schedule and fee.