Rotterdam.

After this mornings wet and wonderful adventure I arrived in Rotterdam around mid afternoon. The rain that had followed me all day played its final dramatic scene and faded away into intermittent sunshine. Tonight I would be staying in a hostel, an unusually shaped hostel at that. My plan was to stay for two nights, but they only had a vacancy for one. I was too wet to mind, I just needed somewhere to dry myself off.

As I write this I am currently living only two buildings away from that very hostel. This means I’ve had the chance to take a better picture than the one taken at the time!

Rotterdam is a modern city with some really great architecture. I was only supposed to stay for two nights, but I enjoyed the city so much I ended up staying for four and could easily have stayed longer.

A little later the day I arrived, after showering and getting myself dry I went for a wander around the local area. I fell into a conversation with a dude called Alex who was with his friend. They were both Dutch and knew the area quite well. They offered to show me around Rotterdam and they even took me for pancakes after our wander. FYI the pancakes were amazing. Alex then told me he lived in the Hague, which was my next planned stop after Rotterdam. I was more than happy to exchange details with him and I would meet him twice more before leaving the Netherlands!

Back at the hostel that evening I met my room mates, a couple of Brazilian guys who were road tripping Europe for a few weeks. We exchanged stories about our first days of travel, and discussed how the hostels architecture looked great, but having angled walls wasn’t very functional. You know, the exciting stuff.

The hostel was still fully booked the next day, I was hoping for a cancellation but the staff were kind enough to let me leave my bike in their secure storage whilst I stayed in alternate accommodation. I ended up in a hotel with a super comfy bed which is another reason I stayed longer then planned… It was time to relax and enjoy the city.

Before leaving Rotterdam I made very sure that I caught up on sleep, rested my legs and kept my belly full. I even hand washed my laundry in the shower. I always said I’d like to revisit Rotterdam, But I never imagined then that I would be living and working there in a few years time.

The ride from Rotterdam to the Hague was only a couple of hours, the sun was shining, it was pushing 30°C and there was a gentle breeze to keep you cool on the bike. It was lovely.

As promised Alex met me in the Hague and we spent part of the afternoon relaxing in a park after eating some Greek food and wandering around in the August sunshine. It was good fun having my own personal tour guide and Alex is a cool guy.

Soon enough it was time for me to take my leave, continue on my way and find a place to pitch my home for the evening. ”I could get used to this travelling thing,” I thought to myself.

I awoke in the morning, as I usually do, and began the packing down routine. By now I was developing a technique and it was taking me less time from sleeping bag to saddle. That was handy on mornings like this one, when the threat of rain lingers in the air. I did manage to make it to the beach and enjoy a pain au chocolat in the sea breeze before the first drizzle.

42 miles (68km) speckled with showers and sunshine took me to Amsterdam Forest. Cycling in the Netherlands is truly wonderful. Its all flat, smooth, dedicated cycle ways and it never feels like you’re far away from the next pretty town.

I arrived at Amsterdam Forest in good time, got myself some beer and sat down to relax beside my tent and watched surges of campers arrive by the bus load. I’m not sure what event was on but it must of been popular. By the time I woke up the next morning I had people pitched so close to me that we were basically sharing a tent! During that previous evening I met another cycle tourist by the name of Rob. We were headed in opposite directions but it was very cool to exchange stories and tips with another cyclist. We drank a few beers together and watched the chaos unfold with vast amounts of tents springing up all over the place. I don’t remember seeing Rob the next morning. Either he was awake and gone long before I was, or the side effects of alcohol shielded him from my memory. Regardless of the cause I wished him well on his journey home as I set my sights on the city of Amsterdam…

Want more? Read the next story –Seven nights in Amsterdam.

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