I broke up the monotony of pretending to work last week with a short trip to Rotterdam, by train.
Tagskryt – meaning literally train brag – is a big trend now; everywhere I go I’m meeting people who have ‘given up flying’ as their contribution to stopping global warming. Many of these people never went anywhere anyway, and it’s easy to give up something you don’t do, but never mind.
Sarah’s pointless fact: The opposite to tagskryt is flygsham, meaning literally flight shame.
The London to Rotterdam/Amsterdam journey is one of Eurostar’s newer routes (so new in fact that they still haven’t got direct trains back and so you have to change and do all the security and passport stuff at Brussels). Going from London there is a direct train.
Eurostar have been advertising these journeys for £35, but it’s the usual deal where it’s £35 to go and anything up to £300 to come back, depending what day you want to travel. I rifled through the options and managed to find a trip for around £80 return.
You’d probably pay around the same this time of year for a flight, provided you forgo luggage and seat selection, but there is something infinitely more relaxing about travelling by train. For a start you don’t have to get to and from airports, you don’t have to check in two hours before your journey and you do get slightly more leg room than you would crammed into economy class on the budget flights.
After Rotterdam the train continues to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an amazing city and if you haven’t been you should definitely go. However the city is suffering with over-tourism, with the local authorities having to put limits on Airbnb in order to make things fairer for locals.
If you go on to Amsterdam don’t expect the locals to be pleased to see you; they have had enough of the tourists inflating property prices, wandering into the cycle lanes and getting out of control after smoking too much weed in the cafes.
Certainly now is a good time to explore other Dutch cities rather than add to the problems in Amsterdam.
Rotterdam is a young vibrant city (I know this because the man doing the train announcements was eager to tell us, but also because I’ve just been).
There is a lot of interesting architecture to look at.
In common with most of Northern Europe, it is worth making sure you have plenty of indoor alternatives planned, in case it rains for the whole time you are there. It didn’t quite rain for the entire time, but I spent a lot of time dodging heavy rain.
One of the things I particularly wanted to do whilst I was in Rotterdam was to visit the nearby UNESCO heritage site of Kinderdijk. It’s about 25 or so kilometres from Rotterdam.
In winter you have to take the bus, which leaves from near Erasmus university, which is itself a bit of a haul out on the metro. It’s easier in summer with a convenient boat that goes directly there.
The site features nineteen (I didn’t count them but I read this figure and I believe them) 18th century windmills set amongst dykes and reservoirs. There are footpaths and cycle paths all around and for a little extra you can jump on the shuttle boat that chugs along between the windmills.