Day 5 – Rotterdam
Surprise, surprise, it rained all night. It was also incredibly windy, which meant that we both woke up feeling like we had been on a boat all evening. We drove into Rotterdam, to see if we could find somewhere suitable to park the van, an hour later we returned to our overnight spot and jumped on the metro instead. Tuesday in Rotterdam is market day! So we headed off round the market, picking up some fruit and veg, some cheese and Jack even tried the Dutch fish speciality; a salted raw herring served with onions and a little Dutch flag. The indoor market especially was incredible; it’s a tall oval topped building, with shops in the bottom and apartments up the side, and then the market in the middle. Some people living in the apartments have the view into the market as their front room view. Talk about people watching! As it’s primarily a food market, the whole of the ceiling is decorated with a whole range of food. I finally managed to drag Jack out of the market; I think he had vowed to eat everything. We then wandered round the outdoor market as well where we bought even more food.
Around the market square were some crazy looking buildings, including the square cubes and a couple of buildings that looked like they hadn’t been built straight.
We also admired the primary school which basically looked like an office building across five floors with the playground basically on the roof! The kindergarden was on the bottom floor with their own playground on the side, they were so cute and completely fascinated with the road drilling that was happening just the other side of their gate. The builders basically had an audience of 4 year olds inspecting their work.
As the weather was so grotty, the only thing we didn’t visit was the tower as we felt we wouldn’t be able to see a massive amount from the top anyway. We then made a soggy trip back on the metro back to the van to make a start towards Maastricht; our final stop in the Netherlands. Utilising the free Wi-Fi on the metro we booked into a campsite called Maastricht Marina, which is what it says on the tin. Our pitch was right along the harbour so we spent the evening watching the boats come in and out and the baby bunnies playing on the hill. I even washed up with the door open to admire the view even more.
Day 6 – Maastricht
We both really enjoyed Maastricht! I would definitely recommend it for a quick getaway if wandering through quaint little streets, beautiful architecture and learning lots about battles for land and territory is your thing. We started at the tourist office, where they had a brilliant walking tour of Maastricht map for €1.60. Neither of us like really controlled tours, we like to wander, so this was perfect for us. The route took you around all of the main sites of the pretty town, alongside having detailed descriptions about everything you’d see in between. First of all we headed to the market, to see if there was anything else we fancied, before following the map around the town. First major stop was the Basilica of our Lady, which was as beautiful inside as it was out.
Next up was Helpoort, or Hell’s Gate, the oldest city gate in the Netherlands. The two guys inside the gate were amazingly informative. I reckon we spent about 45 minutes hearing about the history of Maastricht, all of the different wars that took place, and how many different countries Maastricht has officially been classed as. I reckon we could have spent hours listening to their knowledge, but on their suggestion we took a small detour off our map to walk the rest of the existing wall.