Leaving Amsterdam for day in Utrecht and Rotterdam By Train
So during June & July, my flights took me to the enjoyable small country of Holland. I flew twice times this summer to Amsterdam all for about 24 hours or less. I also took a long drive to Maastricht from Frankfurt airport but ending up spending an evening there only.
Though I was staying in Amsterdam due to my flights, I decided I wanted to spend the day exploring new cities. I choose Rotterdam
The country is so small both the cities are less then 30 minutes away by train from Schiphol airport. On top of that the Dutch rail networks are so convenient and as I discovered in Rotterdam, that the station was unexpectedly, one of the most interesting station I have been to
My first trip though was a visit Maastrict, a place I have visited many times before in my late teens since I had Germans friends living closeby across the border. We used to go there and enjoy what Holland has to offer and have always oved this old romantic cobbled street city that feels nothing like Amsterdam. This time I flew into Frankfurt and decied to get to Maastraict by driving thru a very rainy Luxembourg, the adrenes forest and ending up at my hotel/suites
by evening time.
Despite going off topic from Holland, I wanted to see one new country and that was Luxembourg somewhere that I would not have the opportunity to visit with my job. This super small country was struggle on the day I went since it was pouring with rain and hard to see much of the sights, plus parking was a nightmare. However, I did see a amazing looking building, Luxembourg Bank and the famous Adolphe bridge.
There are some nice building and city seemed very clean, it felt very much like being in parts of France and Belgium but nothing like Holland or Germany. I spent little time there because of the weather. So its one place I need to go back to (though not in a hurry).
I continued my drive through Belgium into the Ardennes regions. Being a big fan of the TV series “Band of Brothers” I decided to do a quick stop in the village of Foy
where the infamous Battle of Foy happened that took many American and German lives. It is featured in this series as one of the biggest battle scenes. Deep in the Ardennes Foy offers beautiful countryside somewhat similar to England with a large forest. Along the main road there is a statue for those Americans of 101st
Airborne Division that died there.
My understanding is that it was agift to the village by Tom Hanks. I also ventured into the nearby forest and saw some holes that looked quite clearly like they were former trenches. It had an eairy feeling of darkness of war that occurred here, plus made me some reflective thoughts of where we are in the world today.
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Anyway by around 8pm following the road parallel to the Meuse river without time to stop in Liege I finally arrived at my hotel
, which was more of a b and b suites place but in relaxing garden setting right on the river. My first encounter was a request of a taking a photo of a couple that just got engaged. Once I finally unpacked and drove into Maastricht everything was shut, apart from a few bars and restaurant. Since parking was also a pain, if you don’t want to pay, I had to walk quite far away but this gave me the chance to just walk around this old quiet university city. The interesting cobbled old squares mixed in with cosy little terrace house, gave a romantic feel. As I said I didn’t spend long but did take a couple of snaps. It’s a city that feel totally different to all the others. For one its more old, stonewall with a cross mix of border culture, since Germany and Belgium are very close. It looks like a nice place to live and the river enhanced that. Despite such a short time, I had a beer and some dinner, spoke to some people and found whilst everyone was polite and blunt, it had that north/south divide like in England, more reserved and slight air of snobbiness compared to these other Dutch cities I saw in the North this summer.
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My second city was Rotterdam and I really did not know what to expect, the Dutch cabin crew on an Asian airline highlighly recommended I visit a market that has these unique cubed apartments
. These were kind of ugly but artistic at the same time, the yellow colour looked a bit gross. With the windows formed downwards it did give wonders on how the set up is inside. Imaginations such as lying on a pillow on the windows facing down must be an interesting perspective if some are set up like that. Just below are really nice bars to have refreshing beer.
Rotterdam, being the largest port in Europe is very industrial, large office building tower over the many canals and rivers and first impressions or perhaps the way the route I took was certainly not much historical buildings or cosy cobbled streets houses, like in Masstrict which is why some people have described Rotterdam to me as the ‘Dutch Ghetto” . I was only there on a beautiful sunny day and walked about, mainly in search to get to the tallest tower
, since I love to see a city from above.
However I found the city to be unexpectedly very cool, and why because of the random and amazing art works found on the walls, statues and even the large park with some strange unusual sculptures
. All this instantly made this dull industry look of a city an adventure as to what new art would be found around the corner etc. Its retro and its iconic.
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After finally arriving at Euromast, it looked a bit disappointing in terms of size since it looks a lot bigger when your not up close to it. Measuring 95 metres it looks dull but in someways iconic, it is sort of an old retro building, since an 80 year old Dutch man sitting next to me on flight from china said he watched it being built, while studying for his degree in the park below.
Its cost about 10 Euros for an adult which overall was reasonable- you get to standard floor where to walk around and take photos but its not very high. The lift then takes you up to the top though never stops, it has seating and revolves around slowly going up and down also slow to the top and back a few times giving you a full 360 perspective from your seat- the first I have seen in the many tall towers I have visited.This meant you could really enjoy the view without moving and taking it all in – this huge port and seemingly large unnoticed from the ground, green parks The lift ride lasts about 10 minutes. I found it relaxing and would recommend people visit it.
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However as an alternative when returning to the very impressive structure of the central station, which looks a bit like a landed space ship that I really taking pictures of, you cant say that about many train stations.
To the side though is a tall long large wide stair case that takes you to top of a building, also 95ft. Its free to go up though and the reason for it is that it is to celebrate 75th
anniversary of Rotterdam’s reconstructions following the German blitz. The view from the top is very good but its not as good as the Euromast, but still great for photos. There are tall facing office building in front so the view is not that far but does offer a great view of the station.
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As I saw in all parts of the city, there is this baby face art pictures, which I never found out the reason but I believe it is some festival happening since some musicians also played under a large baby shaped stage not far from the station.
Overall I rated Rotterdam
, it was an exciting city, less congested and hectic as Amsterdam though it is very industrial, it has character that is very creative. I hope to go back and certainly visit the museum in park It was an enjoyable city to visit for a day and walk about especially in the spring summer time. Though I can imagine like Amsterdam its quite a dark place in winter.
My third city is Utrecht
this was on another trip and again I decided to take the train down. This is the 4th largest city in Holland and is full of history. I very picturesque place somewhat half way between Amsterdam and Maastricht in the way it looked. It is also a student city. I really wanted to go up the Dom Church, a tall church that is 112 metres high that is suppose to have an incredibly impressive view of this city. I was very gutted I didn’t get there in time, but it means I will return next time.
I had a few beers by the side of the canal and its like a relaxing Amsterdam, without the stoned tourists. The buildings are very interesting, traditional old Dutch arictechture and cobbled streets. I didn’t do that much in Utrecht other than stroll around but I liked the vibe. It was relaxing and the canals like in Amsterdam are very picturesque.
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Back in Amsterdam in the evening is so different to all the other cities, its very nice in the summer and I used to come here frequently about 15 years ago. I’ve been to many of the main dance music festivals and the Dutch really know how to party. Amsterdam is this really. As you walk about in the evening the smell of skunk looms in the air, which is mostly from the millions of tourists there but everyone seems chilled and happy. Its just so busy but perhaps because it was asaturday night.
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Such as contrast to somewhere like London, wherby in Amsterdam no one is really rushing around or looks stressed, though the vibe is certainly different in winter. I enjoyed walking about despite how busy it was. It simply the most unique city in Europe.
So that was my various in/out trips of Holland this summer. I have to say I think I liked Rotterdam the best.