Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Exploring Rotterdam and Köln

(Sunday) Woke up in This Neck of The Woods with Elwyn at about 9am this morning, rising quietly before everyone else in the house. Enjoyed a typical Dutch breakfast of toast with butter covered with chocolate sprinkles, and then more toast with a dutch gouda cheese. After a leisurly morning drinking coffee and chatting, we went to explore a bit of Rotterdam's waterfront. We bought a 'strippencart' (a long strip of card with multiple fares paid on it) so that our whole group could travel by tram down to the water.

Rotterdam is a pinache of stuning architecture -- all recent as the place was raised during the bombing of WWII. A city of 500,000, it seemed busy and upbeat, though evidently it was 60% immigrants and veryhight unemployment. They recently passed a law saying that you could only move to the city if you could demonstrate that you had employement of a certain income level, otherwise you couldn't move there from somewhere else. Some social engineering! The vibrant downtown and waterfront belies all these social realities, however.

We walked back part-way to their flat, then hopped onto another tram. We noticed how lovely and large the windows were -- 4 feet tall at least -- very well designed. We picked up a huge mound of french fries for a quick lunch before boarding the German ICE train for Köln.

We had 1st class seats on this sleek bullet train, but were stuck in the row next to the smoking lounge. A complaint to the conductor got us moved to another 1st class car. Elwyn has a long chat with a 17 year old from Yosemite, California who was travelling around with his skateborad. Elwyn told him a long story of a super-skateboard that he has a mind to build one day, one that can transform into almost every transportation machine -- from skateboard-rock-driller to skateboard-helicopter.

When we got back to our seats from this long chat, Alden was melting down with Karen, having got so mad about some small thing that he spit at her. A long time-out in the 1st class bathroom, repleat with abundant sobbing and cursing, restored order to a degree. Alden was out of sorts for the rest of the day.

Got to Köln and made the short walk past the stunning High Gothic Dom cathedral, to our hotel room in a little inn called the Rhein St. Martin. the room was on the top floor, overlooking the Rhein River on two sides. Spectacular views in a very large, charming and comfortable room. I had booked it months in advance on the advise of a guide book and was not at all disappointed.

We went downstairs for some supper and chanced upon a chinese buffet with Tofu. That was all it took to get our protien-starved Karen in the door. We got the kids back into the bath (their first since the start of the trip) and to bed.

I then went out for some night photography of this impressive riverside city. On my way out, I heard some familiar 80s music coming from a little souless pub in the otherwise touristy market area. I popped in and enjoyed an icy cold local beer, while listening to great old tunes by the Stranglers and the Psycedelic Furs before taking some photos and returning to my king-sized bed for the night.

1 comment:

Lea said...

toast w/ butter and chocolate sprinkles?! I just had to comment on that one!!! Aww sounds like you guys are having a blast! I'm glad you/Karen are able to relax, unwind, and have a few drinks over there. All is well here, birthday parties galore for me! Kids bday parties are my only social functions these days! Take care.