Return to Rotterdam and The Hague

Dad and I took the Thalys train from Paris to Rotterdam, just as I had done the year before. We met up with my friend Natasha, who is originally from Ottawa and who is currently living in Rotterdam. We had lunch at the Markthal, where I had the opportunity to right a terrible wrong. The previous year, Natasha and I visited two different food centres. I ate copious amounts of cheese and butter cake, but didn’t save enough room for a stroopwafel. This meant that I left the Netherlands without even sampling the most famous local dish. Sacrilege, I know. I wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. After a reasonably-sized lunch, I headed straight for the stroopwafel stand and indulged my ever-present sweet tooth.

So yummy!

The next item on the things-I-didn’t-manage-to-do-last-year list was a trip to the Escher Museum. We took the metro right from Rotterdam city centre all the way to The Hague. The museum is only a short walk from the main train station. So convenient!

Escher Museum entrance

The museum is housed in a beautiful former royal residence. I was completely fascinated by the chandeliers, created by Rotterdam artist Hans van Bentem. I kept staring at them, in between admiring the Escher prints. We arrived only about an hour before the museum closed, so we didn’t have much time to explore. I could have spent way longer absorbing all the museum had to offer.

Bird prints

The top floor of the museum was by far my favourite section. It was full of optical illusions and interactive displays. It reminded me of Puzzling World, a museum that I had visited on the South Island of New Zealand. I ran around like a kid in a candy store, trying all the different exhibits.

Giant Natasha, Little Helenka
Natasha’s photo of the endless tunnel (mirror illusion)
I’m in a box! Or am I…

We left the museum in a giddy mood, then took the train back to Rotterdam. We went out for dinner at the fascinatingly decorated Bazar restaurant. We feasted on fabulous Middle Eastern food and admired the colourful ambiance.

Natasha at Bazar
The gang

I love skating, so our last stop that evening was Schaatsbaan Rotterdam. The local skating track is lit up every night, which makes for a neat atmosphere. I was a little sad to discover that they reserve the rainbow effect for Friday and Saturday nights. Wednesday night was “purple and yellow night,” apparently. Now I firmly believe that every night should be rainbow night, but I guess my views differ from the rink management. Ah well.

Schaatsbaan entrance (at least that part was rainbow!)
Trying to capture the lighting effect

Despite the disappointing lighting, we had a great time. We stuck firmly to the right, where all the casual skaters make their way around the track. The left is strictly reserved for the speed skaters, who were very impressive and a little intimidating.

Happy skater (keeping well to the right!)

My legs started giving out at this point, after running around all day. Natasha dropped us off back at our hotel, where we pretty much collapsed into bed. I was very pleased with how our one day in the Netherlands had gone. I managed to tick off every item on my list! That’s such a satisfying feeling. Dad was basically just along for the ride, but he also had a blast.

Nifty hotel room decor featuring the famous cube houses

The Netherlands was a wonderful stopover, as always. However, since it was January, the country was a wee bit chilly. Not Canada-level freezing, but cold nonetheless. As such, we were thrilled to be headed to our final location on this trip, the island of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean. The following morning, we boarded a KLM jet in Amsterdam and said vaarwel to winter.


Dad and I had an interesting encounter at Schiphol airport security. The lady in charge of helping us load the bins for the machines said something to my Dad in Dutch. He gave her a completely blank look. She then shouted whatever she had just said at the top of her lungs…in Dutch. I have no idea why she thought that would be helpful. Luckily, the kindly gentleman next to my Dad told him (in English) “She wants you to put your belt in the bin.” Alrighty then.

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