Rotterdam Port and Marketplace

I stick out like a sore thumb around the Netherlands because I wear shorts that cut off above my knees rather than capris. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

I just got back from a marketplace across the River from here. It was only a 5 minute bike ride away. I’m so happy that I got a bike right off the bat. Its a great way to get around and see the city, but as an added bonus you get exercise, enjoy the sun on your face, and the wind through your hair. The marketplace was very crowded, filled with locals gabbing off in dutch. I would lurk behind the crowds waiting to see how much other people were paying because I knew once I stumbled up to a counter and started pointing and muttering they would rip me off.

Some words like ‘euro’ and ‘one’ sound the same in dutch as they do in english. So when a vendor held up a bag of 5 avocados and said ‘one euro,’ I started panting from excitement. Avocados are one of my favorite things. 5 for 1. In the words of 21st century pop/hip-hop superstars, LMFAO: Yes! The guys I’m living with told me that if you show up at 3:30-4, the vendors try to get everything sold so you can find get crazy good deals. For 5.50 euros, I got 8 limes, 15 tomatoes, 5 avocados, some olives, and cheese…either feta or mozzarella. Won’t know until I try it. The living situation in Rotterdam turned out better than I could have ever imagined.

This morning I went on a boat ride through the port. I was on a boat for 3 hours, moving swiftly throughout the nooks and crannies of the harbor, but I think I only saw a tiny fraction of it. The port is expansive! It stretches for about 15 miles from center of Rotterdam all the way to the coast. It was very cool to see how it was organized, there were areas for oil refinement, shipping and moving cargo, recycling and sorting materials, then massive areas for construction and repair of cargo ships…just to name a few things. The scale of everything is sublime. The freighters, lifts, cranes, and elevators towered hundreds of feet above me. The equipment around the dockyards dwarfs 50 foot sailboats. It was certainly a treat to be able to see the biggest port in Europe.

Right now they are building an addition onto the port, extending the coastline of the Netherlands. They are pumping 240 million cubic meters of sand into the area in order to build the addition to the port. Because of its location directly on the North Sea, Rotterdam is one of the few European ports where the largest ocean-going vessels can safely and swiftly load and unload 24 hours a day. Every year, an average of some 35,000 ocean-going vessels and 135,000 inland vessels visit the port. There is a six hour boat tour out to see it and back. I’ll likely go check it out next week.


Further up the River Maas is the Maeslant Barrier, one of the most recent projects of the Deltaworks, a series of dams and barriers created to protect Southwest Netherlands. I didn’t get nearly that far down the river, but I’m going to ride my bike out there next week. I think the ride will take about 2 hours, roughly the same amount of time traveling by public transportation, but it is far more direct.

Most of the Deltaworks are in Zeeland, the province to the South of Rotterdam. In a week or two I think I’m going to head down there for a couple days and try to see as much as possible on bike.

Here is some recent ish from the sketch book. Feeling a feeling to start painting soon. Stay classy San Diego.

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Train ride to the Netherlands

I’m reading Undaunted Courage, a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition by Steven Ambrose. Lewis and Clark were bosses. They left the comfort of the colonies in the northeast and just set off with 30 men into uncharted and unknown lands on a quest to find the Pacific. They moved about 5 to 10 miles a day on this big keelboat that they either rowed, sailed, or pushed along rivers towards the rockies. I just read about their first encounter with the Sioux tribe in the plains of the Dakotas. Both parties were proud and egotistical. At one point the whole expedition almost self destructed. Guns were pointed at indian chiefs and arrows were directed right at Lewis and Clark. Thankfully, for the west coast of the U.S., the issues were resolved and Lewis and Clark didn’t get an arrow through the head.

Its a fun book to read on this adventure. But I’m sure glad nothings escalated to a scenario similar to what I just described.

Train travel is (mad lib your favorite enthusiastically positive adjective here) On the Eurostar from London, I paid for a cheap seat so didn’t have a window…The train ride from Brussels to Rotterdam was top-notch. Beautiful sunny day. See it to believe it.

Brussels was tight. I got in at the south station, hiked 3 or 4 miles to the hostel. Walking is a great way to get the feeling of a place pretty quickly. I just walked in the direction I thought the hostel might be after scanning the city on google maps and things. I felt very very triumphant once I stumbled upon the place I was staying. I met some really cool people at the hostel. James, an Auzzie bloke, convinced me that Australians are some of the most chilled out people in the world. He was my bunk-mate. He came to Belgium for Tomorrowland, a huge music festival and is spending a month and a half bumming around Europe then going to visit his Swedish girlfriend. C’est la vie. I also hung out with a pilot/journalist from Honolulu and then some more Americans, one from L.A. and one from Miami at a bar that served over 2000 beers. Extremely hard to choose. Especially when you can’t read Gernch (German/French). Brussels is a really cool town. I only had 24 hours there. The Grand Place, central square, is stunning. I stayed in the old part of town with tiny cobble-stone alleyways and crazy gothic architecture that probably hasn’t changed at all in 400 years. Here are some shots:

Here’s my view from where I’m sitting right now.


I made it to Rotterdam. I’m living on an island in a city. The apartment faces a large canal with barges constantly taxi-ing stuff by. I met two of the roommates, Berand and Tristan. They are 21 year old students at Erasmus University. They gave me the rundown about the markets, grocery stores, etc. and told me a little bit about the city. They were both born and raised here and love it. Tristan plays U-21 field hockey for the Netherlands national team. There is another guy on the 3rd floor of this building that plays for a local rugby team so I might go out and train with them a few times when I’m here. It stays light until 10pm. Amazing. Tristan took me to the grocery store then we all settled down to play some Fifa, just like the homies back at Bowdoin. James “The don” Rohman and Carney are definitely better than these guys, though.

This island and this country gives me the good vibes, mon.

The girl I replaced was apparently a real looker from Mexico. I apologized to the guys that I wasn’t a more attractive female, but will try my hardest to look pretty. I have a really nice room with big windows, a desk, armchair, double bed. Can. not. complain. All of this is for less than half the price of staying in hostels!!

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Here’s the living room of where I’m staying. You can climb through the windows onto a deck.

Got the room through Air Sharing economy: read about it.

Still got a long way to go. But I’m feeling like I can do this for a while. Looking forward to settling into the Netherlands for a couple months. Tomorrow’s mission: get a bike.