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We berthed at Rotterdam cruise terminal at the southern end of Erasmus Bridge a little after the scheduled time of 10:30 this morning, and what with waiting for immigration clearance, etc , most of the excursions must have been about half-an-hour late setting off. That wasn’t a problem for us, as were going to explore independently. In fact we used the wait for final clearance to have a coffee in Tiffany Court.

The weather at 11 o’clock was quite unfriendly – grey, cool, and rather wet – so for the morning we contented ourselves with walking across Erasmus Bridge, locating the departure point & times for the Spido river tours, and collecting appropriate maps & leaflets from the tourist information desk in the terminal. Then it was back to the ship where we sat for a while in the Crow’s Nest reading the maps. After taking some pictures of the ship it was time for lunch in the Peninsular Restaurant. The design of this seems to be he same as the Oriental (our dinner restaurant), but the decor uses lighter wood colours, and green fabrics. For lunch we both had the chick pea curry, with rice and pakoora, which was excellent; then for dessert I had icecream – simple and delicious – and my wife had ‘Brown Apple Betty’, which she said was very good. In fact, I felt that today’s lunch was probbly better than yesterday’s dinner.

Cube Houses

Cube Houses

After eating we took the free shuttle bus into Rotterdam centre, and then made our way on foot to the Cube Houses. I’d been wanting to visit these since I’d read about them. One of them is open as a sort of show-cube or museum  (€2.50 each). Inside, the cubes are very neat and there’s more space than you would expect from the outside. However there’s no getting away from the fact that they are very small, and that the shape imposes usage. There’s a central core and the stairs run up this; the bathroom has to be in this as well, so there’s no chance of a separate cloakroom or en-suite facilities. The rest of the space – living room, kitchen facilities, bedroom – all has to wrap round the centre, as well as having walls at odd angles. The circular stair-cases in the core were *very* steep, with short, tricky steps – you’d have problems with them if you got too enthusiastically into the Heineken one night. I asked the attendant if the Cube houses were popular, and the answer was ‘no, not really, except with people who liked extreme artistic statements’. So the cube houses are not the answer to urban housing problems; still, they look amazing, especially from the outside.

After that we walked back to the river and took a 75-minute harbour tour. This was pretty interesting, but the 75 minutes it lasted was plenty long enough. Still the few minutes we spent in Eem Haven, the main container port, were impressive simple due to the scale of the operation. And it was interesting to see the constant movements of barges and small craft on the river. As we were finishing the tour we saw a barge flying a Swiss flag, so it was maybe 1000 kilometers from its home, yet still on the same river system.

So that’s Rotterdam. Soon we’ll have a late afternoon beer somewhere, then we’ll get ready for dinner – semi-formal tonight – and head for the cocktail bar.

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