One ‘dam thing after another

I swapped London for Utrecht, Rotterdam and Dordrecht at the weekend. I spent three hours on Saturday at Fiets- en Wandelbeurs in Utrecht, a vast expo on walking and cycling. Since I’d finished my business there in one day, I had Sunday free (before commuting straight to work on Monday morning by plane, Tube and bus, arriving in the office at 0825). I had picked up one of a set of books on urban walking in Dutch cities (with the strapline Guaranteed to break the rules): I chose Rotterdam (Wandelen buiten de binnenstad van Rotterdam, by Kees Volkers).

I managed 10km of a 15km circuit before the gnawing damp cold got to me (at 10am), whereupon I took a tram back to the station. The book works very well (it helps if you read Dutch, of course, but the map is clear and the directions are fairly obvious once you distinguish rechtsaf (turn to the right) and rechtdoor (straight ahead). My route took me from the station, starting along a moat dug to contain cholera (do we need to build coronavirus canals?), past the first tranche of post-war social housing (super reliefs of local industries over the doors), some early high-rise slabs, and the 1960s arterial routes. But also through fine parkland (one patch recalled 1950s designs from East Kilbride or Hatfield), and lots of waterside walking, of course. Herons, the standard waterfowl, and lots of great crested grebes (including one juvenile).

Rotterdam Rechter Maasoever
Rotterdam Rechter Maasoever

One aspect of life in Rotterdam which was clearly visible was the Volkstuin movement. Part allotments, but majoring on just having somewhere to be, these are miniature gardens for those who don’t have one, or who prefer to get farther away from the house. The picture above shows the tip of the Eigen Hof gardens, with the Rotterdam Rechter Maasoever watercourse. The only drawback I found with the book (presumably with all books in the series) is the complete lack of marking public transport stops on the map, and giving an indication of connections and frequencies.

I then decamped to Dordrecht and walked round its historic area (also tramping the obligatory 1km from the station to the place of the same name — it seems inevitable with so many European towns and cities). Lunch and a warm train back to Schiphol, as a storm straight out of The Flying Dutchman raged outside.


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