By Andre van Es, SKA Organisation, Engineering Project Manager.
Travel in the Netherlands
Public transport is excellent (although all Dutch complain about it) and taxi’s are expensive. In cities like Rotterdam and Amsterdam it is not uncommon for foreigners are overcharged anyway, but taxi rides (even short ones) cheaper than € 20,- are rare. But for public transport you do need an OV-chipkaart, here you can find how it works: http://www.holland.com/global/tourism/plan-your-holiday/getting-around-in-holland/ov-chip-card-5.htm. You can use it in the bus, metro, tram and the train.
The best guide for using public transport in the Netherlands is this website is: http://9292.nl/en Just enter your departure location and your destination and you get an overview of how to travel by public transport.
Trains you can find at: http://www.ns.nl they also have an app (ns nl) that is really useful. The app does have more up-to-date info, including delays that occur frequent. App also gives you an indication times and prices. You cannot buy tickets using the app.
For children between 3-11 you can buy a rail runner, costs only € 2,50 and your child kan travel with you.
For teenagers between 12-18 you can buy a ‘tienertourkaart’ where they can travel 3 day within a week for € 33,- But it needs to be ordered online
Rotterdam also has cable cars and a metro system. These work fine but I am not very familiar with those, as I like to walk. More info on public transport: https://en.rotterdam.info/visitors-info/in-rotterdam/
Food in the Netherlands
The most typical dutch food if ‘friet’ or ‘patat’. The way it is called depends on where you live in the Netherlands but don’t worry in the England these are called Chips and Americans call it French Fries. But the Dutch eat them in a variety of ways with all kinds of dressing, usually mayonaise is part of it. Possible combination are:
- Patatje met (Chips with mayonaise)
- Patatje speciaal (Chips with mayonaise, onions and ketchup)
- Patatje oorlog (Chips War, Chips with mayonaise, onions and peanut sauce)
Along with Chips you either eat a ‘kroket’ (fried ragout with crispy outside) or a ‘frikandel’ (undefined meat roll) and if you are a vegetarian ( and you will become one if you know what meat is in a ‘frikandel’) a ‘kaas soufflé (fried melted cheese).
In this spot I should not forget the local specialty called ‘Patat Kapsalon’ or just ‘Kapsalon’ (Hairdresser) named after a hairdresser from Rotterdam decided he wanted chips with everything he favoured: chips, shoarma (kebab) covered under melted Gouda cheese. The sauce of choice is garlic sauce or sambal (chilli pepper sauce).
You can eat this at any place in the Netherlands and is cheap but if you want a refined example you can go to: https://www.frietboutique.nl
What Indian food is in England is Indonesian food in the Netherlands. The menu has a lot of dishes but the best way to enjoy it is to order a ‘rijsttafel’. The best Indonesian restaurant is in Den Haag, but this one is also excellent: http://www.dewisri.nl/nl/locaties/rotterdam-centrum/ Most Chinese restaurants also have a large Indonesian menu.
If you just want good food, at a reasonable price and in a nice ‘pub-like’ atmosphere Rotown should be nice. Have not been there for 15 years or so but do have good memories of it: https://www.rotown.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Rotown-Cafetaria-Maart-2017.pdf
When the weather is good an unexpected pleasure of Rotterdam can be the Kralingse plas (Tram 24), where you enjoy the long Dutch evenings around a pond. There are four restaurants around it, very close is also a ‘pannekoekenrestaurant’ another Dutch delicacy. Basically large pancakes with anything added to it from sweet (with fruit and ice) until spicy (http://www.pannenkoekenhuisdebig.nl or http://www.pannenkoekenhuisdenachtegaal.nl/menukaart.html)
Music in Rotterdam
For jazz-lovers, Dizzy is the place to be. I've only been there once since Jazz is not my favourite music but it is the last cafe where Chet Baker played before he dropped out of the window:
If you are more into pop music, rotown is famous. If they have performances they are most likely sold out early. But you can always have a drink at the bar.
In case you feel a bit homesick, an Irish pub could help (maybe just a little). But it is as close to a pub as you can get in the Netherlands. Often there is acoustic music from local artists.
Last one is not of my own experience, but I do have a nephew that is 17 years. For DJs, techno and house Bar Tender is a nice place. They also seem to have a large variety of shooters and cocktails.
When you are with family or you are a roller coasters fanatic the best theme park in the Netherlands is “Efteling”. It started as a fairy tale park based on the drawings of Anton Pieck, later it transformed into a more general amusement park with some very high tech attractions (https://www.efteling.com/nl/park/attracties). Best way to get there is probably a rental car (prepare for long traffic jams near the entrance) or the train to Tilburg and then a bus. But readers can already do this themselves if they use the 9292.nl site.
For everyone interested in Dutch history or if you really want to visit a typical Dutch town with canals Delft is the place to go. History can be found in “de Prinsenhof” where the ‘Father of the Netherlands’ was murdered by Balthasar Gerards. You can still inspect the bullet hole in the wall. There are also two old churches, where a lot of famous Dutch historical figures have graves, including the royal family and a very beautiful market square. Of course you can also try to find the spots where Vermeer made his famous pictures. For those interested in porcelain a visit to ‘De Porceleyne Fles’ where Delft Blue pottery is produced. All this is a 15 minutes train ride from Rotterdam.
In case of really sunny weather the beach could be a good idea. There are several beaches close to Rotterdam but they are all close to the harbour and the horizons are dominated by big ships. Of these I think “Hoek van Holland” is the nicest. If you are looking for a real seaside resort within reasonable distance Scheveningen is the place. The seaside is dominated by a large “Kurhaus” and has many seaside restaurants. It can be reached by train to Den Haag CS (note, these last two capitals matter because Den Haag HS is wrong!!) and take tramline 1, not surprising the sea is the last stop.