Rotterdam, Antwerp and a very nice stop in Iceland

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Rome to Rotterdam

Medici Holiday Inn by the FCO Airport in Rome was where we woke up today. Rotterdam, Netherlands is today's destination. We had to wake up early, too. This meant we could get ready and leave the hotel via the 8:00am shuttle to the Airport. It was raining when we left Rome. Odd occurrence but it seems to be often raining when we leave a place. Don't know how that has managed to happen on such a regular basis. 

We sat right near the back of the plane. I have decided that I like to be closer to the front. Although we were able to exit out the back door. The whole airport, flying experience was rather painless. The landing was a bit hard but then it was raining, so wet on the runway. 

There was a bus that we took to the Metro. The trains in the Netherlands are excellent. We disembarked at a station right by the Art Hotel here in Rotterdam our final destination of the day. The Art Hotel was decorated wonderfully as you might expect. Perhaps a bit too eclectic for the taste of some. The restaurant, for example, had a row of different chandeliers along a row of tables. Some furniture was Victorian in style, some more fifties era. Plus there was a huge bouquet of lilies adding their fragrance to the mix. I loved it. 

The room has arty touches. At the end of the bed is a huge print in a gold frame. It has impact in our rather small room. We do have a small lichen space which is perfect for our last few days on Europe. 

Ken went out and about investigating the city. We had been here but only walking downtown. I stayed at the Hotel. I have contracted a cold and am feeling quite miserable. From flying, my ears are stuffed up and I cannot hear. I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon and early evening - hours. Tomorrow I hope to wake-up feeling much better.

Thursday, October 29, 2015
I am again under the weather, still recovering from this rotten cold.

In the morning I just lays around in bed. I do accomplish something, however, I get a few days done on the blog and am also able to do some Duolingo Spanish. I have discovered that my brain does not work well for language when I am sick with a cold. I forget about small little things or forget little words and, of course, forget words in another language altogether. Sure hope my language skills pick up once I'm feeling better.

Ken spent the morning out trying to find some gifts and a way to package them up. He came back and made us lunch. He brought me back two dozen roses to help cheer me up. It barely cut through the sickness. I have been laying around so long that I feel like I need to get up and walk around. We decide to visit a part of Rotterdam we hadn't been to before. I can, however, tell that I am still under the weather and shouldn't be out too long. While Ken is standing with his iPhone trying to figure out exactly which metro stop we should go to I turn around and see the best Halloween decorated window ever. It is a beauty salon and in the window is a real black-and-white cat along with all the other wonderful decorations that have been placed there. This cat looks very much like our cat named Dick that was with us for almost 19 years. 

One store we really wanted to go into was closed and wouldn't be open until tomorrow. Perhaps will end up coming back here tomorrow. At one store can haggles with the owner and ends up purchasing three items for probably the price of one.

We end up eating a late supper. Ken decides to go back out and do some more shopping after supper. As soon as he arrives back home I am ready for a sound sleep. Tomorrow we plan to go to Den Hague if I am feeling better.

Friday, October 30, 2015
Thankfully I am feeling more myself today and my cold is starting to subside.

After eating breakfast in our room we go downstairs to the restaurant. I know that doesn't make sense, but we were just admiring the kitchen. There is an older, pink Aga stove that is certainly something to see. There are matching pink and red tiles around the old stove.The cupboards are put together using antique wooden cabinets. The kitchen is a great combination of old and new.  The whole package is a wonderful combination.

I am anxious to get out and start doing things today, after being sick for several days. We hop a train, back to the neighbourhood that we were in yesterday, back to a store that was not open yesterday. Ken found himself a great Helly Hansen jacket, just what he needs. He can layer it over top of the jacket he already has for warmth.

Using a new transportation system in a new city requires a lot of ingenuity. This is a challenge that Ken appears to love. He  directs us back on the train to the Rotterdam market. We were here near the beginning of last July. The huge building is like a giant Quonset from Saskatchewan. Inside the roof has painted flowers and fruit on it, very striking. We decided that it's time to find something for us to eat for lunch. Moroccan food looks most appealing and we each have a wrap – one vegetarian and one chicken. The veggie one has thin slices of fried eggplant, cauliflower with spices, some salad greens, tomatoes, a yogurt type of sauce etc. it was very delicious. With the candy vendor we discussed licorice. Licorice being a specialty item of the Netherlands. I even got to sample some of it – yum! I especially liked the slightly salted kind of licorice.

We took a slower route by train that we had never taken before, into Den Hague Centraal Station. It was a quick walk into the center of downtown Den Hague near the Apple Store. Our aim, however, was to go to a used store that we knew about to find some warmer clothes. I needed boots to wear as it will be rather chilly in Canada when I get back there. I was very lucky and actually found two pair for under €30, one pair of black and one pair of brown tall leather boots. Even here my feet get cold in the ballerina type shoes that I'm wearing.

It is fun to walk around Den Hague and remember the places we had been in the summer. It was great to see someplace with some familiarity. We walked down streets wait walk down before, we went in stores that we had been in before such as The Marks & Spencer, the little Muslim bakery on the corner was a real treat and the grocery store that we used to frequent back in July. We enjoyed ourselves today back in familiar territory. We even went into the lobby of the student hotel that we had stayed in. Then when we left to go back to Rotterdam we left from the Den Hague HS station, our usual station from back in July. 

We decided to spend a little extra and take the faster train back into Rotterdam. We still had to transfer once to get back to the Art Hotel. Ken made a wonderful supper which, of course, included potatoes.

Saturday, October 31, 2015
Today our adventure was to go to Antwerp, Belgium.

From Rotterdam it is 78 km to get to Antwerp. Neither of us had been to Belgium before and we thought this was a good opportunity. We went by Metro and high-speed train. Once on the high-speed train we could see the great landscape whizzing by outside the train window. We could see the mostly golden leaves still on the trees but starting to pile up underneath. We got to see some farm animals cows, horses, sheep, goats and geese. We also saw flocks of birds gathering and we saw herons in the water. The area was scenic but obviously very populated. We saw farms, we saw green houses and we saw a tall apartment building's mostly made of brick. 

Upon disembarking from the train we found ourselves in Antwerp central station. It was built between 1895 and 1905. The main building is stone clad, looking like marble and has marble columns. Up by the clock were gold gilded statues. There were at least three levels of where train engines ran, quite an engineering feat I would think. Ken and I both thought that this was the nicest train station that we had seen yet, and in the past six months we have seen a lot.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

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