It’s normally me who gets to travel for work. This time however, my husband was in Rotterdam for a course. He’d been working ridiculous hours (thanks to the NHS!) and my daughter hadn’t seen him for 21 days. She was missing him (as was I).
If he couldn’t come to us we’d have to find him. So back to Skyscanner to discover that we could fly to Amsterdam for £35 (cheaper than a train to London from Warwick!). I quickly discovered that Amsterdam is an easy 50 min train ride from Rotterdam (I do love the internet!). Trains go regularly from the airport (that should be easy enough then). I found a nice apartment via Air B and B that was close to the University (for my husband) but equally well connected to the transport network (we needed to get out and about whilst my husband was at work).
My husband came to meet us at the airport- I was 6 months pregnant with our second. The thought of manoeuvring a pram, a 2 year old, a suitcase and a travel cot was too much.
We arrived in a cold and wet Rotterdam for a quick 2 night city break. After checking into our apartment (which was exactly as described) we made a quick trip to a local supermarket (I do love a Dutch supermarket) for supplies. Our daughter was exhausted by this point so she dozed in the pram whilst my husband and I had a cheeky drink (non alcoholic for me of course).
As we were only staying in Rotterdam for 2 nights I was keen to see and do as much as possible. You’ll know by now that food is a big part of travelling for us – so I definitely needed to eat well (and besides I was pregnant so I could legitimately eat as much cheese and waffles as I wanted!).
When you google Rotterdam one of the main sights to see is the Market Hall – Markthal.
This is an eclectic mix of residential properties and restaurants and food stalls. If you read my blog entry for Copenhagen you’ll see that we favour these sorts of venues when eating out with children. They are suitably relaxed (which is important when children are in tow) but have a wonderful selection of food, something to suit everyone. You don’t generally have to book a table and you can normally eat early if this suits bedtime etc. We ate here both nights and both meals were delicious. We actually ate in 4 different stands, choosing to have dessert from separate stalls. There is also a large supermarket downstairs – handy if you need to pick up any supplies. It had the added bonus that our daughter could run around. It was bitterly cold outside so it was great to be inside and warm. The tram back to our apartment went from just outside and was super efficient.
When my husband was out at work my daughter and I enjoyed strolling around Rotterdam, spotting windmills and watching the boats. Besides from these traditional images of Holland, Rotterdam is full of strange and wonderful architecture – the cube houses, the bridges etc. We managed to squeeze in a number of breaks in delicious coffee shops (yummy hot chocolate and scrummy cakes and pastries). There is something so easy about travelling with children in Holland. Our trip inspired me to explore more of Holland – best get planning.
My husband did manage to have an afternoon off during the time we were there. I was keen to find something that was child friendly and that we’d all enjoy. It’s was so cold and wet so we needed to be indoors! In my planning I discovered the pancake boat (have you ever heard or something so exciting!). I quickly booked tickets. It only runs on certain days and at certain times. Worth checking before you go and I would recommend booking. It was easy enough and the website was in English.
Back to the incredible boat. We walked down to the pier. Our daughter was so excited about her trip and even more so when the boat’s interior looked like a pirate ship! The boat ‘cruises’ (although this is a bit of an exageration) for 75 minutes. During this time you can eat as many pancakes as you want. There was a divine selection of toppings – both sweet and savoury.
The pancakes were the traditional Dutch variety. Yummy! When you’d had your fill, children could brave the ball pit in the hull of the ship. Sea sickness, pancakes and a ball bit – what could go wrong?!? This is possible one of our favourite family activities on holiday – definitely the highlight of the trip.
We survived the early morning trip back to the airport on the train (and even managed to get our stuff there as well!). We nearly fell at the final hurdle – when security staff asked my daughter if I was her mummy (her passport photo was taken at 8 weeks old!), she insisted I wasn’t! (AHH). Thankfully the security guy was very understanding and ushered us through.
With only two days we hardly touched the surface of what Rotterdam has to offer for children, families and grown-ups. We’ll definitely return to Holland in the not so distant future. Its a wonderful country to explore with children.
Top Tip: Live like a local, book an apartment through this link for £30 travel credit with Airbnb and we get a little something off our next booking too, enjoy!