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Blog posts are like buses. There can be none for days, then two or three come along all at once. On this cruise, I’ve opted not to purchase any of the on-board wi-fi, and just make use of my phone contract data or shoreside networks. The knock-on effect of that being that I can’t upload anything while we are at sea.

Today, we arrived at our first port-of-call, Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Our plan for this trip, wherever possible, is to avoid excursion duties. So, while many folks were up at the crack of dawn to catch tour buses, we emerged for breakfast at a leisurely pace, heading up to the open deck afterwards to check out the lie of the land.

Even just a cursory glance was enough to tell us that Rotterdam is a modern city, with high-rise office blocks and apartments, and a state-of-the-art transport infrastructure.

We caught the complementary shuttle bus that dropped us off in the Market Place, and went for a walk.

One of the first things that caught our eye was a line of buildings that appear to be constructed from yellow and white cubes, and set at jaunty and, one would imagine quite impossible to live in, angles. No matter how hard we studied them, we couldn’t work out if anyone actually lives in them, or of they are just intended as a quirky landmark.

Our walk took us past a small harbour with old boats, overlooked by an old tall building and flanked by a working boatyard. The juxtaposition of old and new made for quite an interesting composition…

Parts of the city reminded me of Amsterdam, with its trams and high volume of bicycles, but with fewer old buildings.

Our circuitous route took us back to the Market Place, which is dominated by a huge, horseshoe-shaped building; the Market Hall.

This is clearly a building that they are proud of, and yet another example of unique, slightly bizarre, or impossible-looking, architecture – of which we saw many similar examples as we walked around the city.

The inside of the curved roof was covered in colourful images and inexplicably-positioned windows. The market itself was dominated by stalls selling food of all kinds and all nationalities.

From here, we walked to the church, a stones throw from the Market Hall, where we paid a couple of euros each to enter, which was well worth it.

Finally, we navigated our way towards ‘Museum Park’, an area where there were several architecturally intersting museum buildings and green parkland, before heading back towards the ship.

This was my first photograph of the Columbus ‘in the wild’…

We were back on board, and in time to catch lunch before the Plantation Bistro closed at 2pm. I say that; actually, the bistro was so hectic, even at that time, that it didnt look like they were going to be able to close it any time soon.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the The Dome, which is a large round lounge located at the very front, and top, of the ship, catching up on email and internet-based operations before leaving the port and losing the signal (which we now won’t have for the next three days).

We then went up onto the top deck to watch us reverse back out down the channel from the cruise terminal a way, to a wider area where we could, with the aid of tug boats turn around and point in the correct direction.

We’re now back out at sea, heading towards the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay beyond, towards our next port-of-call, Gibraltar. Interestingly enough, we don’t get our hour back tonight; it seems we’ll be staying on this time zone for a little while longer.

Unfortunately, we’ve had an announcement warning us of rough weather ahead. Strong winds and high swells, up to Storm Force 9, are expected to pick up over night and throughout tomorrow. The weather is expected to deteriorate throughout the afternoon, when I will be running my first class (so that might be a quiet one), and into the evening (the first formal night).

Hey ho… bring it on!

Peter Woolley

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