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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

July 3, 2014

Day One: Helsinki to Rotterdam via Gouda

2nd July 2014

Today was an early start. We (Mum, Dad, Harri and I) woke up at 5:30, tired as anything, but ready to start a three week long family trip through The Netherlands and UK. We had stayed up late the previous night -as you do- planning how to stay within a 8kg boundary for check-in luggage. We had planned this trip quite thoroughly over the previous weeks, and were super excited to finally get going.

After eating a breakfast, that to me tasted tasteless so early in the morning, we took an airport bus to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. The bus was surprisingly easy for us, as we just walked two minutes to the bus stop, got on and stored our luggage in the over-head compartment, and arrived 15 minutes later at the terminal. We then had to go through the nerve-racking part of waiting to see whether our bags would fit the boarding specifications in weight... They all did, phew:) Finally, after Mum got held up at the security check point as usual, this time for her hand bag, we boarded the plane to Riga. Yay!!

We arrived in Riga, and found out that the next flight we would need to take to Amsterdam was delayed. So, Mum and I thought duty-free shopping would be a perfect way to spend the time:) The airport was lovely, and there were heaps of cute shops. I definitely want to go back there, because from what we could see out the plane window of Riga it looked amazing!

After waiting about 2 hours, which was supposed to be 40 minutes, we boarded the plane again to Amsterdam. In this flight I was just so konked-out, that I had to close my eyes and listen to my ears pop. What fun that was:) Then, when I needed to go to the bathroom, I almost visited the pilot. The bathroom and pilot doors were right next to each other, and I was too tired to work out the difference between the two. Luckily there was a flight attendent there to tell me which one was which:) Phew, what a huge mistake that would have been!

Finally we touched down on the tarmac in Amsterdam, and before we knew it (and were really allowed to because the lights were still on) everyone around us was up out of their seats getting their luggage... I guess some people are just really impatient and willing to risk their life to really not speed up the process of waiting for the plane to stop and the doors to open... Then, as the AirBaltic flight attendent said 'Thankyou' as I passed throught the gates, I realised how close everything in Europe really is:)

If you ever go to Amsterdam Airport, you should put aside a couple of hours to walk through the shops, and transitions betweens gates and terminals:) It is a huge airport, and very modern with relaxation booths for a massage. I definetely want to give that a try on my way to the UK:)



We just had time to stop to get sandwiches, before getting on a train to Rotterdam, via Gouda (Pronounced Howda). We had to take an airport train, and then intercity, through large pastures full of cows and horses. We thought of Mummu then, who loves her cows:)

Airport train where there was free wifi:)


Arriving at Gouda we got out of the train and wandered over to the information center to enquire about baggage holding. To our luck, the lady at the desk said that were none, but that a bike hire shop in the city center might be able to keep the lugagge. So, we decided that it really wasn't that difficult wheeling around our suitcases, and started for the city center of Gouda.


In Gouda they have actual paths on the road meant just for bikes, and it looks like many people use bikes...

The walk was amazing, and the canals were mesmerising. I could have spent a lot longer just looking at every view. Finally we arrived at the bike rental shop, and they said we had to rent bikes to be able to store the lugagge. I mean, of course... -hitting head- So, we hired bikes for all of us. That way, we could ride around on all of those bike tracks and see the canals better. The bikes were really different, because the handlebars were rounded, and the seat was soo much more upright than mine in Helsinki. So, needless to say, it did take some time to get used to it, after almost colliding with a retiree on a whizzing bike machine :)

The shop we hired the bikes from.



The Markets in the Center of Gouda.



Yes, that is Lavender:) The smell was lovely.


We stopped countless times for pictures. That was my problem though, I had difficulty with starting the bike again... There were people riding all over the place so you had to wait for the right time to go, and I kept missing it:)


Our final stop on the bikes, Gouda cheese shop. We could sample all the cheese, and they were all suer nice. We found it really difficult to choose a cheese to take with us:)

After we gave the bikes back, and wheeled our suitcases back to the trainstation, we used the same ticket to get back on the train to Rotterdam. We boarded the carriage that stopped before us, as you do, and we then found out by reading the sign on the window, that it was a silent carriage. That was nice, I almost went to sleep then and there.

As we arrived at Rotterdam, we were amazed how huge the train station is. It is even larger than the Rautatieasema in Helsinki, which is saying something:) Luckily, we just had to follow the crowd out, and a lady met us to show us where we will be staying. We booked through Air BnB, so we were going to stay in a whole apartment for the next four days. Lia, our hostess, was very nice, and showed us the directions we could go from the railway station later to attractions:)


From here Lia took us to her humble abode, and we chatted for a while. She then left, and we went to do some grocery shopping, after a little mishap with the door lock (I think that we were all too tired). The grocers we found to be very cheap, compared to to Finland. Finally we had some fruit toast and pizza, and went to bed. Oh the feeling of a long-anticipated sleep:)

Now you are uptodate,

Laura

xoxo

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