Disembark: Rotterdam Romp

It's a beautiful day in Holland, despite the damper of being as lost as we are. Turned around thrice, we found ourselves surrounded in industry then farmland faster than a blink. Ponies and fields on both sides, close clustered homes and signs in Dutch. We even had to hunt down a portapotty in Poortugal so I could take a piss, further adding to the confusion!

Our day didn't start here, but it did begin with chaos. Disembarking the M.S. Rotterdam proved a battle, not with who you would think. Customs was a breeze, the port was easy to navigate, but the other passengers were relentlessly panicked. We were lucky, our cabin was roughly 16 feet from the disembarking station. Getting off should have been a cake walk, no? It would have been 16 foot cake walk if people knew how to follow basic instructions. Every passenger felt it their duty to clog the halls like a McDonalds artery, clinging to their overstuffed luggage despite the captain's commands.
"Don't occupy the hallway and stairwell at the disembarking station, please wait in one of the public lounges for your color and number to be called."
The system was all organized, we had colors and numbers to go by, and if that wasn't enough there were public screens displaying the order the colors and numbers were to be called in.

Finally, we managed to squeeze through the capillary and into the people tube. Trucking along with our bags, it's obvious we were the lightest travelers on the whole trip. In out up down, the maze of the port was easily navigated. The border officials were very friendly, and finally it was time to parade out into the fresh fog.

Visibility was low, and we didn't exactly know where to go. Never mind all of that, said my dad after speaking to someone in neon, we're to cross the bridge and find the rental car place on foot! Ok, sounds simple enough.

Cross the bridge we did, observing as we went with wide eyes. The fog was just beginning to lift from Rotterdam, clinging to the tops of the taller buildings as if reluctant to show the sun the hidden treasure of the city. Boats were just beginning to put up and down the river, many people rushed past on bicycles. Below on the pavement, six or seven official looking people on Segway machines weaved in, out, and around cement barriers and scenery: they were training.

We continued on, hanging a left and walking for about a half mile before we realize we have no clue as to where we are. A nice man who ran a liquor shop gave us directions, telling us to make a 180 and go left until the next main road, turn right, head straight for a bit, go under the cubed houses (excuse me?), turn left, walk a couple blocks, and then make another right.

Alright, we said, and were off again. Not five minutes later, I really have to use the bathroom. A breakfast of miso soup, coffee, water, and orange juice was proving to be a mistake. After a couple blocks, I spot the Maritime Museum. Perfect, they'll let me use the bathroom! Maybe?

No. For paying museum visitors only. I must have looked desperate, for the museum concierge then offered to let me in for four euro. Four euro?! Now I must have looked completely pathetic (and frustratingly American) for with a roll of his eyes and a sigh, he waved me back.
"And make it quick," I heard him say as I ran to the bathroom.

I thanked him four times to compensate, and I was fast as I could be, but he didn't look entertained.

Oh well. Onward!

The clouds finally let the sun through, enough so that I was able to remove my jacket and let the cool air penetrate my dads sweater that I had jacked from him that morning. We walked on, taking advantage of free wifi as we went. My eyes remained mostly skyward, looking at the architecture and snapping photos as we went.

Here I thought cubed houses had been a joke. No, they were most certainly cubed, lined up in a row high above the road. Even more impressively, the cubed houses were all on a point, with windows looking down onto the road and skyward. Interesting sight, really.

We passed beneath them and continued on our way, after a few moments time realizing we might be lost. My dad asked a local to help us find our destination, but they had never even heard of the street we were looking for. Fancy that! Off we warbled, when suddenly there it was! The rental car place!

You would think that after 5 miles of walking through Rotterdam, getting turned around, then crammed into the smallest car ever (seriously, this car is tiny) our travels would be golden, right?

Wrong again. Navigating the road systems proved a challenge, highway this that under over why are we in a tunnel? We circumnavigated Rotterdam, ending up practically where we started, then taking a sharp turn into a heavily industrial area.

Enter yet another complication: I had to pee. Now we are where I started us, driving through pastures and residences in search of a toilet of some variety. Heaven only knows how we went from smokestacks to pony farms, but in less than five minutes the scene shifted from factories to fields. Miles we drove for, down one way roads and through literally nowhere. I spotted my savior: A random portapotty on a street corner in a heavily residential area. It was all or nothing, and thank Holland America for giving out bottles of Purell hand sanitizer!

Now to find our way back to civilization. This time, it was Poortugal we circumnavigated, my dad cursing the land all the while. Our maps were no help from the get go, and they almost ended up out the window at this point. A gas station, a bag of chips, and some lemon Fanta later we were off in the right direction.... Or so we thought.

How the hell did we end up back in Rotterdam? I don't know, and at this point I don't wish to discuss the matter. Here I sit in Belgium, after hours of braving the rainy and trafficked road, looking forward to tomorrow. We eventually found our way, thank sanity and numbered roads.

Next stop: Versailles!

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