Backpacking Europe 2022 | Two Weeks in The Netherlands | Reaching and Exploring Hellevoetsluis

Backpacking Europe 2022 | Two Weeks in The Netherlands | Reaching and Exploring Hellevoetsluis

My Europe trip started with a two weeks trip to The Netherlands. The entire Europe trip started with a different story behind it. It’s a long story as I write, memorising my days in Europe. I will start the story from the very beginning of my planning and then my travelling through The Netherlands.

Intro to my Europe Trip:

31st December 2021, I resigned from my job.

I left my job after my father’s sudden demise. I had to handle the critical situation raised due to my mom’s ill health. But, with God’s grace, she recovered quickly once I started spending the whole time with Mom. After a while, she was fine, and life started to normalise. Only then I began to think about how to lead my life differently. I had no job then and ample opportunity to do something for myself.

Hence, I took a career break from my 15 years of professional life. I wanted to travel full-time for a year. I decided to continue my journey somewhere else after a month-long Road Trip to Sri Lanka in February 2022. Instead of searching for a job, I searched for countries where I could travel. The biggest question at that time was where to travel next. Which countries were open for Indian Citizens to travel to? I found several European countries opened up for travelling, including Indian Passport holders.

A dream left aside since March 2020 started showing gleams of hope to accomplish.

The last time I travelled before COVID-19 was in 2019. I went on a cross-country backpacking trip to Sweden and Norway. Since then, we all know what happened due to COVID. Corona paused the entire world, especially the travel and tourism segment. But once I returned from my Sweden and Norway Trip, I always wanted to return to Scandinavian countries. The beauty of Scandinavian countries is somewhat other-worldly. That magical natural beauty stays in your heart forever. You would like to go back there. I wanted to see other parts of the Scandinavian countries and explore Finland more precisely.

I kept Finland as a prime country to visit. However, I wanted to see a few other countries to save time and money. I would never like to spend money on costly flight tickets only to visit a country for two weeks. I decided to go on a two-month backpacking trip in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and Finland.

It was an ambitious plan, and I called this project Backpacking Europe 2022.

In a month, I worked on my travel plan. I executed the same very fast: buying my flight tickets, purchasing travel insurance, and booking my accommodations. I applied for a 60-day Schengen Visa for Finland. The plan was to spend the maximum time in Finland.

Here comes the tricky part. I quit my job, wanted to travel to Europe for two months, and selected the most expensive countries, especially. I had no documents to show as leave approval nor an employer’s certificate. This time I was self-sponsoring my trip with no job. To obtain a Schengen VISA employer’s certificate and leave approval are important documents. This time I submitted my resignation letter as supporting documents. I wanted to show my intention to travel worldwide and how I took it up as a year-long personal project.

Will they grant my VISA? Will they help me to pursue my life goal and push me one step ahead to achieve it? A lot of questions were crossing my mind leaving me stressed. I thought the Finland Embassy might not grant my VISA without a job. The days of my flight were approaching fast, with no news from the Finland Delhi Embassy. Then two weeks before my departure day, I received a call from the Embassy to answer all their queries. The most important question was – why was I travelling alone?

I took the time to explain to the lady that I keep travelling alone. Then the second question was, who prepared my itinerary? To her utter surprise, when I replied that I had worked on my itinerary. She asked, “How do you know which place to go next?” I explained how I made my trip plan on Google Maps. I took names of places I would cover from day one to day five without any pause or ambiguity. I realised she believed in my research works and was convinced too. However, she asked for a few more documents for submission. I submitted the documents immediately, but waiting for my VISA was still not over.

Days passed, and nine more days left for my journey, with no news from the Embassy. I gave up on my dream because I thought the Embassy had not granted my VISA. Then suddenly, I received a message and mail informing me that my Passport was dispatched. I received the same two days later. Seven days before my journey started, I received my Passport.

My VISA for two months to travel to Europe was granted. My backpacking Europe 2022 was all set to start.

I planned to travel to the Netherlands first, followed by Germany, Finland, and Denmark.

My two weeks in The Netherlands start from here. Please continue to read to know more about the best places to visit in The Netherlands.

Day 1 – It was the 28th of April 2022; afternoon. I flew from Kolkata to Delhi to catch my flight to Helsinki early the next day. I booked my round-trip flight tickets for Delhi to Helsinki. After four hours of layover at Helsinki Airport, I had my flight on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Amsterdam.

At the scheduled time, I landed at Helsinki Airport. From the aeroplane window, I could see it was lightly snowing outside on the afternoon of 29th April. When I left Kolkata at the end of April, it had already touched 35 degrees Celsius. And in Finland, it was snowing. When I exited the aeroplane, I could feel the cold air that touched my cheeks. I realised the weather would be challenging for me in Finland.

It was my first time at Helsinki Airport. Helsinki Airport is huge, with very few people to be seen. I started navigating, following the arrow sign, and reached the immigration counter. After checking my VISA details, the immigration officer asked me, “Why in Finland?”

My answer was equally quick and to the point: “Finland is one of the safest countries for solo female travellers.” Looking at his face, I could feel his pride, and he nodded affirmatively. I also added, “I want to do bikepacking in Finland. I want to dedicate this trip to my Dad, whom I recently lost.” He replied – “I am sorry to hear about your loss. Do you have enough funds to sponsor your trip? Finland is a costly country.” With a positive response from me, he stamped my passport and wished me luck on my journey.

I collected my backpack and ran towards the security check-in gate for the KLM flight to Amsterdam. It took me 30 mins to find the place. Helsinki Airport was quite big for a small woman like me. Finally, I found the gate and passed through the security check-in by giving up my hand sanitiser bottle. It was larger than 100 ml. I wanted to be fully protected, so I bought a big bottle of hand sanitiser for the two-month trip. But sadly, I had to say goodbye to my sanitiser bottle at the beginning of my journey. Above all, I thought I had to buy a new bottle, which meant I had to spend an unexpected amount not planned. Anyways, I completed all my formalities and settled inside the Airport. Waiting for my flight to come and pick me up from  Helsinki.

I was ecstatic, thinking I would land in one of the most renowned places in the world. The Amsterdam. I was heading to the beautiful Dutch country, Holland or The Netherlands.

When I took that small step to go outside my hometown and started travelling many years back, I never knew I would come this far to Backpacking in Europe. I was emotional, thinking that Dad would have been happy seeing me achieve my goal.

While immersed in mixed emotions, my flight was delayed from 15 to 30 mins and more than 1 hour. I planned to reach Rotterdam by train from Amsterdam Airport. I had managed to get a homestay in Rotterdam. My host, the Dutchman, told me he would come to the bus stop to pick me up. He also sent me detailed instructions about how to reach the bus stop from Rotterdam Railway Station. I was messaging him to inform him about my arrival time. We planned to have dinner at his home once I reached. We even planned to cook something together for dinner, and he would wait for me. It was a great plan, and I couldn’t wait for more to reach Rotterdam and meet my host.

A Dutchman named Wim. I thought – He seems like a lovely gentleman.

With all the excitement in mind, I was waiting for my flight. Finally, it took off from Helsinki after 2 hours from its scheduled time. Two hours later, when I landed at Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport, it was almost 8 PM. Finally, I was in The Netherlands.

Schiphol International Airport is also the third largest airport in Europe and boasts a history. Some Quick Facts about Schiphol International Airport:

Schiphol lies at the bottom of what was once Haarlemmer Lake. The Haarlemmer Lake was drained in 1852, and the first aircraft landed at Schiphol in 1916. Technically, the airport lies on the bottom of the lake, over four metres below sea level. Despite the expansions, we have never moved from our original location. This makes Schiphol not only one of the world’s most low-lying airports but also the oldest to occupy the exact location. Schiphol serves 104 airlines that fly to 97 countries and 332 direct destinations.

I was so happy being there and stopped to admire the airport ambience. After all, Amsterdam Airport is one of the best places to visit in The Netherlands. Thought of looking around the airport, but I was already late by two hours. So quickly checked the area on my way to search for Amsterdam Airport Train Station. The sight that stopped me and took all my attention was a Masculine BMW Racing Car. Flaunting some of the world’s best brands at a time – Hankook, Bosch, Shell, DEKRA, DTM and Sixt. I couldn’t ignore it, but to take some photos of the handsome beast.

After collecting my backpack, I searched for an airport convenience store to buy a local SIM card. All stores were closed, and I realised that the stores usually closed after 5 PM. I was a bit worried. I knew once I was out of the Airport, I won’t have any option to inform Wim about my location. From the airport, I messaged him about my arrival in Amsterdam.

I find out the train station. The NS train station is located directly below the terminal building. I activated my train ticket and reached the train station. Surprisingly, Airport WiFi was not working at the airport train station. I waited for my train to come.

Ten minutes before the scheduled time, the adjacent screen alerted me that the 8.45 train to Rotterdam was cancelled. My next train was 30 minutes later. I went upstairs to access the WiFi and informed Wim about my further delay due to the cancellation of the train. For the next twenty minutes, I continued going up and down to send him messages and check for his replies. I continued until my train arrived. Finally, I boarded the train bound for Rotterdam. It took nearly one hour to reach Rotterdam Central Station. In this one hour with no connection, I couldn’t inform Wim where I was, nor did I receive any messages from him.

I got down at Rotterdam Central Station at 10.15 PM. Finally, I was relieved that my long journey from Kolkata would end soon. Images of hot Dutch dinner and a comfy bed kept popping up in my imagination. It was one more metro train to reach Wim’s house. But, I was slightly worried due to my late arrival. Still, I was not too bothered seeing the Rotterdam Central Station full of commuters, and even at night, young couples, men, women, and kids accompanied by their parents were all around. It was a relaxed environment, and I needed to find the Metro Rail Station.

I randomly asked a girl if she could help me found the metro train station and showed her Wim’s messages or instructions to reach his place. I was supposed to take a metro train in the D direction‘De Akkers,’ but I needed to hop off at Spijkenisse Centrum. She and her boyfriend immediately told me they were also going to take the D-direction metro train and we should run fast as the train was about to depart in five minutes. I started following them and realised why running was necessary as the metro rail station was far from the main Rotterdam Central Station.

After buying my tickets on the platform, we boarded the train, and the couple showed me in the visual panel that the ‘De Akkers’ is the last stop for the D Direction metro line and Spijkenisse Centrum is just one stop before. The point was I had a long way to go.

At that point, I realised I was going further away from Rotterdam, or I was not going to stay at Rotterdam. It was almost 10.30 PM. I was on a train somewhere in the Netherlands with unknown people, not sure where I was heading apart from having a vague idea from Google Maps that I was going further south from Rotterdam. Fortunately, this D direction train had a good WiFi connection with which I could inform Wim that I was on the D Direction train. He told me that after getting down at Spijkenisse Centrum, I needed to take the 404, 104, or 106 buses to Hellevoetsluis Smitsweg, and I should get down at the bus stop Amnesty International. These buses start from platform number I or J on the ground floor. He will pick me up from the Amnesty International Bus Stop.

I had all the information, but I needed to get there, and I was late by more than 2 hours by then. If I could remember correctly, I reached Spijkenisse Centrum at 11.30 PM. One last time I got access to the WiFi connection and informed Wim that I finally came to the Spijkenisse Centrum and would take the bus. But I couldn’t wait to see his response. I had to rush to the ground floor. I was worried that I should not miss the last bus. Now around 11.30 PM, one or two people were at the platform, and as I entered the venue, I could see that bus number 404 was leaving the platform area, and I couldn’t reach the bus.

It was just another woman sitting at the bus stop waiting for our buses. I thought of befriending her as I was in a nowhere place during that time. If I did not get a bus to reach Wim’s home, I could at least ask her if she could take me to her place for a night’s stay.

I asked her about the next bus, 404, and she laughed, saying she had just missed the bus as she would have taken the same bus. But her behaviour about missing a bus at 11.30 PM seemed casual and easy. I got the courage to see her attitude and told her that I was going to Amnesty International and asked if she could help me to get down at the exact stop when it would come.

However, my biggest worry then was how to reach Wim’s house as I no longer connected with him, and I was unsure whether he would wait for me at the bus stop. Also, it was pitch dark apart from the street lamps and shivering cold. Even my mobile with no connection picked up the last location’s temperature, 10 degrees Celsius. I felt very helpless and tired in the shivering cold and was not carrying any extra jacket in my small bag to wear at that moment.

I was thinking about what would happen for the rest of the night. Would I stay at Spijkenisse Centrum metro station or Amnesty International Bus Stop, or should I ask this lady to take me to her place? What if she disagrees? When I was thinking about these possibilities, she approached the bus driver of a different bus assigned for another direction if he could go through our routes. As it was not the rule, the driver couldn’t help us and apologise.

The bus started its engine and was getting ready to depart from the platform, and then it was just two ladies waiting for bus 404 to come. But the bus stopped, and the driver’s head popped out of his window and shouted to us – ‘hey, you two come and get in.’ He felt for us and didn’t want the two of us waiting alone at night at the bus stop, and he had shown generosity and decided to go beyond his designated route. We thanked him for his help and kindness.

We took our bags, ran towards the bus, and hopped in. The bus driver told the other lady he would drop all the passengers at their location, and then it would go in our direction, and the lady needed to guide him in the right direction. She happily agreed and assured me she would help me get down at Amnesty International.

Finally, I was on my last transport, but I was unsure what to do once I got down at the bus stop. I decided to spend my night at the bus stop, and if I saw anyone there, I would ask if he/she/they could call Wim to come to the bus stop. If Wim unanswered the call, as he could fall asleep, it was evident that I would spend the rest of the night of my first day in the Netherlands at an unknown bus stop called Amnesty International.

I got a WiFi connection inside the bus and checked Wim’s message. He had already visited the bus stop once, considering my last message on arrival at Spijkenisse Centrum. He never knew that I had missed bus 404.

From the running bus, I could not understand where I was—almost one hour before I took the bus. The lady told me within 30 minutes; we should reach Amnesty International.

Thirty minutes later, I arrived at Amnesty International, saying goodbye to the bus driver and that helping lady. From there, I had nowhere to go. I helplessly saw the bus heading far off me, and soon it would vanish from my sight. It was a small glass-roofed bus stop, and it was a cold night, probably 8 degrees Celsius. I sat down with my backpack on one side and helplessly thought I wished I had booked a hotel room in Amsterdam. By now, I would have taken a hot shower and probably slept in my cosy bed after sipping hot soup. I felt like crying, thinking I was the stupidest person in the world. I closed my eyes and stopped thinking about the rest of the night. Right then, someone just took my name – “Susmita?”

I looked up, and a tall man came from the opposite direction with his cycle and called my name a second time.

I stood up and called – “Wim? Wim, is that you?”

“Yes. I am Wim.”

We hugged each other. Tears came down my cheeks, and I told him with a heavy voice that I thought I missed him due to repeated delays in all conveyance.

Wim mentioned that he had come to the bus stop earlier too, but when he saw I didn’t get down, he returned home. He left his mobile at home, and he saw my message there that I had taken another bus and then he came out again and was waiting for me to come. He couldn’t reply because he kept his mobile at home.

We went to his place. He was waiting for me to come to have dinner together. I couldn’t cook with him anymore, so I headed to shower. And meanwhile, he cooked meat pasta for both of us and hot coffee for me. After almost 48 hours of the journey, I had one of my life’s most lovely, delicious dinners. I will never forget Wim for his generosity, loving and caring nature, and being one of the most fantastic hosts I could ever meet. If I stayed at a hotel in Amsterdam or Rotterdam, I would never meet Wim, nor would I realise that I can travel and handle unpredictable situations like flight delays, train cancellations, and missed buses all in a row. These unforeseen situations are how travellers gather experiences learned in each process.

Finally, we finished our dinner, and I went to sleep on the comfy couch in Wim’s living room. It was 3 AM on 30th April 2022.

Backpacking Netherlands – Two weeks of saga starts.

Day 2 – After a long journey from Kolkata to Amsterdam and then reaching Wim’s place at Hellevoetsluis Smitsweg, I fell asleep very quickly after going to bed and slept till 10 AM. I woke up to the soft voice of Wim, who was already ready to go somewhere. I got up, and I saw Wim preparing our breakfast.

To briefly introduce Wim, by profession, he is a Truck Driver and a handsome single father of three kids. In the morning, after I freshened up, we sat down and had breakfast together. He had to go to Germany to meet his friend and for his professional needs. Wim gave me the apartment keys and mentioned I could enjoy his apartment and stay there as long as I wanted. He also informed me that his daughter might come, and she was aware of my presence in Wim’s apartment. So we two can stay together. After all these discussions, Wim left for Germany, giving custody of his apartment to me.

I was in a Dutch Apartment alone and living my Dutch life.

How strange life is, a man whom I met a few hours back and I was staying at his place, and he was leaving his apartment for me to enjoy the space, privacy, and my travel time. I felt honoured for Wim entrusting so much faith in me. After all the hassles I took to reach his place or the risk I took to stay with a stranger after travelling almost 40 hours, it was worth taking. If I had stayed at any hotel or hostel, I wouldn’t have met Wim.

Once Wim left, I looked around his apartment except for his bedroom. First, I decided to go outside and look around the locality, and I needed to purchase a local SIM card to connect to my mom. Also, I was required to access Google Maps for sightseeing and city tours by myself. I quickly got ready, headed outside, and instantly came inside the apartment as I forgot about the shivering cold last night. It was 10 degrees Celsius, and I had to wear my fleece jacket. Again, I went outside, now well prepared. Coming from a hot city like Kolkata, almost 40 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees, I didn’t want to get sick at the beginning of my journey.

The second time I came outside, I looked around, and the expression that came out of my heart was – “Oh! My Gosh! Where am I? It’s so beautiful!!” I started walking towards the main road and crossed a concrete arch I remembered crossing at night. I slowly started heading towards the big road, which might be the main road and came across a beautiful lake. I kept following the broad road considering it was the main road.

As I crossed the path, I came across beautiful parks, gardens, birds, roadside Dutch houses, and handsome-looking local people. I navigated the local areas and finally reached a shopping complex not as big as we usually see in big metro cities or capital cities. Still, it was pretty captivating for me—the Winkelcentrum De Struytse Hoeck shopping complex in Struytse Hoeck, Hellevoetsluis, Netherlands. I looked at all the branded clothes, shoes, and accessories and told myself I didn’t need them. I felt like a saint and got angry at myself for not jumping into shopping. It was tough for me to keep myself away from all those attractions.

I reminded myself that I had left my job and was on a mission to travel to many countries, and I could not afford to squander my money. I decided rather to concentrate on travelling across the small town of Hellevoetsluis, which I felt was one of the best places to visit in The Netherlands and a hidden gem.

Before I lost control, I left the mall. I focused on essential things. I needed to buy a local SIM to connect with Mom frequently. With Dad no longer at her side, she might be distraught. Even from afar, I needed to control the situation and talk to her.

I will be away from home as I prefer vagabonding and love living my life on the roads, and she likes the comforts of her house. Two opposite-sided mentalities need to coexist. So, we agreed on a mutual setup that when I am back home, I will try to spend more and more time with her, and as of the date, I am trying to fulfil that promise as much as possible, and the rest of the time she will allow me to travel. As of now, this setup is working fine for both of us.

I moved out from that location to buy a SIM card, and finally, I got to see one store. I went inside the store named Telecombinatie and met a young boy of 20 – 22 who was super helpful. He helped me choose the correct SIM card per my requirements and told me where to recharge the SIM card to start using it.

Curious, the young boy asked me where I came from and what I was doing in the Netherlands. When I told him about my intention to backpack in Europe for two months, and I planned to travel across the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Finland, he was thrilled and excited and said wish he could join such a trip.

He would also like to travel, and I wished him luck. I knew how important it was to wish someone luck in fulfilling their dream. We all deserve others’ blessings and well wishes. I hope my best wishes will work for that little boy one day, and he will travel to many more countries and enrich his life with many meaningful and memorable experiences.

Per the mobile store kid’s instruction, I went to the Albert Heijn Supermarket, the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands. It was just behind the main shopping complex. I recharged my new Dutch mobile SIM with 10 euros, activated the SIM card, and happily returned to my Dutch house.

Back home, I tried to call Mom on WhatsApp but couldn’t get through. After several failed attempts, I realised something was wrong with the connection. I couldn’t go outside for the rest of the day as it started raining heavily. I heard that was typical Holland weather. Even after a bright sunny day, there can be heavy downpours.

Stuck inside the house, I decided to clean Wim’s home, especially the kitchen. I spent the whole afternoon dishwashing and cleaning Wim’s kitchen and living room area. How wonderful it was to keep his place spanking clean. Once I did the job, I was delighted to clean Wim’s house, and I thought he might be happy to see his place that way.

From my 10 years of backpacking experiences, I have learned to be modest, helpful and trusting strangers and keep faith in my gut feeling. So, when Wim helped me by providing his house to stay safe, secure and happy, it was my turn to provide him something in return. So I cleaned the house, and that’s how my Netherlands backpacking trip started happily.

Evening when the rain stopped, I went outside again, not to mention that the temperature dropped further, and in the evening, it was slightly windy too, as the harbour is very near Hellevoetsluis. I went to that shopping mall and found everything was closed. Someone told me that everything shuts down at 5 PM. The same experience I had in Airport the day before.  Later in the evening, I returned home after walking around the locality. For dinner, I cooked pasta for myself, surfed through Wim’s book collections, and then slept on my couch.

Outside, it was raining again, and the temperature dropped to 7 degrees Celsius.

Day 3 – The morning of my third day in Holland was extraordinarily bright and sunny. I woke up and prepared quickly as I planned to go outside Hellevoetsluis and sightseeing in Rotterdam and Utrecht. I planned to go to Amsterdam in the evening, spend two days there, and continue my journey for the rest of my Europe Backpacking Trip. So, it was my last day at Hellevoetsluis too. I decided to spend the morning in the nearby locality, try some local food and then catch a train to Rotterdam and Utrecht.

I had to check my mobile connection, which I bought yesterday, and it has not worked since I bought it. Navigating and activating my Eurail Train Tickets would be difficult without an internet connection. In Europe, Train System is pretty good and runs fast from one place to another. I planned to travel across Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark by train. Hence, before starting my journey, I bought Eurail Global Pass, and that made my life pretty easy to traverse from one place to another. It was my first experience commuting in Europe by train with a Eurail Global Pass, and I think I will cover a chapter on this subject later.

I went to the shopping complex where I bought the SIM card and found another mobile store that sells and repairs everything related to mobile.

The shop was T-Mobile Shop Hellevoetsluis. I went inside the store and told the manager I could not activate my internet connection even after recharging it with 10 euros, and I showed him the paper piece with all the codes to start the internet connection. He opened my mobile, reinserted the SIM card and used the activation code to activate the internet connection, but nothing worked. Then suddenly, he noticed in the paper that I did the mobile recharge for the Lyca Mobile Connection, and my SIM card was for Lebara Connection. He pointed that out and asked me to purchase the top-up for Labara Connection.

I returned to the same Albert Heijn Supermarket and explained to the girl at the counter that I bought the wrong connection yesterday. I needed to purchase Lebara Connection, but the boy at the counter had given me LycaMobile Connection. As a tourist, I was unaware of the different connections and recharge procedures. Hence, I couldn’t realise I had bought it and was trying to recharge my mobile with the wrong internet connection. I requested her if I could get a refund of 10 euros or if she could replace it with the Lebara Connection.

Refund or replacement was impossible as the two were different mobile network providers. Albert Heijn Supermarket can only sell top-ups but has no authority to provide restitution or replacements. I needed to contact Lycamobile and see if they could refund the same. An additional 10 euro were wasted after losing my sanitiser bottle at the airport. I was a bit sad about the waste of 10 euros, which cost me one day’s dinner, I restored my Lebara Connection with 10 euros, and mobile data started working fine. I left that place for a local city tour in Hellevoetsluis.

Hellevoetsluis is a small city and municipality in the western Netherlands. It is located in Voorne-Putten, South Holland. The municipality covers an area of 61.20 km² of which 20.10 km² is water, and it includes the population centres Nieuw-Helvoet, Nieuwenhoorn, and Oude en Nieuwe Struiten, all former municipalities. – Wikipedia.

Before the afternoon, I wanted to see as much as possible in the local areas. As the weather was blooming, I took a self-guided walking tour with my Google Maps as the navigator.

I went to the following places as Google suggested: “Best Places to Visit in The Netherlands”. I love Google as my best tour guide.

Lightship 12 Noord Hinder – This is no longer a lightship helping seamen, but now it is a museum ship anchored forever at the harbour of Hellevoetsluis. Earlier, it helped the seamen to establish their position and also helped warn them from dangerous sand banks along Zealand’s coast.

Antonius van Padua – It is a church located at Opzoomerlaan in Hellevoetsluis. This beautiful church dates back to 1891 and has its history to tell. On March 1891, the current church in the fortress on Opzoomerlaan was consecrated. If you are fascinated by the past, then the official site of Antonius van Padua is a must-visit.

After that, I went to a small harbour area and strolled around the harbour line, which ended near a playground, and then I ended up watching a local football match which was going on there. I spent the rest of the morning shouting with the local people and cheering the football players.

Long past the morning when I realised I was too late to visit Rotterdam and Utrecht. It was 2 PM. I returned to Wim’s house, packed my backpack, kept the key on the dining table as Wim instructed, and moved out of his houquicklyastForor my reader’s information, Wim’s daughter never visited his place during my two-night stay.

I remembered my journey from Rotterdam Central Station to Wim’s house, and it took me more than one hour to reach his place. So, I estimated my journey time and realised that by 5 PM, I would get to Rotterdam Central Station. At 5 PM, it was no longer possible for me to go city tour.

I decided on something which a typical tourist could never imagine. I opened my Google Maps, checked the places Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam, and tried sketching my route map in my mind. Then, I checked my Eurail app and got an idea about the train timings from Rotterdam and Utrecht and the late-night train to reach Amsterdam.

I decided to take random train journeys from Rotterdam and Utrecht to see the countryside of Holland. I made the plan within 30 mins while I was on the bus heading towards Spijkenisse Centrum Metro Station. Travelling solo is a pleasure, so you can change your plan and itinerary whenever you wish. All these changes happened because I loved watching that local football match; I loved shouting with the locals and cheering the football teams. Had I been on a typical vacation or tour programme, I would have spent my whole time sitting on a tourist bus and hopping on to crowded touristic spots. For me, travelling is more than going to tourist sites. It is about knowing the people, falling in love with strangers and living a local life in an unknown country.

I might have missed taking Instagram-worthy photographs of some tourist spots, but what I experienced in the next few hours of travelling across the southern and central parts was way better than I could think. I could never see these interior places of Holland if I had spent my time in one or two locations. Sitting on the Netherlands national carrier and cutting across the countryside was one of my best experiences. I felt I had invented a new way of travelling.

Travelling is all about reinventing yourself, knowing yourself and open-up in front of the vast opportunities ahead. I never knew I was bold enough to travel solo until I started travelling alone.

That night I reached Rotterdam around 10 PM after all my train-hopping journeys across RotterdamUtrecht and Gouda.

Stay tuned to read my travelling story from the Netherlands for the rest of the days!

Want to travel like me? Here is my itinerary – The Best Places to Visit in The Netherlands.

Two Weeks in The Netherlands by Train – The Land of Tulips, Windmills and Say Cheese.

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