So it was time to leave Thailand and head to Rotterdam to meet the CouchSurfing guys. I left most of my luggage with a friend in Pattaya, as I did not feel like hiking around unfamiliar territory with 50kg of large bags. So I put 5 days' worth of clothing and supplies into a backpack and headed off into the great unknown.
The flight was terrible. It was an older 747 with no entertainment system at all. I'd forgotten to request a window seat so I was in the middle seat of an aisle row, between a stern Japanese guy who scowled at me every time I fidgeted, and some weird kid who fidgeted even more than me. Sleep was impossible thanks to the elbow he kept jabbing into my ribs. Needless to say it was a relief getting off the flight at Frankfurt. The entire airport is blanketed with a T-Mobile hotspot, which made getting online to check email and get a map easy. If only all airports had that.
I booked a long distance train ticket valid for 2 months from the travel center in the airport, it cost EUR200. I found out afterwards that I could take a local train to the border for EUR21 and then a local train in Holland for the same price, but oh well, now I know for next time. The train went from Frankfurt to Utrecht, taking about 3 hours, and then I changed to a local train for Rotterdam, taking about 40 minutes. It was a pleasant ride, the long distance train had a restaurant, as well as power plugs for laptops in every seat, however my plug didn't fit.
I got off the train at Rotterdam Centraal and walked around for a few hours. By now I was thoroughly grateful for my foresight in leaving my bags in Thailand, having to lug 5 bags around would have been a nightmare both in Frankfurt and in Rotterdam. I had a bite to eat in Burger King, bought a SIM card for my mobile phone and found an internet cafe in which to get online and grab the address I was supposed to be at.
Eventually, at about 7pm, I arrived tired and bedraggled at Jacob van Campelplain, only to discover that the number I had been given was wrong. As I had changed my SIM card since calling Walter, the number was no longer in my phone's recently dialed list, and there was no internet cafe in sight. So I had to call my Mum to look up Walter's number for me on the CouchSurfing web site. Thanks Mum! So I finally made it to Walter's place, tired, hungry and smelly, where I met Chris, Jim and Weston. More people should be arriving soon. I'll keep you all posted how my stay here goes, so stay tuned, dear readers. Until then, bye for now!