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Rotterdam is a pretty spread-out city, with no discernible center. Luckily our bed and breakfast was actually a “Bed and Bike,” and came with some bikes to use. Equally lucky is how bike-able the city is: wide separated lanes, different signals, clear signs. What a joy!

A (blurry) while-riding picture showing the wide lanes.

We went to a good 5 or 6 museums while we were there, and instead of walking everywhere or waiting for trams, we just hopped on our bikes and sped off. So easy! I’m not sure I’ve really explored a new city by bike before, but I think it’s my new favorite way. Especially in the Netherlands.

We did have some small mechanical difficulties involving a fallen-off chain, a bent wheel, and some broken spokes. Dutch bikes are never coddled much.

Jesse and Alan hard at work. (Photo by Rachel Orrison)

We soon gave up on that bike altogether, and went the Dutch way: one person pedaling, one person riding on the back. I see it all the time in Amsterdam, and Jesse and I have tried it a few times, but never for so long. We went all over the city! Luckily we traded off who rode and who pedaled, so no one was stuck with extra weight for too long. (And luckily, I was always the extra weight…)

Rachel, riding in style

I have to say, this is the way to ride. Not only are you whizzing through the city on a (semi) comfy seat, you don’t have to look where you’re going, and can enjoy the scenery. Maybe even throw in a wave here and there, to various passersby.

(Photo by Rachel Orrison)

Biking really helped get the feel of the city. Rotterdam is known as a no-nonsense, working-class metropolis, as the saying goes: “Money is earned in Rotterdam, divided in The Hague and spent in Amsterdam.” It reminded me of some Pacific Northwest cities, with the grittiness of Seattle and the international diversity of Vancouver. It felt alive and livable, like a fun place to be on a Friday night. Next time!

{*You may have noticed the byline on some of these photos belong to my friend Rachel Orrison, who, along with her husband, is a fantastic photographer. Check out his portfolio (look for his Netherlands travel pics soon!) here.*}