Maritime Museum- Rotterdam, Netherlands

Maritime Museum
Day 2 in the Netherlands began with taking Austin to work, and finding a place to do laundry. Thanks to the GPS in our vehicle, I found a laundromat in north centrum of Rotterdam no problem. I figured out how to pay for street parking (blue kiosks that take American chip credit cards! Hooray!) and deciphered the Dutch instructions. The laundromat was so high tech! First, put your clothes in the machine. Second, put money in a console on the wall. Select which washers you want to activate, then you could even buy soap (I did because I forgot to get detergent at the store!) Then go to the machine, select water temperature and press start. It was the same for the dryers, I activated it right from the machine on the wall separate from the actual washer and dryer units. Maybe this is common in Europe, but it was cool for me. You could even get change back if you didn’t use all the Euros that were put in. 

Theater room
During laundry, Landon and I went on a little jog around the neighborhood. We went down a road for just a short time and ran into a beautiful canal with weeping willows, ducks, and grassy paths alongside it. There were cute white bridges spanning the canal at regular intervals and older rowhomes on either side. It was quite picturesque and I was taken aback by the beauty that is Holland!
After laundry, we went back to the hotel, and got ready for a little excursion. I knew that I just wanted to stay in Rotterdam and figure out transportation, so we walked to the nearest station. The light rail stations are like bus stops, and so to my dismay, there was not any place to buy tickets. Also, in Korea we always went in the handicap line to get on, so I went in the handicap line until I discovered later that there was a special baby carriage line at the back of the train that had much more room for strollers. I took the light rail to Schiedam central station, the closest accessible station to our hotel, and bought my transit card. When I got to the ticket kiosk, I realized that the machine only took local debit cards, credit cards with pins, or COINS. I did not have very many coins (just the transit card, without putting any money on it was 7 euros! So we went to a little convenience store where I bought Landon a Kinder egg and asked for all my change in coins. Yeah I’m that person in front of you in line… 
Model of the inside of the ship
I was able to put just enough on my card to get to Rotterdam and back. First stop- the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam. This museum combined with the Harbor museum a few years ago to give both an indoor, artsy look and an outdoor, real-life look at boats in the Netherlands. Landon loved all the ship models and exhibits. The first exhibit we went through was all about cruise ships through the years. It had suitcases packed for different destinations, and it was cordoned off into the various rooms of the ship which were decorated for destinations all over the world. Landon liked going into the little rooms to see the beds and the decor. The next room was the theater room and indoor gaming area. It was decorated very fancy and had articles of clothing that people would have worn in the room throughout the years. 
All different kinds of boats!

The next room was dedicated to outdoor recreation, with shuffleboard set up on the floor. Landon and I played a little before he started wielding the stick in an unsafe way and we moved on. The whole exhibit was unexpected- we were trying to find the kid area- but it was cool to see all the features of cruises. All of the placards were in Dutch so it was difficult to get details but I think we got the gist of it.

The cruise ship exhibit sign in Dutch… If you read it out loud, you can kind of tell what it is saying.
Dutch cruise ship exhibit outside

After our brief time learning about cruise ships, we finally found the kid’s area. First, Landon sailed his own little sail boat, complete with a moving rudder and sails! It was on a swivel so I could move the boat in either direction depending on his rudder movements. We had a lot of fun with that.

Landon, the brave sailboat captain!

It did not take Landon long to discover his true calling in the kid’s area. Outside, there was a mini version of the port, complete with cranes, barges, packages and containers to be loaded, and all different kinds of boats. He quickly found a construction vest and a wheelbarrow and got to work trying to load heavy containers onto the barge with a wheelbarrow. The containers were actually pretty heavy, so I had to help him lift them off the ground. He also wanted to use the biggest wheelbarrow, which was bigger and heavier than him and definitely too unwieldy to manage on his own.

Then he discovered the crane and everything else did not matter. The crane had a rope and a hook that could hook onto barrels and then cranks to lift the barrels off the ground, a crank to turn the whole crane, and then you could lower down the barrel into the boat. Again, the cranks were hard for me to turn, so I did plenty of helping in order to successfully load the ship with barrels. Landon did a great job hooking up the barrels and unhooking them, though. I think he was just thrilled to be in a crane!

Unhooking a barrel in the boat
There were other neat kids’ activities. Every package or container had a barcode, and at one station you could scan the packages going onto the boat. I think there is a program for older kids to follow where they have to follow directions and do everything in a specific order to win a special prize at the end. None of the kids out there with Landon were old enough to follow such complicated instructions, so they just bounced around from boat to crane until eventually everyone got too cold and wandered back inside. Landon steered the big barge and operated a different crane that actually moved along a track before he decided to check out the rest of the inside area. 

Back inside, there was a fisherman’s boat that had an area where you could sort the catch of the day, and a play kitchen. It was built on a slant so it was hard to walk on for younger kids, but I’m sure for older kids that would be very fun. I let Landon go down in the hold of the ship, not knowing that there was an exit down there, and lost him for a few minutes until I spied him over in the sailboat again. There was a slide and a black tunnel with sky lights that kids could stand in to see outside. One of my favorite parts was a boat that had wall of screens built into the front of it. You could choose a destination and the controls- the steering wheel and the throttle (or whatever the thingy is that makes it go forwards and backwards), actually did something! When you turned the wheel, the picture moved so you could see things more on the right or left, it went forward when the controls went forward and backward when they went backward. We chose New York for our destination, but there were harbors and ports all over the world from which to select.

Floating barge system

After the kids’ area, I was afraid Landon would be ready for a nap soon so we went down to look at the rest of the exhibits. There was an interesting room full of model boats of various ages and sizes. One of my favorites was this system the Dutch invented in order to help large boats sail in shallow water. Two floating barges would come attach to either side of the boat. Then the barge workers would increase the buoyancy of the barges (by letting out water, if I remember correctly) and the ship would float up so less of it was in the water. Genius!

Floating barge model

I’m not sure if I was oblivious to how the world worked before, but I thought that the container ships just had containers on the deck of the ship. This model below showed me just how wrong I am… By the way, it credited the Americans with inventing the container ship, which changed forever how things are shipped around the world.

Container ship with containers in the hold, WHAT!?

This next ship is the oldest known ship model in the world. It was built in the 15th century in Madaro, Spain. Although it is not to scale and is put together with big, rough nails, it was a neat piece to see and appreciate for approximately 5 seconds before running off to chase my toddler.

Madaro ship model- very old

By the ship  model were some telephones talking about the model in Dutch. Landon picked up both headsets and pretended to be talking to his grandparents about the ship museum. He even sang a song to them about the ship museum before hanging up.

Talking to Grandma and Grandpa

The boat below was labeled the “swiss army knife” of vessels. It has multiple functions and mechanical abilities. Landon liked looking at all the details and the cranes here.

Swiss army knife of boats

One part of the museum that I wanted to explore more was the Harbor LIVE! exhibit. Unfortunately, there were about 40 raucous and smelly teenagers in there completing a class assignment and running around and almost knocking over Landon, so we just briefly glanced at it. It is a model of the current Rotterdam area with harbor, tunnels, highways, etc. Austin is working in Europoort, which is an island in the river delta. We saw a small scale replica of all the industry that goes on in that area. It was pretty cool.

Harbor Live!
Landon and the lighthouse

At this point, I was certain Landon would be too tired to see the outside areas of this museum. We went outside just to see what we could see before his nap, and ended up seeing almost every boat before he fell asleep! First, there was a pretty red lighthouse. This canal and water area outside of the museum was the old harbor, so there were boats moored everywhere!

Pretty red boat across the harbor

We walked along the row of boats that the museum has procured. There were barges and water taxis, dating from 20 to 200 years old. It was neat to see all of the different styles of boats needed to make the harbor work and for different purposes. There is so much water in the Netherlands that shipping things by canal or river made much more sense than by land back in the day. There were a few boats open for us to go inside, so we decided to tour the grain elevator boat. This was a weird looking boat, and we first went and looked at the captain’s quarters where he and his family lived. They even had a normal looking kitchen down there!

Grain elevator boat
Captain’s kitchen
Down inside the engine and boiler room, we saw lots of machinery…
And the vacuum hose for elevating the grain…
I was surprised by the wide variety of things that were moved using this grain elevator. I was thinking oats, wheat, corn, you know, the obvious things. Not hazelnuts, millet and peppercorns!

All of the items moved with the elevator
Closeup of items that were elevated

The drawing below shows how the elevator worked. The ship would dock alongside a big cargo ship or vessel full of grain. It would vacuum out the grain from that ship and put into the hold of a smaller ship for going upriver.

The Maritime museum was small enough that it held Landon’s attention, big enough that we made a morning of it, and perfect for our first day out and about. If time is limited and a transportation-obsessed toddler is not in tow, I would not recommend it for most travelers. However, those interested in boats and such would have a great time here. We sure did.

We walked a little further along the harbor in search for a good vantage point from which to shoot this iconic bridge. I didn’t find that perfect shot- I ran out of sidewalk first, but here is the bridge that is a symbol of Rotterdam. About this time Landon proclaimed that he was tired and ready for nap. Perfect timing! I laid the stroller down and he took a snooze while I went off to see what else there was to see in downtown Rotterdam!
This crane was just too cool and too big- with the lighthouse in the background!


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