Gorey To Rotterdam (Mastodon Travel Blog)

by Martin Breen on Jul 21, 2023

Rotterdam Centraal Station
Rotterdam Centraal Station
Fri 21 Jul 2023, 08:19

I said I wouldn’t travel abroad again this year but I’m now going to visit my brother and his family in Rotterdam in August.

Ferry Dublin-Holyhead, train Holyhead-London Euston, overnight in London and then St Pancras-Rotterdam Centraal the following evening. Return is with my brother and his wife in a Nissan Leaf EV on the Dunkirk-Rosslare DFDS ferry.

Erasmusbrug, Rotterdam  Modern cable stayed bridge with what some describe as swan shaped single tower on one side.  The bridge is in a striking white colour with blue sky and water below  Image: https://www.flickr.com/people/39511981@N04  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en  No changes made
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 07:06

So my solution to having an hour to kill in Dublin was to start my holiday a day early and overnight in Dublin in a hotel.

Taxi to the ferry port at 6:30 this morning for a 7:05 last check-in

Check-in took 5 mins and cafe open in terminal from 6am. Coffee and panini made for a decent breakfast.

Boarded the ferry via the gangway at 7:15am

Slán Baile Atha Cliath

View from Irish Ferries Ulysses of the the river Liffey on departure from Dublin.  Some truck on the rear deck in the foreground. Grey river and engine churned waters in lower mid ground.  Port cranes and ships and Dublin skyline topped by our beloved leaden grey skies.  Forty shades of grey
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 09:33

The cafe facilities at the Irish Ferries terminal building in Dublin were a pleasant surprise.

It has a clever design allowing service to both the general public and those checked-in for the ferry. When I was here in May heading to Cherbourg we only saw the public side.

The guy behind the counter told me he’s open from 6am to 4pm and told me to be careful taking photos as it could incur a €2000 fine.

I didn’t see any warning signs but maybe that’s because I didn’t look for any!

High tables and chairs in cafe beside floor to ceiling windows that open onto the port. A chaotic image of a cafe counter and glass partitions separating public and checked-in areas.
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 09:53

On the sailing to Cherbourg in May all foot passengers had to use a shuttle bus to transfer to the ferry.

Today, the terminal gangway made for a much more pleasant experience boarding the ship. (Ulysses)

I wonder is the WB Yeats capable of boarding passengers by the gangway?

View from deck of Irish Ferries Ulysses with gangway in operationView from deck of Irish Ferries WB Yeats with forlorn unused gangway
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 10:17

As far as I know, parking facilities at the Irish Ferries terminal building are limited to the small number shown in this photo that I took this morning.

Plenty of free spaces today but a number of years ago when travelling to a football game in Liverpool this car park was overflowing.

I think the spaces are on a first come first serve basis

View of small car park from deck of ferry. Car park is a dog leg shape around the terminal approach road. There are a small number of parked cars and other traffic on roads and boarding lanes. The P&O ferry is also at berth and in view in the background
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 10:38

Croeso i Gymru

Lovely crossing! Sea very calm and ship very tranquil which probably isn’t a good thing - it easily has spare capacity today for several passenger loads of 737s or A320s

View from ferry window as we wait for the call for foot passengers. Pictured is a dock with narrow service walkways perched on columns sitting in the water. A little brightness on a generally green-grey sea
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 11:20

Ship docked at 11:30, shuttle bus from ferry arrived at terminal building at 11:49.

Made my way to rail platforms in adjoining building to see the 11:49 to Birmingham close its doors(11:51)! Gladly I wasn’t planning on taking that train anyway.

Here’s my ride for today. Holyhead-London Euston direct.

Avanti West Coast train arriving into Holyhead. Front view of train under light steel and glass railway shed
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 11:39

Train opened for boarding about 12:25.

I’m travelling on a SailRail ticket 53€ Dublin-London! Rail ticket does not include reserved seating. Coach A seems to be all reserved while Coach B seat displays all shown as “Available “

Interior of Avanti West Coast train. Coach B, standard class.
Wed 09 Aug 2023, 15:38

Running 5 mins late into London Euston which isn’t bad at all.

Nice effortless journey across North Wales and down the centre of England. Train was very busy until we reached Chester and then much quieter on the final long uninterrupted dash from Stafford to Euston.

WiFi was patchy as was mobile data but that meant I caught up on some reading!

Thu 10 Aug 2023, 18:29

London St Pancras to Rotterdam Centraal

The third day on my very slow journey to Rotterdam by ferry and train.

18:04 Eurostar 9152 London-Amsterdam

My first time in St Pancras for Eurostar. My only previous Eurostar trip was from Waterloo International (many many moons ago).

On a sunny London afternoon this train shed is glorious!

Bright sun drenched iron and glass roof of St Pancras station dominates the photo. A section of light grey roofing is terminated with bright orange and yellow brick walls forming a long series of closed arches. The lower third is darker and on close inspection a Eurostar train with passengers milling alongside is visible. Closer still a mostly empty champagne bar with the “Searcys” name prominent in white signage is perched above a glimpse of the lower level (in every way) of the station Looking back at the old entrance to St Pancras. The beautiful roof, described in the previous picture, ends in a glass wall that gives a glimpse of the orange and cream brick Victorian extravaganza of a station building. On the wall hangs a huge elegant gold and white clock face reads 4:40 (pm) and the make in black lettering is “Dent”. On the lower left in front of the glass a bright modern sign composed of individual neon pink cursive lettering reads “I want my time with you”. Below the glass element of the wall are two stories of high arched windows and to the left within these windows is a two story entrance arch. In the centre in front of the orange wall is a bronze? modern statue of a wartime couple in a farewell embrace. The majority of the foreground consists of the greys of modern glass, steel and flooring. Though just visible is a second statue of John Betjeman who led a defence of the station when plans were afoot to tear it all down in the name of progress.
Thu 10 Aug 2023, 18:45

But the horrors that lie below in the undercroft!

I believe this close to an unsafe space is a Brexit Bonus.

A heaving mass of people not unworthy of the name of the asylum not a million miles from the station’s doors. Bedlam!

Once through passport control non-business lounge travellers vie to control there own personal space. Seated, seated with precious power sockets, dining in two cafes or standing.

You might even wish you were in the Ryanair terminal in Dublin airport

Thu 10 Aug 2023, 18:59

Passport control wasn’t bad for me today. 15mins with an EU passport through a temperamental e-gate

I think the line for the Amsterdam train had just opened as a wave of people were heading for it as I arrived at the Eurostar entrance.

This was about 16:45 which is probably 10 mins before the earliest arrival from the 12:49 train from Holyhead. It’s a leisurely 20min walk to St Pancras from Euston - just bear hard left out of Euston and then head to the noisy four? lane joys of Euston Road.

Thu 10 Aug 2023, 19:11

Signs say train platforms will be announced 20mins before scheduled departure but the Paris train departing less than 5 mins ahead of mine was announced 25 mins ahead. And lo and behold this was quickly followed by a 25 min window for Amsterdam.

At this point I had relocated from the cafe end of the hall to the central area where the travelators whisk you from Hades. One final scrum and I’m on the train and all is good again.

Thu 10 Aug 2023, 19:37

This Eurostar train has plenty of leg room in the airline style seating in standard class, especially if you’re a short man like me.!The seat can be extended/reclined a bit but I haven’t found any particularly comfortable setting.

The cafe bar has the usual stock of snacks and beers but nothing to make for a great meal.

I’ve found the WiFi to be mostly unusable but maybe YMMV.

We seem to be running to schedule but either I’m deaf or there are no announcements being made?!?!

Thu 10 Aug 2023, 20:32

Minute perfect on-time arrival to Rotterdam Centraal.

A fitting counterpoint to St Pancras. A Dutch station at the cutting edge of the art of station building.

St Pancras is a modernised Victorian tour-de-force while Rotterdam is bold, modern and equally beautiful with a huge underground cycle park to boot.

PS: I am deaf - there are announcements but they’re not very loud.

The spectacular front view of Rotterdam Centraal station at night. A wedge of grey roof projects outwards to meet a thick wedge of wall projecting outwards in tandem. The design screams movement. The glass wall of the station is recessed underneath. The original signage of the previous building is a beautiful statement in illuminated white in the bottom third of the glass wall. The station forecourt is sparsely populated with people.  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Author: https://www.flickr.com/people/21160385@N02
The Return Journey
Thu 17 Aug 2023, 01:38

Dunkirk-Rosslare 05:00 departure

Arrived at 02:45 ahead of latest check-in at 03:00.

Very clear port signage for IRL sailing which seems to be a completely separate quay to those for the UK.
Appears on google maps as DFDS Dunkerque-Rosslare.

This is primarily a freight service and so it’s not surprising that we haven’t seen any passenger facilities at the queueing lanes.

Small ferry in centre frame as viewed from a car with top of wing mirror in shot. Paved surface and concrete lane divider illuminated in yellow by lights on a tall light pole. Front of a articulated truck also in shot right of centre.
Fri 18 Aug 2023, 06:23

Great 24hr direct crossing from the far north of France on the DFDS Regina Seaways ferry from Dunkirk to Rosslare. Arrived in Rosslare on-schedule at 04:00.

Very clean and modern ship. Regular passengers vastly outnumbered by truck drivers. Three full meals included plus small snacks on embarkation and disembarkation.

Peaceful atmosphere on board with high quality public spaces but some female travellers may be uncomfortable being in a tiny minority of those present.

View from top deck of ferry looking back towards the stern. Mostly white truck trailers are packed on an open deck with the grey/brown rear ramp with bright yellow highlighted sections in a vertical closed position. The dark blue engine funnel is on the right of picture with DFDS in white lettering. The white wake of the ship in an inky blue sea is visible on the left and a bright partially cloudy sky rises from the distant horizon.Open rear-facing small deck with a white wall, light grey metal benches and a bright blue rubber/plastic floor. The top right hand side contains a white metal railing and a bright partially cloudy sky. A white stairway to an upper deck runs from left to right at the rear centre of the field of view.Rear facing deck mostly enclosed with a glazed wall that is faced with light grey metal benches. The floor is bright blue and the ceiling is a bright whiteOpen “sun deck” with helicopter landing spot marked in bright blue and yellow. The deck is painted light grey in the foreground outside the helicopter landing area. A white closed rail is in the mid distance and a white wall containing white doors to a further forward deck. Above the sky is bright and partially cloudy.