Tuesday, February 12, 2013


12th Feb, 2013

We docked at Rotterdam today at 0600 hrs. Shriyansh had a lot of work today but I really wanted to go out so we decided to go for just a couple of hours. The agents arranged for a taxi to pick us up from the jetty and take us to a small town 20 minutes away called Brielle. We had to make a quick stop at the Immigration office to get my passport stamped.

As soon as we entered Brielle, we were awestruck. The little town was picturesque. The roof-tops of the houses and the streets were partially covered with snow. The taxi driver dropped us on a bridge which ran over a canal. The canal had ducks and little boats. There were little lanes running across the town. We walked straight, towards whichever way looked pretty. The lanes were full of shops, pubs and restaurants. Most of the people were cycling around; very few cars. 

We found a 'petit restaurant' in one of the lanes called ‘Grimbergen’. It looked like a small family-run restaurant. My menu was in Dutch so the owner got me an English menu. We ordered 2 Hoegaardens, a Stamppot and a ..hmm..i can't remember it's name but was basically a sausage, some bacon and some julienned onions inside a hot-dog bun. It came with a sweet dark sauce. It was delicious!! As recommended by the waitress, we ordered the 'hutspot' (carrot and onion) Stamppo. It was mashed potatoes stuffed with mashed onions & carrots with a sausage. That, too, was delicious!

We had just an hour with us and had to meet the cab which was going to take us back to the ship at 1500 hours. So we quickly finished our scrumptious food and continued walking through the rest of Brielle. We clicked pictures of the lanes, the houses, the museum, everything that caught our eye.

We then started to head back to the bridge (our pick-up point) and dropped in at a department store nearby. The store had a hundred different types of meat. Yumm! But we couldn't take any back to the ship. So we walked ahead. As soon as we reached the next aisle, Shriyansh looked like a little boy who's just walked into a candy store. We bought Gummy bears, Snickers, Mars, Chocolate waffles, Marshmallows, ready-made Ham Soup... We then headed out to the bridge.

We waited for the taxi lady. It was really cold outside. Zero degree! After a 20 minute wait, we assumed she won't be coming and decided to look for another taxi. Just then a suited chauffeur walked up to us and asked "British Kestrel?" Apparently the other driver's shift ended so this guy had to come. He took us to the Immigration office first. Then we proceeded to the security office for Team Terminal where we had to get our access card for entry into the terminal. The taxi, then, dropped us back to the jetty. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Great Belt

1st Feb 2013

We picked up 2 pilots near Denmark who were to help us help navigate the ship through local waters.

In the afternoon we went under the Great Belt Bridge. The "Great Belt Bridge" is a road suspension bridge between Halsskov and Sprogø. It is 6,790 metres long with a free span of 1,624 metres, making it the world's third-longest suspension bridge span, surpassed only by the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge and Xihoumen Bridge (both in Asia). The vertical clearance for ships is 65 metres (213 ft), meaning the world's largest cruise ship just fits under.

The link opened to rail traffic in 1997 and road traffic in 1998. The link has reduced travel times significantly; previously taking about an hour by ferry, the Great Belt can now be crossed in about ten minutes. The construction of the link and the Øresund Bridge have together enabled driving from mainland Europe to Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia through Denmark, providing an alternative to the significantly longer land route through Finland.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bon Voyage

26th January 2013

It took us 3-4 days to finish packing for the ship. After a few delays n cancellations, we were scheduled to leave on 26th Jan at 3:15 am on a Lufthansa fight. I still can't believe I managed to pack 4 months into 1 suitcase!

After a long line at Immigration (an even longer line for Shriyansh) we sat down at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for some coffee n hot chocolate.  
Our route was Mumbai - Frankfurt - Amsterdam.

27th January 2013
Amsterdam - Rotterdam

On arriving at Amsterdam, we were received by a man who held up a sign that read 'Vopak - British Kestrel'.  He drove us to the Immigration office in Rotterdam which was 45 minutes away from Schiphol Airport. On the drive to Rotterdam, I experienced my first snowfall :)

From the Immigration office we headed to the port where our boat 'Blue Whale' awaited our arrival. The sea was rough, but the boatmen said they'll try. Mid-way to the ship they contacted the Master. They were not expecting us that day because of the weather conditions. Halfway through we turned the boat around and returned. They contacted the local agents to arrange for a hotel stay for us till the weather gets better.

We had to drop in at the Immigration office again. It was a long process that took an hour. I sat in the car as I was really weak after the boat ride. After that we headed to our hotel, Hotel Carlton Oasis which was a little outside Rotterdam. There was a Film Festival going on in Rotterdam at that time because of which most hotels were booked, so they had to put us up here.

We checked in and put our bags in the room and quickly headed down to the restaurant to grab something to eat. It was past 4 pm and we were really hungry. We ordered a Carlton large burger and a sandwich. They were both huge and came with a lot of fries. Mid-way through our meal a person came to our table. He was sent by the agent and was there to take us to the ship. We left our food; didn't want to eat much knowing how rough the boat ride was going to be. We went up to our room to get our bags and checked out (in less than an hour)

We had to stop at the Immigration office again. The lady there was surprised to see us again. She was really sweet and was very worried whether I would be able to get onto the ship in such rough weather. She even checked to see if she had any anti-seasickness pills.

We went to the docks and boarded the Blue Whale again. We tried to sleep our way through to avoid falling sick again (I couldn't). An hour later, we reached British Kestrel. They had lowered the gangway and our boat tried to get itself as close to the ship as possible. There was a man standing at the bottom of the gangway to catch us as we jumped. The sea was very rough and the water was very, very cold. I had a life jacket on but wasn't wearing an Immersion Suit as the size they had was too big for me. The boat was wet and slippery but Shriyansh was holding on to me real tight. Once the boatman told us to go ahead, I jumped onto the gangway. Shriyansh followed and we climbed our way on top. I was still feeling weak and dizzy, and the wind was very strong and cold. Once we were inside the accommodation it was a lot better.

It was around 8 pm when we boarded the ship. We weren't very hungry and were very tired so I crashed on the bed immediately. Shriyansh had to go up for some work but was back soon :)

After a long and tiring day, we were finally on-board British Kestrel, our home for the next 4 months..