Written by Markus with Photos by Markus
Having written about water transport in the Netherlands before, I want to focus on one specific public transport option being the Water Bus. It truly is a bus, but then on water. You can hop on and off at several places using the standard public transport payment cards. It’s following a set schedule that is very frequent. From Dordrecht you can see Water Buses leave every 15 minutes in various directions.
Living in Dordrecht means living next to a river that is fully in use by all sorts of water-traffic. This includes yachts, sailboats, jet skis and much more. And besides frequent use for fun purposes, it is also a major commercial connection between the harbour of Rotterdam and Germany. Hence you’ll see many small, medium and even large barges going up and down the river transporting all sorts of goods ranging from oil & gas, sand, building materials and much more. Occasionally you’ll also see a river cruise boat.
Living in Dordrecht also means living close to Rotterdam. And if you want to have a decent Asian meal, Rotterdam is the nearest option. In fact, as far as I know, Rotterdam is the only option for me within a 45 minute radius where I can get a Hainanese Chicken Rice.
I then have the option to drive and park (Rotterdam caters relatively nicely to get to downtown with a car and be able to park). This takes you onto an always busy highway, queue through the city and squeeze into a parking garage. And if you’re me, you’ll get lost a few times at least, requiring aggressive u-turns. Parking will cost you 5,50 Euro per hour. From where I am, it will take you about 45 minutes to reach your Chicken Rice.
You also have the option of the train. One way this will cost you around 6 euro (non-discounted), so you’ll be out 12 euro. Nice thing though is that the train stops in the middle of the city, right next to Chinatown, where I get my Chicken Rice. Taking the train is a relaxed and quick way to get there. From where I am, it takes around 35 minutes to get to my Chicken Rice.
But there is a 3rd option: The Waterbus. It will cost you around 6.50 Euro for one way. And it won’t drop you near Chinatown, but still be in the city centre. You’ll have to take 2 MRT stops to get to my Chicken Rice and it takes a total of around 1.5 hour. So why take the waterbus you may wonder?
Well, the Water Bus is more meant to reach the places in between. These are places impossible to reach by train. And if in tourist peak season you decide to take the car, expect to get stuck in a traffic jam just meters to where you believe you can park. And when finally reaching your parking spot, you’ll go bankrupt.
So what are these places in between? They are tourist spots known all over the world, such as the Kinderdijk. Or the national park the Bieschbosch. And it will stop at several neighbourhoods not connected (well) to the public transport system.
But then why take the Water Bus from Dordrecht to Rotterdam if you don’t visit these tourist spots or suburbs? It’s because the “drive” is amazing!
For starters, you’re on a boat. A high speed boat that flies between the commercial and recreational traffic over what you now see as a “water highway”. What you’ll see is all the activity that takes place not only on the water, but also on shore. You’ll see factories build huge 5-story yachts. You’ll see modern condo’s with sports cars parked in front. You’ll see beaches, people sailing, swimming and just enjoying life. You’ll see ruins of factories who’s time have long gone. You’ll pass under huge bridges. And much much more.
The best part though is when you enter the city centre. The river cuts right through the middle of Rotterdam. So as you approach the city, you’ll see high rises show up in the distance whilst the intensity of the building on shore rises. And as you then slowly enter the city, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by high-end offices, glass towers and huge ridges. A truly unique perspective. And all this you see from the open-air back of the boat.
So even though you’ll probably arrive an hour late, you’ll arrive with a mind full of aquatic impressions, a set of lungs full of fresh air and the energy to eat not one but three sets of Chicken Rice.
Do you need to be in Rotterdam? And you plan to visit a couple of well-known tourist spots that are not easy to reach by public transport? And you have the time to do all of this in a relaxed way? I highly recommend to head down to Dordrecht and take the Waterbus. Not just as a mode of transport, but as an activity in itself. If taking holiday pictures of World Heritage sites is your thing, you’ll not be disappointed.