First up, the train system is in The Netherlands is screwy when you travel intercity.

 You can purchase tickets through vending machines EXCEPT the machines only take coins or cards, no notes.  And cards apparently can't be international cards (I'm not sure if that's all international cards or just mine but I have the chip type card).

There is not even, as far as I could see, a way of getting change like those machines you get in laundromats.

That means going to the counter and queuing. In a long, long queue. So, if you think "I'll just grab my ticket and catch this train going in 10 minutes", forget it. You'll miss that train and the next and maybe, if you are lucky, catch the one after. You walk in, get a ticket that is like #99 and they are calling out for #2 -- and I'm not even exaggerating.

The queue for international was even longer (they told me one hour wait minimum) but there are computers you can use to buy and print out your tickets in the ticket office.

The best way to do intercity, as far as I could figure, is to go to every shop in the station and buy a cheap train snack, paying with a note until you have enough change. Trust me, its the best way.

Well, actually, I think there is some way to buy tickets online (you still have to pick them up at the station).

I had a few hours to kill in Rotterdam while travelling so headed to tourist information to find out what to do. The woman pointed out a scenic walk from the station to the port on the tourist map via a canal lined with sculptures.

Seriously, what is this sculpture meant to be? Cos I'm seeing Santa with a giant butt plug!

I got to the port and realised that, on the back of the map, it said there were polar bears at the zoo so I screwed that shit and got a tram back to the station and headed to the zoo. One of my life's dreams has been to see polar bears.

Polar bears are awesome, they did not disappoint me.

Cheeky little guy

The Rotterdam zoo was small but fun. I bypassed the whole African animal section because I had limited time and I can see all those animals in the zoo at home. Instead, I went to the polar bear enclosure twice - because you can't see too many polar bears.

All my Rotterdam photos

(including a zillion photos of polar bears)

Travelling soon? Make sure you check out my recommendations, all places I've personally stayed and would book again.