Riding the boat and the Autonomic Rotterdam Swarm

We made it! Well barely. There’s something about a Megabus. My 30th party was a success. It was about 30 degrees inside Artefact, the worker co-op arts-space where I put on my party. This meant that people could only dance for 10-15 minutes before overheating and having to head out to the garden area. I don’t blame them! DJ Sexy Roy was magnificent as always. My USB sticks were a mess as always. We got invited back to put on a party on Saturdays, once a month.

The next day was a frantic start. I managed to give some solidarity down at two RMT picket lines on my way to my coach. First leg of my trip was flawless in air con luxury. Turns out C was getting the same coach as me after the Manchester stop. Got to chat and catch up as we hadn’t seen each other for a hot second.

The second leg was a sweat box. Air con wasn’t working on our section of the coach. Much grumbling and inter passenger solidarity, constructing fans out of anything we could find. Person next to me had moved from London to Hull for a quieter life and I can’t say I blame them.

Hull was lovely and sunny and the people liked my hat. There was a feminist punk busker and we found an amazing Italian cafe in a indoor market. We had pasta and drank Sardinian. When it comes to people shit talking cities, don’t believe the hype. Everywhere has stuff going on.

More trouble came at the port. We’re pretty allergic to borders. Turns out there’s no booze allowed on the ferry so they can sell you theirs. We were outside the ferry terminal drinking fizzy Cava and beer.

Turns out you’re also not allowed to bring weed onto the ferry. Such killjoys. Me and C barely talked our way out of arrest or fine with that one. All cops are bastards but some are less bastardly than others. We made it with hours to spare.

The ferry was a ex-Caribbean cruise ship and you could tell. It had multiple bars and a stage where a band played some rock standards and there was some attempts at musical theatre. We found the cyber zone but it was closed. The kids area played the same 10 minute episode of Tom and Jerry on loop. We ate more delicious Italian food from the cafe and decompressed after our brush with the law. The vibrations of the boat were strange. 10 seconds of calm then “bzzzzzzzzzzzzz” as the whole bed shakes. Very strange dreams that night.

After docking in Rotterdam, the coaches to the city centre were full. We hitch hiked with a nice couple who were on their way to helping their son move. D’s apartment is incredible. Plants and radical literature everywhere. Total life goals!

Our hostel is also lovely. There’s loads of free clothes and coffee. We got kitted out. D also helped us get cheap municipal Dutch bikes where you have to brake by pedalling backwards. I got to live out a life’s dream and message our Signal group saying “Centraal station. 10 minutes. Hack the planet. I keep cycling into oncoming lanes, too used to being on the left. We cycled around outside the beautiful Rotterdam Centraal station learning how to not crash into things.

I’ve always loved Rotterdam and this visit has been no exception. There’s an amazing tech art scene. We saw a great degree show at WORM. I feel like the techy art people are making here is much more advanced than in the UK and much better funded too. Remembering back to a previous visit where we wondered into an Architect’s office and asked why all the buildings were so amazing here. He replied “we dare to dream”. I think the UK has a lot to learn. If only we would stop trying to fuck our own flag all the time. We ate Surinamese food which is possibly the best cuisine in the world.

We cycled across the city. The cycle infrastructure here is insanely good. Why isn’t everywhere designing cities in this way? Cycling is brilliant because unless it is raining, you always arrive at places feeling better than when you set off.

We did some co-working at a cool house owned by Anarchist artists, listened to records and ate Pizza. T showed us his routine for breaks. 6 minutes meditation, 6 minutes mending and 4 minutes stretching. We continued to hack the planet. It rained on the way back but that was ok because we took the cycle tunnel under the river. It had great acoustics.


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