Monday, October 26, 2015

Amsterdam: 4 nights, September 13-17, 2015

Our flight, again, was seamless to Amsterdam from London. I was fortunate to sit next to a lovely lady, Monique, who gave us terrific tips on how to get to our hotel from the airport, which were used to override what we were being told by the ticket sales lady.

We passed through customs, which took a bit of time, then went straight to the information booth to get the city map, train/tram/bus map & a 5 day pass (this became our usual routine when arriving at every station). We needed to take a train then transfer to a tram, which deposited us directly in front of our hotel. Turns out our location was excellent! Right on the tram line and across from the Van Gogh & Rijksmuseum. 

Our friends, Cindy & Bert Ramirez from PV, were in Amsterdam visiting their daughter, Christie, who we also know well. So after dropping off our luggage we went for lunch around the corner. By then, we could check. Our hotel was well located but the room was matchbook size.  However, the silver lining was that we had excellent internet in the room.

Our plan had been to meet up the gang that afternoon for a canal boat ride, so we caught a tram then walked to meet up with them. The boat tour had a bar, which was why that one was chosen. We were so ready!! Fortunately, the weather held out for us. A most enjoyable cruise through history and the many twists and turns meandering through the city!

After a stroll through the streets being very careful to not get hit or cause a bicycle accident (they have the right of way BEFORE all others including cars), we (Mike, me, Cindy & Bert) took a tram to Rembrandt Plaza and had dinner on the square. The rain caught up with us at that point and didn't quit, except for a few short respites, the whole time we were in Amsterdam.

 After dinner, Bert & Cindy headed home, but we strolled the streets some more and I bought some heavenly licorice and wine and Mike got his beer and water. This, too, became a routine this first evening in each city. Priorities! Jumped on a tram to head back to our hotel and relax for the rest of the evening. Our room was very small but functioned fine, sort of. Nothing we couldn't live with and work around for 4 days.

We made plans to meet up the next morning with Cindy & Bert by our place and ended up having breakfast at the museum restaurant. Quite nice. That's when I learned I needed to order a latte to get the kind of coffee that wouldn't make hair grow on my chest! Lol

Walking around the corner, we decided to take a diamond factory tour. Unfortunately, our timing was not good and there were tons of group tours of all Nationalities there. A young lady did take pity on us and gave us a very quick synopsis in English. She was more interested in getting us into the showroom so we would buy diamonds, however. She lost. We bought nothing.

From there another quick walk which went  through the grounds of the World Homeless Persons Games and we were at the Rijksmuseum. We split up because Cindy & Bert had already been and they wanted to do the historical building tour of it. We took the 2 hour introduction/highlight tour. Mike was in heaven and I most certainly enjoyed seeing it again after almost 30 years. One thing I was thrilled to see was that they had cleaned up the front of the museum from all of the graffiti that was there when I visited last time. This was one of the rare museums to allow photography inside.

We met up again with Christie for lunch after taking a quick tram. The location was pretty cool with all different food & drink vendors under one roof. Fun and good food!

Mike decided he wanted to go back to the museum to explore more, so I went with Cindy & Christie. As the rain decided to come down in earnest with thunder & lightening, we ducked into a café for an afternoon libation. That's done quite a bit there because it's rainy season. A nice way to wait out the rain!

After a short stroll with them, I decided to head back to the hotel to put my feet up. Having now worn closed toed shoes for a full week, my feet were screaming at me big time! 

That evening Mike and I walked about 1.5 miles (no rain) to meet up with the gang again along with Christie’s significant other, Joers, for dinner at a tapas bar/restaurant. We had not met him the day before because his bicycle had been stolen, which seems to be very prevalent there. A wonderful dinner and drinks all around for Cindy & Bert’s last night there after several weeks of visiting.

Since the rain continued on Day 3, we were off across the street to the Van Gogh museum, Mike’s favorite artist. It was truly spectacular and I had not been before. We spent over 3 hours wandering the halls. As you can tell, no pictures were allowed here either so this is all you get. LOL

Due to the rain, we headed back to the museum restaurant for lunch where we decided it was a great day to just ride the trams all over town. We call it the cheap man’s tour. We'd paid for the unlimited passes and you can see more on the tram than with a bus due to the limited space because of the canals. Actually quite fun and we saw parts of town that most tourists don't!  Of course, we had to get off to have an afternoon libation.

They LOVE their bacon. This is a BLT!! It was delicious & there are tomatoes under there. Ha!

Amsterdam's Mexican restaurant.

We were fortunate that the rain gave way and we could go have dinner in the Red Light District and do a walk about. Again, no pictures of the girls are allowed.  Mike tried but didn't get away with it.

Our final day was spent with the morning in Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Maarken to see the windmills, have lunch, a cheese making demonstration, a fun boat ride in the rain, and a demonstration of how wooden clogs are made. I had visited 30 years ago and not much has changed including the weather. Ha!

Zaanse Schans:



 Then an afternoon bus tour of Delft with its beautiful ceramics and The Haag.


The Haag:

Up early to catch the tram to the train station for our first long distance train to Bruges, Belgium via a train change in Brussels. Again, Amsterdam, where did the time go?

If you're still hungry for more pictures, here's the link to all of them:

Stay tuned for our next stop, our 3rd, in a series of 10.

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