A Travellerspoint blog

Day 19 Wednesday. Amsterdam πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

sunny 20 °C

Our "hop on hop off" pass was good until noon today so we hopped on the first boat which is almost in front of our Hotel and the three of us were off again. This time we stopped at the Glassen Diamond factory for a tour. Amsterdam is known for its diamonds and the jewelry was impressive to say the least. I tried on a ring that was 3400,00€. Ron was really happy I had lowered my MasterCard maximum before we left home. And that ring was conservative compared to many we saw. So I settled for a 39,€ pendant. Very pretty with double solitaire Glassen "diamonds" from the more reasonable collection πŸ‘€. We then went to the Delft store then back on the canal boat where to our surprise Dennis was sitting! He had decided to get some fresh air so he hopped on the boat to go round the whole route again which is about one hour forty five minutes. So we rode with him to the next stop that we wanted to see in the Jordann district and waved bye bye to Dennis. We knew that our 24 hour pass would not allow us to get back on the boat so we walked and walked and the sun came out and we had lunch in the street and watched the chaos from the relative safety of our table. Then we walked some more. We wandered all over the place, left the touristy area and wandered the streets and canals of the neighborhoods. Kids, bikes, more bikes, more bikes, and more bikes. We are getting more aware of jumping out of the way regularly and looking in 10 directions before stepping out in the street. But even navigating the sidewalks is a challenge as they park their bikes, scooters and motorcycles wherever they please on the sidewalks. Did I tell you there were lots of bikes here? We stopped off for a beer at a village pub and sat at a table on the sidewalk and watched folks with kids and dogs and bikes go by. Then we wandered some more always keeping the signs to Amsterdam Central in mind. Ginette spotted an ice cream shop so we stopped and sat again in the street savoring our gelato and watching more chaos in the streets. We were in sunshine most of the day. It got up to 20C. We are so lucky and so grateful to be able to do this. Dennis & Gin are going out for Indonesian food so we are going to look for Thai. There are so many restaurants to choose from here, there is no shortage of eateries within walking distance. Well we found Sumo instead and had Japanese. It was very good and then it was time for more walking. We poked in small alleys that up 'till now we had avoided. But we decided what the heck. We stopped at a little hole in the wall and shared a Belgian waffle with chocolate sauce on it. Yum. So of course we had to walk that off so we walked until 9 o'clock. another 14-15 km for the day. Getting ready for Paris tomorrow πŸš‚πŸš‚πŸš‚πŸš‚πŸš‚

Posted by GBallam 12:03 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Day 18 Tuesday. Amsterdam

Culture time

all seasons in one day 12 °C

Only 6.3 km today and that's because we took a hop on hop off Canal Cruise today. We hopped off in the museum district and went to the Rijks Museum. Our intent was to make two other stops but we spent most of the day soaking up some badly needed culture. We had lunch there after we had done only one level out of five. Dennis left us and headed to the Apple Store for a card reader then back to the hotel as he is getting a cold and felt dreadful. The three of us carried on and did the second level and were on overload. You really need a week there! We saw Van Gogh's self portrait, Waterloo (the size just amazed me) some Goya, Rembrandt's Nightwatch. I could go on and on but I won't. The Museum was stunning as were the Collections. When we came outside around 3:30 it was windy, cloudy and very cold so we hopped back on the canal boat and stayed on it until we were back at the Hotel. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer and we could sure do with some sunshine. The sky looked like fall today and it sure felt like it. It was a good day to be in the Museum. Shiver πŸ’¨β˜”οΈβ›…οΈ. Now we know why the Netherlands has windmills!

Posted by GBallam 07:56 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Day 17 Monday. Amsterdam

Venice of the North

rain 13 °C

OMG. I've never seen so many people and bicycles. We are staying in Amsterdam Central between the train station and the metros. They are all electric so the noise is not as bad as one would expect, although our room is only marginally bigger than our room on the ship and not as well appointed! We look out our window and see the tops of the trains that are stopped at the station ahead. A far cry from our scenic cruise ship. However we have spent little time in our room and hope that the weather stays suitable enough that we won't have to. We arrived at the Ibis Hotel around 9:30. Kosh's room was ready and ours was not so we piled all the luggage in their room and hit the streets. It was cloudy, blustery and rained occasionally all day. We persevered with layers & umbrellas and Kosh's bought plastic ponchos and a brolley. We walked all over the city, up one canal and down the other. The Venice of the North they call this city and it is very true. The canal system is brilliant and there are SO MANY people and bikes, scooters and motorcycles. Did I say that already? πŸ˜‰. We walked back 6 canals, well maybe one and 6 blocks to find a Starbucks as the Dutch coffee is so strong it ate Gin's stomach so Ron & I decided not to even try. There are so many lanes here it is truly taking your life in your hands to walk anywhere. There is so much construction happening that the pedestrians have to walk in the bicycle lanes and the bikes give you no quarter. Motorcycles and scooters are permitted to drive in either the car lane or the bike lane and they can park in the pedestrian lanes. So you need to be mindful with every step. Also, when a light turns green you may be crossing a bike lane, then a trolley lane or two, then a car lane going in one direction, a pedestrian lane, then a car lane going in the other direction then another trolley lane, another bike lane before maybe a turn lane before you get to the other side. Often the light is not long enough and you get stranded in a one foot median marked only by different colored bricks so you best not step one step forward or backward or you could have a trolley whipping behind your butt or a motor car running over your toes. We were constantly grabbing each other back from the brink of disaster as we are agog with the sights and sounds. Coming back to our hotel for dinner all in one piece after 14 km was a feat for us all. A good day to be sure. Dinner was another story for another day. Sleep came quickly for us all.

Posted by GBallam 08:12 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Day 16 Sunday. Kinderdijk πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

storm 12 °C

There was a dutch presentation aboard ship. Eleven o'clock in the morning and we were served Jenever, a schnapps made from juniper berries. St.Nicholas comes with Black Pete on a horse, (Pete comes down the chimney) on 5 December. The things you learn about the region. They are not allowed to call him Black Pete anymore due to a human rights battle in the courts. After centuries of children thinking he was black because he came down chimneys, now they must call him something else as of last year. Our Dutch activities director was astounded and somewhat bemused! We then arrived in Kinderdijk to have a tour of old windmills and a lesson of the water/ flooding management in the Netherlands. It was very interesting and we were able to go into a windmill and see the home inside. I climbed the narrow steep stairs almost to the top and when I saw how I would have to descend I couldn't go any further. It was like getting back on a ladder from a roof. Panic! I was really mad that I missed it and I had the camera so Ron couldn't take any pictures. I gingerly backed down the steps in the dark above the open paddle wheel. Ron says he was happy I didn't come up any further as I would still be there! We are now on our way to Amsterdam and will disembark in the morning. Depending on the internet this blog may not be very consistent anymore. Anyone thinking of doing this, we highly recommend Viking Cruises. We couldn't have asked for more. Ta ta for now.

Posted by GBallam 13:29 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 15 Saturday. Cologne or KΓΆln

overcast 12 °C

We arrived here about 8 AM. And off we were for a city tour. Dennis joined us as we strolled this city of a million people. The highlight was the Cathedral that took 600 years to build! Between wars, repressions, depressions and just the sheer magnitude of the project you can really appreciate why it took so long. It was a much more modern city much to the regret of the inhabitants. It was 95% destroyed by the allies and the pictures of the rubble left behind are horrendous. Most of the Cathedral was spared however due to an agreement with the allies to try to avoid bombing this church. Since bombings in the 1940s was not precise there was some damage done but minor compared to the rest of the city. KΓΆhn has not been reconstructed to its original architecture as other cities have done and as a result is not as pretty and cohesive. But we had a great day along with the other 22,000 folk in the Cathedral who visit each day!

Posted by GBallam 12:41 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 30) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 »