Amsterdam Day 2

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April 18th 2019
Published: April 18th 2019
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This is the second day, if you're trying to keep up. Still in Amsterdam. Not yet on board. No cruise yet. That will come later. We're still at the Conservatorium, but now we've checked out of the hotel and went to the the ship which was docked on the other side of the city. It took a long time to get there. Traffic in Amsterdam is rough and getting rougher. Streets are being narrowed from four lanes to two lanes to accommodate the millions of bikes. Apparently there is 1.3 bikes per person in the Netherlands, a ratio that reminds me of guns in the US. Check in at The Debussy was painless. Our suite was ready. It’s not big; a bed, desk, 1 chair, a closet and a nice bathroom. The ship is new in 2017. Nice. It was berthed along a large wharf. It was one of about ten of these river boats from different companies. Viking, Seabourne, Ama, and many others that I had not heard of all were berthed together, some of which rafted up to each other. For us to go on board we had to get on the Ama boat, go to the top deck and walk across to Debussy. All of the boats are about the same size and hold about the same number of people but some are newer, some cater to primarily Asians or Germans or non-English-speakers and some (like the Ama boat that we crossed over) were not as well-maintained as others. Docked just down the wharf was one big cruise ship, The Viking Star, infamous for its engines shutting down in the North Sea, requiring helicopter rescue and towing in 20 ft seas. They were working on it. Viking is the only line that sails the North Sea in the winter, or at least it was. There is probably a reason for that, a reason that Viking and it’s passengers learned the hard way.

It was nice to settle in. We had lunch on board, a large buffet (there was a menu too) of good quality hot and cold food, a salad bar with delicious, fresh lettuces and other fresh vegetables and several attractive desserts. But we decided to bail on the first shipboard dinner to go back into the center of Amsterdam, to visit the Stedelijk Museum to see some contemporary art and then go to another highly recommended restaurant in the city. We figured we would have seven nights on board and we’d have plenty of Crystal Cruises food. It turned out to be a good move. As to the Stedelijk, it is a strange museum. It has a great collection, first rate works by the modern masters and well-known contemporary artists, but they are hung all over the place on permanent and temporary walls with each work so close to the next one that it felt, well, strange, and a little claustrophobic. It was a hard way to see some really great art. But that was ok for me. It made me focus harder. There was also a special exhibition by an Austrian artist named Maria Lassnig. There were hundreds of her works, mostly portraits. She died in 2014 and this is her first major retrospective. Her work is challenging, as you'll see from the picture; just what Fran loves. We left the museum at closing time and walked a long way to a restaurant called Jansz which is part of the Pulitzer Hotel. It, like Auberge Jean and Marie the night before turned out to be great. It’s on our list for a go-back some day. And the Pulitzer hotel should also be on a list of good places to stay. After dinner, because of the success of the night before, we decided to take another long walk back to our ship to fool ourselves into thinking we could walk off the calories and clear our sotted heads. We walked for what seemed like hours though my watch said 20 minutes. On board, we went immediately to the bar – I know – I know – but we only had sparkling water, and we just listened to Carl, our resident piano player/singer. He’s really good. A couple of guests, older than we, were dancers. Clearly, they had life memberships at Fred Astaire’s studio. They could do everything; foxtrot, tango, and, as was pointed out, they could dance to Take 5, which is in 5/4 time. Apparently dancing in 5/4 time is quite an accomplishment. We nicknamed them Fred and Ginger. I found it sad, old people not looking like Fred and Ginger but trying to, painfully reminding me and everyone else of their and my aging. Fran, unsurprisingly, found it joyful, a typical reflection of her attitude toward life versus mine. And then a group of three younger couples, (60s) all friends from Washington State, people untrained but well lubed joined them on the floor. Oh boy! Fran kept giving me a look but I pretended not to see. She read that as no f&*king way. Eventually we retired, just as the action was going strong.

One of the things that we’ve noticed is that if one has little or no self-control like some of us, including this writer, the constant availability of high quality, high carbohydrate food and liquor creates challenges. The fact that we and everybody else on the boat is on vacation, and the staff is always concerned if we aren’t eating or drinking – it can be a problem. Or, you can fuggettaboutit and rationalize that the trip is time limited as will the Bacchanalia.

The next morning, after a very nice, very large buffet breakfast we boarded buses to head out to Keukenhof. And that’s where this blog started.


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