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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 52.3731, 4.8999
Yesterday was a full day of travel. Our first class cabin on DeutchBahn was the best accommodation yet for train travel. We had a door of our own to close, nice, cool air conditioning, and a nearby dining car for lunch. All of us managed to get in a little rest, a little snack, and a little crosswording. We arrived safe and sound at Amsterdam Schipol Airport (yes, it's a train station AND and airport). Our taxi driver completely scammed us on the way to our B&B, but what were we to do?
Our dissatisfaction with getting ripped off quickly faded away when our host, Paul, gave us a tour of our luxurious apartment suites on the canal and an orientation to Amsterdam. We walked across the bridge and enjoyed what was to be the first of many expensive culinary experiences in Amsterdam. Our accommodations here cost about the same as others thus far on the trip, but are much larger and beautifully located on an operating canal. At any moment, ships and swans gracefully pass by and, when needed, the drawbridge at the end of our block gets raised. This place could truly take a month to absorb. (And
we said this before even venturing into the central city.)
We turned in and got up today to begin a three day itinerary in 10 hours. There were several tours listed in the book: the Amsterdam city walk, the Red Light district tour, the Jordaan neighborhood walk, and a canal boat tour. We did all four of these.
We began heading out from the Centraal Station to the Dam Plaza, and from there we surveyed all of the Dam buildings. J We took in several churches, shopping areas, and historic sites including the church where the Pilgrims worshipped before setting sail on the Mayflower. In addition, we took in the interior of the "New" Church (about 650 years old), which was stripped of all of its religious icons by the zealous reformers. Supposedly simplistic, it was a very ornate church nevertheless.
After this lengthy walk, we took the canal boat's “top 100” tour. This really drove home for us the extensive scope of the canal system that our maps just didn't do justice toward. There are more canals here than in Venice!
After the boat tour we headed for the infamous Red Light district. If such a place can be “classy,” that might
be the way to describe this place. We kind of expected lots of obscene things, but it really wasn't that way. Many of the women who were on display behind small glass doors were on their cell phones, smoking cigarettes and/or cigars, and not really paying much attention to all of the tourists passing by. The most obscene thing was the public urinal. Midway through the walk, we found an old wooden tavern that used to be on the opening to the harbor. It was built in the late 1500s. We stopped and spent some time examining the interior. Then it was back into the Red Light's Venice area, where the building seem to spring up right out of the canal (no sidewalks). We all took a deep breath and headed back to the Dam plaza.
The final walk of the day was into the Jordaan neighborhood. This was where we really felt the heart of Amsterdam's local scene. This area is home to the cosmopolitan crowd and we saw many people sitting outside their apartments just enjoying the afternoon. This is also the neighborhood where Anne Frank and her family hid for almost two years during the Nazi occupation. Though
we wanted to tour the interior, the lines were too long and we were too weary. We stopped nearby to eat and enjoyed our last meal in Amsterdam. It was really expensive, like everything here, but worth our time and money.
Final thoughts on the Amsterdam experience: This place deserves a return visit. There is far more to see and do here than one could ever hope to accomplish in just a day. On the other hand, we could start giving tours to strangers tomorrow. Want to go? Give one of us a call and book an extra plane ticket for your personal guide.
Tomorrow we are up bright and early (aka 6:00 a.m.) to catch the first flight of two that will land us in Shannon, Ireland. From there, it's off to the North in our own vehicle that we hope is smarter than a SmartCar. Internet options are, as always, unknown in the days ahead, but we will try to update as we can without cutting into vacation time. Until next time, Tot ziens. (Dutch for “goodbye.”😉
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