Blogs from Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands, Europe


Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 20th 2019

Well - this is where my story of private Kelley resumes. In the beginning of 1945 - Private Kelley is back on the front lines - or somewhere up and down them - In the Netherlands. In the final months of WW II the Canadian forces were given the important and deadly task of liberating the Netherlands. From September 1944 - April 1945 the First Canadian Army fought German forces on the Scheldt Estuary - ordered to clear the wide & multi-channeled Scheldt to the North Sea - distance about 80 km and much of this in the Netherlands. By November 8th the estuary and largest islands had been secured - the rivers were cleared of mines - allowing the first convoy of allied cargo ships to enter Antwerp. The Canadian Army spent the winter patrolling ... read more
Groesbeek entrance
Groesbeek War Cemetary
Private H. C. Davies, age 24

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 19th 2019

August 19, 2019 UGH….Travel day. We all know how this is going to play out. Tired. On edge. We shall survive, perhaps even thrive!! Positive outlook!! POSITIVE. OUTLOOK! The alarm scared the hell out of me. I truly think I jumped out of bed! I was sound asleep, even after some VERY strange dreams about members of my family, who shall remain nameless. The car is coming to pick us up at 8:30 am, we shall be ready! We had our final breakfast at the Rueben’s, the car is here and we are READY! The drive to Heathrow wasn’t too difficult -particularly since WE weren’t driving!! We had the same driver from Southampton – so we “caught up”! hehe. He’s a Brexit supporter….so we don’t have a lot in common. Easy ride to the airport. Check ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 11th 2019

As we sit at Schiphol airport waiting to board, here are some final reflections on this trip. Not a top twenty, only 18 I think. Marion and I corroborated in these. So here they are, Netherlands best, not in order: Family, friends, people. We saw a lot of family and friends, some I saw in 2015, and some before that on other trips. All were just as welcoming as they ever were. It did not seem like I moved from here some 53 years ago. People we met along the way. Strangers. Staff in museums. Store workers. All very helpful, with a smile, and most often speaking in English. Highways. So many highways, so many interchanges. Speed limits at 130 km/hr in many cases. Fast-moving traffic, lane changes at high speed, and drivers signal lane changes ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 4th 2019

We got up bright and early to catch our train to Amsterdam. Being the Canadian car travellers we are, our hosts had to convince us to take the train, especially since there was a special rail pass for train, tram and museum entry fee for only €33! They were right. We got to Amsterdam with a transfer in Utrecht in a little over an hour. The tram was right outside the Amstel train station and 10 stops later we were at the museum. Last time we were inside the Rijksmuseum was back in 1988. It has undergone some big renovations since then, I think it may have been closed for some time, but we couldn’t say what it was. The temptation was to rush into the Rembrandt chamber and the Great Hall where the Nightwatch hangs, ... read more
The Nightwatch being scanned
Still life with cheese
An unlikely intimate moment

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 1st 2019

we waren ruim op tijd op Schiphok, koffer hadden we al kunnen inchecken op de parkeerplaats dus de start was goed. Op Schiphol konden wij vanwege de drukte nog niet in de lounge dus hebben we even rondgelopen. Om 11 uur mochten we daar wel naar binnen. Rond 12 uur zijn we naar onze gate gelopen en konden we meteen in de rij gaan staan, echter we gingen niet boarden. Buiten konden wij ons vliegtuig zien en bij 1 motor waren mensen aan het werken. Na ong een half uur riepen ze om dat de vlucht voorlopig vertraagd zou zijn maar 15 uur, dus behoorlijk balen. We zijn maar teruggegaan naar de lounge en toen we daar zaten zag Joyce opeens op het scherm dat de vlucht nu al zou worden uitgesteld naar 18.15 uur! Dat ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam July 25th 2019

Yesterday we had our final breakfast at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge overlooking the watering hole from a slightly different angle than before (we were upstairs). Fanuel picked us up and, on the way to the airport, drove us through a neighborhood in Victoria Falls that was off the beaten path. We wish we could have seen more of "real" Africa as opposed to just the tourist sites, so we enjoyed this look into daily life. On the way to the airport, we were surprised that Fanuel was open with us about the state of politics in post-colonial Zimbabwe. We then made our way from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg on a flight that was delayed about an hour. Fortunately, our layover time of 6+ hours in Johannesburg allowed us not to fret. While in Johanesburg airport ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam July 24th 2019

It’s been feeling a bit warm here in our cosy little apartment over the past couple of days. We didn’t think this was our imagination, and this was confirmed when our host Paul came knocking on the door late yesterday afternoon armed with an evaporative cooler. He told us that we’ve landed here in the middle of a serious heatwave and that some experts are predicting that the day after tomorrow, when it’s currently forecast to be 36C, could break the record for Amsterdam’s hottest ever day. He looked a bit frazzled. We head off towards this morning’s destination which is the Van Gogh Museum. It does seem fairly warm even by our Aussie standards, and a few Amsterdamers we pass look like they might be at serious risk of melting into the footpath. I had ... read more
Amsterdam Concert Hall
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdamer trying to keep cool

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam July 21st 2019

Issy has been having a lot of trouble sleeping since we left home, and sleeping tablets don’t seem to have been helping too much. In desperation as we strolled home last night she went into a late night shop and bought a chop chip cookie. This wasn’t just any chop chip cookie; it had a slightly greenish tinge to it, and pictures of a very suspicious looking leaf splattered all over the packaging. I’ve heard stories about hard narcotics staying in your system long after you’ve used them, and that drug testing can pick this up for weeks afterwards. We’re going to the United States in a few weeks time, and I’ve heard stories about what they do to druggies there, none of which are nice. I’m not even sure I should be writing about this. ... read more
The Rijksmuseum
The Royal Palace, Dam Square
A’Dam Lookout

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam July 19th 2019

July 18 Ann Frank I don't even know how to begin this chapter of our trip....We knew the story of Ann Frank but nothing brings someones story closer to your heart than being there and hearing the details, seeing first hand where they lived and hearing the voice of Otto Frank her Father in his post war thoughts . His reflections add clarity and a look inside his mind and heart as well as Ann's and their family. When I think of Ann I will always remember that her story, so carefully and sincerely detailed in her diaries is but 1 story among the stories of more than 6 million other victims of the holocaust. Each life lost had their own story to tell about their lives, how the German Occupation affected them and their hope/fright/sorrow ... read more

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam July 19th 2019

Issy and I realise that neither of us know a single word of Dutch, so we consult the Google oracle to try to learn at least a few rudimentary phrases. We start with “hello”. The oracle tells us that the Dutch word for this is “hallo”. We are very encouraged; we think that we’ve probably got some chance of remembering this. We hope that perhaps all Dutch words will be similar to their English equivalents. Now that we can successfully greet people we need to move on to working out what to say if we want something. The oracle tells us that the Dutch word for “please” is ”alsjeblieft”. This is slightly less encouraging. After further research we decide that the best we can hope for is that if we say “hallo” often enough the locals ... read more

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