Blogs from Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands, Europe

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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 26th 2019

We left Utrecht for Zaandam a short 44 minute train ride away. Our last stop on our epic two month holiday, we decided to yet again finish our European adventure in Amsterdam and stay with my cousin Biab and her husband Douwe. Biab, who moved to the Netherlands 22 years ago from Thailand, and Douwe, live in Zaandam which is only 10 minutes north of Amsterdam. We had visited them twice previously and in 2003 I stayed with them for 3 months (I was 20). They met us at Zaandam station, then a quick break at their place before heading out to Amsterdam for the evening. We parked just outside Amsterdam and took the metro (very new it only opened a year ago) the rest of the way. We had some beers at a bar and ... read more
Bikes by the flower market, Amsterdam
Dam square, Amsterdam
Amsterdam

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

Back onto the train towards Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS. Our lodging is in a cozy little room right on a canal. Trying to cross the road is like taking your life in your hands. There are 850,000 residents here, and 850,000 bicycles, and the cyclists have the right of way. Thousands of bikes are stollen each year, and many are found in the canals. Oh, and no-one wears helmets. A fresh day, and off to the Albert Cuyp Market. Many stalls sell the stroopwafels that taste like a waffle and caramel cookie combined. There is a bird of paradise tree for sale, huge figs, local art work, and tasty sausages, plus clothing booths. Our girls suggest we attend the Rijksmuseum. The building contains paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh. You can stand and watch Rembrandt’s famous Night ... read more
Amsterdam Central Station
It is a busy harbour!
German train....it was late?!

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 2nd 2019

Today I spent most of the day visiting two of the world’s great art museums. The Rijksmuseum contains Dutch art through the centuries and the Van Gogh Museum contains works by, well, I’m sure you can guess. The Rijksmuseum’s collection of works by Rembrandt includes his famous Night Watch (featured on Dutch Masters Cigar boxes). This large painting presented a bit of a spectacle because the museum is systematically rescanning all of its holdings and The Night Watch was on the schedule today. It was hard to see much of the painting, but it was interesting to see the computer-driven camera scan back and forth over a section of canvas. Another artist I wanted particularly to see is Johannes Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum has the world’s largest collection of Vermeer paintings - four. The Milkmaid is one ... read more
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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam September 1st 2019

I followed Rick Steves’s Amsterdam Walk today and saw some of the things that the city is famous for. There is a stretch of canal alongside which are numerous stalls selling flowers, especially tulips and bulbs. I passed by the Bulldog Cafe - a “coffee shop”, which in Amsterdam means it sells legal marijuana. I visited a Catholic church that was built in the 17th century when Amsterdam was officially Protestant, but tolerated Catholics who kept a low profile. The outside of Our Lord in the Attic church looks like a typical merchant’s home, but inside there is a three-level nave with altar, pews, organ, and confessional. Another thing Amsterdam is famous for is immigrants, so for dinner tonight I decided to try shoarma (shwarma? schwarma?). I had heard of it , but never eaten it ... read more
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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 31st 2019

Today was the only day of the trip where I had an early morning flight so I was at the airport by 6AM. I flew to Amsterdam, and it felt a little like a homecoming since I have been here a couple of times before (not counting the several times I’ve passed through the airport). I headed for the city center at Dam Square with the identifying obelisk and then I went for a walk around the Jordaan district west of there. It is very picturesque with many gabled houses and pretty canals. I had booked an entry time online for the Anne Frank house and visited there in the middle of the afternoon. The house itself is preserved, but the house next to it has been turned into a modern efficient visitor-friendly building. That is ... read more
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Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam August 22nd 2019

The war in Europe is over. Celebrating was fervent in North America - massive crowds filled Canadian streets - there were parades, band concerts, tickertape was dropped from the sky by aircraft -offices and some factories (not churning out war materials for the ongoing Pacific battles) closed and students left their classes to participate. There were many prayers and tears of relief. Many cities wisely prepared for the surrender announcement by ordering liquor stores and drinking establishments be closed to prevent over "exuberance" and potential looting. In the Netherlands there was great celebration as well - for the Dutch there was finally food and freedom - every village, street and house was decked with red, white and blue Dutch flags and orange streamers. The Canadians - Private Kelley included - were greeted with a tumultuous welcome. ... read more
Dad and Limo
Dad (left) and limo
Doug and Hazel’s wedding

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

August 21, 2019 Our last full day in Amsterdam. Today our plan is to explore as many neighborhoods as possible. This, of course, depends upon our feet; mine in particular! First up….Royal Palace. This is the palace? Really? Nah. REALLY? OK. Pass. I’m such a bitch. OH….there’s a store across the street. Here we come! This place is gorgeous! DeBijenkorf – I was wondering where all the nice designer merchandise was in this burg! No designer boutiques – just shops within this store. I thoroughly enjoy looking. No purchasing, even though both if us found many, MANY things which we could (should?) take home with us. NO. We shall be good. More walking. We eventually walked from our hotel all the way out to the locks where the Amstel meets the Sea. We wandered through old ... read more

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 20th 2019

August 20, 2019 Tourist Oh – we just LOVE this hotel! So clever how they managed to unite these “homes” into one grand and glorious hotel. The many different ways to navigate this place are truly intriguing. A hallway here a staircase there. A step up and voila, a new floor. We spent a good amount of time just “exploring”! So much fun. They have thought of everything. After our hearty breakfast (included with the room) we plan our day. First up….The Rijksmuseum. We chose to walk to the museum. Great Choice – so much more fun, and an easy way to explore Amsterdam. So many different ways to approach this city – why not see as many as possible? The museum is PACKEDwith people. One of the hazards of Summer Tourism. NEVER. AGAIN! We can ... read more

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




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