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Published: July 27th 2019
Picking up where we left off last night...
We headed to Damrak 5 to board our dinner cruise. It was an open air boat, which would ordinarily be nice, but due to the extreme heat here, made things a little uncomfortable. But, we survived, and enjoyed a canal-eye view of all things Amsterdam. We saw many houseboats in varying condition and learned that no more may be sold, so they are at a premium. We saw many locals on boats and in the water seeking respite from the heat and at one point stumbled upon hundreds of boats that created a kind of "redneck yacht club" (a country song recalled by Rich). The dinner was pretty good but, universally, we all particularly liked the red pepper soup served in a cappuccino mug. Sitting at the next table over were two couples from Yorkshire. We chatted up a bit and learned that they were Neil Diamond fans and joined in with them on some singing along to that and to some other Beatles songs. The soundtrack for the night included some highlights of the 60s. Before we knew it, two hours had passed, dinner was over, it was nearly 10 o-clock,
and the sun was still in the sky. We definitely noted that we changed hemispheres, continents, and seasons in the matter of just one day.
This morning we met in the lobby restaurant at 7:30 for a relaxing breakfast, reflecting that we were already missing our time in Africa. Having already experienced the hustle and bustle of urban Amsterdam, today's journey (and guide Chantal) took us outside the capital city. Our first stop was a steam pumping station constructed in the 1850s that enabled the draining of a large lake over a three year period, on the former site of which now lies farmland and Schipol Airport. It was amazing to see the engineering feat and to gain a better understanding of how so much of the Netherlands lies safely below sea level. Today, the water is pumped using electric motors, but it was insightful to learn about how in the past, windmills and steam engines accomplished the task.
After the pumping station, it was off to a Delft factory. There are only three "legit" Delft locations where the ceramics are actually originally hand-painted. Due to the heat, we were grateful that the kilns weren't fired
up today. Genuine Delft ceramics are a lot more expensive than the knock-off items found in so many tourist shops.
After Delft it was time to head to the North Sea and The Hague. We had lunch of appetizers at a place called Beachclub Boonoonoonoos. (Good luck saying that.). Afterward, we hit the beach briefly and three of us dipped our feet in the North Sea. The water was cold, but super refreshing on a super hot day. Temperatures in Amsterdam were set to hit 100 degrees at the 4pm mark, but it didn't seem to get that hot in The Hague. Following lunch, we moved on to visit the Peace Palace and were shocked to learn that the initial building was started with a $1.5 million gift from Andrew Carnegie. The building was completed in 1913, just barely prior to the outbreak of WWI. Sadly, the Peace Palace would see a number of tragic wars, but idealism was alive in the 1890s and, clearly, is needed in the modern world as well. We toured the visitor center but were sad the main building was not open to the public.
We then briefly viewed the headquarters of the
Netherlands government and the working palace of the Dutch King, ending our day on a drive into rural Holland where we saw three original windmills dating to 1855.
From there, it was back to the hustle and bustle (and heat) of Amsterdam, where we currently sit in the hotel lobby and are about to go out to find a dinner restaurant with air conditioning.
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