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Published: October 22nd 2010
Our taxi driver from the airport to our hotel in Amsterdam chatted away non-stop, with advice about where to visit, how to get to the centre from our hotel, how German beer is stronger and even told us about his most recent vacations. The friendly conversation was exactly what we needed after a nightmare trip from London.
Our KLM flights were due to depart from London Heathrow and with less than 2 hours to go we discovered that they had been cancelled. As we were travelling over the Bank Holiday weekend all the flights were full and they drove us to London City Airport (back past our offices!) before flying us to Rotterdam on a Focker and then busing us to Amsterdam's airport.
Our taxi driver's cheerful nature was indicative of all the other Dutch we met on our weekend in the Netherlands (and those we had met travelling), they were consistently friendly, helpful and happy, and made up for the terrible weather and constant thunderstorms.
We didn't really do much in Amsterdam - we just strolled around, and when we got tired of strolling we took boats around the canals. We avoided the rain by ducking into
little cafes and restaurants and after dinner we did have a quick walk through the Red Light District - but we generally didn't do any of the things you are 'supposed' to do while in Amsterdam....I guess we'll have to come back!
On Sunday morning we took the train from Amsterdam to Den Haag
(The Hague) which is a journey of about an hour. We went to visit a Dutch couple, Krista and Maikel, we met on the Intrepid
in the Galapagos. They have since had a little girl, Lena and we spent a lovely few days catching up with each other's lives over the past two years. It was amazing how easily we all got along, after having only spent 8 days together 2 years previously!
Although the weather had not improved, Krista, who was previously a tour guide in the Hague, and Maikel, met us at the train station, took us for lunch and showed us some of the sites the Hague has to offer. We admired all the architecture, the beautiful palacial buildings and got to hear lots of interesting little facts and see all the details we would have missed without Krista's local knowledge.
Highlights of the afternoon included seeing the street filled with facades of buildings elsewhere in the Hague, seeing the Prime Minister's office, eating herrings like locals and seeing the amazing Panorama
, a 125 metre long panorama of the coastline near the Hague.
After spending the night with Maikel, Krista and Lena, having a lovely dinner and a leisurely breakfast, they were kind enough to take us to the Mauritshuis
before we made our way back towards the airport stopping at the pretty town of Leiden for some pancakes and a stroll amongst the town's canals.
We enjoyed our brief trip in the Netherlands, and hopefully convinced Krista and Maikel to visit us in London, although we definitely wouldn't object to going back for a second visit!
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