Forgive us for being a little behind in posting. We choose to write this blog as a way to record our trip and its incredible memories; when it becomes a chore or gets in the way of actually living these memories, we simply don’t do it.
Our third day in Amsterdam included sleeping in – which was sorely needed! After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, Karen and I strolled through the lovely shops along the streets near our hotel.
We returned in time to board the Tourist, the incredibly beautiful 109-year-old salon boat (made of polished teak with brass fixtures) — our private boat for the day. Our captain, Jaan, was as superb of a skipper as he was a tour guide/historian. We spent the most lovely two hours cruising along the many canals and waterways throughout Amsterdam, catching in so many sights along the way. Mark and Bryan brought a picnic onboard for us – our fresh cheese from Edam, along with crackers, fresh salami, cherries, grapes, and strawberries! We also enjoyed beer, cocktails, and two bottles of wine compliments of our flight attendant friend (more on that later!).
We covered the old city of Amsterdam, venturing down three of the four original and central canals. We saw the areas of growth from the 16th and 17th centuries, including the Jewish quarters and the synagogue. We passed the old naval dockyards, and the Maritime Museum that included an exact replica of an East Indies trading ship. We got to experience the red light district, which was already bustling with noise and aroma!
We couldn’t have asked for better weather, better food and drink, or better company! Best decision ever! If you happen to be in Amsterdam, and you haven’t ever rented a private boat for the afternoon, I strongly encourage you to do so!
Later that evening, we toured the Anne Frank Huis; these are the quarters where she lived in hiding for two years with her parents Otto and Edith, and her sister Margot, along with four other Jews. While a stark contrast to the beauty of today’s boat trip, it was remarkable to be reminded again of this special child’s story, and of this terrible time in history. I will never forget seeing the pencil markings still on the wall where their parents measured Margot and Anne’s growth while those two years in hiding.
Our last evening in Amsterdam was capped off with a late dinner at Black & Blue – a quaint little steak house with great food and great spirits. My triple mango dessert was a highlight!
A few interesting facts about Amsterdam and our hotel:
Amsterdam has 800,000 residents and more than 1 million bikes! Cyclists have the right of way pretty much at all times. I’ve never been so tentative crossing a street!
The weather is surprising – while they get quite a bit of rain, there are moments of sunshine and warmth. When these hit, everyone is out and about!
With all the water surrounding it, Amsterdam was surprisingly clean and odorless…well, except for the aroma of cannabis wafting out of your local coffee shop. Please note – there is a difference between a coffee shop and a coffee house or café! Coffee shops don’t sell coffee, but you may stumble upon a tasty edible! And what do you know! The name of the first coffee shop in Amsterdam? The Bulldog!
Our hotel – the Pulitzer – is made up of 25 old houses along the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals. Our room was in a house that was built in 1615! Their food and service were outstanding – highly recommend!
We flew from Amsterdam to London early this morning; Karen & Bryan stayed for another day and will join us here tomorrow. More on today’s events in London in a later post.
One last thought falls into the “it’s a small world” category. On our flight to Amsterdam, one of our flight attendants was someone we knew from Prosper, TX! Her daughter and Hannah were in middle school and sports together. She was so sweet to us throughout the flight and gave us two bottles of fabulous wine before we de-boarded the plane. Prost & cheers!