Report July 2009
This report is really for me. I'm trying to hold on to
memories so I had no consideration of cutting it short for
publication. Sorry. Don't die of boredom.
Aug 7, '09 - I'm still working on this. I may change the
picture sizes and I need to add the slideshows.
Feb 13, '17 - Added named anchors and table of contents.
In the past we have taken Trafalgar Tours when we went to
mainland Europe. This time we decided to go on our own. We
chose the Netherlands and Belgium because many people speak
good English and there is a good public transportation
system. Not to mention the beer. We decided not to drive,
partly because of the hassle of parking and finding our way
around. Debbie is an art teacher so we are interested in
seeing the museums and there are many.
We bought a nice twenty one inch suitcase to go
with our twenty two incher. This was so we could do only
carry on baggage. We each also had another smaller bag. This
worked great. Deb packed everything we needed and more.
The trip was planned mostly around the book by
Rick Steves and additional work by looking at the web. Deb
spent hours reading reviews to find just the right places at
the right prices. One review of a place we didn't stay was
one word - "shitty".
I know it looks like all we did was eat and drink beer. We
hiked for miles everyday.
I was wondering why it looked like all we did was eat and
drink beer when it dawned on me. We spent large amounts of
time in museums. Most museums don't let you take pictures so
much of our time is undocumented. I added this 11/16/09
This was a really fun tour. Exceeded expectations.
Monday - Take off
Tuesday - Amsterdam - Historical museum,
Wednesday - VanGoch,
Dam square, Anne Frank
Thursday - Amsterdam -
Friday - Off to
Saturday - Brussels
Sunday - Off to
Bruges, Groening museum, Flemish Pot
Monday - In Bruges, Damme bike ride
Tuesday - In Bruges, Brewery,
Wednesday - On to Deflt, The Hague,
Thursday - Delft, churches, back to
Friday - Amsterdam, Hermitage
museum, Redlight district
Saturday - Amsterdam Airport,
Haarlem, Frans Hals museum
Sunday - Trek home
July 13 - Monday - Take off
We took the shuttle ($58!) to SFO for our flight on Delta. Arrived 32 minutes early in
Cincinnati and ate lunch before our nine hour flight to
Amsterdam. The plane was about half full. Beer and wine were
free. We were able to stretch out on
three seats and get a little sleep on the way over.
July 14 - Tuesday - Amsterdam - Historical
We arrived in Amsterdam about 10:30am found an ATM at the
airport then took an expensive shuttle, €42, to our hotel. The airport is quite a long
way from the city itself. The bed was not ready so we stored
our bags and went for a coffee at
our hotel patio area. It looked like rain.
We hiked to the Amsterdam historical museum. We learned that the city was
created by building a dam on the Amstel river, hence
Amsterdam. You should think of Amsterdam as a pearl necklace
with four strands. The strands represent the main canals,
Singel, Heren Gracht(mister canal), Keizers Gracht(Kizer's
canal) and Prinsen Gracht(Prince's canal). The city is laid
out in a very confusing manner between the canals. The
museum was pretty large. Four stories around a courtyard. It
was set up so you were constantly going from level to level
so it was quite confusing. But it
was also quite amazing. There were many large paintings of
We bought a Museumkaart here for €40 each. The card
is designed for residents and is good for a year. It got us
into most museums even ones not mentioned by Rick. It saved
us a bundle.
The city is a mad house, at least in Leidseplein where we
stayed the first three nights. The cars, bikes and trolleys
are zipping by really fast. There were about six trolley
lines that meet at this square. The bikes have lanes but
they are not always clearly marked and it would seem like
bikes appeared out of nowhere going lickety split. It took a
few days to learn to work through all this - full panic
crossing the square.
We then hiked past our hotel and to the Rijkesmuseum.
This is THE big art museum in Amsterdam/Netherlands. It was
undergoing a major renovation so the best of the best was
shown in a three story annex around in back.
We saw some famous Rembrandt's, Hal's and Steen's We were
pretty beat and went back to the hotel for a few minutes
nap. Gotta avoid sleeping or you will never get onto local
We had a light dinner. Deb had beef croquets and I
had salmon with capers on toast. A
Then to bed. We slept twelve hours and were up an at
it around 8am.
July 15 - Wednesday - Amsterdam - VanGoch,
Dam square, Anne Frank
Nice TV watching. No CNN on our TV but there was BBC. Many
channels are in English with Dutch subtitles, mostly reruns.
We had breakfast at a small sports bar across the square
from our hotel. €20 for breakfast(!) and I only had a
croissant and a coffee.
Went to a tobacco shop and bought some "strippenkaarts".
They are the best method of paying for a trolley, bus or
train ride. It's a strip with 15 slots on it. When you get
on the trolley either the driver or a conductor will stamp
your card with the time or you can fold it and stick it in a
machine for a stamp. You then have an hour to ride where
ever you want.
We walked over to the Van Goch museum.
The "ch" in Goch is pronounced like the "ch" in Loch Ness.
We had our magic Museumkaart which allowed us to bypass the
long long line of people getting in with tickets. Seeing we
were there really early we were able to waltz around and see
everything with very little interference. The museum is
beautifully laid out. We saw many famous paintings including
"The Potato Eaters" and some famous "Sunflowers". It is a
I had been reading Rick S and found we had
missed some Vermeer's in the Rijksmuseum so we stopped by
there again to see them and look at the other paintings with
renewed vigor after a nights sleep. We got in free because
of the Museumkaart. I said "thank you" in Dutch to one of
the people taking tickets, they were thrilled that I knew a
We took our first tram ride to Dam square to see the sights.
It's the main square of Amsterdam. It's huge with an old
city hall, which is under going renovation,
a Niuwe Kirk (new Church), monuments and a million
people milling about. We hiked over a couple blocks to a
canal and found a table with a nice canal view. We had fun talking to some
Danish boys sitting near us. They
were very nice and had been up over 24 hours. Deb had BLT
and I had a sausage sandwich. The
beer was good and the setting great. Earlier some Dutch boys
were smoking pot at that table.
Back to Dam square(slideshow)
and a peek at the Nieuwe Kirk. I
didn't realize our card would get us in so we just gawked from the side.
We stopped at a shopping mall in a
neat old building then hiked over to the Anne Frank museum. We had reservations but
were early so we hiked around the Jordaan area(slideshow).
We stopped in for a beer and
toilet. Then to the museum. The line was really long but we
had reservations so were able to go directly in through a
special entrance. The museum is quite
interesting. If you've read the book you know the place was
quite small so viewing is very quick. I had just read the
book a couple weeks before going, Deb is still reading it.
The rooms are all unfurnished. The steps between floors were
very steep. It was really good to get a feeling for the
place. There was a model showing how it was during the Anne
Frank time. Other presentations gave insight into the story
and more. Quite moving. Strangely few pictures here.
We trammed back and took a nap. Near our hotel is an area
with several dozen restaurants of all types. We ate at a Dutch place.
The prices were reasonable and the food plentiful if not delicious. We stopped by a coffee
shop on the way back to the hotel and had some "coffee".
July 16 - Thursday - Amsterdam -
Got up about 7:15. Grabbed some breakfast and bought some
strip tickets for our trip. Today we are going out to the
Krueller-Mueller museum and Voge Veluwe National Park. We got a free upgrade to first class
tickets for the one hour train ride
out to Arnhem then took a bus to Otterlo then a shuttle to
the park itself. They provided free bicycles
to travel around. You pick up a bike, ride it to your
location then leave it. Later when you are done you pick up
another bike and ride that around. The bikes
are one speed reverse pedal brake - add a basket and you
have a bike ridden by Heidi.
The museum and sculptures are in the park. The
items were collected and donated by Helene Krueller-Mueller.
Her specialty was avant-garde art.
We rode out to the sculpture garden. We walked
around there for quite a while seeing
many great sculptures in beautiful
settings. Bikes were not allowed in
this area. We had a nice lunch with tasty bread. Europe has good breads
everywhere. Unfortunately we had tickets to see the St.
Hubertus Hunting Lodge at 3pm so we
had to hustle out there. The lodge was the country residence
of the Krueller-Mueller family.
We were flying low on our bikes for about 2-3
miles. We barely made it on time. The tour was in Dutch so
we used a head set and a paper to understand what we were
seeing. It was a strange place. Some
famous architect had designed it for a rich guy. Everything
was in brick and symmetrical. Quite
weird. They even had a pond built. We missed the sculptures
around the lake I think it would be uncomfortable to live
We beat it back to the
museum because it was closing at five and the last shuttle
was going about then. The museum turned out to be
spectacular. It has the largest private collection of Van
Gogh's. They had what must have been VanGoch's first crack
at "The Potato Eaters" and other paintings that we'd seen at
the VanGoch museum, apparently practice pieces. There were
many many great paintings by famous artists here including
Monet, Manet, Renoir, Picasso, etc. We had made a mistake by
spending too much time in the sculpture garden and could
have skipped the hunting lodge. Maybe we'll make it back
We got back too late to get the shuttle but
were able to take a local bus which took us back to the main
bus. We met a really nice couple there, Dave
and Marianne, and gabbed all the
way back. We caught the train but goofed and got off at the
wrong station. Oh well, a few minutes later another train
came by and off we went.
At the station we bought our tickets to
Brussels for tomorrow.
Back to our hotel. Out to the same Dutch place for dinner €40. Stopped for a
port wine and watching the scene at
Liedsplein. Then to bed.
July 17 - Friday - Off to Brussels
Last night there was a fire alarm. Turned out to be a false
alarm. It was raining quite hard off and on. The breakfast
buffet at the hotel was €20 so we skipped that. I don't
remember what we did for breakfast. I think we went to
The rain broke and we
hopped the #5 tram to the train station. After some worry
and fooling around we found our platform and got on the
right train. Three hours later - Brussels. The Metro was a
bit tricky. Several people were helpful. One lady actually
walked us a block or so to the correct bus. We bought all
day passes for €2 each - a real deal. We finally found our
hotel and checked in. Quite a nice
We were pretty far from the center but it was a
spectacular hotel right next to the European Union
Headquarters. We took the #95 bus back to the "Grand Place".
Oh my god. This square is perhaps the best in
all of Europe. (slideshow) It is
spectacular. We had lunch and then
took Rick Steves walking tour. Part of the walk was through
a beautiful shopping arcade - Galeries Royales St. Hubert and down a street packed with
restaurants - Rue des Bouchers, a
real tourist place. I had a famous chocolate waffle from a street vendor, quite
good. We hiked down to the "manniken
pis", a famous statue made in 1619 of a little boy peeing. We
had a beer at a neighborhood bar diagonally across from the
Back to the square and dinner. We had the
famous mussels with wine, bread and frites at 'T Kelderke, sort of an upscale place
mentioned by Rick. Very nice but it started to rain and then
started to rain really hard. We were forced inside. It turns
out the inside was pretty cool too. It was down a level and
we sat at long rows of tables. We struck up a conversation
with a guy, Al, my age from Ottawa
We bought some chocolates
and went back to our hotel and had a beer at the fancy bar.
We took the beers up to our room.
Unfortunately the mussels didn't agree with Debbie so no
more mussels this trip. Besides I think it's a lot of
fooling around for a little bit of meat.
July 18 - Saturday - Brussels
We walked to the Royal Museums of
Fine Arts, three museums in one - ancient art, modern art
and Rene Magritte. We skated
through the Magritte exhibit. Deb sped us through the rest,
it was pretty crowded.
We hiked down the hill
to the beautiful Grand Place. We had a lunch
at a place in the Galeries Royales St. Hubert - the arcade I mentioned earlier. A very nice lunch
and reasonably priced. We walked around the Grand Square. We
then got on the #95 bus and went
back to our hotel for a brief nap. We are short on cash. We
bought 2 all day passes again - €4, a really good deal.
The toilet in the hotel is very uncomfortable.
When I sit on it my feet don't touch the floor. Soon the
circulation is cut off. The paper is sort of behind you on
the left and awkward to get to.
The hotel told us where there was an ATM so we
got some cash. We got off the bus
at the art museum again. I thought we were going to catch
the stuff we missed. Deb said "no". So we hiked down to the
square through a sculpture garden and other sites
to the Grote Markt again. We went to an old bar where Deb
tried a raspberry beer, which she
really liked. I had a beer and a plate
of too much cheese and sausage.
Back to the hotel on the bus. We had dinner at
a local Irish pub, O'Farrells. Soup for Deb and
spaghetti for me. At the room Deb read while I watched round
three of the British Open.
July 19 - Sunday - Off to Bruges, Groening
museum, Flemish Pot
Caught bus #27 to the Midi station.
A British guy who works there helped us find the place to
buy our tickets to Bruges thank God. The train was delayed
but none the less we panicked and ran up a bunch of stairs
lugging our stuff. Hundreds of people were waiting! Thank
goodness it was a huge train with plenty of room for
everybody. We got good seats and
were very comfortable. Train tickets were 2 for 1 today
which saved a few bucks. We got to Bruges and took a taxi to
our room - €12+€2tip. A wild ride through many twisty,
narrow, one way streets. A real medieval street layout. It's
a nice old place. The basement dates to the twelve hundreds.
We are on the second floor, up a spiral
staircase. There is a small elevator available too.
Our room looks down on a garden. No air conditioning so we
have to open the window for air - no screens.
We hiked out and found lunch. We learned that a "Croque" is
a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. A "Croque madam" is a
crute with a fried egg on top.
Always get the egg version it's great. Deb had a ham sandwich I guess, maybe it was a
By the way Bruges is beautiful. What a quaint
medieval city. Narrow twisty
streets branching off in all directions. Beautiful old
buildings and cobblestones. I can't say enough.
We went to the Groening museum. It was swarming
with people. I've never seen such a crowd in a museum. It's
because it was the last day of a display on "Charles the
Bold", apparently a local historical figure. They showed
mostly Flemish primitives here. Part of the museum is in an
old cathedral where they have the only Michelangelo statue
outside of Italy during his lifetime. A pieta with the
Christ child too large.
It was a national holiday this weekend.
The town was packed, you could hardly walk down the street.
There was a guy playing a hurdy
gurdy - surprisingly entertaining.
We wandered all around trying to get back to
our room. Our room has a view. Went out to buy a wine and some
beer for later.
There are several squares in this city. The
Berg square(slideshow) near us is
the second largest, right next to that is the larger Market
Square(slideshow). The square
seemed expensive and crowded so we went around the corner
and found a nice group of places with umbrellas. I had some
strong Trappist beer, Deb had a raspberry beer.
We got dressed up a bit and went to a place recommended by Rick Steves -
"The Flemish Pot". We had the Pre Fixe at €26 per "Fixe" - pate, beef stew
in a pot & dessert. Also a Chilean bottle of Cabernet.
The food was good but we should have ordered ala carte and
gotten one beef stew, it was way too much food. They've got
to do something about the slamming door. It was a cute and
Back to the room to watch the end of the
British Open. Unfortunately Tom Watson lost.
July 20 - Monday - In Bruges, Damme bike
We had a nice breakfast at our
Did Rick Steves walking tour. We hiked up
the famous bell tower on Market Square. Quite a climb. Entertainingly noisy when the
bells struck the half hour. We
visited the Basilica of the Holy Blood.
They have a vial of Christs blood given to them in 1150.
They were having a viewing but we decided not to do the
line. The lower Romanesque church was spooky and old. They
had a very moving statue of Christ on the cross.
I followed the wrong canal and we got lost and
wandered way off Rick's path. An
odd lady tried to help us while we were stopped by a
bike/hiking trail draw bridge. We finally found a map which
identified where we were and found our way back to the main
path. We stopped in a jewelry store. Then on to the Begijnof, which is sort of a
beautiful old ladies complex (the
complex not the ladies). We found an ATM then stopped in for
lunch at the place we had eaten at
yesterday. We both had Croque Madam,
Back to the room to get jackets for our bike ride
out to Damme - highly recommended by Rick. I found it really
dangerous riding in those narrow twisty streets sometimes
against the traffic. After some wrong decisions we found the
bike path to Damme. Turned out to be a rather long ride. I
had ignored some advice and we
found ourselves on a narrow path on the wrong side of the
canal. Half the distance had what looked like rhubarb plants
along it. Finally we got to Damme. It was sort of
disappointing. There was a flea market going on but we
aren't into buying junk to lug home. We rode around a bit
and then headed back on the correct side of the canal. We
were riding into the teeth of a
gale. What a struggle. I lost the chain on my bike and got
all greasy fixing that. Luckily it was right near a
neighborhood pub. We nipped in, washed up and had a beer with the locals. We got on the
gravel path back past some windmills,
stopped at our place then returned the bikes. No helmets by
I had my first real Belgian frites from a stand at the bottom of
the tower. Not bad - just good fries served with mayonnaise.
I don't know what all the fuss is about. They served us
frites with nearly every meal we had anyplace, strangely
never with salt.
We hiked around and discovered this little
teeny alley with a two level bar. A
couple insisted we could share a table with them but we went
upstairs and had a beer and a bite
of cheese. A place for locals.
Had dinner at an Irish pub
- Irish stew which tasted
delicious. Deb had Guinness I had a local beer. On the way back to our room we
found a tiny grocery run by an
Indian guy (with his two little
kids). Bought a cherry beer and a small wine for the room.
Later that night the Irish stew backed up on me and I got
July 21 - Tuesday - In Bruges, Brewery,
The usual nice breakfast. Off to the Memling museum with a
stop at the best canal view according to RS. It was a nice
museum in an old hospital/church. We took our time and
enjoyed it. The crowds seem less even though today is the
real national holiday day.
The De Halve Maan Brewery
was nearby so we had lunch there
and took the tour. Lots of steep
stairs and ladders. Only one step of the brewing process is
done here the place is mostly historical. The views at the top were pretty
On the way back to our room we opted to take a
canal boat ride. It's pretty much obligatory in Bruges.
Quite a nice little tour. (slideshow)
Back at the hotel. We seem to be tired. They keep
ringing the bells, I guess to celebrate their independence
We had dinner at a "Flemish" place. It had been recommended by
another guest at the hotel. We chose the cook it yourself
dinner. They bring out a very hot rock about 5"x5" and a
bowl of meat. You are supposed to cook your own meat. Kind of an interesting idea.
Unfortunately the flies about carried us away plus I don't
like fooling around with my food. Sort of a minor
disappointment. At least we didn't spend too much.
We walked around a bit looking at the sights
bought some chocolates and stopped
for a beer.
Back at the room we had difficulty getting to
sleep between the heat and mosquitoes and noise from above
us. At one am a fire alarm went off. We didn't move. Deb was
pissed when I cracked the door to see if there was any smoke
in the hallway. We had about fifty mosquito bites.
July 22 - Wednesday - On to Deflt, The
Hague, Maritrisious museum
We had our usual nice breakfast at
We are on our way by train to Delft. We hustled
out to Market Square, as we passed through Berg square an interesting looking farmers
market was in progress. We got the
bus for the station. We saw this cute group
waiting for the train. €70 for tickets to Delft! 10:20 to
11:40 to Antwerp, 12:00 to 13:06 to Rotterdam, 13:11 to
13:24 to Delft. Some pretty close connections. We made them
all by seconds. At Delft we hiked
around and found our hotel and checked
in. A very cute but a bit funky. We dashed back to the train
station and got a "return" (round trip) ticket to The Hague.
We took a tram downtown to the museum. Some lady helped tell
us where to get off or we would have missed it. We visited
the Maritrisious Royal Picture Museum.
Free entrance with our card. Pretty nice but a small museum,
human sized. Saw "The Girl With a Pearl". I had just
finished the book. Several nice Vermeer's here plus
Rembrandt, Rubens,Frans Hals, Jan Steen and other famous
We trammed back to the station and back to
Delft. We found the de Beestenmarkt Square
which used to be a butcher shop area. Had beer and dinner at a place there €40.
Half a chicken for me and fish for Deb and of course frites. We both agreed it was the
best dinner so far. I also had a special Trappist beer. Back to our hotel for a drink
in their bar. Then upstairs. Didn't have a cork screw and
the bar down stairs didn't either. Oh well, guess we'll lug
the wine around another day.
July 23 - Thursday - Delft, churches, back
Nice bed, good sleep, some noise. Shower from hell xxxxx.
It's one of those where the shower curtain doesn't hold in
the water and it goes all over the floor. What a mess.
We had a nice breakfast
including various smoked fish. We walked to the Oude Kirk,
where Vermeer is buried. It was
raining a bit but we had an umbrella we borrowed from the
hotel. Then on to the Nieuwe Kirk where William I of Orange was buried in 1584.
Most churches we visited had wooden ceilings to
make them lighter because of subsidence problems caused by
the moist soil.These protestant cathedrals are not very
interesting. After the reformation they removed and
destroyed all the beautiful stuff the Catholics had in the
churches. Even the stained glass windows were destroyed so
most windows are plain glass. At some point in history
this church smelled really bad from all the rotting bodies
buried under the floor. Didn't climb the tower.
Market day in the main square was not doing
much business because of the rain. Deb bought some really
delicious strawberries for €1. They were not California
giants but nice little sweet ones. Though I did see
California style strawberries for sale. We stopped and
bought an umbrella for €10. Bought
Off to the train and back to Amsterdam.
Onto the #5 tram which takes us to the Rejksmuseum near our
hotel. We checked into the Park Hotel and took a bit of a
nap. The room was unique in that it was a designer room.
Different then any room we have ever had. It was
"industrial" style. The elevator up was scary - no inner
door so you could touch the elevator shaft as we moved.
Hiked over to Rembrandt
square. I lost my map when it blew into a canal. It's hard
to get lost in Amsterdam once you know how the canals work.
We hiked back through the famous flower market.
We stopped at the restaurant area and had an Indonesian meal.
Not bad. Stopped off at the Bull Dog coffee shop again (wink
wink). Wandered back to the hotel.
At some point we went to Bol's, which is a
liquor maker and seller. We didn't pay the fee to enter. We
stopped at a diamond place. They were actually polishing
diamonds right before our eyes. We nearly bought a diamond
ring here, probably should have.
July 24 - Friday - Amsterdam, Hermitage
museum, Redlight district
Rain and thunder. Slept in to 8:50 because the room was so
Hiked up the Spielgelk-Wartier art and antiques area again.
Stopped at a neat little bread and
I had a rhubarb and strawberry pastry.
Wonderful. We cut through Rembrandt square and over to the
Hermitage museum. The real
Hermitage loans out art to several museums, this is one of
them. The place was totally crowded - butt to butt. It
poured down rain while we were there. It was interesting.
Lots of clothing used for various costume parties as well as
some everyday stuff used by the Russian tsars. The
We crossed over to the theater area and took
the hop-on-hop-off bus (€1 each). A
nice little ride around past the
train station and to the main library.
The library was pretty amazing, six stories and computers everywhere. We had to wait for the
next bus because we were essentially in the middle of
nowhere. Finally the driver from Siranam gave us a free ride back to near the Anne Frank
museum. We took a tram to Dam square. Our goal is the red
First we stopped at the Nieuwe Kirk again and took the tour using our
museumcard. Another boring protestant church with a few nice
We got some lunch and
took Rick Steves red light district tour. Pretty
interesting, a few sex shops. The
girls are mostly down these little narrow alleys. They stand
in the doorways and look pretty. Most dressed in sexy bras
and panties. Not terribly titillating. No pictures allowed.
The evening was just getting started, there were groups of cops getting ready to start
patrolling. I think it was about 6pm. There were a few
groups of guys around getting ready to have a good time.
The Oude Kirk is in the middle of all this. We
took the tour. Rembrandt's first wife
is buried here.
In this area is a hidden Catholic church. It was in a rich guys attic, still not very well hidden but
quite nice. Remember this was a
protestant area so Catholics were not welcome, though
apparently tolerated if they stayed out of sight.
We visited some marijuana seed shops just to see what's cooking. Some seeds
sold for €140 for six seeds!
We found a corkscrew for our bottle of wine
we've been lugging around.
Back to Dam square and home on the #14 trolley.
We rested a bit then hit Leidseplein for dinner, which I
don't remember. Then back to the
hotel for some wine and bed.
July 25 - Saturday - Amsterdam Airport,
Haarlem, Frans Hals museum
Packed up and then back up to the train station on the #5
trolley. Then to the airport - 20 minutes. We checked into
the airport Hilton. Deb had
accidentally made it for one person but for €6 they fixed
that. A nice modern American style hotel.
We then took the #300 bus from slot 7 to
Haarlem. Yup, the Harlem in New York (once known as New
Amsterdam) is named after it. The Grote Mark had a market day going on.
We visited the Frans Hals museum
It had many pictures of mostly 1600's officials
plus other various paintings. It
was laid out around a pretty garden square.
It was originally built for poor old men, built in 1611.
Later used as an orphanage. Pretty good.
We had a very nice lunch.
Toured the Grote Kirk where Mozart
had played the organ when he was
ten years old. It was very interesting. It was the only
church we saw that still had other buildings attached. It was a very complex
They have statue of L.J. Castor
holding up a movable type pointing at himself. He invented
the movable type forty years before Gutenberg. Guess he
didn't think of making a printing press.
We hit the market for our last real frites. I'm still not sure what the
fuss over the frites is all about.
We walked through the small red light district
but it seemed to be closed. Probably too early. We found the
station and got on the red #300 back to the airport and the
Hilton. We had some problems getting
our boarding passes online so we went to the Delta area and
had them help us, a brilliant move.
While walking around the airport we found a
"supermarket". Well more like a store. We bought some wine,
cheese, cookies and chips.
We had a beer and shared a real American cheese
burger in the Hilton bar. Went to the room and drank the
wine and ate the cheese. That was fun.
July 26 - Sunday - Trek home
Today we started our 24 hour trek home. Because we were
carrying our luggage and had our boarding passes we skipped
a mad house mess. As I remember somebody checked our
passports and we went to our gate. The security check was at
the gate! We were interviewed then went through security.
You don't have to remove your shoes. I figured they'd never
let the umbrella through... Nope, no problem. However they
glared at me and asked me "is this your bag?" "Yeah." "You
can't take this on the airplane" and held up the corkscrew.
A pretty wicked looking piece of apparatus I must admit. I
apologized and they let us go. Darn, it would have been easy
to bring some "coffee" back from the Bull Dog coffee shop.
So on the plane for our nine hour flight. It
was packed but we had two seats on the side about two thirds
of the way back on the right side. The flight was ok.
I had a few wines and watched some movies and things.
At Atlanta we had a five hour layover. We were
hoping to catch an earlier flight even if it made another
stop before San Jose. No such luck. Deb was about dieing.
Finally we boarded for our four hour flight to
San Jose a large guy sat next to me but it turned out
to not be a problem. We got to SJ and opted for a taxi ride
home, nearly $50.
This was a great trip. I think we did everything there was
to do in Amsterdam except Rembrandt's house, a canal boat
ride and the Heineken Experience.
There were good free maps everyplace except in Bruges where
we paid €.50 for one.
The public transportation was exceptional. Trams/trolleys
every five minutes or so. Usually not crowded but sometimes
they were. Well we did do some waiting for trains and buses
outside of the big cities.
Everyone, pretty much, spoke good English. I was amazed.
Food was expensive. I think we had no lunch that was less
then $30. There may not be taxes and tips on the bill but
they were hidden in the price of the food. Dinner was much
A beer seems cheap at €2.30 but that's nearly $5 for a six
or eight ounce beer.
We didn't get a good close look at a windmill. When we were
in Haarlem they had just closed their historical windmill
when we planned to go.
Things in Europe are like they are here only different -
free news stand
We saw very few Smart cars but we did see a car even smaller then the Smart.
Various links -
Amsterdam Historical Museum
red light district
- Royal Museums of Fine Arts
- The Grand Place
- Groeninge Museum
Bruge - De Halve Maan
Hague - Mauritshuis, The Royal Picture Gallery
- Rick Steves
Frans Hals Museum
- Grote Kerk