We finally got on the plane on the second day of our trip and arrived in Amsterdam on our third day. We flew 5,500 miles.
The original flight plan was that we would go to Istanbul first and then catch another plane. Because of the shift of planes, we flew direct and arrived to Amsterdam airport at 10:00 am.
This was the second time we visited the Netherlands and its beautiful and unique city of Amsterdam. Rotterdam is 35 miles from Amsterdam and the train ride between the cities is 40-minutes.
The first time was when we arrived by cruise ship as we were visiting the Baltic countries. Back then we came into port in Rotterdam and took a one-day tour to Amsterdam.
This time we decided to fly into Amsterdam to visit the charming city for 4-days and then board our cruise ship The Oasis of the Sea, in Rotterdam, to begin our slow journey home.
I want to point out that sometimes persons misinterpret the tern "Holland" to mean the country of the Netherlands. Holland is only a region within this modern and industrialized country. One may recall seeing the common images of an old windmill with persons in Dutch peasant clothing with wooden shows standing in a tulip farm. People, of course, don't dress like that.
You do see some old windmills in various areas of the country and tulips are a major export item. The windmills are more simply a reminder of earlier years.
We had breakfast at the McDonalds next door. They don't sell any fries.
Today was cloudy with mist on-and-off. We caught our free hotel shuttle outside the airport. The trip to the hotel was a short 15-minute drive. Our room was quite small and it had the basic necessities.
We dropped off our luggage in our room and then took the shuttle back to the airport. From there we started to ask around and figure out how to get transportation into the city.
Dutch is the national language but is very common for persons here to speak two and three languages. Their language is a version of German with a mixture of English. Dutch is also the official language on several islands in the Caribbean.
We find people in the Netherlands to be very friendly, patient and quite helpful.
We learned that one first takes the national train line into the city (15-minute trip). The train stops beneath the airport building. You get off at Amsterdam Central and you find yourself in the middle of the downtown area.
All of the city metro rail and bus lines begin right in front of the Central train station. In most cities in Europe, there is one train station for local and national travel. However, there are some cities where there are two different stations. Milan, in Italy, happens to be one that has two separate stations.
We decided to walk through town instead of taking the local metro train.
As we started to walk it started to rain and our umbrellas came popping out.
It was a chore to walk down the narrow streets while persons around you also have their umbrellas opened. It's a challenge to walk as persons around you are moving in all directions. Keep in mind that we are from Southern California and we have been in a drought thus we get very little practice walking in the rain.
As I saw persons moving about I quickly remembered that one had to have a sharp eye and keep track of the bicyclist coming and going from all directions. This city has more bicycles than people living in it. I think I heard that there are more than a million bicycles in the area. People ride them rain or shine. There are 165 canals in the city so parking space for vehicles is at a premium. One must remember that this city was started in the 1200s and thus designed for small craft and horses.
For the first hour that we were in the city it kept raining consistently. Thus, we considered returning to our hotel since the rain was making it hard to move around and stay dry. We decided to stop and eat a light lunch somewhere. We are glad we stopped to eat.
While we were having a late lunch, it stopped raining and it stayed that way for the rest of the day. Throughout the afternoon, there were moments where we just wanted to sit down somewhere and take a nap. All of the sudden we would feel very sleepy, but we kept getting up and walking. We remembered that we were 9-hours ahead of our normal Pacific Time and we started to feel the jet lag. By 7:00 pm local time, we started back to our hotel in order to get a good night's sleep. It took us an hour to travel back to our room.
When we arrived to the hotel, we considered for a moment of going into their warm indoor pool, but we were just glad to rest and start the next day refreshed.
We turned on the television for a few moments. The regular channels have programs that are in Dutch, Spanish, French and Italian.
By the time we laid down in bed, the strong feeling of being tired finally caught up to us. You know you are tired when it's hard to make simple decisions and you easily forget what you are doing. I couldn't remember if I had brushed my teeth. We know that if we slept well then we would get past the jet lag.
The plan for staying in the city is for us to stay in the hotel for two nights and then move into the fully furnished condo that we rented for two days in the downtown canal area of Amsterdam.
I want to acknowledge and thank my wife Trini for her valuable time and diligent research to identify options on our trips. She invested many hours to select the condo and prioritize what we could do on this trip. This was going to be the second time we would rent a condo in Europe. We once rented a condo in Santiago, Chile and that worked out nicely. We also reserved a time share in a ski resort area of Isola, Italy and that also provided a unique setting.
Our first experience with renting a condo instead of staying in a hotel for several days was in Vail, Colorado and having the living facilities of a kitchen and living room made the stay more comfortable.
In preparation for this trip to Amsterdam, she spent many hours, over several days, to find an appropriate site. I want to also thank our condo renters Ruth and Kingi, in Amsterdam, for constantly working and communicating back-and-forth with us, via email, to work out the multiple contractual details regarding the condo. We had many questions and they responded quickly to our inquiries.
Tomorrow we will return to downtown Amsterdam and visit sites in the city.
Now it's time to snuggle up in bed and get a long and cozy night's sleep.