May 19, 2012

Netherlands Friends/Fun #1

First Day:

Freedom of speech.

In the Amsterdam Novotel sitting area.
The characters of this adventure:
(Left to Right)
Dory (Albuquerque, NM),
Toby (Seattle, WA),
Cecilia (Mexico City, Mexico),
Celeste (Santa Fe, NM)...

... (Partial view of) David "the Younger", (Birmingham, AL),
Tina (San Francisco, CA),
and her daughter Kasey (San Francisco, CA),
Anwar (Australia),
Emile (1/2 time Santa Fe, NM and 1/2 time The Hague, Netherlands),
Tony (Santa Fe, NM),
David "the Elder" (Albuquerque, NM), (and no relation to "the Younger")

One checked-bag
One carry-on
Two shoulder bags
And enough "stuff" for two weeks for two people.
Items never brought out of the bags?
=Summer capris, short-sleeved top, flip flops, and my sunglasses....

Emile our friend, "local", tour guide and comedian...
Private(!) boat tour through Amsterdam canals.


 Need a taxi?

 Have I mentioned all the bikes?

Count the bridges in view...

Tina, Cecilia, Anna (Crystal Lake, IL), Kasey
(and John's scarf...)

Our boat captain casting off for another evening tour
 at an open mooring near our hotel.

Traditional Dutch dinner
Toby and Mercia (Seattle, WA)

Emile describing many of the items on the menu
and Anna;
(probably as thrilled as I
with the thought,
"I'm not dreaming;
I'm in Amsterdam!")

Most tulip views are probably from our final full day in
The Netherlands.
More colors than I can imagine...

Netherlands! #1

"Low Country"
A green nation crisscrossed with canals.
A flat land with 21% of its land below sea level,
and 50% of its land only three feet above sea level.

I imagined canals every 5-6 blocks while in the city,
and maybe the same distance apart in the country.
I was wrong.

Picture a canal about this width
every 2-3 blocks in any direction
in Amsterdam.

We quickly learned to
look both ways
before even entering the street.
The bike lanes were
more dangerous.
Step from your hotel;
one type of brick surface is the pedestrian walkway,
another type of paving the bike lane,
(possibly) step up and then down a curb area
and you are in the street with trams, motorcycles, cars, trucks.
Then repeat the process on the other side.

And the bikes!
Hearty; like the Dutch.
Not afraid of bright colors
Perfect postures
Speedy and precise in their movements
Wind and storm-worn
Some; with flowers woven through
-their handlebars
-their baskets
-their racks.
And those who ride:
Young or old,
well-dressed or grungy,
but all appearing
well-balanced and sure of themselves.
(Until some silly tourist steps in their path).

And then
The Museums
The Art.

In-depth descriptions of
our wonderful travel.