Saturday, April 2, 2016

Day 4, March 25, Amsterdam, Delft and The Hague

Picking up on the #26 train ride back to the hotel.... We have had so many busy days since then but those will follow.  We had a good deal to learn about the tram system.  One is to log on and log off as one exits.  To stop one is to push the red button, then to exit, the green button opens the gate.  If one does not do this one stays on the train till the end of the line!  And watch the last train back to Central station leave before Hubby is able to get off the end of the line train.  The driver is telling us to get off as it is the end....  Not sure if it was desperation in our eyes or what but he called the dispatcher and was allowed to make one more round for the day.  He made certain we exited at the correct location! Hope he made some overtime. Of course we tipped.

Friday, March 25, we were up and back on #26 tram one more time.  We were heading for #26 Damrak for our city tour. And we handled the events of getting on and off quite well this time.  The address where the tours started was actually three different tour companies in one small area.  After locating the correct one, tickets were printed and we gathered under the 'city tour' lollipop.  This was our first of many experiences with lollipop signs held high by tour guides.  Outfitted with umbrellas, raincoats and backpacks, we followed the group to the waiting bus. 

The tour did include some of the sights from the night before. Looking at the many houseboats on the canals was so different on a bus than in the canal boat.  We saw many more places from the bus than the shorter canal tour.  And everywhere are bicycles, bicycles and more bicycles.  There is a three level parking garage for bikes! One guide said there are 600,000 folks in Amsterdam with about a million bikes. Do not doubt that the bikes have the right of way or you will surely be injured.

One of the stops on the day tour was a visit to one of the oldest diamond cutting businesses in Amsterdam.  The process was explained and workmen were doing the cutting on front of us.  In one room we were allowed to handle some of the diamonds and review jewelry for purchase. None for either of us.  Yes, the room was locked before any of the diamonds were shown. The guide emphasized the monitoring cameras around the room. He kept a close eye on me. Guess he noticed my lack of adornment!

With views of all the major Amsterdam attractions completed we had free time before our afternoon tours.  Being lunch time we found a nearby pub. We enjoyed local beers, Heineken on tap for me. Ln a cold, rainy day, soup followed by grilled steak was perfect.  Made all the better by the banter with the locals.  One lady currently living in Amsterdam was from New York. Another pair were father visiting his son who was studying in Amsterdam. And of course the wonderful lady bartender/waitress made us feel at home.  The atmosphere was delightful but we felt the need to move toward the bus stop. Nature called Gene so he was back to the pub.  He lost me and she helped Gene find me😉.

Time to board the bus and we were off to Delft, The Hague and a miniature village. We saw city as well as countryside. First stop was THE Delft factory. The tour inside allowed us to see the bisque being formed, painted and fired.  One small tile to hang in the apartment on a small wall somewhere will come home with us. Next was a short ride to the city hall square. I am sure it has a fancy name but there have been too many to remember. A church stood at one end of the square facing the city hall. Again, monks, priests, blah, myth, blah....  Back on the bus and on the road.

From Delft we went to The Hague. Due to road construction we had a few detours that the guide nor the coach driver expected. We saw many embassy locations and ambassador's homes. Neither are shacks. The US ambassador's home appeared to have the most security. The Peace Palace was plain by most of the palace standards. The previous day Radovan Karadzic found guilty of genocide in Serbia. Being so near the International Court of Justice made it seem more real to me. 

The last stop for our Friday bus tour was the miniature town of Madurodam. That was about an hour which was 45 minutes longer than my body wanted to spend. We found a bench inside to rest our weary bones. It was 8:30 PM before we returned to Central Station in Amsterdam. Back on # 26, off at the first stop, a little dinner at the hotel and plopped into bed. The end of day 3 on the trip.

More to follow. I am writing this as we pull away from Nuremberg. Sort of creepy to be in front of a stadium where Hitler did his ranting.  Made me think of Trump Tower......

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