Mar 12

Amsterdam on the Cheap (Destination: Amsterdam, Holland)

I only managed to get a couple hours of sleep on the overnight bus from Paris to Amsterdam.  Upon arriving in Amsterdam, I caught the subway to the central station and then walked to my hostel for the night.  Check-in wasn’t until 2pm so headed out for a day of sightseeing.  I’d been to Amsterdam several times before and seen some of the museums, the Anne Frank house, and the Heineken brewery so I decided to head out to the countryside to see the windmills.  A 6 euro return train ticket heads northwest of the city, thru Rotterdam.  From the train station, I walked a little over a mile with the scent of chocolate chips (from the Chocolate factory there)

to the Zandan Sanns village – a touristy spot with windmills, shops, and restaurants in the lovely bit of country land on a river.

I stopped at the cheese factory and sampled about 20 kinds of cheeses, watched a demo on making wooden clogs, and hiked past the windmills.

I bought some very addictive stroopwaffels – buttery wafers with caramel in the middle.  This little “tourist trap” is a worthwhile ½ day trip out of Amsterdam.  There are lots of tour groups leaving the city to visit this site but as you can see you can cut costs incredibly and do it on your own time by just taking the 6 euro bus.  With snacks, free cheese samples, and the train I only spent about $10 on this day trip.

After returning to Amsterdam, I took a nap and woke up in the evening for a nice stroll in the city and walk through the red-light district.  I had a few beers and watched France vs. Ecuador in the world cup games.  Holland’s team has been doing well so the country is really football (soccer)-crazy with orange flags and inflatable soccer balls everywhere.

I made the most of my last half solo day in Amsterdam and went for a walk around the canals and to the flower market.

The next stop was the international cruise terminal, which is walkable from central Amsterdam.  I was hoping to run into my parents but instead waited close to 2 hours to board the boat.  Upon getting on the boat, I headed to the room where my parents had also just arrived.  They had been lucky to avoid the lines by checking in for the cruise at the airport.  We did a tour of the ship.  It was nearly identical to the Summit, which we had been on 1.5 years earlier in the Caribbean.  The ship departed in the late afternoon, sailing the canal.  At dinner, we met the 2 other couples that would be our dinner table mates.  It was me plus the 70-80 years olds :(.  While eating dinner, we headed out of the lock that protects the low lying Holland from flooding and into the open sea.

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