Sojourn in Amsterdam

Glad to escape the heatwave in France and Belgium which had us sizzling during the last 12 days, we left Mons and headed North in our hire car. Due to a massive traffic jam our estimated 3 hour 15 minutes drive to Amsterdam stretched out to 5 hours. 

(We should have taken one of those multi-cycle bars, like these guys! At least we could have had a drink while paddling, and probably got there quicker!)

Eventually we arrived in the North of the city and went straight on to Volendam. We wanted to give Marcia and Peter the full tourist experience, and so we walked along the dam, looked at the neat Dutch houses with their individual touches and had a Dutch beer on a sunny terrace at the mast filled boat harbour. Austin gave a demonstration of how to eat a raw herring and, of course, we also rummaged through the many souvenir shops.

The weather forecast for the next morning proved unreliable. Instead of sunshine we got a constant drizzle and so decided to visit the Amsterdam Dungeon “for protection”. In reality we put our lives in danger as we were taken through the Spanish inquisition, the plague, torture chambers and had the constant threat of being burned at the stake.

Having survived Amsterdam’s dark history, we walked out into reemerging sunshine and decided to take a Small Boat Cruise through the “Grachten” (canals) of the city. Traffic on the Grachten was heavy with tourist boats and locals on their Sunday boat excursions. The skill of the Amsterdam people in navigating around tight bends and under narrow bridges without crashing into each other is amazing! We enjoyed the liveliness and happy bantering from boat to boat around us, and were glad to show Austin’s sister and husband the beautiful Dutch architecture including all the lopsided houses which have fallen victim to sinking foundations.

Day two was set aside to pay a visit to Zaanse Schans, a typical Dutch village with 5 working windmills. Zaanse Schans is a very touristy place, but for Marcia and Peter’s first visit to the Netherlands, this historic village where time seems to have stood still, was worth exploring. We had a clog making and a cheese making demonstration and tasted all the delicious varieties of Dutch cheese, mustards and chocolates. Peter and Marcia visited one of the working windmills and together we walked the small streets crossing tiny channels.

To complete our visitors “education" we finished off with Amsterdam's nightlife. The inner city was bustling with people of all ages seeking out the famous “cafés”, shops selling articles elsewhere forbidden and nonchalant or bashfully passing the windows in the red light district.

Unfortunately Marcia and Peters holidays came to an end, so they hopped on a train to Paris to catch their flight back to Oz.

Safe travels you two! Oh, and - “safe arrivals”!

© Austin Robinson 2019