Friday, August 24, 2012

Wednesday, August 22 Amsterdam for Three Days

The plane has a huge tail wind and we arrive in Amsterdam an hour early. We did sleep most of the 6 or so hours the lights were out, but are groggy and a little stiff as we walk off the plane. Carolyn has worked at keeping the cost on this trip down so decided to use the airport shuttle van this time instead of a taxi or private car. "Connexxions" runs every 30 minutes and stops at our hotel as one of its stops and is only 32 Euros, less than half the cost of a private car. We breeze through all the formalities in no time. Buying our tickets as we leave the arrivals area, we walk out to a waiting 8 passenger van. The van fills and we leave in a few minutes. It is close to 9AM. We are the last of five stops and arrive at the Estherea Hotel on the Signel Canal at 9:30AM. The whole arrival was painless!

Estherea is a small, family-run hotel in a beautiful setting. The hotel itself is wonderful. Much to our surprise we walk in and are immediately checked in. The clerk calls house keeping and tells them to get our room ready and asks us to help ourselves to coffee, tea or hot chocolate and make ourselves comfortable in the lobby area which is a group of three beautiful rooms decorated in the Victorian style with very plush furnishings. We are told our room will be ready in no more than 30 minutes. Sure enough about 25 minutes later we are escorted to the fourth floor to a very nice room with a beautiful canal view. Welcome to Amsterdam!!!

We will be in Amsterdam for the next three nights, so Carolyn takes time to get the luggage set up so we can work out of the two carry on pieces until we get to the cottage and puts the big pieces out of the way. We know we need to try to have a normal day to adjust to the time change easily. We take showers to wake up and decide the best thing is to do a canal boat ride. About 11:30AM we stop and get directions to the pick up place and can actually buy the tickets at the hotel. The clerk gives us direction for a nice walk to the docks down by the train station. He says it is about a 20 minute walk. So off we go

Amsterdam is wonderful...pretty canals and wonderful old canal homes. The walk follows the Singel Canal all the way to the harbor area. We pick up the canal boat and are off. The ride take’s an hour or so. We travel most of the major canals and spend some time on the Amstel River. The canals are lined with wonderful houses with distinctive gables. Some are shaped like bells, some the traditional triangle gable others have elaborate cut work. The rarest now are the stair step design; there are only about 120 left. We see most of the important sights by the end of the tour. It is really a great way to get a feel for the city.

It is now close to 2PM. We decide to walk back to the hotel by way of Dam Square and see if we can’t find a place to get some lunch. A pizza place calls us. We order two pizzas, a beer and a coke and nearly eat all of both pizzas! The time change is catching up with so we head on back to the hotel, stopping at a little tourist shop near the square for a pin for Jack and a couple of cokes.

Back at the hotel we take another shower, the day has warmed up and we were sitting in the sun on the boat. The bed looks so comfortable, we both stretch out to read and are asleep in no time.

Several hours later, with the sun setting in our windows, we come to. After watching the canal boats play and studying a map with restaurants, shops and sites noted, we decide to walk a loop around the canals near our hotel to window shop and see what we can find to eat. After reading a bunch of menus we pick an Asia food place. Dick orders Pho Bo, a Vietnamese soup, and Carolyn orders shrimp rolls with two glasses of wine each. We share the food which is really good and more importantly light. By the time we head back to the hotel it is dark and the canals are dressed in their nighttime lights.

It has been a wonderful first day and we are ready to go to bed.

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