Amsterdam

First of all, here are some pictures from the Erykah Badu concerts that I promised, hopefully there will be more where these came from. In the second picture is where Ben and I are holding her up in the crowd. You can see Ben’s head and my arm! What a great concert.
The journey to Amsterdam begins. Leslie and I took a coach because it was really cheap. We left at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday and drove all night. Naturally we had to get across the channel some how so we got to ride a ferry. I loved it, it was a real big luxury ship, the biggest I’ve ever been on. This was a picture out of the window of our boat before we left, too bad it was dark and rainy or I would have liked to stroll the deck but we weren’t allowed.
We arrived in Amsterdam at roughly 9:30 a.m. or so. It then occurred to me that..umm I don’t speak this language, but no fear everybody there speaks English making my life easier. We took the train into town from Amstel Station and went on the hunt for our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel de Gerstekorrel. At first we thought the room was super tiny for three people (shh it was only supposed to be for two) but by the end of the trip I grew to love this little room on the 4th floor (our 5th floor) if I ever return to Amsterdam I plan to stay there. Though the winding steps were wicked. The desk service was more than friendly, one of who was Lisa originally from Cincinnati who had been living in Amsterdam for 5 years. We befriended her and went out to a coffeeshop with her a day or two later.
Yes, Amsterdam has a bad rap because of its Red Light District and many coffeeshops but I found it to be a very beautiful, diverse and romantic city. It’s many canals are beautiful along with it’s old brick housing and many little shops. Thursday while Leslie and I waited for Ben to arrive (who flew in that night) we wandered around the inner part of the city exploring the canals.We of course had to take a canal river cruise because it is one of the big things to do in Amsterdam. It was a lot of fun, we got to relax for a while and see the canals and banks. Here is a good example of what most of the housing in Amsterdam looks like, it’s all very quaint.
Because as tourists there are things you MUST do, we went to the Anne Frank House. It was interesting though I would probably never go again. Most of the fixtures and documents are not originals and while I understand this is a climatic problem it was still a bit disappointing. Here is the swinging bookcase doorway into the secret hideout.
This is us eating Vlaamse frites. This is a apparently a really big deal and I didn’t even know it until after we got back, another thing you must do while in Holland apparently. Essentially they deep fry thick cut french fries put them in a paper cone, smother them in Dutch mayonnaise and you eat them. They were quite tasty and as you can see we are enjoying them.
Another big thing in Amsterdam in hot chocolate. Some coffeeshops make it with real chocolate others make it with Chocomel, the leading brand of chocolate milk in Holland. Either way is delicious. We became connoisseurs while there. This particular picture is Ben and me enjoying Real Belgium Hot Chocolate at the Dampkring coffeehouse. It was made with steamed milk, a Belgium chocolate stir-stick. Lots of whipped cream, cocoa powder, and a cookie for decoration. The cocoa made with chocomel was also very good, we had that a few different places.
Out walking around at night the city is quite beautiful. Many of the bridges on the canals are lit up. It rained a lot while we were there but luckily for us the nights were enjoyable.
Ben and I enjoyed the last night sitting on the rooftop of our hotel chatting. It was the perfect end to an amazing and beautiful trip. Too bad the pictures don’t do any justice to how beautiful it was.
Though reluctant to leave Sunday morning we packed up bright and early. The bus ride home was awful to say the very least. We stopped a multitude of times for no apparent reason, the bus driver didn’t seem to know what was going on so we missed the ferry and had to take the chunnel (Eurotunnel) which I officially dislike. The French couple sitting in front of us was very loud, very physical, and rude so that did not make for a nice ride, all in all we got home safe and sound. One of the perks to the bus driver not knowing what was going on was that we actually got to spend a stint of time in Brussels, Belgium. Fun! I got to go to another country and didn’t even know about it! This is my “I’m apparently in Belgium standing under a big sculpture I know nothing about and have no idea how I got here!” pose.

This picture was taken at yet ANOTHER of our various stops. I have absolutely no idea where I am here. France, maybe?
This is our bus descending down into the chunnel. Not fun at all. You drive into one of these bit metal train cars and sit while it drives you under the channel. The driver turns off the bus and it is very very hot and smelly. I using my better judgment feigned having to use the restroom and got out and sat in the car but outside the bus where it was much cooler. There wasn’t however much room to move around with the huge bus in the middle of the car. Next time, I prefer the ferry.

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