Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Netherlands report (part I)

OK, as promised here is the post all about my trip. I feel like I need to disclose that my in-laws flew us over there and paid for our hotel and most of our meals. So, with that said, it was a great trip and I enjoyed seeing Amsterdam.

Our flights went fine. The kids slept only after watching movies over and over. I saw "No Reservations" on the plane and can say that I am glad I didn't pay to see it in the theater. It was fine, just not worth whatever a movie ticket costs these days. The food was surprisingly good but our kids didn't eat it if my memory serves me correctly.

We arrived into Schipol Airport and immediately, it hits you that you are in Europe. The cigarette smoke about knocks you over. It seems like in the U.S. that the smoking sections are not right by the gates as you get off the plane. Oh well. We gather our bags and head outside to grab a taxi. I think if I were traveling alone or without kids, I would have taken the train into Amsterdam. Once we arrive to the fabulous hotel, we check in, but then we have to walk around because our room is not ready. I take in the sights of water, boats, bicycles and people. Amsterdam does not disappoint. And why is it that Europeans are so impeccably dressed?

One sight that was amazing was how the women dressed in dresses, opaque tights and dress shoes were riding bicycles. And the bicyclists have the right-a-way. That includes over pedestrians, too.

Here is a view out of our hotel room. I believe the first time we stayed in Amsterdam, our room looked over the Singel canal.

This is the living room:
This was our bedroom. We were in the attic of an old house that was probably built in the 1500's.
We actually had to climb up some stairs from the living room to get to the bathroom and bedroom. It was quite enchanting.

The night we arrived, my in-laws had made reservations at this fantastic restaurant where we had dinner with a couple that was in town for the day. The husband is Dutch and is waiting on his green card, and the wife is a former student of my father-in-law's. She had just arrived that day, too. My in-laws eat really well and this meal was no exception. The chef let the children into the kitchen and they came out with their own desserts. It was really cute.

The next day (Saturday) was spent walking around town and taking in the sights again. We had arranged for a babysitter for the evening so the adults went out for dinner by ourselves.

On Sunday, we took taxis to a town called Leiden. The oldest university in the Netherlands is here. The town was smaller and the hotel was not that great. Let me rephrase that. It was fine for me and my family, but not acceptable for my in laws. We stayed in Leiden two days and then headed back to the Ambassade Hotel in Amsterdam. Before we left Leiden, however, we did take a train to Den Haag (The Hague) for a day trip and we saw a miniature place called Maduradam. It is Holland in miniature. I was the only one that appreciated it. The kids were a bit too young and my mother in law's Alzheimer's disease keeps her from understanding what is going on.

Here is the windmill in Leiden:

And here I am at the miniature place called Maduradam.

We did go to some museums while we were in Leiden. They have an excellent natural history museum called Naturalis. Clayton enjoyed looking at the dinosaur bones. We also went to the American Pilgrim Museum. The pilgrims set out from Leiden before they left from Plymouth. Because of the Netherlands liberal government, all groups were welcome for refuge back then. The pilgrims were one of those groups.

Here is a shot of the "commuter" lot at the Leiden train station. I'll continue my report later.


Char said...

Hi Kelly c",)
I love hearing your stories about your time in the Netherlands!!! Oh, how I long to go back to Europe. I lived in Germany in 1997 and just LOVED LOVED LOVED Europe and it's people. There is such a wonderful vibe - the street café's, the way they have special lanes for cyclists, the excellent food, not to mention CHEESE! Oh, I'm "homesick" for Germany now... and Paris... and London... and all of those other wonderful places. *Sigh*

Trish said...

I'm glad you guys had such a wonderful time! I love the pictures!