We started on July 2nd. First we had to get a rental car to drive to JFK. There is a story of Buzzz Aldrin in here too, but you have to read Jeff's blog to find out all about Buzzz. As usual the Douglas vacation started out with a traffic jam. Has it ever been anything different? I think not. We made it to JFK with plenty of time to spare just to find out that we had about an hour's wait for the airline to open their check in counter. We flew from JFK to Reykjavik and from there to Amsterdam, only because it was about $600 cheaper than going direct. You can have lots of nice meals with $600. Of course the flight was delayed about 50 minutes due to a big thunderstorm in NYC. Iceland Air is nice, but they do not serve meals or any kind of food unless you pay for it, or fly 1st class. We did make our connection and the rest of the flight went well too. Once we landed we went and got our Holland Passes, prepaid tickets to museums and other sightseeing tours and discounts for different things. We took the train to Amsterdam Centraal. Which brings me to tell how nice the people here are. We were buying our train tickets from a machine and for some reason the machine didn't accept our credit cards, probably because most American cards don't have a chip on them. A total stranger helped us with our tickets and even offered to pay for them, just like that. He did take some of the payment, we didn't have enough small Euro bills, but even that was like pulling teeth out of him. On the train there was another man who was very helpful by telling people about how to get to wherever they were going and also what to see if you have only little bit of time.
|At Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland|
|Looks very barren in Iceland, no trees in sight.|
We got to our hotel, the Grand Hotel Amrath ,and wow is it ever nice. It is an old Shipping House built around 1912-1916. We even have a mini bar which is free and they stock it up daily. The hotel itself is a bit confusing. There are elevators, but not every elevator goes to the floor you need to go. We are on the 4th floor and you could get lost just trying to find our elevator. But it is a very lovely hotel with all kinds of neat features.
|Grand Amrath Hotel, Amsterdam|
|Main Staircase at Grand Amrath|
|Jeff waiting at the Reception. Strangest looking Reception desk ever.|
|Free mini bar|
|Detail from the hotel|
|View from our room.|
After resting some, we went and walked around the area a little bit. We went to the Dam Square, had a light meal at the Neuwmarkt area, and walked close to the red light district. Of course we found a very nice cheese and pastry shops and got some to take to the room and eat later. I do have to say that there are a lot of bicycles in this town. It's the only place where you have to watch not only cars and buses and trams, but bicycles also. I've almost been run over by them several times. Those people go really fast. I would be afraid to bicycle here.
|Looks like this house is leaning, but is|
probably done on purpose.
|One of the many bridges|
|Funky looking park bench near the Neuwmarkt|
|Hash Museum . . . and no we didn't go in.|
|One of the many cheese shops|
|The cheese shop|
|Dam Square with the Royal Palace on left|
|One of the many canals|
|Jeff at an outdoor restaurant next to the Neuwmarkt area and |
ready for dinner
|Dinner was tapas, we were not too hungry,|
bitterballen, spiced lamb sausages and meatballs
So now we are back at the hotel and absolutely exhausted. Neither of us slept hardly any during either one of our flights. Time to close those electric curtains and go to sleep. Good night.