Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Holland Trip Day 4: Amsterdam

Angie's Journal:
I'll be honest, this was not my day. The previous two weeks the girls had this nasty cold that I thought I was immune from until it hit me the day we were heading to Amsterdam. I don't remember too much of this day, just that I was grumpy and nothing worked out right--adding to the grumpiness. Thankfully Ray has a very detailed report of the days events. We plan to see Amsterdam again, so hopefully we will have a much better experience.

Ray's Journal:

We had a little trouble committing to any one plan this morning, so we got a bit of a late start. We finally decided on going to the world renowned city of Amsterdam. The train ride to the city is an ordeal - we ended up in the quiet only section of the train. All the other seats in the “its okay to talk” sections were taken. So Angie and I try to take turns with a crying Misty out in the open section while the kids seem to get a seat to themselves. We all pull stakes and meet at the exit to the train car at every stop as we have no idea what the train has just said (it’s all in Dutch).

Train Station -by Neil
Once we arrive at the train station we try to follow the picture signs to the “bootens” (we now think it means ferry boats). The signs take us to the ferry boats and commercial tourist vessels of a large size. It takes nearly an hour to figure out that the tourist canal boats are on the other side of the train station. A small ordeal, but made larger and more frustrating by me twisting my knee while carrying Misty and my camera bag.

Finally on boat -by Neil
(Side note from Angie: It is nice that Neil is taking up photography because now we get pictures of Ray who used to hide behind the camera! Thank you Neil :)

Once on the canal boats it seems that everything will finally work out for us. We take half the tour; passing the Anne Frank house which we already have tickets purchased for, we pass all the very cool buildings and houses, and we hear a large amount of the history and joking intrigue of the city. Misty is even being cute like normal, she is refusing to believe that she is on a boat. The water and ducks are funny.

Neil was very fascinated with the architecture in the city, especially the gables and the hooks on the houses. We learned on the canal cruise these are used to hoist furniture into the houses.

House Hooks - by Neil

Around mid to late afternoon we stop at the hop off for the national museum, but decide to take a side trip for some snacks. Now Misty sees the boat and accepts that she was on a boat, but now she wants to get back on and not leave the boat because,” I love boats, daddy”. We end up walking about a 1 3/4 Km. We order our food (the waitress spoke very good English, thankfully) only to find out that they don’t accept our UK Chip and Pin card. Nor do they accept American Credit or Debit cards. We were very lucky to have the right amount of cash on hand.

Sadly we didn't get to eat here, but we got a picture of it at least.
When we return to the canal boat we find out that the only two boats left running will be returning via the same route we already took, so it will be boring to us. It also means that we miss out on the Hard Rock Cafe.

Amsterdam Lamp Post: Ray is obsessed with street lamps for some reason.
Months ago Angie went and purchased tickets to the Anne Frank House online, as we had heard that there was always a multiple hour long line to wait in for purchasing at the door. We made this expensive purchase with the understanding that we would not have to wait in line, we have a definitive tour time, and it was an all around easier way to go about getting access. The 20 minute line we had to wait in only to find out that our pre-arranged tour time was not even a legitimate thing was frustrating. But once we gained entry, it was a fast 25 minute walk through a very rough few years of a little girls life. Alexis spent months on the waiting list to read “A Diary of Anne Frank”. This short tour brought all those pages to life for her. There are, sadly, no photos allowed inside the house. So all Lexi could take with her were memories of how the real place correlated to the book. Again, frustrating.

Once out of the Anne Frank House we found out that the Hop On Hop Off Canal boats do not operate at night. Nor do any of the taxi’s or water taxi’s. So we had to take a tram. Not a bad way to travel, they are every bit as good as city bus. The problem is that we were short of cash and they do not accept plastic cards of any sort. We almost did not have enough to pay for the 5 Km ride to the train station. And that left no money for food.

The train station had only one Cash Point machine and none of the food vendors accept plastic cards. The only food we thought Misty could eat, she didn’t like. The trip back on the train was a quiet ride of frustration with Misty crying that she was hungry, thirsty, wants to ride a boat, or wanted sugar snacks, but really just needing to go to sleep.We get back to the campground and Angie is feeling miserable. She is running a temperature. It is freezing cold outside and not much warmer in the tent. Everyone has to bundle up to get comfy for bed. 

Neil - The American
This is when the only funny moment in the day occurs.... I am in the bath house getting ready for bed when Neil comes in. He walks by the same gaggle of very loud and hyper children I walked by to get in, when one of them asks him a question in Dutch. He answers apologetically that he can not understand and the crowd goes crazy that he is an American. They can’t seem to get enough of him. Neil has attained instant rock star status for all of 10 minutes. The girls of the group follow the boys into the boys bathroom, but are so interested in Neil’s answers (which are keeping him from brushing his teeth) that they fail to notice until I walk by. Then two of the oldest girls look at me and then the blue door with the man symbol on it and get red faced and start screaming at the other girls that they have to get out now. It appears that Neil’s fame will be ruined by the very same thing caused his fame - a walk into a bathroom. Lexi, Angie, and I gave him a hard time the next morning when we had to pack the car - attention everyone, the American is leaving!

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