Sunday, May 30, 2010

Europe, Day 3, part 2

I am already getting behind in my blogging.  Ack.  So, yesterday we had plans to go to Volendam, a touristy historic village and then head to Amsterdam where we would go on a canal tour and then to the Van Gogh museum.  As with most well-organized plans, things go a little awry.  However, it turned out to be a great day.

We encountered a bit of construction detour that basically made our trip about twice as long as it should have been.  One neat thing we saw off to the left of the car was that biblical/sized model of Noah´s ark that everyone sent me in some circulating email a while back.  We didn´t stop, like I would have liked, but honestly, it was HUGE, even from a distance.

However, we finally parked and walked to the water front of the village of Volendam. Old, it is.  Touristy - YES!  Think a bit of Myrtle Beach on steroids, but in historic buildings.  It was maybe not what I was thinking, but still, a nice place to get souvenirs, watch the Dutch eat their national treat - raw herring with onions, and get a cup of coffee on a terrace.  The kids were happy because they got ice cream - 3 cones for Sadie alone (thank you, Oma).

The van we rented is quite large so it made for interesting and ultimately prohibitive travel throughout the streets of Volendam.  Therefore it took a bit to get to the car to head to Amsterdam.

We arrived in Amsterdam by doing the one thing Jay said he didn't want to through the city center.  We lucked out, however, and found a parking spot.  It was just south of the Central Station which is also near where you pick up the canal tour.  When we got out of the van we realized (rather Jay and I' that the red light district had expanded just a little bit and we had parked in an area that included a couple of window ladies.  We walked the opposite direction with our heads down to the canal tour.  Along the way, we also encounter quite a few interesting smells.  Those that know Amstersam know that marijuana is legal.  Consequencly, it is a haven, in some parts, for those that enjoy this. I was waiting on the street with Lily for the others to catch up and Lily and I had move where we stood, less we get a contact high!

We boarded the boat and away we went learning all about the architecture and history of Amsterdam.  It was a beautiful weather day and people were out all along the streets, the terraces and the canals.  Frankly, it was overwhelming at times to see the throngs of people, the activity and bicycles which were locked to every surface possible.  It was a 50 minute tour which gave us a thorough view of the beautiful buildings and historic canals and bridges of the city.  It proved to be a little too long for the kids, but they hung in well in the end.

At that point, we realized the Van Gogh museum would have to wait for another day.  We had walked the Tuckers and the kids to death.  One bonus...Jimmy and I got our spanking white tennis shoes a little dirty.  Actually, if I had to say, Amsterdam is much dirtier city, much more populated city than I remembered.  Not so much my cup of tea any more. 

On the way back to the car, we could not avoid the ladies in the windows so I just implored Ethan to star straight ahead, to not look left or right.  He obliged me, but has not stopped asking me why ever since.  We headed back to Tilburg for dinner and bed.

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