September 10-12, 2022
Our journey begins with the Krahn’s and Standly’s as we arrive in Amsterdam to a surprise transportation strike. Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s largest hubs, was a mess. Thousands of people jammed everything—everything! Our hotel in The Hague, The Netherland’s capital, was over 25 miles away. What were we to do, with no trains or buses? The taxi queue was monstrously long, hours and hours wait. Did I mention that it was raining? As we stood together trying to figure a way out of our plight, from out of nowhere a uniformed airport personnel approached us and asked how many were in our group. We said, “Six.” He said, “Follow me.” We did. He escorted us through the masses and took us to a special platform dedicated to special needs people and groups of six or more. In less than a minute we were boarding a large Mercedes van that held all of us comfortably along with our luggage, and we were whisked away from the madness towards our wonderful hotel. For one brief moment we felt guilty that we were so blessed.
The Hague is a wonderful city. We ate great seafood meals as the city is situated on the North Sea. I had a delicious meal of Dover Sole, something we rarely get to eat. The Standly’s, being younger than us, explored the city on the first day and found a charming area of the city and enjoyed its ambiance. The rest of us crashed. Kathy and I had been upgraded to a suite but were really too tired to get any benefit out of all that extra space. Next day, the Krahn’s and Standly’s explored old Delft and visited the Delftwork’s porcelain workshop. They found it very interesting as they watched artisans meticulously hand painting each piece. Kathy and I went to see my favorite painting—Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”
It is housed in the Mauritius along with other Low Country master works. Having left my sunglasses on the airplane and Kathy having forgotten to pack hers, we found a sunglass store in The Hague old town—wait ’til you see our red RayBans. It was a wonderful day! Late afternoon we traveled to Amsterdam and hired a driver through our Marriott.
Our Designer Hotel, a Marriott hotel in Amsterdam, was cool funky! Bier gardens outside, entry lobby a music venue pub with games and unusual furnishings, and a roof top bar, 26 stories up with swings (think porch swings) that swung out over the edge of the hotel. Lit at night with colorful lighting, the hotel stood out along the Amsterdam skyline.
What we found most fun, however, were the smart elevators that had no buttons because it read your room key. Then, when the doors opened, you were greeted with music and…dancing floors with lighted tiles to step on as they switched around to the music, or karaoke walls with the words following the music as you sang into the microphones extending from the walls, or huge spinning disco balls with special lighting that twinkled to the music.
Once in your room, you were met with industrial design and real Gibson guitars (big returnable room deposit) and old fashioned working phonographs with a vinyl collection—yes, original covers! This hotel was interesting to say the least. Outside was the ferry that ran 24/7 and within minutes whisked you from the New Town to the Old Town across the bay. We spent our time riding the canals, exploring the city, eating out, etc.
We especially liked going to Zaanse Schans, the windmill village outside Amsterdam. Bucolic, bucolic, bucolic! Transported back in time, sheep and cattle grazed on lush green grass and ducks swam in the numerous small canals than coursed through the village. Large Dutch windmills (some still in use) interspersed the scene along with deep green or black or gray wooden Dutch houses, all with slate roofs. Flower-laden gardens surrounded by white fences cut “Dutch style” accompanied the view along with white wooden bridges over canals along the footpath. Glorious! We ate Dutch thin pancakes, pannenkoek, and ordered them with either brandied raisins and whipped cream or apricot with eggnog and whipped cream. Tasty!
Our evening meal back in old town Amsterdam was special. The traditional Dutch restaurant was overcrowded, so the maitre d’ escorted us the the bar next door. Only one table was housed in this third oldest bar in Amsterdam, and it was a delight with heavily carved wooden beams of very old world decor. The bartender was our waiter and transported the food from the restaurant to us. We ate bitterballen, a creamed beef fried in breadcrumbs seasoned with spices. The rest of the meal was awesome. Allen very generously tipped the waiter above our regular tips. The waiter was so enthralled that he gave each of us small bottles of Jagermeister, an anise-based liqueur, as a departing gift. We had much fun and beauty on our Netherlands adventure.