Posts Tagged With: Canal

2nd July: 2nd day in Amsterdam

Later breakfast again at 9:3,0 nice not having to be up at 6 am. A bit strange that there is no more biking until I get home.

We left the hotel and walked to the metro to head back into town to look around a bit more. We needed to make a change after one stop to get onto a different metro, as there is part of a line closed. As we got onto the next train we realised we were on the wrong train and went to get off, but only Shellbe got off before the doors closed! So much easier these days with cellphones in this situation. Very quickly worked it out and then ended up back on the same train heading into the central station.

I had wanted to go to the Anne Frank museum but had been unable to get tickets on line. They appear to be sold out for months (I later discovered more are released online daily at 8:45 and 11:30am). The website said you could buy them at the actual museum for after 3:30, so we headed off to the museum.

Outside the museum were some guides, so I asked one where we went to get tickets. His reply was “Where they are sold, when they are selling them”, so I asked when are they being sold, and no lie his response was “When we are selling them”! What a great asset he must be.

Thankfully we found another guide who had an understanding that their role was to be helpful, who advised they go on sale at 3:30 if there are any left. They don’t know until that time how many there will be. Sometimes very few. As it was only 11am I was not inclined to start queueing, and Shellbe had been there before when she was here as an exchange student.

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Outside Anne Frank House

We went off and continued looking around and came across a cheese museum. We had great fun looking at the different cheeses and trying some. The cheese came in all colours, including green (pesto as an ingredient), bright blue and bright red (not sure what was in these). We also enjoyed trying on the traditional cheese making clothes and taking photos.

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Dutch cheese maidens

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Coloured cheese anyone?

 

After this we went to a tulip museum and then decided to have a cold drink. We stopped at a place by a canal (but I guess hard not to in Amsterdam) and watched people going by.

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A’noon beverage time 🍺

At this stage Shellbe headed off for the rest of the day to catch up with a friend who was an exchange student at the same time as her, who has not longed ago moved to Amsterdam from Turkey. Brett and I had lunch and watched the crowds for awhile.

We then headed back to the Anne Frank Museum as as an ex-work colleague of Brett was in Amsterdam with his wife and they had tickets at 3pm to the museum. It was about 2:30pm and quite hot, so while we were waiting I decided to sit against the wall in the shade, and found a suitable space and sat down. I felt people tensing around me and looked up to see people glaring at me from all directions! Oops! I had just sat two spaces from the front of an exceedingly long queue of people who had been waiting for hours to get museum tickets! So I moved from there very rapidly, apologising and assuring people I wasn’t trying to get tickets. Brett caught up with his friend and wife (which was when I discovered tickets were released online twice a day).

We then went off and continued sightseeing. Later in the afternoon we caught the ferry from the central railway station to north Amsterdam, where the annual TDA alumni dinner was taking place. Given these are generally across the other side of the world from me I haven’t attended one before, but it seemed a good opportunity given we were already in the city (which of course was the reason for the timing).

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Party boat on the Brouwersgracht

The ferry that we caught was just for foot passengers and bikes. At the dinner we sat with Yvonne, Scott, Ruth, Peter and John H, who had all been on our ride. Apart from that, the rest of the diners were TDA staff or Dutch, bar one other rider who had flown in from England.

There was not really any mingling, and apart from a quick welcome from Henry and auctioning of a book, it was pretty much like any other riding day dinner of the past month, so not high on my priority list to attend another one. The food was Tapas.

A number of us shared a taxi back to the hotel.

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Bikes, bikes, bikes everywhere near Central Station

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Saturday 1 July: Day one in Amsterdam

We had breakfast at 9 am then Shellbe and I headed off to the Metro by the hotel. It was only a 7 minute walk. Once we got into Amsterdam we had to change to a train out to Oosterleek, near Hoorn. We were going to visit Christel and Margreet who were Shellbe’s host mums when she was here in 2006 on a AFS (student exchange programme). Hard to believe that that was 11 years ago.

Christel picked us from the station. They have moved since Shellbe was here, to an old farm house. The farm house has a thatched roof and we went up into the attic and had a look at a thatched roof from the inside. The thatching needs to be replaced approx every 40 years. I noticed their house, and a number of others, had mostly thatching but also some tiles. Once tiles became available the more tiles you had the wealthier you were. On the way to their house Christel drove past where they used to live.

Both Christel and Margreet work with disabled people. They have 3 cats, plus a part time cat who stays when its owners are away, and a delightful spoodle called Pip. Pip is only 8 months old and is full of puppy energy, and the cats watch him with annoyance from their safe perches around the house.

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Christel (left) and Margreet and me

It was great to meet Christel and Margreet. In 2006 we didn’t have Skype, Messenger or FaceTime, although thankfully we did have email. It must have been hard in the days of handwritten letters, and toll calls being reserved for emergencies or specially occasions. When you did call you had to deal with the delay on the phone line.

For lunch they had all the different food that Michelle had enjoyed when she was here. Stroopwafels, croquettes with meat inside, chocolate sprinkles, cheese and bread.

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Christel (left) and Margreet and Shellbe

After a lovely lunch and catching up on all the news on both sides, Christel took us for a tour and we saw Shellbe’s old school, swimming pool, and soccer club, plus we went to Hoorn which is a lovely small town with lots of old ships on the port. A number of the buildings have a slight lean and this is because they are built on silt. Thankfully no earthquake issues here.

We drove along a couple of dykes, and I was surprised how many canals there are running through every town.

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Working windmill drinking barley (Editor’s note: I don’t know where/when Kaye saw this windmill, so I’m going to put it here as she apparently took zero photos of Hoorn and I need to break up this wall of text)

There were a lot of touring cyclists – Christel says you can pick the tourists as they are the ones wearing helmets. In the Netherlands only young children up to 9 years, and serious road cyclists, tend to wear helmets. All children learn to ride a bike at a young age and at 9 they have an assessment, where they ride through a chosen route through the town and there are people at corners assessing them. Once they pass this test they no longer have to wear helmets.

While we were at Hoorn, a family rode past – all blonde and in height sequence. There were two parents and four children, and it reminded me of Matryoshka dolls, each one smaller than the other.

There was a market on in the town, so we had a look around the stalls then sat at the wharf and had a cold drink, then it was time to go back to the city. When we were walking back to the station Christel pointed out some green and yellow bikes, these are called the lottery bikes. There is a monthly draw with 400 bikes each draw, and apparently there is also a draw for lottery suitcases that are also yellow and green.

We caught the train back into Amsterdam and met up with Brett at the train station.

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Back into Amsterdam after visiting Shellbe’s exchange host family.

We then went on an hour and a half canal cruise, looking at many different buildings and bridges.

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Canal boat cruise

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Bridge, bridge, bridge over canal

There are bikes are everywhere. At the central train station is a 3 story parking building for bikes. It was pretty busy, as it was Saturday night.

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Amsterdam Central

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Amsterdam Central

We went to a Vietnamese place for dinner, I had a really nice chicken curry. After dinner we wandered around the city a bit more, called into another pub, and walked though a couple of streets in the red light district. I was amused to see a porn club advertising a hospital bar, and a black and white cat quite at home nonchalantly wandering through the throngs of people.

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In the red light district

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Red Light district

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Then it was back to the Metro and back to the hotel. We stayed talking in the bar for another hour.

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Canal Elandsgracht

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Canal boat cruise

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Day 39: Rest day in Ljubljana

I was awake before I had to be, of course on a rest day, but was excited as I was planning on Skyping my children at 8:30am. I had breakfast and came back to the room to Skype, we chatted for over an hour, it was good to catch up! I am going to talk to them again soon but probably by phone instead of Skype, depending on what time we get to Venice.

I had arranged to go out straight away afterwards so that I would not get homesick. I met Walli and we headed off to sightsee. We spent ages (about 3 hours) at Ljubljana castle, we visited the museum up there, and went up and down on the funicular railway. We also had lunch up there.

View from Castle Ljubljana

Tourist train Ljubljana

We then went on a boat trip along the canal (or Kanal in Slovenia). There has been just about no rain this summer (usually they get lots of thunderstorms in summer) so everything is dry. The canal is lower than usual and quite stagnant. The highlight for me of the boat trip was seeing a musk rat – also called a nutria – they are really big and look a bit like otters. They can grow up to 10kg but the average is about 4kg. It was swimming along, and then just as we got our cameras ready it dived under the  water into a pipe. (Photos of these rats can be found here).

View from canal trip in Ljublijana

Canal trip Ljubljana

Church in Ljubljana (forgot the name of it)

Afterwards we looked around town, and watched a few street performers and buskers. I had dinner with Daphne, Shirley and Walli. We went to a Pizzeria called Ljubljanski Dvor – it had 102 different kinds of pizza, and we had some nice red wine with it. I had a mixture of sardines, cheese, pepperoni, tomato and onion. It was really nice but even though it was the small one, it was too big for one person.

Then it was back to hotel to pack up again, it is an early day tomorrow, with our bags out by 6am.

I have really enjoyed being in Slovenia, and Ljubljana is a beautiful city. The people are friendly, and the city is not too big and not too expensive. Slovenia has t-shirts and all sorts of other tourist stuff that says “Slovenia the only county with LOVE in its name”. A lot of people from neighbouring countries come here for honeymoons, stag dos and hen parties.

There is a large student population; the total city population is 280,000 of which 60,000 are students. Readers Digest 2008 called this the world’s most honest city. I must look up what that was based on. The national symbol is a dragon (green). Anyway, it is 10:30pm so I better go to bed.

Here are some links:

Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)
Old Town
Julian Alps, Slovenia
Butcher’s Bridge
Ljubljana Castle (Grad)
Copyu
Črniče
Landkarte – ÖAI EN

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