Trip Start Mar 17, 2006
Trip End Jun 14, 2006

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Flag of Netherlands  ,
Sunday, April 30, 2006

Our initial impression of Holland was how green and flat it was.  Very picturesque.  The green pastures went for as far as the eye could see.  It took us awhile before we realised that there were no fences. The canals were doing the work of fences and keeping stock in.  We are so used to farms being fenced that we do not realise how they impact on a landscape.

Not long after entering Netherlands, we crossed the longest bridge we have even seen.

Then we got to Rotterdam and became horribly lost.  We were trying to find a relative of a friend in Schiedam, only 20 minutes from Rotterdam.  I'd read a street name but they were so long and foreign to me, they'd soon be forgotten before I could find them on the map!  My husband, typical male, would not ask directions or even stop to let me ask directions, or ring for directions.  Of course he knew where to go and got us further lost!  After 3 hours of driving around (and World War 3) we eventually found our way, which should have taken 20 minutes!

We were just going to drop in and say hello and have a cuppa (we had never met these people before and only heard about them from a friend) but they invited us to stay the night as it was so late by the time we got there.
We stayed 3 nights!  Nick and Cecilia were so nice, friendly and hospitable.  

Nick took the following day off work and took us to see the Windmills, Clog factory and tulips. The day after, we took a train (no more driving and getting lost) to Amsterdam and had a look around the city.  We went to the Anne Frank House.  It was very emotional and sad.  The rooms were so small.  Smaller than you picture when reading the book.  The one quote that sticks in my mind was something like "One day I am going to be a famous writer" and she became a famous writer but for all the wrong reasons.  My daughter was about the same age as Anne and she was really upset and touched by the experience.  It taught her a very valuable lesson about racism that she will never forget.

The canals reminded me of the pictures I had seen of Venice.  It was amazing to drive down the road and have a boat on the North Sea Canal ABOVE us!
We walked through the Red Light district (you don't go to Amsterdam without having a look).  The kids covered their eyes alot!  It was the only place on our entire trip where I felt unsafe.  We saw two American girls pick pocketed and were being followed at one stage until the police intercepted.  I didn't particularly like the pimps trying to get my husband to go in (and he was with his wife and kids1). 

We had a look in a "Coffee" shop, which is just another name for a Drug shop.  It was amazing to see the drugs on shelves for purchase like at a supermarket.  Totally different to what we are used to.

We also went to Madame Tousauds which was great.  The wax models are so realistic.  When we first entered I thought it was real people acting as statues and they'd jump out and scare us but no, they are all made of wax.  Very very realistic.  Well worth the visit.

We would have liked to have more time in Netherlands but we had a commitment to get back to Germany and meet up with family members.
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Where I stayed
With Cecilia and Nick
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