Dam Busters

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Friday, August 31, 2012

Amsterdam. We have been here, seen it and done pretty much all of it before so this is the last bit of relaxation before we leave the comfort zone and start travelling for real. Time to get our food stocks ready for Russia and the train and compose ourselves for the real adventure.

This is also the last of the nice hotel bargains that we managed to accumulate in the planning process, after here it is hostels and hostels pretending to be hotels all the way.

As with all good trips to Amsterdam ours started with a wonder through the Red Light District and a cone of Dutch chips, dinner and evening entertainment for just €8.00, brilliant.

As we have done most tours and trips in Dam before we thought that we would investigate what we could do for free in Amsterdam to see what excitement we could find.  After a brief stop outside McDonalds to abuse their Wi-Fi the following were identified as the top free activities in Amsterdam:

1.       Go to Albert Hein supermarket for a free cup of coffee,

2.       Get a free ferry trip from Central Station to Amsterdam Noord (5 minute journey),

3.       Sit on the banks of the canals and wave at the passing boats.

I think it is safe to say that the motto 'the best things in life are free' does not apply in Amsterdam.  After much deliberation we decided that none of the above activities really tickled our fancy so we reverted to shoe shopping and found some giant clogs to play in.  How is that not on the top free activities list?!

One of our main reasons for returning to Amsterdam was so that we could head to Utrecht for a day trip to see our old work colleague, Icon Jon.  Utrecht is a great city, just 30 minutes from Amsterdam and it is full of charm with lovely canals, cobbled streets and little boutique bars and shops.  We had a lovely day with Jon & Wena; we were lucky enough to visit on the rare Sunday that Utrecht has a street market and was generally bustling, so we ate our way through the main street trying all the delicacies on offer.  We ate, we drank, we put the world to rights, had a Dutch lesson that has inspired the names for our cats (when we finally stop somewhere long enough to get pets) knuffels (cuddles) and pantoffel (slippers) and had a rather delicious pizza.  Sadly we then had yet more sad goodbyes, however knowing that Jon & Wena have the travel bug as much as we do we have no doubt that we will be seeing them again somewhere on our travels.

Back to Amsterdam and after many a walk along the canals we decided to treat ourselves to a canal trip to see the bridges, the houses and the people enjoying free Amsterdam by sitting on the river banks waving.  Believe it or not they were out in force.  Before we knew it, it was our last night in Amsterdam so what better way to spend it than with a cone of chips and another walk through the Red Light District to say farewell.

Our plan to go overland to Japan goes a little bit awry at this point as the train system in Europe was not quite as direct as we had hoped.   Our original plan was to go to Rosscoff by train to then get a ferry to Helsinki, however this plan turned out to involve more changes and overnight stops and Euro’s than we could justify so next stop is Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for our only flights this side of Japan.  Amsterdam to Oslo, then Oslo to Helsinki.

Bye Bye Amsterdam, I am pleased that we have survived your bustling streets without one collision with a bike or a tram.  Amsterdam, the only city with more bikes than people?!
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