BAC Bike and Barge - Netherlands 2014
April 15-16 - Home to Amsterdam
We had a very easy day on Tuesday, the 15th. The Bensons picked us up and drove us to SFO for our 9:00 flight. We used our United miles to buy business class tickets, so we flew in semi-luxury. We waited for our flight in the business class lounge where we supplemented our meager breakfast at home. Our plane to O'Hare was very new and did not have amenities added yet. There were no entertainment pods and no fold-down seats. The seats looked nice and smelled like real leather, but they had no lumbar support and the the seat pads were uncomfortable. The food was good - eggs, cinnamon rolls, etc.
We arrived in Chicago on time and hung out in United's business class lounge.
Our next leg took us to Amsterdam. This time we had entertainment pods, fold-down seats and very good service. Dinner and a breakfast snack were included. We watched a movie and managed to get a little sleep.
We landed in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, went through passport control, picked up our bags and rode the train into Centraal train station. I had memorized the directions to our hotel and managed to get us there without too much trouble.
We were staying at Hotel Brouwer alongside a quiet canal. Our room was on the second and third floors. We got to it by climbing two very narrow and windy staircases. Our big feet did not fit on the stairs so we had to be very careful. The bathroom was on the first level, the bedroom was a half level up and the sitting room was on the next level. We had antique furniture along with a modern TV which we did not turn on. Tiles on the sitting room floor were cracked and loose. The parquet floor in the bedroom was loose and squeaked. There was a pocket bed in the sitting room which was much too small for either of us to use. WIFI was free and fast. If you look at the hotel's website, you can see the views from our room. Our breakfast consisted of orange juice, pressed coffee, three kinds of rolls and a hard boiled egg.
When we reached the hotel on Wednesday morning, it was too early to check in. We decided to go on one of Rick Steves walking tours around our neighborhood. The Jordaan Walk took us from Dam Square out to St Andrew's Courtyard. Along the way we passed several canals with a variety of boats - some hauling tourists, some transporting goods, some tied up as houseboats and some abandoned and rotting. The tall, narrow buildings and houses that we saw have settled in various degrees and are leaning in different directions. They are all built atop a foundation of pilings and have sunk into the soft ground. The major sights that we saw were the Torensluis Bridge(where we had lunch at Villa Zeezicht - tomato soup for Ann and a smoked fish sandwich for me), lots of shops, marijuana cafés, the Homomonument, Westerkerk, herring kiosks, French fires kiosks, the outside of Anne Frank's house, more shops, more cafés, more crooked buildings and finally St Andrew's Courtyard which is a behind-the-door courtyard surrounded by subsidized housing. We stopped here and sat on a bench in the garden to rest our legs.
The weather was sunny and a little cool for the entire walk.
We strolled back to our hotel and checked into our room. Because of jet lag, whenever we sat down we fell asleep. Because of this we decided to have an early dinner. After a short stroll to see where we were meeting our boat on Saturday we went for dinner at Tales And Spirits which was around the corner from our hotel. This was an excellent choice. Although it is advertised as a cocktail bar, its dinner menu is very inventive and tasty. We split four items - Green Asparagus Tempura planted in a parsley hummus with rye-sesame crumble, baby red chard and papadums; Red Beet Gazpacho with crayfish tails, herring roe, cucumber and garlic croutons; artichoke barigoule with a poached egg, smoked potato cream, and crispy chicken crackling; and truffle risotto with sautéed wild mushrooms & rocket lettuce, topped with shaved Parmesan. Yum.
Bed time was early.