Friday, September 27, 2013

our trip to the netherlands: amsterdam, part 2

After a while, we split off from the guys and found our hostel. It was swarming with activity: people speaking different languages lounging in the common areas, walking the halls and gathering around the outside of the buildings. Neither of us had ever stayed at a hostel so we weren't sure what to expect. Quickly we learned there was no soap, no towels, and you had to make the beds yourself. Not a big deal to us, but I'm just warning you in case you ever stay at a hostel ;)

I don't have any pictures of it, but we met up with a cousin of Shayne and her husband that night. Neither of us knew she was living in Amsterdam, but we were excited to get to meet family! Getting to know Tammy & Mike was a lot of fun. The four of us laughed and told stories and learned about each other all night. I'm looking forward to sometime in the future that we'll be able to see them on our Island!! They say within the next ten years.....haha!! Did I mention the rain that night?! We all got SOAKED to the bone. Walking to the Starbucks, running to the pub, and dashing all the way back to the hostel.....slosh, slosh, slosh! After a while we just figured that we were already wet, so we may as well have fun! :)

The next morning Shayne and I walked around the Vondelpark, taking in the "Central Park" of Amsterdam and enjoying the scenery. It was beautiful and quiet and we forgot that we were in the middle of a big city. Thankfully the rain held off!!

Just as the rain began again, we stumbled upon the Mini store and popped in to explore. We "built" our own Mini Cooper and then pretended to take the show model for a spin, until the sales rep tried to convince us to buy! ;) We actually spent a fair bit of time in here. It was fun to look around! 

Eventually we made our way back to the Dam Square, where we took a break. At this point, I wanted to go to the Nieuwe Kerk, but found out it was closed. So, we walked to the Oude Kerk, found out it was also closed AND that we had accidentally ended up in the one part of Amsterdam I had no interest in seeing....the Red Light District. We high-tailed it out of there and decided to go for lunch instead.

Can you see him allllllll the way down there, leaning on the column? That's my Shayne! This shopping plaza happened to have a restaurant on the third floor, so we walked around and then settled down for a delicious meal. No shopping though - this was a ritzy mall, with expensive shops! But it sure was cool to see the architecture!

After lunch, we hopped on a train and headed for Utrecht. More on that to come!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

our trip to the netherlands: amsterdam, part 1

Early the next morning, we hopped on the train to Amsterdam to meet up with some friends who had been backpacking Europe.  The Amsterdam Centraal station is muge (massively huge!) and beautiful. It was really cool to walk through there and think of all the years of travellers whose feet have walked the same route as mine. 

After meeting up with Klaas & Nathan, we walked to the Heineken factory and did their tour. Because really, who wouldn't want to tour a beer factory in the morning? Especially when they offer you three beer included in your ticket price.....before lunch? (Not me. I stomached half a glass before deciding I had enough Heineken.)
The tour was pretty cool; you got to see how they make the beer, and walk through a bunch of memorabilia, etc. I was basically there because the boys wanted to go...haha. But don't worry. I made them do something I wanted to do in the afternoon!!

After a delicious lunch of snack bar frikandel speciaal (lekkerrrrrr) we took a canal cruise. One of the only times during the day that it wasn't drizzling! Obviously Nathan and Klaas didn't want their picture taken, but Shayne is getting used to my constant "quick, smile!" requests.

The homes in Amsterdam are so skinny and tall and old! It's fun to imagine all of the lives lived here in this city throughout the centuries. What kinds of characters used to walk these streets, float down these canals, dwell in these houses?
Because the homes are so thin, they have something called a hoisting beam attached to the top floor, to be able to bring up large items into the house. Or, in this case, to take out rubbish when doing renovations! It was fun to watch as they carefully moved this pile of garbage out the window and down to the street level without hitting any of the first or second floor windows.

More later...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

our trip to the netherlands

Wow. We're back from an amazing two-week vacation in Holland! This is the first time I can ever remember taking two whole weeks away from work to go anywhere. It's incredibly relaxing to unwind! Man oh man! We made a lot of memories, including being able to witness four good friends get married! That was the whole reason for going in the first place. Two best friends, Dutchies, married brothers, so now they are all one big happy family!

To start off the trip, we thought we'd get familiar with the area in which we were staying (Barneveld.) Rach, Shayne and I took an afternoon biking trip all around the area. 

 The fun thing about Holland is that bikers rule the road! I found it a bit scary, coming from North America where the biggest vehicles rule the road instead...but eventually started to get used to having the right of way. 
Tree lined roads not more than one lane wide cover the countryside of Holland. Biking down them is almost surreal. It definitely doesn't remind me of home! Wide open spaces are hard to find.

After a while we got thirsty, so we stopped in at this tiny little pub, where we were the only customers (it was only early afternoon) and had a drink. As you can see I was still dealing with a bit of jet lag; at this point I just really wanted a nap. We tried the best beer here: Hertog Jan! Smooooooth.

That night, Rachy got to experience riding a train for the first time ever! Here on PEI we don't have any railroads or trains. They were all pulled up years ago. So, we have an awesome walking/biking trail, but no trains...Anyway. She was very excited! And Shayne, well he must have been excited too, because I could only get silly faces out of him. We went out for dinner with a group of friends in Amersfoort, and even though it rained and we had to go to three different restaurants before finding an open one, we had a great night of catching up!

All that activity for one day...I slept WELL that night!! And the next day, Shayne and I were off to Amsterdam. Stay tuned!
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