A Travellerspoint blog

Netherlands

Flying In and Frustrating First Day

Arriving Amsterdam


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View from the hotel room window

View from the hotel room window

We had the choice of connecting to the flight for Tanzania by going through London or Amsterdam. I decided to go through Amsterdam and to spend a couple of days there to get over jet lag. On the 30th after the flight I posted...

We are HERE in spite of everything

First the plane had no idea of my granddaughter's peanut allergy. They handed me a little container of nuts and I told them about it and that was the first they had heard.

Second - the canal cruise man said to tell on the day that we wanted the cruise and not the day before like Desiree said. To call the day before, we would have had to call from Houston.

Third good old Desiree gave us a photo of the place we were to meet the driver and it was totally the wrong place.
Meeting Place a la Desiree

Meeting Place a la Desiree

Fourth - the driver could not figure out how to get to the hotel. We finally got here after a series of illegal U-turns

Fifth-the hotel reservation was under Ann (my middle name). So when the scooter was delivered, they didn't have a reservation for Beasley and they sent it back

Sixth we could not get into our rooms until 2:00 - so we've been hanging around here since 10:30. [The hotel later said that at the time I made the reservation I could have asked for the room to be ready early and they would do that.]

They did deliver the scooter today and the hotel lent me a wheelchair until then. The scooter is HUGE and the hall is too narrow for me to get into the room easily. It is also very rabbity. The hotel people are pretty nice.

May 29 - Boarding

Bush airport (IAH) is totally disorganized for someone wanting a wheelchair. It took us half an hour to get one - well my daughter did it - I don't know how she persuaded the lady to take me as apparently she was after passenger #11 and I was passenger #19. I think the reason for the problem is that at Bush (and Heathrow), the airlines manage the wheelchair people and at Hobby (and BWI), it is the airPORT.
Waving goodbye

Waving goodbye


I took a photo of my daughter and granddaughter waving goodbye from the other side of the glass, and then the wheelchair lady took us up to the Lounge. We went all the way to the other end of the lounge because she wanted me to be near the food. Would have done better to be near the entrance as that is where the bathroom was. My granddaughter got me a sandwich, and I ate a banana that was in a bowl there and wrote the other email. Then I hobbled the length of the Lounge (which was Air France and KLM) and used the bathroom and asked for a wheelchair.
Sign in the lounge in George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Sign in the lounge in George Bush Intercontinental Airport


The lady called for one. But AGAIN it took half an hour for one to arrive. First we had to go down an elevator. There were four wheelchairs and they weren't letting us use the elevator. Then we went two at a time - we were in the second group. We got to the plane when they were halfway through boarding. So much for being FT (Fast Transit).

My granddaughter got on first as the wheelchair was stopped at the end of the ramp and I had to wait to go down.

The seats were nicer than the ones on BA except that you really could not see out of the windows even with a window seat. There was a space for a small backpack or pocket book under the footrest. The windows had internal shades so that you raised and lowered them by pushing a button, and there was a little cubby with a mirror which was big enough for my camera, so I put my camera vest, cane and computer bag in the overhead and they took my coat for the coat closet. There was a plug for a computer and also a USB port.
Cranberry juice, plugging in phone and button to auto darken windows

Cranberry juice, plugging in phone and button to auto darken windows


The only problem I had was seeing out the window. When we sat down they were dark and could not be changed. I couldn't change them until after we had taxied a ways.
Raising the shades on the porthole

Raising the shades on the porthole

George Bush Intercontinental Airport

George Bush Intercontinental Airport


The other thing was when I reclined, I could not wear the seat belt.
Parking lots taking off from Bush

Parking lots taking off from Bush


We had hot towels and drinks while the plane was loading - water for us - In glasses
First the plane had no idea of my granddaughter's peanut allergy. They handed me a little container of nuts and I told them about it and that was the first they had heard.

They checked and there was nothing on the manifest. My granddaughter did not get the nuts as they gave them to me first.
Granddaughter in her seat across the aisle

Granddaughter in her seat across the aisle

Screen on the plane showing time remaining after the first half hour

Screen on the plane showing time remaining after the first half hour


They were very salty. They served us dinner pretty much right away.
Dinner menu

Dinner menu


I had the lobster on hearts of palm salad with mango miso dressing. I liked the lobster part (3-4 lobster rounds). The rest not so much. My granddaughter didn't get any salad.
lobster on hearts of palm

lobster on hearts of palm


For dinner we both got the chicken - Parmesan stuffed chicken with toasted faro grains, sauteed garlic spinach and sun dried tomato. I ate most of the chicken.
Chicken dinner

Chicken dinner


For dessert they had lemon meringue tart which the flight attendant kept calling Marin-gay. I didn't know what she meant at first.

My granddaughter occupied herself - we couldn't really talk very well across the aisle. The plane was noisy and it was a bumpy flight. I settled down to go to sleep and at one point I thought I was sleeping on a train because it was that kind of bumpy. I slept some. My granddaughter said she just 'rested'. I was afraid that the bumpy flight would scare her, but she didn't seem to be fazed.

May 30 - Frustrating First Day

I tried to take photos of the sunrise - I could only see it out of the window past where my feet were and sort of sideways.
Sunrise from the plane

Sunrise from the plane

Breakfast menu

Breakfast menu


They gave us breakfast - I had the cinnamon bread pudding
Breakfast on the plane

Breakfast on the plane


and my granddaughter had the Egg Strada with mushroom, turkey bacon and Swiss cheese. Just before we landed they brought around the ceramic houses for us to each pick one and my granddaughter also got one that someone else had left behind. I thought it was foggy when we came in, but it was just mist on the windows which the internal blinds did not wipe away.
landing - mist on the window

landing - mist on the window

Schiphol airport

Schiphol airport


They came and got me in a wheelchair and we went up into the terminal where they put us on a cart. But the cart lady said children could not ride on the cart!!!. But she let my granddaughter ride on it anyway. First we took another lady to her next flight to Glasgow

Then we went through immigration and our passports got stamped. We got our bags - they came through almost first. The wheelchair lady got a luggage cart - one of those where you have to push down on the handle to make it move. The my grandsons could do this easily as they were tall and just had to lean on the handle a little. My granddaughter had to use some muscle.

Good old Desiree gave us a photo of the place we were to meet the driver and it was totally the wrong place. The wheelchair lady called and found the right place
The instructions said to go to #2 Arrivals. There was a photo with an arrow. So we went there. But there was, of course, no one there as you can't WAIT there. So the wheelchair lady talked a long time in Dutch on one of our phones, and we had to go all the way back through the airport and down the elevator to the Departures area where we found our driver at the Red Cube meeting area where Bob and I met the guy in April 2016 for the Tulip Cruise.

The driver could not figure out how to get to the hotel. We finally got here after a series of illegal U-turns
ibis hotel from across the canal

ibis hotel from across the canal

tower next to hotel

tower next to hotel


We would see the hotel in the distance but could not get there in a car. We finally got there and unloaded about 10:30. But when I gave them my name, they did not have a reservation for me because...

The hotel reservation was under Ann (my middle name). So when the scooter was delivered, they didn't have a reservation for Beasley and they sent it back

They gave us a wheelchair and we went up to the breakfast room where I had two rolls and some juice. My granddaughter said she was not hungry and I wasn't really either. Then I used the bathroom. The bathroom is in Room 101 opposite the restaurant. They took our luggage and called to ask for the scooter to be re-delivered. My granddaughter wouldn't sit down - she persisted in dancing around in front of the automatic doors which made them open and close.

we could not get into our rooms until 2:00. I was feeling a bit nauseated by then.

After I got the scooter but before we could go to our room, I called the canal boat people and made a reservation for the 4:00 boat. We also went next door to the Central Station and I changed $40 to euros so we would have some if needed.

Next problem the scooter is a big ass scooter and it barely fits in the elevator.
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For the doors to close I have to bump the rear wall. And when we get to our room, there is a door to the hall before we get to the door for the room and the doors are offset. The hall is too narrow to turn the scooter in. It takes inching back and forth until we get the scooter into the room. With the bell man's help I got it turned around and parked by the desk pointing out And we plugged it in. But I can't tell when it is charged. There are no directions with it.
Granddaughter on her bed

Granddaughter on her bed


So pretty much as soon as my granddaughter sent a text, she lay down and went right to sleep. I waked her up about 3:10 because the directions said it was a 34 minute walk to the canal cruise terminal.
Canal Cruise

Canal Cruise


It was a little more than that at people walking speed. Plus I had to keep asking directions. We got down to within about 3 blocks of the place on Prinzengracht. It was supposed to be opposite the Hard Rock. And we could NOT find it or even the street it was on. The map did not have enough detail at the end. We spent a good hour and 40 minutes looking for it. At one point I got ahead of my granddaughter and she lost me, so she called me on my phone and I backtracked to where she was.

I saw a Burger King and thought we might eat there (My granddaughter said she was hungry now), but there were 10 or 11 steps up,
Burger King from Pancake House

Burger King from Pancake House


so we stopped at the Pancake House across the way.
Pancake house menu

Pancake house menu


She had an English breakfast (two fried eggs, sausage, bacon,toast and beans). She ate the sausage and the yolk of the eggs.
English breakfast

English breakfast


I had a pizza of which I ate one slice.
My pizza

My pizza


I put the other 3 slices in a takeout box along with her toast and the bacon. I figured when we woke up at 4 am and were hungry, we would have something to eat.

Now to get back to the hotel. I asked a policeman in a van how to get to Central Station which is right next to the hotel and he said "Follow the trolley tracks" Duh Of course. So we did that. Well it wasn't that easy. I didn't want to be on the bike path because my granddaughter was walking, but there were not always cut-outs on the sidewalks. It involved considerable back and forth trying to find a place I could cross streets. It started to rain a little bit before we got back.

If I am not absolutely straight to go into the elevator, the scooter hits a back wheel on the door. My granddaughter managed to get me through the room door but I was too tired to try to turn the scooter around. She wrote in her diary and then went to sleep. It is 1:30 am Amsterdam time here right now. I slept until about 11 and then I got up and had a shower
Hotel bathroom

Hotel bathroom


and ate another slice of pizza. And I'm going to go back to sleep now.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 11:42 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Ambling Around Amsterdam

City Walking Tour


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The people at the hotel are very helpful. We got a wake-up call at 7 and got dressed to go down to breakfast. The scooter charger was green before we unplugged it. But we could NOT get it out of the room. So I called reception and asked for help. Two bellmen came up and one of them said his wife had a scooter like it. Between them they managed to get it out of the room. One of them also looked at the phone's blinking light (which indicated that we had a message even when we did not) and tried to get it to turn off. But at the end he couldn't fix it so he said - that's the way that phone is.

So we went down to breakfast. It was a buffet and my granddaughter got me two rolls with chocolate inside, scrambled eggs, and sausage links (more links than I needed but she didn't hear me say that was enough) I got water. Then she got herself more or less the same except she got juice. She didn't like the links - she said they weren't cooked enough. I wore my hat and had the plastic rain poncho in the scooter basket as it said it was going to rain And we went to meet the guide for the walking tour - this was only a couple blocks away. We were a little early.
Granddaughter waiting for tour guide

Granddaughter waiting for tour guide

Market Wizards B.V. where we were to meet the guide

Market Wizards B.V. where we were to meet the guide

Beursplain construction

Beursplain construction

Beurs van Berlage clock tower

Beurs van Berlage clock tower


The first place we went was Beurspassage. The mosaic art adorning the barrel-vaulted ceiling, the chandeliers, the mirrored walls and the granite floor tell a visual story about Amsterdam and its canals, and about the relationship between humans and water.
Ceiling Beurspassage

Ceiling Beurspassage

Trilobite on floor of Beurspassage

Trilobite on floor of Beurspassage

IMG_0849.JPGBeurspassage fish fountain

Beurspassage fish fountain

IMG_0848.JPGWall of Beurspassage

Wall of Beurspassage

Amsterdam symbol

Amsterdam symbol


The guide was an American with a visa to work in the Netherlands because he had a Dutch girl friend who was an anesthesiologist. He said my granddaughter looked like his girlfriend when she was little. He gave us a nice 3 hour walking tour -
042f7d00-723e-11e8-b273-c1826350c585.JPGStatues on Town Hall

Statues on Town Hall

Neptune Frieze Royal Palace Town Hall Amsterdam with gold unicorn horns

Neptune Frieze Royal Palace Town Hall Amsterdam with gold unicorn horns

Town Hall

Town Hall


De Nieuwe Kerk

De Nieuwe Kerk

34050470-731d-11e8-b7ac-6fb835384aa7.JPGCorner of the New Church

Corner of the New Church

Cookie bar- free standing-not part of the church

Cookie bar- free standing-not part of the church

The National Monument on Dam Square (Dutch: Nationaal Monument or Nationaal Monument op de Dam), Amsterdam, is a 1956 World War II monument in the Netherlands

The National Monument on Dam Square (Dutch: Nationaal Monument or Nationaal Monument op de Dam), Amsterdam, is a 1956 World War II monument in the Netherlands

Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud

Munt Tower

Munt Tower


orphans depicted in a fake window on the wall

orphans depicted in a fake window on the wall

Former orphanage door

Former orphanage door

Nun statue

Nun statue

Bust of Kardinaal van Rossun

Bust of Kardinaal van Rossun

343f7560-731d-11e8-b7ac-6fb835384aa7.JPGBegijnhof (courtyard in nun's community)

Begijnhof (courtyard in nun's community)

English Reformed Church

English Reformed Church


Rembrandt Square

Rembrandt Square

Rembrandt statue

Rembrandt statue

Night Watch statues

Night Watch statues

Granddaughter with the Night Watch statue

Granddaughter with the Night Watch statue


it did rain some but we went into a covered area in a mall for the 15 minutes that took.
VW sculpture in the mall

VW sculpture in the mall


Leaning buildings

Leaning buildings


a 15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square in Amsterdam. It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam. The building has also served as a guildhall, museum, fire station and anatomical theatre, among other things

a 15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square in Amsterdam. It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam. The building has also served as a guildhall, museum, fire station and anatomical theatre, among other things

31f49b00-731d-11e8-b00b-13204147d2d0.JPG'In de Ionghe Hoede Kramer' (Young Hat Seller) Old shop with 17th century gablestone

'In de Ionghe Hoede Kramer' (Young Hat Seller) Old shop with 17th century gablestone

large_IMG_0913.JPGRed light district down that alley

Red light district down that alley


Jug in the window of the Monkey Bar

Jug in the window of the Monkey Bar


Older buildings have smaller bricks

Older buildings have smaller bricks

Delft store

Delft store

IMG_0887.JPGIMG_0888.JPGLogo on the Blue Delft store

Logo on the Blue Delft store

large_IMG_0891.JPGDoelen Hotel-the oldest hotel in Amsterdam. Rembrandt lived here for a period of time and painted the Nightwatch in a room on the third floor.

Doelen Hotel-the oldest hotel in Amsterdam. Rembrandt lived here for a period of time and painted the Nightwatch in a room on the third floor.


IMG_0928.JPGSwan in a canal

Swan in a canal


He asked my granddaughter what was her favorite subject in school and she said "Art". If I had known that I would have gone to one of the museums. The scooter quickly went from all charged down to two bars and I was worried about it so he ended the tour at our hotel. I did not know whether to tip him as most people I've tried to tip have said no. So in the end, I didn't. But I think now I should have done.

We went back to the room but could not get the scooter into the room. A lady who was in the hall with a clipboard helped us- she actually lifted the back end of the scooter to get it straight at the door and we put it to charge again. We tried to get lunch at the hotel restaurant but it was closed. I forgot that there were sandwiches down in the lobby, but we ate my leftover pizza from last night's dinner.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 05:39 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Cruising the Canals of Amsterdam

In the afternoon


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I was really sleepy, so I took a nap. When I woke up I was determined to get my granddaughter a canal cruise as that is the most iconic way to see Amsterdam. There is a canal cruise company that we can see out of our window. But it is too far for me to walk. So we took the scooter down (my granddaughter got it out of the room by herself), and I borrowed a wheelchair from the hotel. I paid the hotel 26 euros (all but one euro of the money I had changed yesterday) and they printed tickets for me
Ticket

Ticket


and we set off with me in the wheelchair. It wasn't a very good wheelchair. One of the foot rests was wonky.

When we left the hotel, the sidewalk slanted to the street and I almost ended up there, but we pushed around to the canal boat place and then I went down the stairs and someone carried the wheelchair down for my granddaughter. I knew there was a ramp but did not feel we were up to doing that. Just as well as the wheelchair has no brakes

The first boat place they said, well that the tickets were for a one hour tour and this was the 90 minute tour place. We should be on the other side of the bridge (?) but I should go to the man in the orange shirt and he could fit us in. So we went through crowds of East Indian tourists and found the man in the orange shirt. He said I could go on the next boat. The boat that came in there was a wheelchair man and he sort of crawled off the boat and they brought his wheelchair to him so that answered the question of what to do with the wheelchair.

They took the wheelchair and helped me on the boat and the captain said if I wanted I could sit in the open air in the back so I did. We sat on the left and plugged in our earphones which and left the language to English.

Then a whole boatload of the East Indians got on. The WC was in the back where we were so a lot of them came to use it, and a lot of the men were standing back there so that those of us who were sitting on the left could not see what was on the right. But on the whole it was a good canal boat tour.
Starting off

Starting off


Welcome to Lovers Canal Cruise

Welcome to Lovers Canal Cruise


go under the bridge

go under the bridge

1 Hour Canal cruise

1 Hour Canal cruise

Canal Museum Tours

Canal Museum Tours

boat under the bridge

boat under the bridge

Chinese restaurant

Chinese restaurant

Nemo

Nemo


IMG_0947.JPG
no anchoring

no anchoring


Bridge traffic light

Bridge traffic light


Montelbaanstoren tower

Montelbaanstoren tower


restaurant

restaurant


market stalls from the back

market stalls from the back

IMG_0958.JPGIMG_0959.JPG
Looking down the canal

Looking down the canal


fancy lights

fancy lights


IMG_0964.JPGbridge and boat

bridge and boat


Bridge stop light

Bridge stop light

Girl in the window

Girl in the window

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No alcohol zone

No alcohol zone


bikes by the canal

bikes by the canal


Swan escort

Swan escort


We got the wheelchair back. Now to get back to the hotel. I searched for the ramp which proved to be a bike path. My granddaughter pushed and I pulled on the railing and pushed with my feet (I had decided the foot rests were useless) and we got up the less steep part, but at the top it was too steep. Two ladies asked if we needed help and they helped my granddaughter push me to the top.

We got back to the hotel and retrieved the scooter. In backing out of where I had put it, it was faster than I wanted it to be and I almost destroyed one of the box things they had in the lobby. (There was no real reception desk - just a bunch of kind of small standing desks.) The guys at reception explained that the restaurant is not open from 12 to 4 and then it opens for dinner. It isn't open for lunch.

My granddaughter got a pizza
pizza

pizza


and I got chicken salad, iced tea and Dutch apple pie. My granddaughter ate 3 pieces of pizza. The iced tea was carbonated.
Sparkling tea (carbonated)

Sparkling tea (carbonated)

Dutch apple pie

Dutch apple pie


She went and refilled the water bottles from where we had breakfast. I ordered grilled cheese to go, and they gave my granddaughter the 3 pieces of pizza that she didn't eat.

Again I had trouble getting into the elevator. If I am not absolutely straight, the back wheels hit the door and when I am in there, there, having hit the back wall each time as the scooter does not stop quickly, I have about 4" clearance behind me and it takes someone little to be able to get in beside me.

When we got up to the room, I decided not to put the scooter in the room but to leave it in the hall. I was still showing fully charged and we hadn't really been anywhere.

I edited photos and then took a nap. My granddaughter was sneezing quite a bit but she says she's OK. She asked if my son (her uncle) saw a kill when he was in Kenya with my mother, and I did not remember.

We are being picked up tomorrow by the scooter people at 10 for the tour of the outside villages.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 10:05 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Volendam, Wooden Shoes, Cheese and Windmills

Out to Outlying Villages


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Since we were to be picked up at 10, I didn't leave a wake-up call. I waked up at about 7 and got dressed and organized before I waked up my granddaughter. She had fallen asleep with her ear buds in and I had to touch her before she waked up. She does sort of spring awake immediately. We went down to breakfast
Breakfast

Breakfast


and I decided to get down to the lobby 15 minutes early and the guide was already there. There was a lift for the scooter in the back of the van.
IMG_0993.JPG
First we went to a little village called Monnickendam (founded by monks) and we got out and sat by on of the locks.
large_IMG_0991.JPGIMG_0999.JPGlarge_IMG_0994.JPGlarge_IMG_0998.JPGIMG_1001.JPGIMG_0988.JPGIMG_0989.JPGIMG_1002.JPG
Then we went to Volendam but the lady I wanted to see was on vacation.
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So I left the thumb drive anyway, and also got my granddaughter to dress up in costume and have her photo taken. (People keep talking to her in Dutch and since she doesn't understand and maybe isn't paying much attention, she doesn't answer) They have people who dress you, down to the wooden shoes, but my granddaughter initially got two non-matching ones from two different pairs.
large_IMG_1003.JPGlarge_IMG_1006.JPGlarge_IMG_1010.JPG
large_IMG_1007.JPGlarge_IMG_1011.JPGlarge_IMG_1015.JPGlarge_IMG_1019.JPG
We had 15 minutes to kill before the photos would be ready, so we went and got fries with mayo. There was too much mayo for me but it was OK. Some ducks came to beg and we fed them some fries. One of them had mayo on his beak.
large_IMG_1022.JPGlarge_IMG_1017.JPG
Then we picked up the photos.
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Then we went to a wooden shoe factory
Granddaughter and Guide outside the shoe factory

Granddaughter and Guide outside the shoe factory


and they gave us a talk on making the cheese and showed us how they made the shoes.
large_IMG_1028.JPGlarge_IMG_1030.JPGlarge_IMG_1033.JPGlarge_IMG_1035.JPG
We got to taste some of the cheeses - or I did. (All this was what we missed on the Tulip canal cruise Bob and I took in 2016.) I sent Bob a year old and a 2 year old cheese - one Gouda and one Edam, plus a jar of horseradish mustard.

The guide gave us some of the waffle cookies,
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and then we went to akind of windmill museum, sort of like Kinderdjik but these windmills were in use making chocolate, sawing wood etc. We didn't go in any of them.
large_IMG_1043.JPGlarge_IMG_1041.JPGlarge_IMG_1042.JPG
We got back here about 3 and I tipped the guide and the driver. I went up to the room to pack, but fell asleep and didn't wake up until about 6. They are very late about getting to this room to clean and did not clean today. I have now packed.

I went to check in and get a boarding pass, but since I could not print it out I wanted it on my phone. However my phone has a problem getting aol mail so I forwarded the boarding passes to my granddaughter's phone. I asked the driver for tomorrow to come at 6:30 instead of 7:15 and set a
wake-up call for 5:30.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 10:07 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

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