I think we walked all over the Netherlands!

July 29, 2014  Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Sunny, 72 degrees Sunset 9:35 pm

We are in the capital city of the Netherlands.  This city gets 3.5 million visitors per year.  It is known best for its canals, hopping nightlife, red-light districts, as well as, many cultural sites.  The Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House are very popular.

We did a non-sponsored ship tour here today through Amsterdamcitytours.com.  It was a 6.5 hour tour of Marken, Volendam and the windmills.  Here is the itinerary

A tour which takes you through the typical Dutch countryside of polders and small canals on the way to the Zaanse Schans’, a well-known spot on the Zaan River with historical windmills.  Zaandam was the world’s largest industrial zone back in the 17th century with over 1000 windmills.  We will be visiting a wood shoe factory (clogs).  We will stop at the world famous fishing villages of Volendam and Marken on the coast of Ijsselmeer.  With its typical green wooden houses and locals dressed in their traditional costumes.  On our way back we will make a visit to one of the very few cheese farms left, where cheese if still made the traditional way.  Included in this excursion is a boat trip from Volendam to Marken, a former island now connected to the mainland.

Our tour was to begin at 12:30 so we headed over to the main square about 11:00am.  We caught the 26 tram for 280 euro  which let us off in front of Central Station.  We wandered for a bit to find 26 Damrak but finally did.  Turned our voucher in for tickets and had a half our wait.  We were glad we waited there since the guide came early to walk us about 2 blocks to the bus.  We were first ones on and got the front seat.  This is a great tour but there is a lot of walking.  No one seemed to expect as much walking as we did.

It was a beautiful 20 minute ride through some countryside to our first stop of Zaanse Schans.  There are lots of cows, horses and sheep here.  Zaanse Schans had working windmills.  We had a demonstration on the one that grinds peanuts into fresh peanut oil.  Then we had time to walk around the entire village.  Some people actually live here.  We took lots of windmill pictures, each one better than the next.   There was a nice village that had a candy museum.  We walked through it and bought some cinnamon chocolate covered almonds and a milk chocolate cats tongue.  They make the cats tongue.  It looks like a cats tongue and has a kitty on the top.  It was good.  Next was the bakery where fresh sweet waffles were being made.  Of course we tried one.  I was told that if you try to native food it is a cultural experience and no calories are absorbed.  Anyways, the waffle was hot, thick and crisp with a little bit of sweetness to it.  They want to cover everything with Nutella but I prefer it plain.

Back to the bus and on to Volendam.  Another 20 minute ride in the air conditioned bus.  It was a warm day but with so much water around we did get some cool breezes.  Once in Volendam, we went to the Volendam Museum.  It is small but had some great information in it.  Everyone there had their traditional garb on.

From here, we walked to the center of town.  It was quite a walk.  Our guide, Astrid, likes to take the scenic route through alleys, backyards and by people’s houses.  It was very nice.  Once we made it to the middle of town, she took us to the cheese shop.  Here they did a demo on making cheese.  We got to sample everything they made and ended up buying some.  It is on a casing so will age as we travel and not spoil before we get back.  Did you know there is 1 cow for every 4 people in the Netherlands?

After the cheese demo we went further into town by the water and had some free time to get a late lunch or shop.  Astrid showed us a great restaurant for fish and chips.  So we got a table and it was a little joint.  They cooked everything fresh to order.  Dad the fish and chips Heineken special which included the beer and mom and I got kibberlings which were pieces of cod which  were fried.  They were kind of like fish nuggets.  Both were served with fries and salad.  Afterwards we saw a strawberry waffle go by and had to get one. It was close to time to leave and we had no silverware so we ripped that sucker up with our fingers and ate it.   Wait til you see the picture. Oh my goodness, fantastic.

Next it was a boat ride to Marken.  Once off the boat we once again walked through neighborhoods to get to the wooden shoe makers.  We had demo on how to make them which was quite interesting.  After we had a chance to purchase some.  I did not buy any shoes but did buy some Stroopwafel.  It is a tin of cookies which are a very thin waffle with syrup between them.  You get 10 in a tin and they are about the size of a coffee cup saucer.  We had some samples and they were great.

Then it was a 25 minute ride back to Amsterdam.  We were all tired.  There were 3 other people from the ship on board.  I asked Astrid if they passed the ship on the way back could she drop us off.  This way we did not have to take the tram back or walk.  She talked to Bob our driver and he told us to stay on the bus in Amsterdam when he dropped everyone else off and then he would take us to the ship.  What a sweetheart.  It was so nice of him.

We were back on board about 7:00pm.  We came back to find them caulking our shower.  He asked us not to use it for at least an hour.  So we went to dinner dirty!  Peter, our dining steward was waiting for us.  He could see we were tired.  So he kept our glasses filled with tea and water since we could not seem to get enough and got us small chef salads for dinner.

After dinner it was showers, computer time and bed.

What a great time in Amsterdam.  I know we will all sleep well on the docked MS Veendam.

Central Station.  The start of our day in Amsterdam

Central Station. The start of our day in Amsterdam

Bikes in Amsterdam

Bikes in Amsterdam

More windmills

More windmills

Grazing sheep

Grazing sheep

Houses on and Zaans

Houses on and Zaans

Windmills

Windmills

Windmill grinding the peanut oil

Windmill grinding the peanut oil

Sweet waffle with the windmills

Sweet waffle with the windmills

Random house boats

Random house boats

Mosiac made of cigar bands

Mosiac made of cigar bands

Down to the city center

Down to the city center

Up the alley stairs

Up the alley stairs

All the cheese

All the cheese

Fish for lunch

Fish for lunch

Look at this waffle.  Could you resist?

Look at this waffle. Could you resist?

Don't touch her waffle

Don’t touch her waffle

Where we had lunch

Where we had lunch

Dad and Astrid, our guide

Dad and Astrid, our guide

Boat over to Marken

Boat over to Marken

Coming into Marken

Coming into Marken

Houses in Marken as we walk

Houses in Marken as we walk

Handing shoes to let all of the water evaporate out

Handing shoes to let all of the water evaporate out

What color of shows would you buy?

What color of shows would you buy?

Mom and bessie in her shoes

Mom and bessie in her shoes

Advertisements

Sea Day and Surgery

Sea Day   July 28, 2014

Partly Cloudy, 66 degrees,  sunset 9:45 pm

Kayla here is your song from Sheldon and Prissy.

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little bar of fur

Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr

Kayla this day is for you.  Hope your knee surgery went well.  We are all thinking of you and Leonard sends his love.

Back to the trip…….

Breakfast was at 9am with half an omelet (mom and I shared) and pancakes right off the griddle. YUM

It is a sea day which means a lazy day.  There is an upper respiratory bug going around.  I am trying to stay out of common areas that are crowded.  People are very inconsiderate about covering their cough or just staying in their room.  The Captain has made 3 announcements in the last 3 days about it.  There are large wheels of cheese in the Lido at lunch.  One lady held it with her hand while she cut some off.  To late once she touched it to tell her that is what the fork is for.

Went to 2 culinary classes today.  One was on food from the Netherlands.  We learned how to make Bitterballen and Dutch Pea Soup.  The soup was made with fresh green peas not split peas.  Have to say, I like my soup better made from split peas.  This was a vegie broth with onions, carrots and peas cooked with a piece of sausage.  It was different.

We had a light lunch since we are off to the Cannaletto (Italian) Restaurant tonight.  We loved it on the Eurodam and will have to see how the Veendam compares.

We hit happy hour today.  It was not very busy at all.  The view from the Crows Nest was spectacular.  It was sunny and bright.  We are passing oil rigs and cargo ships all around us.  Mom and I were hoping to be up early in the morning as we come down the canal and through the locks into Amsterdam, but the Captain just came on and said they upped our slot to 4:00am.  So there goes that idea.

Dinner was very good.  We had a salumi plate with cured hams and cheese, meatballs and a salad with beets, spiced walnuts and gorgonzola.  On the Veendam they combine the pasta and large plates in the same course.  I like that.  We had rigatoni with calamata olives and Italian sausage, veal picatta, and braised short ribs with gnocchi.  Dessert was torte cacao (chocolate cake with vanilla gelato), strawberry gelato and pistachio gelato. 

We  played at the casino and walked a bit after dinner.  Tonights show was the Dancing with the Stars finale for this leg of the cruise.  It was a lot of fun.  The best dance won (as it should be).  The funniest part was the end there was technical trouble with the music to close the show.  Bruce (CD) stalled for a while, did a river dance for us and finally closed it out without the finale.

Good night from the slow moving MS Veendam.

Rigatoni

Rigatoni

Veal Picatta

Veal Picatta

Short ribs and Gnocchi

Short ribs and Gnocchi

Torte Cacaoa

Torte Cacaoa

Pistachio Gelato

Pistachio Gelato

Strawberry Gelato

Strawberry Gelato

New beef dish with porchini mushrooms and asperagus

New beef dish with porchini mushrooms and asperagus

A quiet Sunday in Norway

July 27, 2014  Stavanger, Norway

Partly cloudy, 72 degrees  sunset 10:12 (still twilight at midnight)

Stavanger lies on the northwest coast of Norway and covers less than 30 miles.  This city is home to NATO’s Joint Warfare Center.  It is often described as more international and cosmopolitan than any comparable Norwegian city, Stavanger offers culture, shopping and nightlife all within the city center.  The city center is car free. 

Our stop was on a Sunday.  They had a huge fest the night before.  There was still lots of trash being picked up and the tents were just beginning to come down.  Mom and I wandered around town.  Dad stayed on the ship.  A dark cloud was out but sunshine and heat took over the day.

We wandered past the harbor looking for Mc Donalds and free internet.  Eventually we found it and stayed on at a great speed until my battery died.  After doing all of our business we wandered around town.  Mc Donald’s, 2 souvenir shops and church were the only  things open for a while.

Mom and I wandered all around the town.  Bars and storefronts had apts above them.  They have large windows and they were all open.  No screens, so hope there were no bugs.  They had their music playing, filling up the walkways.  It is all cobblestone and brick.  Kind of reminded me of a German village.

The church bells were ringing, so we headed that way.  The cathedral in the city center was built between 1123 and 1128.  It still stands in impeccable condition and remains the oldest cathedral in Norway.  They are currently doing some cleaning and renovations to the outside of it.  I did not see any pews inside.  There were straight back wooden chairs, 100s of them.  It was a big and beautiful cathedral.

We did stop at a souvenir shop and got dad a hat pin.  He did not have one from Norway so we got him a Viking.  Mom and I each got magnets.

Once back on ship we went to the Dive In and got some great messy burgers.  Next time, I will get some pictures.  Great addition to HAL.

The afternoon was spent sitting on the promenade deck reading and napping.  Sailaway was 4:30.  Our dinner is always at 8:00pm.  Dad had Indonesian food while mom and I had Osso Bucco.  It is one of my favorite dishes.  I even had some really good rice pudding for dessert.  It was served with deep fried pineapple.  Not a fan of that.

Encore was our show which is our Tenor Kevin with our Soprano Loryn.  They of course opened with Phantom, did some well know opera, some classical songs, The Prayer and closed with Beethoven.

Good night from the smooth sailing MS Veendam. 

Jojo and leonard

Jojo and leonard

Quiet town

Quiet town

Shopping area

Shopping area

Apts, music and windows open

Apts, music and windows open

Town

Town

Houses on the bay

Houses on the bay

What a view

What a view

P1070048

Mom and reindeer pelts

Mom and reindeer pelts

Trumpy and mom

Trumpy and mom

Victoria Hotel

Victoria Hotel

Dads new Viking pin

Dads new Viking pin

Lots of houses

Lots of houses

In the middle of the harbor

In the middle of the harbor

Townhomes only via water.  No road

Townhomes only via water. No road

The bay bridge

The bay bridge

Bergen Food

Manning the grill

Manning the grill

Mackeral

Mackeral

King crabs - pick a live one

King crabs – pick a live one

Salmon and whale

Salmon and whale

Salmon

Salmon

Assorted plates

Assorted plates

Shrimp and fish curry

Shrimp and fish curry

Lobster and friends

Lobster and friends

We should of got this plate

We should of got this plate

Mussels

Mussels

More seafood

More seafood

Shrimp and goodies

Shrimp and goodies

Assorted fish market

Assorted fish market

King Crab Claws

King Crab Claws

What a plate!

What a plate!

Wonderful fruit

Wonderful fruit

Noughet Candy

Noughet Candy

Candy Tent

Candy Tent

Pictures of Bergen

Shopping

Shopping

To the little red train

To the little red train

Hillside houses

Hillside houses

Dad's beer

Dad’s beer

DSCN6039

The Russian crew and the folks

The Russian crew and the folks

Mom forund her elkburger

Mom forund her elkburger

ANything good?

ANything good?

The crowds

The crowds

Dad trying whale meat

Dad trying whale meat

Half salmon half shrimp sanwich

Half salmon half shrimp sanwich

P1060927

Town

Town

Candy plate

Candy plate