We met our drivers, sent by the International School of Amsterdam, who promptly picked us up and drove us via the "scenic route" to our Htel accommodations. We passed through city streets, an industrial park, a tulip farm and greenhouse, a draw-bridge lifting for a few sailboats to pass through the canal, and through the cottage-like town homes of the local people of Amstelveen (pronounced Am-stel-vain). After a short 20 minute drive from the airport, we arrived at our "home" in Amstelveen - the Htel.
The desk clerks greeted us immediately with a warm welcome, offering us tea, coffee, or water, and were quickly willing to give us a tour of our accommodations. The student's smiles were priceless as we received a tour of the building. Swimming pool, sauna, foot baths, Turkish steam room, state-of-the-art lounge, high-tech meeting facilities...and thats all before we saw the fully furnished apartments. They were impressed, as was I, with the sleek look of our surroundings.
After everyone found their apartments, we closed our doors, unpacked, showered, and bed down for a short nap. But time quickly passed and it was time to meet Dr. Edward Greene (the Director of ISA) along with his lovely wife Christine for a dinner at a local restaurant around the town. They introduced us to the 2 delicacies of Amsterdam...French Fries with mayonnaise and Bitterballen (a deep fried ball containing meat, ragu,and some spices - usually to be dipped in a spicy mustard). We dined outside as the weather was a dreamy 76 degrees, uncommon weather as per the locals. Before and after dinner, we walked about the town with Christine who was eager to show us where the locals shop for groceries, clothing, glasses, electronics, flowers, etc, along with how to navigate through the streets. By navigate, I am not merely speaking of directions to and from, but instead, discriminating between the pedestrian lane, the car lane and most importantly, the BIKE lane. Bicycles are the biggest form of transportation in the Amsterdam area, and one should not ride casually here. Bikes are a form of transportation, not merely enjoyment, so - get out of their way or they will RUN YOU OVER! :)
After a lovely night we all returned to our apartments, ready for a good nights sleep. We needed to rest, for the next day we would tour the big city of AMSTERDAM.