We have been so busy these last few days, its hard to think that it is already Thursday. However, I must slow down some tonight and reflect on our last few days ... and hopefully keep it short.
Tuesday we explored the city of Amsterdam. After a small mishap purchasing our one hour tram tickets, we boarded tram 51 for a 20 minute ride into city center Central Station. We depart the tram finding ourselves in a swarm of travelers boarding and disembarking trains, trams, and buses, hustling and bustling around, some with luggage, some with children, and many with bicycles. We eventually find our way above ground only to find a sun filled city filled with beautiful old buildings and boat filled canals. "Welcome to Amsterdam!"
We quickly find a tourist office to purchase our tickets for the canal tour. We were told by both experienced travelers and locals that the best way to see Amsterdam is from the canals, so we obeyed the advice of many and spent a large portion of our day on different "canal boat" lines - seeing the sights the way Amsterdam was intended to be viewed. The boat leaves the dock, we immediately travel under our first bridge and are transformed to a completely different part of the city. We start at the old boat harbor and begin to hear the vast history from the recorded tour guide, passing Anne Frank's house, the Rijksmuseum, Vondelpark, boat houses, windmills, the Heineken Factory, and so many other sights. For our final ride, we choose the last canal boat of the day, 5:30pm. The tour was to take us on the Orange line - the furthest from city center. A beautiful tour ended abruptly however when the clock turned 6:30pm. Apparently, no matter where you are located, when the clock turns 6:30pm, the boat docks, everyone is to disembark and walk to their final destination. Problem is...our final destination was on the complete other side of the city - SO.....we hoofed it.
However, this ended up being a blessing as we find ourselves just walking and exploring the city streets, still being cautiously aware of the bikes in the city. Walking up and down the city streets, we find quaint districts throughout - various shops, restaurants, pubs, coffee-shops, souvenir boutiques, etc. We even fell into a "carnival" in Dam Square - and of course, needed to patronize their existence. Students chose their ride for the evening while I remained on the ground laughing and taking pictures of the brave souls on the rides.
After a long night, we board the 51 tram again to head back "home." We are tired, chilly, and ready for bed...the tram is quiet, no one seems to be talking much so all we hear is the thu-thump, thu-thump of the tram on the tracks. And then.......the tram stops, the doors remain shut, and no one is saying anything. Apparently the tram was experiencing difficulties and we needed to leave the car, but the doors wouldn't open so we could only leave the car by going through the drivers door. What an experience this was...But alas, we made it back home with the help of the bi-lingual dutch locals helping us to see the next tram on the Overstappen - the other track.
We make it back to the HTel, politely say our goodnights, and quickly fall into bed exhausted after a long 12 hour day exploring the city of Amsterdam - eager for our next adventure in the city.