29th September 2018 - 2nd October 2018
We set off early in the morning by bus to Totness were we got off one stop too soon and had to walk a bit to get to the station, it did say Station stop B. I guess we wanted stop A. Onto the train and a smooth trip until just outside Slough when we were told due to a collision between a train and a person we would be delayed for an indefinite time. Awful for some poor family, but also delaying our arrival at the airport. The train limped slowly into Slough and stopped allowing those who wanted to walk onto the platform. Announcements then started telling people about other lines that were running and were to catch buses - not looking good for us. We found we could return to Reading and catch a slower train to Gatwick. After an age we arrived at Gatwick in time to grab boarding passes and board. It is now late afternoon and no food!! Arrival at Amsterdam and not knowing where our hotel was we caught a taxi. The driver was a lovely person from Afghanistan. Our hotel is amazing it is a series of the local houses on top of one another as the outside 70 houses. The lovely receptionist told us not to book in as the kitchen was closing and to book in later, we were starving by this time so did as directed.
At dinner we met two lovely people Caroline and Brad, they had had their suitcase taken from the hotel luggage area by mistake by another guest. The suitcase was traced to Brussels and had been returned while we were all eating much to Brad and Caroline’s relief. The hotel had been very magnanimous, giving them money to buy replacement clothes and free food and drink all day. They bought us a drink and that was free too (we did not realise or would have drunk more). The suitcase was only missing for the day, so they did quite well out of it. When we got our dinner bill we were also not charged for a couple of drinks, but the waiter said not to worry it was their fault.
The following day we bumped into Brad and Caroline at breakfast and had another long chat We wandered around our immediate vicinity which was a very modern area of shops and restaurants. There is also one of the oldest houses in Holland; where Czar Peter the Great stayed in 1697, when studying boat building. Many other famous people have also visited - other Czars and even Napoleon and empress Elisabeth of Austria. It was a funny little house all funny angles due to the foundations collapsing in the wet soil.
A short walk to the train and we were off to the City Center about 12 mins on the train. What else could we do in a city of canals but take a cruise. It was a lovely sunny day and we had a great time looking at Amsterdam from the canals. Many of the houses are at a lean due to collapsed foundations and the Dutch call these dancing houses. We also saw the merchants houses in the expensive district. We went in search of Rembrandt’s house which had been pointed out on the cruise, we found the general area but not the house. That night we had Mediterranean food it was great, as were the free drinks and baklava, we got when I said “thank “ in Turkish and we got talking to the owner. I think this chatting to people is pretty good!!
The next day the Rijks Museum and it was fabulous, it is huge. We found the Night Watch by Rembrandt. it is a big paining and full of detail, there were also many people but not too many. The museum is on 3 floors and then a 4th at either side. I managed to see 1½ floors before getting so exhausted I gave up and met Ross who was having a beer after seeing 3 floors.
After a quick lunch we decided that if we were in Holland we should see some windmills. We got to the windmills at 4:15 in the rain to be told they close at 4:30. A very quick walk around between showers and a few photos saw us back on the bus to the hotel (which was very close). I was glad we had done it though as the windmills were just as I expected, and I got some good photos. For dinner we had booked in for the High Wine, which was a high tea with matching wines, very civilised.
I would go back to Amsterdam and see the rest of the Rijks Museum and maybe some tulips. I would stay again at the lovely hotel in Zaandam too. One of the waiters when we left told me that he thought we were very happy people and the hotel staff would miss us when we left. Wasn’t that sweet?
Back to Dartmouth. We were a little worried at immigration in Gatwick, but the lady was lovely. When she saw I was born in England and asked where was my English passport? I said in my handbag and would not use it I may be taxed if I did. She laughed and said I should be using it. I said we were paying enough tax without paying in England, She got the giggles and said so I was a tax evader and she should report me! Then she said that I should be using my British passport, or I would be evading immigration too!!! Luckily by this time she was laughing so much she could hardly stamp the papers. I guess that was easier than answering questions about how long we had stayed etc. We got to Paddington to find we had 3 hours to wait for our train, I went to see if I could exchange our tickets and got charge an extra £64, before I could say anything. Ross was not happy. Arriving at Totnes we looked for the bus – it had stopped running for the day £30 saw us back in Dartmouth by taxi, quite an expensive trip home (another lesson learnt, I think).