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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

European Vacation - Amsterdam

Day 1 and 2 of our travels to Europe (December 21-22) - USA to Amsterdam

I realize now, that any good trip that involves air travel is a lot like giving birth. You look forward to the destination, but forget what a pain it is to get there. Our travels will take us to Amsterdam, Paris and London – just like my motherhood would take me to 3 lovely daughters. But getting here was painful. Our trip from San Francisco to Chicago was uneventful. But our trip from Chicago to Amsterdam was 4 hours late and filled with crying babies in the row ahead of us, and an elderly couple coughing their way across the Atlantic. One big thing I forgot and want to remind all of you to do is bring lots of snacks because waiting and waiting will make you hungry. It cost me five dollars to buy something that would cost a dollar at home. So remember, bring snacks! Fruit, candy, pretzels – something!

Anyway, the good side of our delay was it meant our hotel room would be ready to check into when we landed. Otherwise if we were on time, we would have had to check our bags with the bell hop at the hotel without showering, and sight see while completely wiped out. So at least we did get to check in, get our bags settled, take showers, and embark on sightseeing after completely reinvigorating ourselves.

Before I forget, I must say Amsterdam Schipol airport is very convenient. We got through customs very quickly, and conveniently found the train that would take us to Amsterdam Centraal station. From there we would take a tram that would take us to our Marriott Hotel across from the Leidesplien, which is a nice, touristy part of town. We are trying to take local transportation whenever possible. We did not rent a car. We conveniently walked from our hotel room to the Rijks Museum, a famous museum with many lovely Rembrandt paintings. Children under the age of 18 are free; that was a bonus to us. The building itself was under quite a bit of renovation, quite a mess outside. It only houses 2 floors of collections, so you can get through it in about an hour. Right next to the Rijks Museum is the Van Gogh museum but we passed on that in order to take a walk down memory lane and visit the neighborhood where we used to live 15 years ago. It was interesting to discover that we remembered which tram to take, where to disembark, and how to walk from the tram stop to our neighborhood as if it were yesterday. A few stores had changed, but for the most part, all was as we remembered it. Even the Italian restaurant where we frequented was still there, a place call L’Arena. We took the girls there and ate some lovely, just fired, thin crust pizza with home-made Italian sausage. It was delectable. Here, you have to remember that water doesn’t come free, we had to buy no-gas water to quench our thirst. Also, service is included in the bill, but tipping is still expected.

After dinner, we walked to a few stores we used to go to, the cheese shop, bakery, and meat stores were the same. We purchased a few baked goods to take to our hotel room for snacking. Yummy!

We were done with sightseeing and going down memory lane by 6 pm. We were so tired we went back to the hotel to crash. We could not stay awake any longer, and at least we made it this long before we went to sleep. The first night is tough with the time difference, we slept for a few hours, someone would wake up and go to he bathroom, go back to sleep, then someone else would wake up and go to the bathroom, then go back to bed. We would all awake at 4 in the morning and check email and start blogging away.

I have to give my kids a big hug for being such troopers, they tolerated the delays and crying baby. They each lugged their bags through each airport, into town and held up rather nicely through the jet lag. They are anticipating London the most, since they are huge Harry Potter fans. I've scheduled a Harry Potter walk through www.walks.com, so I'll give you an update on how interesting that turns out to be.

Meanwhile - we are settled in our Paris hotel off of Boulevard de Victor Hugo. I'll provide a Paris update in the next blog entry. Meanwhile - bon jour!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like quite the journey. I'm not surprised to hear that the Case family made it through the travel hiccups with smiles on their faces. Enjoy Paris!!!


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