Thursday, September 2, 2010

The longest day(s)

Good morning, Amsterdam!  We left our home on Tuesday, the 31st, at 3:30 a.m. in the morning.  The limo took us to LAX without incident.  There aren't a lot of cars on the freeways at that time of the morning even in LA!  I've never driven so fast on the 91 -- it's usually one long parking lot.

The downside of leaving so very early is that we had a 3-hour wait before boarding the plane.  Even with a leisurely breakfast and a few long walks around the terminal, it was boring.  The plane trip from LA to Philadephia was fine, and the layover in Philadelphia was less than two hours.  We must have missed an incident in Amsterdam the day before.  Whatever happened resulted in extra security for everyone flying to Amsterdam.  Both of us had our hand luggage personally checked and "swiped" with some kind of cloth/chemical.  We passed!  And all of our checked luggage was inspected as well.

4 1/2 hours on the first flight, then over 7 on the trans-Atlantic flight.  My nervous system gave out somewhere over the Atlantic!  I tried to sleep, but with the overhead movies on throughout the entire flight and two infants on board, it was a futile effort.

As we came down through the clouds into Amsterdam, the spacious green landscape unfolded.  Everything is lush and green.  You don't see that much green in Southern California even in the rainy season.  And water is everywhere.  I was finally feeling the excitement of the trip!

The airport is very modern and huge.  If I had been less tired, I would have explored the intriguing shops.  One was just full of Crocs!  Doug was a bit harried by this time and also overwhelmed by the complexity of the airport.  We did manage to find a Starbucks!  Then bought a phone card, contacted Franklin about our apartment, and arranged for a shuttle to a hotel within walking distance of the apartment.

The apartment is adorable.  We are over a cafe that is open for breakfast and lunch.  You enter our apartment through a door at street level, then climb a flight of very narrow steep stairs to the next floor with a kitchen and sitting room.  There is Internet access and a nice tv/stereo system and comfortable seating.  Susan, the proprietor, left lots and lots of food -- cheese, lunchmeats, fresh fruit, milk, juice, eggs, quiche, butter, fresh bread, coffee, tea.  The top floor houses the bathroom and bedroom - with an iron bed.  Quite cute.  Will post pictures later.

We unpacked a bit then headed out to explore the city and to try and stay awake as long as possible.  The canals wind throughout with bridges every few blocks.  Most people are on bicycles with a motorscooter here and there, a few cars and delivery trucks.  As a visitor, watching the traffic is amusing.  We haven't quite figured out how to cross the streets safely.  There doesn't seem to be a "right-of-way" rule!  Pretty intimidating.  Our best bet is to find someone who looks like an Amsterdammer and walk across with them!  From time to time, you can see personal boats on the canals as well as tour boats.

We found several nice antique stores to roam around in and a terrific lace & trim store.  Hope we can find that one again - I saw something I wanted to buy for the girls.  Also stumbled on a long shopping street with recognizable shops (even Foot Locker) similar to the shopping area in Copenhagen.

The weather is fall like - mid 60s and sunny.  Most people are wearing coats or jackets and long pants.  It's funny how Americans stand out just because of the way we dress!  Most women are very fashionably dressed.  I saw several wearing a new style of pant with flowing trouser legs.  Hard to describe, but very flattering.

We found a nearby corner bar for a beer and a hamburger then continued to explore.  I think we walked 10 miles!  DH and I decided to come back to the apartment to shower, unpack totally, then just eat some of the goodies here for dinner with a bottle of Bordeaux wine we purchased when we finally found the grocery store.  We did just that.  At about 7:30 local time, we both decided that we were desperately in need of sleep.  Believe it or not, we slept about 12 hours straight!

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