August 22-29, 2019
Spent the last night at the Hilton by the airport.
We arrived at our hotel before 11 am as we had left Paris by train at 630 am. They held on to our bags while had a drink at the outdoor patio before walking across one of the bridges for lunch. We headed to Brasserie Van Dam and shared Philly Cheesesteaks and a chicken BLT. From there we headed to the Vondelpark and sat at the Groot Melkhuis cafe sipping beers and people watching. At one point we were commentating on 4 teenagers (2 gals, 2 guys) who were smoking pot and snacking on sack lunches. It was hilarious, at least to us, as we were cracking ourselves up. We eventually got a call from the Hilton that our room was ready so we walked back. David and I were pretty tired from For dinner we took advantage of the Executive Lounge which was on the higher end food provided. It was Asian themed with sushi, chicken with peanut sauce, potstickers, noodles and more.
My parents arrived in Amsterdam on our our 2nd full day for a river cruise. They’re traveling with 2 other couples from Minneapolis. While they did the Van Gogh museum tour, we did a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter that ended in front of the Anne Frank House. It was great learning about the history of the city, specific to it’s Jewish Community and WWII. It was very sombering and fascinating at the same time to learn how much Anne’s Diary is so important. I had remembered her story in general and knew bits and pieces of how it came to be published, but was humbled by how her story really came to be. It’s inspired me to reread it. We ended up Ubering over to my parents hotel but realized that it was just as easy and close to walk because of all the one way streets and canals. David and I waited at the restaurant next door called Cafe de Jaren. We had just ordered our 2nd beers when they arrived on the canal patio. They each ordered a drink as well. For dinner we walked to Five Flies that was a street level restaurant from 5 separate buildings together as one. A chicken, duck, steak, and fish dinner later we stumbled out of the restaurant as my parents jet lag was settling in. We walked back to their hotel with them and David called us an Uber. While we were waiting, my parents friends walked by and were able to do quick hellos as we jumped in our ride.
The following day we went on our private tour of the Van Gogh Museum. Well semi-private, there were 6 other people in our small group. It was a very pleasant 2 hour tour that showed most of his artwork except Starry Nights. David and I walked through the gift shop and picked up some goodies to remember. From Van Gogh we did take a ride to Cafe Wester which is the meeting point for our canal cruise with Those Damn Boat Guys. We had a few beers and snacks while we waited. David picked up a few drinks at the liquor store next door to take on the boat. There were 10 of us plus the guide who’s an expat living here for 30 something years. 90 minutes later and several drinks, David and I stumbled off the boat into the nearest pub. We initially just needed to use the bathrooms but a beer and a shot later we left. We made a stop at a coffee shop and jumped into an Uber back to the hotel. A drink or 2 later we made our way to bed.
Sunday we spent mostly in our hotel room. By mid-afternoon we were hungry and walked around our neighborhood having lunch at Avocado To Go and drinks at Verlhulst. We picked up some healthy food, snacks and water at small grocery stores on our way back to the hotel. Late dinner and drinks at the hotel.
Monday we slept in again before we headed into town. We got dropped off by the Royal Palace and walked to an Indonesian Restaurant called Kantijl & de Tijger eating Rijsttafel. Afterwards we walked across the street to the Dutch Delicacy where we sampled lavender Gouda. Delicious! They also had a beetroot Gouda and a spinach/basil Gouda. You could buy them separately or as one. It was packaged like Neapolitan ice cream. We ended up back at Cafe Wester for beers and bought postcards and stamps. Back at the hotel we got our postcards stamped and addressed before heading upstairs, enjoying beer at the lounge.
Tuesday was a leisure day, we’re starting to pack our bags, and finish postcards and work on any writing. I’m way behind. We both hung out on the river terrace for awhile eating and writing. It became muggy and we went indoors.The air conditioning never really worked well in our room, so David spent quite a bit of time in the lobby working on postcards. I eventually went back to the room going down to the bar occasionally to get a beer.
We decided to move to the airport Hilton for the night before our flight. Wednesday night would be our last night in Europe. David and I took an Uber over and dumped our bags in the room. We took our iPads and notebooks downstairs to hang out and work on some travel planning for Japan as there were still holes to fill in. After a few beers and a snack, we returned our stuff to our room and headed over to the airport to get a lay of the land for the following travel day. There were some beautiful sunflowers outside of the terminal where the smokers hung out so we stopped to get some pictures. It reminded us of the Van Gogh artwork. On our way back we grabbed some bottled water. For dinner we ate at the nice restaurant downstairs called the Bowery. I tried something fancy with lots of veggies that ended up being a bust. David and I reflected on our summer in Europe, about what we learned, what was the best and worst, regrets, and where we wanted to go next time in Europe.
Our travels back to the US were marred with some hiccups. Amsterdam was just fine other than the humidity and warmth. Our check-in couldn’t have been any further from the hotel. Security went through some of our carry on bags. We had a beer before boarding our flight to Frankfurt.
Frankfurt was where we ran in to some problems. We had a few hours to get to our gate for our flight to Minneapolis but wanted to be near there. We needed to take a bus from the plane to the airport upon arrival. From there we had to change concourses which included another bus ride and going through passport control which had absolutely no crowd control or proper queuing only to be told that there was another passport control 10 feet away with no line. What felt like forever, we finally got through.
David stopped at Duty Free for rum and cologne. He picked out a nice perfume for me that smells like cotton candy. We walked down to our gate and saw that there was an additional check in for our flight. We hung out at the cafe drinking beer and waited for the line to shorten. I queued up and as I got closer David joined me. However, as we did this additional check in I was selected for additional screening, David wasn’t. I had my backpack and 1 duty free bag as I went to the screening area. They dabbed a few things including my iPad and the duty free bag both which came back saying I had explosive materials on them. My anxiety shot through the roof when the armed security guard walked over taking my passport and boarding pass, asking me what I had been doing in Europe. It took several swipes and checking it on their different devices and unpacking the duty free for them to finally clear me that I was safe to travel.
While I scrambled to repack and ask for my documents, David is blowing up my phone that the gate is empty and they’re about the close the door. He was afraid to board if I missed our flight. We boarded yet another bus to get to our plane. Condor airlines proved to be mediocre. Seats were incredibly uncomfortable, food was subpar and customer service was mundane. A month later James Cook airlines went into liquidation.