Groetjes uit Nederland!
Greetings from the Netherlands, fiends! (Thanks Suzi, for checking my Dutch!)
This Odyssey started in all kinds of sketchy ways, but once I was actually over here, it’s been magic.
I won’t go into great detail, but I’ll give you this overview:
- I will never, ever, ever, ever again fly overseas in economy class. Never. Not ever. I may have to skip an Odyssey next year to save up for the fare, but…yeah.
- Rain when the plane left Cleveland, and rain upon landing in Toronto. Blah.
- The distance between the point at which I stepped off the plane in Toronto and onto my connecting flight to Amsterdam is equivalent to seven football fields. Maybe eight.
- Google says I walked (ran/hiked/shuffled/”excuse me, sorry, I’m gonna miss my plane!”) 5.3 miles. I believe it.
- Screaming, tantrum-throwing toddlers love to follow me around.
Fortunately, all of that fell into unimportance when I walked through the door at the terminal at Schiphol and saw Suzanne and Harold, holding a sign with my name on it. How fun!
After leaving their car at the train station, we took off for our hotel. The beautiful Mr. Jordaan is located in the oldest neighborhood in Amsterdam, and while I admit I booked it not knowing this at the time, it is a beautiful, quiet area, rich in history.
What I also didn’t know was that this would be the elevator to my room on the 5th floor. Fourteen steps between each floor — once again, Mama Fink got a workout (but a much-needed one, so no complaints here; at least I was carrying only my backpack and purse).
But what a view from my window. And unlike most hotels in cities overrun by tourism (and believe me, this one is), the only sound you hear at night is the occasional scooter going by, or muffled voices from a private canal boat on a late-night excursion. Simply heavenly to be here.
We walked the city, took a tour of the original Heineken brewery (did you know there are notes of banana in Heineken beer? I’m no beer connoisseur, but I smelled it. Fruity, man.), ate some great food, and finished the day with a canal boat tour. Soooo relaxing…I admit there were a few times when I thought I might drift off, as at that point, I’d been up for over 24 hours. (No, I didn’t sleep a single second on the plane; that’s all part of the long story I’m not telling. )
I especially enjoyed our boat ride, where I could gaze up at the architecture. Back in the 1600s, land was at a premium along the canal, so people built “up.” Tall, skinny buildings with ornate rooftops are everywhere here, including hooks embedded at the tops of the structures in order to lower large furniture and other items down to the pavement — things they still use today, 400 years later. Amazing to look at.
For a late dinner, we went to one of the many pancake houses in the city. I didn’t know this before, but pancakes are serious business to the Dutch. At Suzanne’s recommendation, I ordered poffertjes — tiny, puffy pancakes in all kinds of decadent decorations and sauces. Harold had butter and whipped cream with his, Suzanne had butter pecan Brazilian cakes with ice cream, and I had the cherry. Unbelievable. I will make these at home, for my own bad self.
After schlepping back to the hotel, it was finally time for bed. Did you know it doesn’t get dark here in the summer till almost 10 p.m.? No matter — nothing was going to keep me from sleeping the sleep of the dead.
But I did so with great memories of my first day, in a beautiful place with great friends.
Until tomorrow — thank you for coming along!