"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, May 28, 2012

WAR-MIL-AMS: Days 6,7 & 8 - The Netherlands

Tuesday, May 22, 2012:
After having to fly back east to Warsaw and suffer a long layover, we headed back northwest
to Amsterdam as the sun was dropping in the west setting the dikes and canals that
The Netherlands are known for aflame in the reflection.
The payoff for the long day of travel was the view from our bed on the houseboat we rented
on one of the Amsterdam canals.  Simply awesome!
Here's a link if you are interested:
This was the view to the right (or west) from our small deck on the houseboat. 
Since it doesn't get dark until 10 PM or so local time,
we still had plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere.

This was our view to the left (or east) from our houseboat deck showing a couple
of the beautifulsmall bridges that connect the streets over the numerous canals.

"Dinner" tonight consisted of a walk around the corner to a great little grocery store
for three kinds of cheese,fresh bread, summer sausages and tomatoes.
I grabbed some high gravity beer and Ashlee sipped on some wine that the
lady we rented the houseboat from had left for us.
The ambiance on our deck could not be beat.
Completing our "Duck Trifecta" for the trip was "Chuck the Canal Duck" in Amsterdam as we named him.  He was quite the beggar for bread while we sat on the deck of our houseboat and in this shot I discovered him sitting on top of our houseboat one morning.  We were also visited by other ducks, coots (one we named Sylvia) and a swan in the canal while we sat our on deck, but Chuck was the definite mascot of our stay in The Netherlands.

Wednesday, May 22, 2012:  On our first full day in The Netherlands we took a day tour of Amsterdam to see some of the rest of this small, but beautiful country which is only the size of the state of Maine.

There used to be 10,000 of them in The Netherlands, now there are only
about 1,000 left.  Their purpose to pump water replaced by machinery.

Our first stop was the amazing FloraHolland, the largest fresh flower auction house
in the world.  This was actually a "slow time" for them since the tulip season
had just ended, but there are auctions every day on flowers from around the world.
Too bad this picture doesn't have a scratch and sniff option.
The drive through the Dutch countryside was similar to the scenes in Amsterdam, only bigger
houses, bigger canals and bigger boats.

We made a brief stop in Rotterdam, the country's biggest port which is filled with interesting
architecture including this extremely cool bridge over the bay.

Our next stop was The Royal Delft Pottery factory.  These guys are still hand-painting
all theirproducts just like they did when they started  back in 1653.  Beautiful stuff.

We had lunch and some time on our own in the city square of the town of Delft. 
We had a lunch that included some good beer and a Dutch traditional wurst sandwich
 that we learned later was actually horse meat...yeah,that's right, horse meat. 
We found a great cheese and chocolate shop as well where we tried a lot of free samples
to get the thought of horse meat out of our minds.

After a driving tour through The Hague, the political capital of The Netherlands,
we arrived at our last(and strangest) stop.  This place is known as Madurodam,
and it's basically a miniature versionof the entire country??  I
t's all automated and perfectly to scale and you walk through at your
own leisure and pace.  Pretty inventive and kind of weird...so yes, totally Dutch.

The kids love this place and Ashlee was no exception although she did have a lot of envy
as a Christmas Village addict herself.

Did we mention we really loved the houseboat we stayed on in Amsterdam?
Here's a shot of it from across the canal.  We were staying in the far left side.
Thursday, May 24, 2012:  Our second full day in Amsterdam was without much plan.  We wanted to explore the city - the good and the bad - the famous and the infamous and decide for ourselves what all the hub-bub is about this free-wheelin' city.

Did we mentioned we really love the canals?  Especially the more quiet ones away
 from the city centerand the touristy melee of the Red Light District.

We found a recommended little cheese shop called Reypenaer and signed up for an afternoon cheese tasting.  It was held in an actual classroom in the basement of the store and we were allowed to try five of their best products (as much as we wanted) and we were given red, white and port wines to try with them.  This is serious award-winning cheese.  All of it was delicious. Not a bad way to spend an hour in Amsterdam!

Yes, yes, yes, of course, we checked out the "seedy" side of Amsterdam.  We walked through "The Red Light District" and saw the ladies in the windows.  We walked through a few "coffee shops" and even talked to owner of one who was very interesting.  But once the curiosity is over, the sadness of basic human trafficking and the reality that people are spending whole days in these coffee shops wasting vast amounts of time and in some cases their whole lives makes the whole thing fairly unappealing.  Thank goodness for the canals, and the cheese and the warm bread from around the corner from our houseboat!!

Bikes, bikes everywhere!  This city lives on bicycles.  It's the quietest "rush hour" you will ever
experience at about 8:30 on a weekday morning as hundreds of people are pedaling in all directions
to get to their work.  Here's a shot of a

 few hundred bikes patiently waiting for their riders outside
the central train station one night.

The canals after dark are magical.  THIS is Amsterdam.


Craig said...

OH my God! Look at those bikes! Dang... I wish more US cities were like this! Maybe when our cities are 500 and 600 years old and more, we'll mature to that kind of thinking??

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Cindy Baldridge said...

How exciting to see you document your trip to the Netherlands! I myself have ancestors from there and have been interested in going there too. Thank ou for sharing!

Rob and Ashlee said...

thanks! it's a wonderful place that we hope to return to someday!