March 31, 2024 Amsterdam NE

I woke up early to watch the Timbers game on the computer. The game was supposed to start at 4:30, but when I turned it on it was half time. It was just as well as they had played terribly and were down 2-0. I almost went back to bed, in addition to them being behind it was pretty chilly in François. I gave them a few minutes and they played themselves back into the game and eventually tied it up. But being the Timbers they gave up a bad goal at the end of the game to lose. I crawled back into bed to get another hours sleep. But, when I woke up it was 9:30. I thought I must have been more tired than I thought as that is really a late wake up for me.

There are a lot of bicycles on the canal bridges. Most of them are just parked there, but a few are decorations.

After Ton and I got going we decided to head into Amsterdam to take in the sites. Ton had picked out a small pub in one of the neighborhoods near the train station that specialized in Dutch beers so we headed there first.

One of the “Red Light” streets Amsterdam is famous for.

When we got to the pub, we noticed one of the bartenders was changing the time on all of the clocks in the pub. That’s when it hit us, today was the day to spring forward in Europe, which explained why we “slept in”, and I had missed the first half of the game.

The first pub on our very short two pub crawl.

We noticed that the Danish Brewery Mikkeller had an outpost in Amsterdam. We had visited their San Diego location, and for a short time they had one in Portland, and since we did not have a very solid plan for the day we decided to head over to Mikkellers for a beer.

The bartender at Mikkellers was kind enough to let me behind the bar for a picture.

After Mikkellers we were a little hungry so we headed over to a food hall nearby that is on the tourist trail. We took a slow pass thru it to see if anything tempted us, but in the end none of the cool places in the hall struck our fancy and we ended up in a little Donner Kebab shop on the main street. Sometimes the best food is cheap and simple. Well fed, we headed back to François and arrived home just as a big thunderstorm rolled thru Amsterdam.

March 30, 2024 Amsterdam NE

The weather which has been pretty mediocre since we arrived took a turn for the worst last night. The temperature fell a bit more into the low 40’s and it began to rain. We had seen the forecast so had set today aside to visit a couple of the prominent museums in Amsterdam.

The Van Gogh Museum our first planned stop for the day.

Our first planned stop for the day was the Van Gogh Museum. At about 11am the rain had let up, so we headed over to the metro stop. Once again, the extremely efficient Amsterdam transit system had us at the museum in under an hour. When we got to the museum we noticed a long line waiting to get into the museum. I looked for the ticket office, but could not find it, but I noticed most people were using their phones to get in the museum. I went on line to check on tickets and saw that the museum was sold out everyday for the next two weeks!

If only Vincent had known how popular he would become 130 years later, he may have saved his ear.

Because we do all of our travel in the shoulder seasons, we rarely think to make reservations, and this is one of the few times it bit us. A little disappointed, I was also worried that the other museum we had planned on visiting might be booked so I quickly looked at the web site for the Rijksmuseum to see if they were sold out also. The website showed that there were no tickets available to purchase today and tomorrow on line. Now we were really stymied as our whole plan for the day was to visit these two museums.

As you can see the Rijksmuseum was really busy.

Since the two museums are adjacent to each other we decided to walk over and get a couple of pictures of the outside. As we got closer we saw the entrance to the museum store. Ton suggested we go take a look at the store and as I walked up I saw what looked like a ticket office dispensing tickets. I told Ton to go in the store while I checked the ticket office to see if we could get in the Rijksmuseum. When I got to the front of the line and asked for two tickets, the lady said of course and gave me two tickets allowing entrance in 20 minutes.

One of the thousands of pieces of art we looked at in the Rijksmuseum.

It turns out that it was a good thing we did not get into the Van Gogh Museum, as we ended up spending over 4 hours in the Rijksmuseum. And after 4 hours we did not see everything in the museum.

A Vermeer from the Rijksmuseum that I remember from my art history class in college.

The Netherlands was one of the major centers of the art world for over 300 years, and this museum is full of examples of the development of Dutch art over that period. It is one of the most extensive art museums we have ever seen.

The screaming baby stung by a bee by Henrik de Keyser. One of Tons favorites.

Because the weather was poor, and it was easter weekend, a normally busy museum was exceptionally busy. But unlike the Louvre it was not overwhelming. The only place that reminded us of the Louvre was in front of Rembrandts The Night Watch. There was a pretty good crowd like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. The difference is the Night Watch is 20×20 feet, and the Mona Lisa is 20X20 inches, so it was still possible to take in the Night Watch over the crowd.

Rembrandts the Night Watch from afar.

Surprisingly we later found a small room off a main corridor that was full of Rembrandts that was relatively quiet. We were able to spend quite a bit of time taking in some of Rembrandts other art without being pushed around by a crowd.

Rembrandts self portrait.

There were several portraits in the Rembrandt room that both Ton and I recognized, as well as art by artists that influenced Rembrandt, or he was influenced by. It was the highlight of a very nice visit for me.

Another Rembrandt, apparently being painted in a Turkish Turban was a thing in that time.

They also had a fantastic library you could go in and view. There was one person inside reading, while 3 floors up about 50 people looked down on her and took pictures. I’m not sure I could learn in that environment.

They don’t make libraries like this any more.

Several people had told us we had to visit the two museums. While we missed the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum was fantastic, and they even had a few Van Gogh’s including the self portrait I used above and the wheat field below.

Another Van Gogh from the Rijksmuseum.

After about 4 hours we were getting hungry as we had missed lunch. We sat down and looked at a couple of food options, but when we went out it was raining again so our motivation dropped off and we decided to head back to François for a home cooked dinner.

Bacchus gave us a call, but we are too old to answer it.

Once again the Amsterdam transit system deposited us quickly and comfortably back to our campground at the end of the line. When we got to François he was quite cold, so after we ate our meal, I cranked the heater up and warmed us up to a comfortable 70 degrees for an hour or so until the heat starts to escape from our poorly insulated RV. By then we will under cover and will stay warm for the night.

Gotta have a picture of a windmill.

March 29, 2024 Amsterdam NE

Today we decided to head north of Amsterdam to a village that is reported to be the most beautiful in the Netherlands. The village in addition to being beautiful also has the very nice name of Broek in Waterland. Our metro pass got us to the end of the subway line in North Amsterdam where we planned to transfer to the bus. When we got to the bus it turns out it is a different company than the one in Amsterdam, so we were back inside to get tickets. We ended up with all day passes that would allow us to explore the province of North Holland.

A canal in Broek in Waterland. The village is famous for its wooden houses that go back to the 18th century.

The bus ride to the village was short and we found ourselves in a very picturesque village. The town was originally a port, but due to a change in the course of a river it became landlocked. But it was close enough to Amsterdam that the merchants of the city kept their summer homes there.

One of the many pretty houses in Broek in Waterland.

The village was exceptionally clean and all of the homes were well maintained. There were many gardens facing the roads, and while they were nice now, we thought they would be exceptional in a couple of weeks adding to the beauty of the village.

The village is famous for its wooden houses, but there were several substantial brick homes from the same era.

While Broek in Waterland is beautiful, it is also quite small. We took a couple of passes thru the village. But after an hour we had seen all of the village. We decided since we had all day passes for North Holland we would visit one more town.

The church and the lake in Broek in Waterland.

Monnickendam was one stop up the road. It is a larger town and is still connected to the waterway system so it has a small port. We walked from the main highway down to the port. The town was bustling compared to Broek in Waterland.

Looking down a canal towards the harbor in Monnickendam.

Monnickendam also felt very prosperous. Several of the businesses were closed today because of Good Friday, but there were a couple of restaurants open that seemed to be doing good business.

This is a statue dedicated to eel fishing, which is apparently a delicacy in these parts.

After a turn around the town we decided to head back to Amsterdam. The public transportation in this part of the Netherlands is the best we have ever come across. We have never waited more than 15 minutes for our train, bus or tram to arrive, even out in the countryside. It has allowed us to get around very conveniently.

Talk about riverfront property.

We decided to head back into Amsterdam and check out a plaza we had seen yesterday with a couple of interesting statues. The plaza is dedicated to Rembrandt, and has a statue of him, but we were more interested in a new statue showing a gold Astronaut posed like Rodins The Thinker.

A modern thinker.

The city center was even busier than yesterday, but Ton had one more place to check out so we headed to Wijnand Fockink Proeflokaal a name that doesn’t get any more Dutch. They have been producing liquor there since 1679. It is located down a small road off one of the canals.

The interior of Wijnand Fockink with a large selection of spirits to choose from.

After a short quiz by the bartender on what we liked she recommended a ginger liquor which we both enjoyed. We ordered two glasses, mine was cut with some lemon juice, but Ton ordered hers straight. The tradition here is that they fill the drink to the rim, so that you have to bow to take your first drink.

Reenacting my initial bow to my drink. I got ahead of the photographer.

We headed back to the campground and when we arrived we were startled to see a line of about 15 campers in the parking lot next door waiting their chance to register. The place is really hoping tonight. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain all day so we are planning on indoor activities. Hopefully, every other visitor to Amsterdam isn’t having the same thought!

March 28, 2024 Amsterdam NE

We finally made it to the center of Netherlands. It was raining pretty steadily when we first got up, but a quick check of the weather showed the rain was supposed to let up around 11 and the afternoon was supposed to be pretty good.

Some of the canal boats Amsterdam is famous for.

The campground is located about 5 minutes walk from a metro stop. We acquired a 4 day metro pass that allows us to use the metro, city busses and trams, so armed with our new passes we headed off to the metro. The stop is the last stop on the line so we saw the train waiting at the station as we walked up, but just as we got to the platform the train pulled away so we were a little disappointed. Fortunately the next train was in 10 minutes and once it arrived we were at the main station for Amsterdam in 20 minutes. The main station is a beautiful structure, and when you exit you are right in the center of the tourist area.

The Central Station in Amsterdam.

Usually we have a plan for the day, but today we exited the train station without a plan. At first we just wandered thru the old town taking in the sites and watching the people. Even on a cold damp March day there were a lot of people in the old town. We can’t imagine what it would be like in the height of summer.

Even on a cold and wet March day the old town was busy with pedestrians.

After a few blocks we decided to give our day a purpose by visiting a brewery we had both read about. Since we have a metro pass I offered to go by tram, but Ton decided she wanted to walk to check out the town. The route took us out of the old town and down to the river following a nice canal system. After a few minutes we had gotten away from the tourist area and the crowds thinned out considerably.

The beautiful canal we followed for part of our walk.

After about 20 minutes we hit the Amstel River and followed it for another 20 minutes. The river was bustling with traffic, and the road next to the river was also pretty busy.

A couple of tour boats along the main canal near the city center.

The brewery was easy to find as it had a large windmill attached to it. Just as Ton was questioning my navigation, the windmill came into sight.

The brewery is located inside the building attached to the massive windmill.

We tried a taster tray of beers, and a grilled sausage. The sausage was good and the beer was fair. Ton had one more destination in mind for the day, so after we finished our beers we headed over to the Dappermarkt which is a street market.

The entrance to the Dappermarkt has a nice vegetable stand and a McDonalds at the entrance.

The market itself was not that interesting, but we had come for a Dutch specialty called Kibbeling. It is fried cod and is very similar to the fish in fish and chips. We ordered a small portion with tartar sauce and it was more than enough to feed the both of us.

Kibbeling and other fried fish at the Dappermarkt.

After finishing our meal we decided it was time to head back to the campground as the weather was supposed to go back to rain. This time we took the tram back to the Central Station, and returned to a chilly François just as the rain hit, so we timed it right.

This crane like bird was hanging out at the fish place in the market. We are used to pigeons and sea gulls hanging out in urban environments, this is the first time we have ever seen cranes.

March 27, 2024 Amsterdam NE

Today was another recovery day. Last night at 2am Ton and I were having a nice conversation about something as we were both wide awake. We both finally nodded off about 4 am. Needless to say we ended up sleeping late.

After we got ourselves going we decided to use today to get François fully stocked for the trip When I googled groceries near me, in addition to all of the normal grocery stores an Asian Grocery popped up that looked interesting. We decided to start our day there and it was a good find. In our travels in Europe we never have come across an Asian grocery, but this one was giant. It filled a good sized warehouse, the front was individual servings, but in back there was a large section with large bulk items to purchase. Ton really enjoyed shopping and we walked out with a good amount of “luxury” items to consume on this trip.

We needed some meat and other basics, across the street was a giant grocery called Makro, we went in behind another customer, but I thought it was weird that he needed to scan a card to get in. When we got inside the interior was very similar to a Costco, and then it hit me, we had gone to one of these in Thailand before and the one in Thailand required a membership. We saw someone who worked there and I asked him if this was a membership store, and he said yes. I apologized for breaking in, and he laughed, but said to come with him and he would ask if we could get a one time membership. In the end we could not, so we ended up in a Lidl.

We also saw a small deli next to the Makro that sold Surinamese food. Ton was curious so we poked our head in. We both realized that we were hungry as we had not had lunch and only a very small breakfast. We got a couple of interesting dishes, and fried bananas which I loved. The food was tasty.

Tomorrow we are planning our first excursion into Amsterdam.

March 26, 2024 Amsterdam NE

Today is going to be a short one due to jet lag. Over time we have learned to plan on a couple of easy days at the beginning of our trips to get over the jet lag. While everything went as planned yesterday and we were well settled in at our campground by 1pm, we had been more or less been going steady for over 24 hours. We both slept in this morning, and were not fully functional until noon today.

One of the reasons I picked this campground is that it is close to a metro stop and it was supposed to have good free wifi. We are struggling to connect to the campground internet. We have a very weak signal, we can connect outside of François, but as soon as we step in and close the door the signal drops. While the campground is pretty busy, it is only about 70% full so I went to the office to see what the options were. When I explained the problem I was told very bluntly that the internet was fine and the problem was with my phone. When I pointed out that we tried to connect unsuccessfully with 4 different devices, she responded that the problem was with our devices as they had checked the internet and it worked everywhere and no one else had complained. I then showed her that my phone connected to the internet fine in the office so my device was more than capable of connecting and that the issue was that in my space the signal was too weak to connect to. She took this information in stride and told me she would send some one to check. As I am writing this no one has come. The Dutch have a reputation of being blunt and stubborn, this woman is doing her best to live up to that stereotype!

After that I relaxed for the rest of the day while Ton prepared a nice meal. While preparing the meal Ton discovered the small meat balls we had bought yesterday were actually small round sausages, part of the perils of shopping in a new country!

March 25, 2024 Amsterdam NE

We arrived early at the airport in Portland expecting it to be busy due to spring break. We ended up breezing thru all of the lines because the airport was well prepared for the rush.

Our flight over left on time and arrived about 10 minutes early. Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is interesting because unlike most airports in the world where you are herded directly into the immigration hall for processing, Schiphol releases you into the departure terminal and you have to find your way thru all of the gates and shops to the immigration hall. It throws me off as it does not feel right. The immigration check was pretty busy so we spent some time there, but it worked out as our bags were waiting for us when we got thru.

After a quick Uber to the storage we found François waiting for us. We turned on the gas, filled him up with water and headed out to a local grocery store to get our initial stock of food. We are planning to spend some time exploring Amsterdam so we picked a camp ground about 20 minutes by train from the city center. It is quite pricey but it has everything we want. Today was the first day all of the facilities were available and it is very busy for March.

Ton worked hard putting everything in order in François. And since everything I am responsible for was working, I mostly stayed out of her way. We were well settled in by 2pm and took a short nap to celebrate.