Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 6: relaxing

Today was a day of rest . . . spent the day catching up and enjoying the view . . . can you imagine waking up to this view every morning?

I know I sure could get used to it . . . I tell you Germans sure know how to live and enjoy life . . . I think that is the one thing I miss the most . . . such a slower pace of day to day life.

We did manage to go to a local pond and walk around . . . Colin fed the fish which were so huge and he could not understand why he could not have a fishing pole. It is so cold where we are and I so did not pack enough warm clothes so think a quick trip to H&M are in order soon! So glad it was a low key day spending time with friends.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 5: Amsterdam Review

Today we caught a flight south . . . we are in Garmisch to visit my friend Alex for a bit . . . so our 'home' country is base for a few days . . . no big plans but we will be doing some day trips I never managed to do while living in Germany. So here is a recap of what we enjoyed the most the last few days.

Heidi's Top 5
1. Anne Frank House
2. walking along canals; beautiful houses
3. flower market
4. seeing artwork of Van Gogh
5. Rijksmuseum

Colin's Top 5 (in random order)
1. city train
2. limo boats (boat ride on canal)
3. bus trip to see ducks, cows, and sheep
4. feeding pigeons and birds
5. ship and cannon at museum

Are you laughing at Colin's top 5? I did enjoy Amsterdam even though my first impression was not so grand . . . cold, rainy, and tired . . . but as the days ticked by the more I really enjoyed the city. I am really looking forward to some slower paced days ahead and catching up with Alex . . .

Final shot from Amsterdam . . . no I have tons more but not going to post them all . . . this was taken in the town of Marken which was from our organized tour the other day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 4: windmills, clogs, cheese

The hard part about going to sleep is that at 10pm it is still light outside. Last night I had a plan . . . stay up until midnight and hopefully we would wake in the morning. It worked . . . we both hit the bed at midnight and woke at 9. It was hard to stay up that late but hopefully we are on Europe time for the next 4 weeks . . . hard to believe it is almost time to 'move'.

Our day started late; we did not leave our room until 1pm which was planned since we were going on one of those organized tours . . . I normally don't do tours (I hate being around annoying people who are never on time) unless they are private but knew that Colin would enjoy the change of pace of seeing yet another museum.

First stop was a total tourist area but we both enjoyed walking around the "de Zaanse Schans" which is a windmill village that also has a clog maker on the grounds. I was amazed at how fast a machine could make a wooden clog and of course we left with a new pair of bright red clogs for Colin.

The next stop was to a cheese farm to see the process of making cheese and even had a taste . . . too bad we can't bring home these tasty treats due to customs rules. Colin loves cheese and when we walked into the room below he was like WOW! Yes, that is real cheese that he is smelling . . . thankfully it has a wax coating to 'protect' it from germs, lol.

The final stop was taking a ferry from the town of Volendam to Marken. Both were cute 'sleeper villages" that once thrived on fishing but now tourism seems to be the main industry. The ferry ride was nice . . . I tell you there is something about the water that is just so relaxing and the cool brisk air in your face so nice. Hmmmm, I think I am ready to move!!!

We did have a tasty snack of mini pancakes with butter and powder sugar while we waited on the ferry, YUM! Since we had a nice filling snack . . . tonight we grabbed a Pizza Hawaii (ham and pineapples) for me and a Pizza Margarita (cheese) for Colin. The B&B has a nice garden so it will be nice to enjoy eating outside because tomorrow is time to head to a new location.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 3: tour of houses

Well once again we were up way too early (12-2) but back to sleep until way late . . . hit the breakfast table at 10:45 with four others staying at the B&B . . . two young, nice couples from California. Of course Colin so wanted to just talk their ears off and not use his manners at the table so we had a quick breakfast. Today we only had two places to visit . . . Rembrandt House and Anne Frank House. Thought a low key, laid back day was is order.

The Rembrandt House was neat . . . sort of hits you that you are walking around the house where one of the master artist once lived and worked. Once we finished Colin told me, "it's over . . . that wasn't so bad!" We exited and of course he saw a hot dog truck and was excited. So he ate what they called an "American Hot Dog" and fed the pigeons too. Hey if all else fails, give the boy some bread and pigeons will appear. We continued to walk around the city . . . as if we were on a food tour . . . had some ice cream . . . then some french fries . . . man, we are eating so healthy! I swear with all the walking I could loose some pounds but the food entering my mouth isn't going to help. After a break at the hotel we headed to a place that was at the top of my list of 'must see' . . . the house where Anne Frank hid.

Before our reservation we had dinner at The Pancake Bakery while sitting on the Prinsengracht (canal) . . . so nice and food was good too. I loved my ham, cheese, mushroom pancake!

Now the Anne Frank House was more than I imagined. It was far more emotional that I ever expected. When I taught 5th grade we studied her diary so I was some what familiar with it. I swear the minute I walked in the door I could feel my eyes getting all teary. Just knowing what went on in that house was overwhelming. I had explained to Colin where we were going . . . a young girl and her family were hiding in this house so that the bad soldiers would not hurt them. I figured that was all a 5 year old needed to know. Of course the minute we walked in he wanted to see where she was hiding . . . I think he thought she hid in this closet or something. You know I always thought that Anne Frank was a remarkable young girl but now I know she was very amazing . . . so wise and smart beyond her young years . . . it is so sad that she died just a month before the liberation on the concentration camp. I just can't imagine doing what she did for 2 long years. If you ever have the chance to visit it is worth your time . . . reserve a ticket online and go late in the day . . . we went at 6:30pm; it is one of the only places open late and not crowded at all. Now I need to go back and read her diary again.

As we walked back 'home', I thought we were never going to get there . . . then I realized we walked too far. I am not used to being the navigator on a trip but this time it was all up to me . . . two days of success and well, I got us home so all is well that ends well.

In Anne Frank's diary she mentions the bells she hears while in hiding . . . this is the church (Westerkerk) next door to her hiding place.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 2: feet, boat, train

Well our day started way too early this morning . . . we were both up from about 2-4 but I refused to give in to jet lag . . . I continued to lay so that Colin would not get up too. Apparantly it worked and we both went back to snoozing . . . I woke up at 930 and him at 1015. When we checked in they told me breakfast was from 9-11, I laughed and thought we would never eat breakfast that late . . . well we rolled to the table at 1045. We were both hungry since we did not eat dinner the night before.

I had a plan in my head of what I wanted to do today and was determined to not change that plan . . . even if a 5 year old was less than excited about going to 2 museums on the same day. So off we went; by foot of course because I get so nervous trying to figure out public transporation . . . my overly excited little boy was determined to get us on one on the street cars/trains but onward we marched down one of the beautiful canals in town. Our first stop was the Riijksmuseum. It was large and it did manage to keep the attention of Colin (see photo below taken after the visit) . . . of course I wanted to see The Night Watch by Rembrandt which seemed to be most fascinating to Colin; it was the display of muskets that really had his eyes big. To break the bordem up we hopped on a Canal Cruise to explore the city by boat . . . I wasn't that impressed. We got off and it was time to head to the Van Gogh Museum . . . but I continued to listen to how 'cool' the street cars/trains looked . . . so as Colin would say, "I got brave" and asked someone for help so we could ride instead of walk. Well, talk about easy . . . so 1.60 euro later we were on our way to visit some more masterpieces. You know the one thing I hate about all the museums in no photos . . . I totally understand but I tell you as I watched Colin looking at a painting and listening to the audio guide I so wished I could have snapped a quick photo . . . now who knows if he knew what the heck they were talking about but he sure looked focused! I knew that I was pushing my luck so called it a day by taking the canal cruise boat to a drop off near our hotel.

I am realizing my camera is not taking very good photos . . . but here are two from today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 1: let the fun begin

We made it! Oh I hate those long flights but Colin was just PERFECT! Okay so we arrived to a city that is cold and rainy. Not exactly how I wanted the weather to be especially if you are so tired. We put our stuff away and out we went . . . just planned on walking around for a few hours. We managed to pop into a few churches and had pizza for lunch. I am trying to map out the week. There is a public computer right outside our room but not sure how much I will use it . . .

Now I keep everything when it comes to places I might want to travel. When this adventure started looking like it was going to happen then I pulled out all my old travel stuff. I knew where the first stop had to be. Can you guess where we might be? A little hint: my second favorite flower is in abundance in this country . . . and a young girl wrote a very touching journal which in this city . . . okay so that was easy!

So we have arrived for the first leg of our trip . . . let's just hope it meets all the hype that I have it built up to be . . .

So back to my travel stuff . . . back in April 2001 (I have the email as proof) I emailed the exact same place we are spending the next few days . . . and the room is 50 euro cheaper in 2009 than in 2001. I did not realize it until after I had already confirmed this place after the suggestion from Tom who stayed there a few years back. Now, isn't that crazy?

Figure it out yet?

So for the next few days we are here in Amsterdam at Maes B&B.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 0: remembering and flying

I had planned to fly on the 26th so we could spend Memorial Day remembering Sean but thanks to the airline the flight was canceled . . . so we are heading out a day early for our adventure. Wish me luck . . . hope to post as much as a five year old will let me . . .