Trip report – Amsterdam

Links to trip parts
Part 1. Amsterdam
Part 2. Stuck in Amsterdam
Part 3. Rouen France 
Part 4. Le Havre and Honfleur
Part 5. Caen and the D-day beaches 
Part 6. St Malo
Part 7. Lorient
Part 8. La Rochelle
Part 9. Bordeaux

These next few posts will be about our trip. I will be breaking it up like I did on our German trip last year since people seemed to like that.

Tuesday August 22. Departed Umbertide for Amsterdam, Netherlands

We drove ourselves and our cat sitters down to Foligno station to catch the Frecciabianca – fast train to Rome. We left them with the car so they could take in the sights. They are Sue and Bev, one lives in Canada, the other in Michigan but both were born in Canada. They have known one another since childhood. They came recommended by Liz one of our previous sitters. I am sure they will have fun. This week they will probably lay low because it’s hitting 38 degrees Celsius which is 99 Fahrenheit for a couple days. Hot! But next week cooler.

Negroni with our sitters at Bar Mary
Bev in front of the Collegiata

All went well on the trip. Train to Rome, caught the DaVinci express to Fiumicino airport. ITA Flight (formerly AlItalia) was 25 minutes late getting off. Miraculously we landed on time in Amsterdam. It is refreshingly cool in Amsterdam, just 22C or about 74F. We had arranged a driver who took us to L’Ambassade hotel. It is on Herengracht canal. Beautiful area. Nice hotel. We spent a night here in 1984 on our first trip to Europe. It has changed a lot! View from our window.

After refreshing ourselves, we met my sister Cindy and her husband Bill for dinner. This is our annual trip so we get to see each other once a year. So great to see her! Off to dinner at ‘t Zwaantje. Dutch food. It was busy and popular, but the food was not so much.

We walked back to the hotel bar for night caps. Cindy & Bill had arrived from the US that day and did the usual, stay awake all day then crash. Next day you are mostly over the jet lag. They made it almost to 10pm.

Wednesday August 23

Big day! We met up at 9am for our ticketed visit to the Van Gogh Museum. It was about a 25 minute walk. It is hard to walk here. Narrow brick sidewalks slope toward the street. There are millions of bikes traveling at speed. It seems like they couldn’t possibly stop if someone walked in front of them but my sister accidentally tested that, and damned if he didn’t stop in time. The motto here is, don’t be a squirrel. Like make up your mind in what direction you’re going and stay the course. And always look before stepping to a street. They say 63% of Amsterdamers travel by bike. Some pictures.

Entry to the Museum district

The Van Gogh museum was very good. Many floors. A permanent and a temporary exhibit. I took a lot of pictures of the art. It was interesting with many short write-ups about the art and about Van Gogh. Such a troubled man. Only 37 when he took his life. The last room was dedicated to suicide prevention which I thought was interesting. Just a few of the paintings I saw. I took a lot more than this! This first one was one of my favorites. Almond blossoms to celebrate new birth. It was on the occasion of the birth of his brothers baby, Vincent. Treasured by the family, especially after his suicide.

All of the next ones were painted just before he died. Most of them in the two months before his death and in that two months he painted 75 paintings. More than one a day.

We went to find lunch which we did in Restaurant Red. There turns out to be better choices but we don’t know the city or where to look and by this time we had been standing for many hours. I was anxious to sit down and for some icy cold water.

Luther’s lunch

This evening we had reservations at an Indonesian restaurant named Tujuh Maret. Funny thing about Amsterdam that I noticed. When you reserve a table they have a beginning and end time. You get the table for 90 minutes. Having lived in Italy where the table is yours for the whole night it was a flashback to the US dining where they rushed the meal and brought the check, getting you out as fast as possible so they could turn the table. In Italy meals are relaxed affairs and you pay and leave when you are ready. 

Anyway, we ordered the big Rijsttafel. Indonesia was a colony of Holland and food migrated with the people who came to Amsterdam. Now it is a specialty. I had had one of these many years ago and I told my sister I don’t care what else we do, I just want one Rijsttafel dinner. This one was 18 individual dishes served in the center of the table. With rice on the side. They were served in sets of six — mild, medium and spicy. Some of the spicy ones were pretty spicy but not too much for me. It was yummy. Ranging from tofu, beef, chicken, veggie, salad, sweet, sour, hot. So many different flavors. We all had fun except maybe Bill. He is a trooper and goes along but he isn’t a foodie and is not an adventurous eater. I hand it to him, he tried most of them. But he said the meal was only ok. 

Other pictures of pretty Amsterdam.

Next up, Star Legend embarkation!

19 thoughts on “Trip report – Amsterdam

  1. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Colleen, thanks! And we all thought the same thing about Van Gogh. One of the write-ups at the museum said he painted happy things in the hopes they would make him happier. . . A sad genius.

  2. Colleen Costello

    Hi Nancy,
    I enjoyed your Amsterdam. I really would like to go and also visit the Van Gogh Museum. I just watched a show about him called Perspective on YouTube. It is hard to believe how this miserably sad character could produce such happy and beautiful paintings.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nancy Hampton Post author

    hello Lynne, well yes, it is expensive. But it is how my sister and I get to see each other once a year. And we do budget for it. I also visited Honfleur many years ago. It was much, much busier now than then. Glad you enjoy the posts!

  4. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Lynne, well yes, it is expensive. But it is how my sister and I get to see each other once a year. And we do budget for it. I also visited Honfleur many years ago. It was much, much busier now than then. Glad you enjoy the posts! Thanks for letting me know.

  5. Lynn Brown

    I checked out the trip on Windstar you’re taking.Very nice but at almost $5000 per person plus the land tours it’s very expensive! Many years ago I visited Honfleur.Beautiful town! Enjoy the trip.I love to travel and enjoy your posts

  6. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Thanks Beth, everyone was taking pictures of them all! Sorry you must have gotten a bad guard!

  7. Beth Greenhill

    Great pics of Amsterdam. I was scolded for taking a picture of the Almond Blossoms. !! (not sure why – didnt use flash, just my iphone)

  8. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Liz, we will wait and see. I am only guessing about the hill. Whatever it is it requires a diver.

  9. liz

    Something wrong with the ‘hull’. That really doesn’t sound good. I hope all is well, and they should be giving you all nice free drinks to deal with the stress of it all….lol

  10. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi James, yes a Mecca for cyclists. but I saw not one helmet. Scary for me. There was so much foot traffic, and a zillion bikes at speed, plus trucks, cars and hazards like street car tracks. Really scary to me. The museum was amazing and you’re right, you must stand I front of them.

  11. James Lupori

    Great post Nancy!!! Thanks for sharing some really interesting pictures. It’s hard to describe what a Van Gogh “feels like” when you’re standing in front of it. One of these days we will make our way to the Netherlands. Hey, it’s like Mecca for bicyclists!!!

  12. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Matt! Glad you liked it! My next post will have what happens with the ship.

  13. Matthew Daub

    Another great post! As a native New Yorker, You are so right about not being a squirrel when crossing in traffic. My wife is from the Midwest, and still hasn’t gotten the hang of that. I’m always grabbing her hand to take her with me. Good luck with the boat situation . . .

  14. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Phil, good to hear from you! Thanks for the compliment! I’m just chatty😁. We did not see drunken English but saw evidence of some major partying. And the place is full of Americans and Brits, also a surprising amount of Italians. Stay tuned..

  15. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Carlo, thanks about the photos. It’s a picturesque city for sure. Sorry you missed rijsttafel! Our was delish. We are onboard but there is some problem and they need a certified diver to inspect the hull. We aren’t embarking tonight. It will change our itinerary, of course. Not sure how yet.

  16. Phil

    Hello Nancy. I like your trip reports. They are more informative than the ones printed in newspapers. Looking forward to the next episode. Did you see any drunken English? There are supposed to be many in Amsterdam.

  17. Bill

    The photos are really beautiful. There was clearly con so iteration in the composition and shooting. Thank you


  18. Carlo

    Your photographs around old Amsterdam turned out nicely. Much better than mine which were taken mostly from canal tour boat. And, how could I? I completely forgot about Rijsttafel! Darn, now I gotta got back!

    Bet you’re aboard by now. Bon voyage!

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