Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Bachelor's Tour of Amsterdam

After our very short lived return to Vienna recently, I went to work for a very busy day while Jon stayed home and readied us for the next leg of our own version of the Amazing Race. He madly did laundry, fluffed and folded, packed our bags with clothes and shoes, secured my laptop in the special zippered compartment in my roller suitcase. We settled in for a short night's sleep before we met not one but two taxis at 4:30am the next morning. While I understand Jon's concern that one might not show up on time, you might imagine the second taxi driver was not enthused that he was up at such an hour and without a client.  Nevertheless, we made it to the airport on time and I might add, for a far cheaper rate than the usual set rate. We boarded our flight, and ate our yummy sandwiches before touching down on the tarmac at Schilpol in Amsterdam. We managed to locate the train and even to buy tickets and get on going in the right direction, but we were surprised when our train, evidently an express, sailed through the station at which we wished to disembark without so much as even pretending to slow down. We were by this time on the clock: one of my abstracts had been accepted as a poster for the European Veterinary Conference and had to be on display by 10:30am that morning. It was already 9:50 by the time we stepped off the express at the next station, where after 15 minutes we were able to get on a train that would not only pass our destination, but actually stop there. We walked from the station to the conference center, where I successfully installed my poster at 10:27am.  Our next challenge was to get to our hotel.
As many of you know, I like to live and travel comfortably.  As my friend Jen once described it, "I am a hotel girl, not a motel girl." But, at the same time, I very much prefer to find a great deal that I can feel proud of.  Our trip to Amsterdam was no different.  We were travelling frugally, since we hadn't had time to budget for this trip. So I had Hotwired us a four star hotel in relative proximity to the conference center - and this time we had hit pay dirt. After a short, €10 cab ride to the modest exterior of the NH Musica, we were able to check in early. Our room was clean and comfortable, with a modern decor in neon green and a huge flat screen TV. The bathroom was luxurious in slate with a rain shower head. 
I changed my clothes and readied myself to head back to the conference, while Jon familiarized himself with the nearby public transport. He found me a bus about a block away from the hotel that would take me right to the conference center, and he began to plan his afternoon in Amsterdam.
While I spent the afternoon listening to lectures, Jon went to the Heinenkin brewery for a three hour self led tour, complete with a tasting and a canal cruise. 
He came back to the hotel with dinner from a local grocer, and we spoiled ourselves watching TV in English - Masterchef New Zealand!
The next day I again headed to my conference, excited to hear the morning's speaker, and Jon set out for the Torture Museum and Madam Toussaud's, where he caught up with George Clooney, of course. 
I had purchased Jon a bicycle tour of the famous Amsterdam coffee houses through Expedia, so Jon waited patiently at the tour's meeting point, though they never arrived.  So after a half hour, he decided to take himself on a tour of the coffee houses. He got quite lost on his back to the hotel after that, but he came back with yummy pizza for dinner and we called it a night after watching Christianne Amanpour.  
Now I know you are probably thinking I was a big travel dud on this trip, but in my defense, I had the flu the entire time, beginning with our last day in Porto. But the moral of the story is, it gave Jon free rein to explore Amsterdam. He visited the Red Light District Musuem, the House of Bols distillery, and the Dungeon. He diligently tried to see Anne Frank's house, at my recommendation, but spent more than an hour waiting in an unmoving line.  On our last day there, conference free, we went downtown to the Rijksmuseum, which had been closed for renovation on my first visit to Amsterdam in 2004. It was a beautiful spring day with Dutch tulips everywhere. We saw Blue Delft, Rembrandt, and everything in between before picnic-ing next to the pond bedecked with yet more potted tulips, as posted previously from the Rijksmuseum wifi:)
All in all, it was a successful trip despite my sickness and conference commitments, and between Jon and I, we can decisively make expert recommendations for any Amsterdam bound tourist!