April 17, 2012
Our Over-nighter in Amsterdam Prior to our 2009 Baltic Cruise

Our departure was marred by the tornado that caused havoc in Vaughn, north of Toronto, the day before. But fortunately the bad weather had dissipated and didn’t delay our flight.

The airport prior to our flight - you can see the news coverage of the Vaughn tornado on the TV

Flying is nerve-wracking enough without worrying about the weather you're flying into

Our Icelandic Air flight included a brief stop in Reykjavic, Iceland (we'd visited there a few years earlier)

Long trans-Atlantic flights are always uncomfortable for me because I have trouble sleeping on planes. My kids were aware of this. The one time I did succeed in falling asleep, my son couldn’t resist waking me to say “Don’t tell me you can’t sleep on planes!” I never got back to sleep again after that.

Me and my boys on our trans-Atlantic flight to Amsterdam

We flew overnight into Amsterdam and arrived late in the morning. We had arranged ahead of time for an over-night stay so that we could see some of the sights before our cruise departed the next day. It was a wham-bam kind of visit, but enjoyable all the same. But we were still tired from the flight (or at least I was.)

Our trolley trip, from the neighbourhood station near our hotel, to downtown Amsterdam

Our trolley stopped at the Central Train Station. One thing that struck us, being from Ontario, was the absence of cars downtown. Everywhere we looked were bikes, scooters and pedestrians. I liked that.

There were few cars, but bicycles and scooters were everywhere!!

Right in front of the Central Train Station is a canal with scenic tour boats waiting to show you the city from the water. Who were we to pass up such an opportunity.

This beautiful sight greeted us as we exited the Central Train Station

We were all feeling a little fatigued, and were eager to get off our feet and let someone else do the work and show us around. But first we had to decide which tour to take, based on how limited our time was.

Trying to find a canal tour that matched our schedule

The Blue Route suited us best, so we hopped on the next cruise boat. Fortunately there were still lots of available seats aboard. I remember hopping on that same tour boat (or one just like it) back in 1979 when I was only a few years older than Robert.

Nancy, Robert and Jeffrey boarding our Blue Route canal tour boat

The sight-seeing tour was slow and leisurely, and it showed us the city as seen from its canals – which are everywhere. This time we only saw a small bit of the city. But there is so much more that we would like to explore someday, if (when) we return.

Refurbished river barges are moored all along the canal and used as living accommodations

Between Nancy and me, we took well over a hundred photos during this canal tour. I have picked these few because they show the distinctive dutch sights.

A very dutch draw bridge

You never know what kinds of activities you'll see on the canals

Life takes on its own rules on the canals of Amsterdam

There is so much beauty and life in Amsterdam

Once back on land, we all realized we were hungry. So we decided to find someplace to eat. One thing Nancy and I learned years ago on our travels with kids is that, unless we want a local meal to go to waste, it is often better to settle for something familiar.

Sometimes a familiar sign can be a welcome relief

We weren’t sure which trolley route to catch back to our hotel, so Nancy suggested we take the train back to the airport, then catch the hotel shuttle from there. Seemed like a reasonable idea to us. Besides,  those modern european trains are very comfortable.

Gotta love those comfortable european trains

Once back at the airport all we had to do was catch the hotel shuttle – again. All in all, it was a brief but fun visit to Amsterdam. I expect the boys will return there on their own someday, at which time they can choose for themselves what they want to do and see.

Waiting for the hotel shuttle at the end of a long day

Our hotel was small, but modern and comfortable, and conveniently located. We had two rooms. I think we all turned in soon after checking in. We had to rise early to catch the shuttle to Rotterdam where our cruise aboard the Holland America MS Rotterdam was to set sail the next day.

The modest but comfortable Hotel Mercure where we spent the night

Nancy and I called it a day pretty soon after checking in. But I suspect the boys stayed up a little later and watched TV.

Nancy in our small but comfy room at the Hotel Mercure


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