Monday, June 27, 2011

Baltic cruise: Amsterdam

[Notes from the travel journal I kept on our recent cruise of the Baltic.]

June 26, 2011: Amsterdam

Just off the train from Schipol. Great view of the action from the Ibis. Our ship leaves tomorrow; 'til then, the mission is to give Stephen and Nancy a taste of the 'dam.

Last night, the Gloucester Old Spot was a pleasant surprise: friendly staff -- an incredulous "Why did you come here?" came from our waitress when she found out we were Canadian -- and excellent pork and beef. Such a rustic atmosphere too -- fit for a king of old. Conversation was silly, as usual: somehow, we got on the subject of the 80s TV show, That's Incredible!, and proceeded to use the phrase throughout the rest of the meal and evening in response to even the most mundane of observations. It'll probably be the catchphrase of the trip. Wild times await, my friends, wild times.

Train travel with luggage enough for two weeks is no fun, but it was a seamless morning otherwise -- the ticket machines at Schipol take Visa, unlike in Amsterdam, where it will look like it's working right up to the point verifying the transaction. Stephen is puzzled by how often he must produce his passport (e.g., the border check in Schipol, checking in at the hotel in Amsterdam).

11:00 p.m.

Couldn't even stop eating for a picture -- m'm, tapas
So tired. Lots of walking. Did the Red Light District twice; it's even stranger in the light of day. Later, on our second pass, we tried to witness a transaction closed (from across the canal); close -- the guy went back 'n' forth between the doorway and his friends for a good half hour -- but no cigar. We also walked the flower market -- stopping for tapas -- and the Dam, the latter very sparse compared to festivities of our last trip.

Tea and Stephen got Chinese massages -- complete with ladies walking on their backs while pushing down from handrails on the ceiling -- while Nancy and I went in search of a favourite pub of our last trip, "In de Wildeman". Unfortunately it was closed, but we assuaged our sorrows -- well, mine mostly -- nicely at Beer Temple. My Double Dog Double Pale Ale and BrewDog Riptide were both excellent; Nancy also discovered she's a fan of the Belgian wheat beer style. It's a great spot, with genuinely friendly staff, which is so important when you have such an extensive, intimidating menu (much like their sister pub, t'Arendsnest, on both counts, incidentally).

Up next: sail away! And Warnemünde, Germany

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