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May 2nd

The seven of us arrived in Amsterdam from various points of departure. After a free trip on the tram, we trudged to the Hotel Kap, where we were faced with the "world famous steep stairs." After that, Shelley is still not sure how she is going to get her wheeled luggage back down the stairs.
This building has been working as a hotel since 1928. We wandered around the city centre after having a traditional Dutch lunch of waffles and pancakes. We were running on little to no sleep and started to hit the wall late afternoon in a cafe (Hayley says it was close to a canal...there are 90km's of canals!) There are an estimated 600,000 bikes and Louise has almost been hit by 599,999. Despite our jetlag, we kept going until returning back to our hotel at 5:30 and retiring to a game of Cheat while eating cheese, meat, and melba toast as well as a few Heineken.

May 3rd

We started with our hotel breakfast which was a traditional Dutch breakfast, consisting of bread, cheese, meat, muffins, muesli, and yogurt. As we congregated at the breakfast table, a decision was made that we all must take turns sharing a room with Louise. She is a window-rattler! Hayley had her first hardboiled egg! Without the shell!!! We then walked over to the Heineken Brewery and caught the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus. We drove past the Van Gogh museum, Vondelpark, and Anne Frank house. We then got off the bus at the Sexmuseum. The seven of us proceeded to take a tour of the museum which was both awkward and entertaining. We then got back on the bus to the red light district, where we promptly got lost. We eventually found our way and toured the red light district and then went for lunch in a tiny castle in Nieuwmarket. We then walked back to the Hotel Amrath to catch the bus again so that we could make it to Anne Frank's house. Luckily, Nadine booked us tickets ahead of time, which saved us a very long wait in the queue. It cost us 9.50 euros. The tour, which normally takes 45 minutes, took some of our group a whopping 1 hour and 30 minutes! Nadine was trying to learn Dutch apparently! The museum, although very busy, was incredibly silent. After that, we went in search of the "Nine Streets" which were unfortunately closed by the time we arrived, but our goal is to see them tomorrow. We stopped at a little restaurant in a tiny alley called Tomaz, where Hayley and Jordyn had chocolate pie for dinner, and everyone but Hayley treated themselves to a Jupiler. We booked a canal cruise at 10pm, which we missed by 10 minutes, even though Sandra, Hayley and Jordyn ran to try and catch it, but ran past it!! On the bright side, we got to see the red light district at night, where many a door was opened for Mark.


May 4th

We awoke at 7 to be first in line for breakfast at 8. We caught the hop-on, hop-off bus at 10:10, to Central Station to board the 11:30 canal cruise. We travelled through the many waterways, including the harbor of the North Sea. We proceeded through the fresh water and locks, touring through the old neighborhoods. We admired the age of most of the buildings, tall, narrow, with huge wooden shutters. The lifting beams provide the route to move things in and out of the windows, as the steep staircases make it impossibe to move house.
The buildings lean forward towards the streets, to allow for the lifting of objects without hitting the structure.
After the canal tour, we walked down through Jordaan district in search of the nine streets for the renowned shopping. It was rainy, windy and quite cold, so we tucked into a lovely restaurant for a nice warm lunch and beer.




Mark, Jordyn, Sandra & Shelley headed off to experience the Heineken brewery where they learned the brewing process and got to enjoy a pint or two or three......
Nana, Hayley and Nadine meandered through the shopping district and managed to find their way back to the hotel Kap. After loading our packs onto our weary backs, we trudged and trudged only to find that the local trams were not running, due to Memorial Day. After about 30 minutes of futile attempts and many misdirections, it was decided to hire a cab to take us all to the airport for 50 euros.
All this, only to discover that our flight to Nairobi had been cancelled since late morning.
KLM managed to accommodate us in the hotel VD Valk.
After dinner, we settled to bed for a very short night, in preparation for the early bus to the airport in hopes of an upgrade!!!!

May 5

7:20 AM, the bus departs to Schipol airport with 3 of the 7 people for the 11:15 departure. Aside from Jordyn, the rest of the Goodgroves were left primping in their hotel rooms and had to catch the 8:00 bus!!
Despite our best efforts, no upgrade was given, but a fabulous flight was enjoyed by all, thanks to the amazing KLM crew.

8:20 PM, We arrive in Africa!!!!!!
After clearing customs, which was a breeze, picking up luggage and finding our Vintage Africa rep; Peter, we piled into our van to be driven by Rafael to the Sarova Stanley Hotel. Impressive hotel, with stunning wood work, curtains, furniture, etc.

Update and pictures to follow........the internet is intermittent at best.

Posted by Mark's Pride 12:48 Archived in Netherlands

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