Well we said goodbye to the Celebrity Silhouette and stayed one night at the Doubletree Hilton near Central Station. Since we had seen so much of Amsterdam in our previous two visits we decided to take a short train ride to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills there. This was a small town that recreated several working windmills to help preserve Holland’s historic past. This was a really fascinating town where you got a close up view of real windmills and how they were used a hundred years ago. They also had a wooden shoe factory that you could view and a cheese farm that showed you how they made cheese. It was an excellent stop to take and was only a 15 minute train ride from Amsterdam.
The next day we went to The Anne Frank House. We had to get tickets for this a month prior to our visit and were lucky to find just a few tickets available for that day. It typically takes three months prior to your visit in order to get tickets. It was a fascinating visit and very educational to better understand the persecution of the Jewish people by Germany during World War II. It was very sad to think about what these families went through. You got to see the exact rooms where Anne Frank’s family slept and where they made their basic meals in a small kitchen. For over 2 years they had no contact with the outside world and then one day the German’s came from some unknown tip and found them hiding in this house. They were all sent to concentration camps and only the father, Otto Frank, survived. This is definitely an attraction you should not miss if you make it to Amsterdam.
We spent a few hours visiting Amsterdam that night. This was much different than our last night visit with crowds of people everywhere. We roamed the streets for a while just checking out different areas and it seemed like everywhere people were roaming the streets.
We rented a car and left Amsterdam after having spent 3 or 4 days visiting this fascinating city. We will never get over the bikes you see in the city and how careful you must be walking around in order not to get hit by a bike. They have bike lanes and walking baths and whenever you cross a street you must cross the bike lane first. Heaven forbid you don’t look both ways at the bike lane before crossing the street. The bikes expect the pedestrians to yield to them. There are literally tens of thousands of bikes everywhere you look!
Since we needed to get to Rotterdam (one hour or so from Amsterdam) we decided to take a car to see some sights on our way there. We went to the small fishing village of Marken and viewed all the quaint houses and shops along the harbor. We went to Volendam and witnessed many wild drunken parties going on in the streets because of some special holiday they were celebrating. We drove through Haarlem but really didn’t get a very good look at this town and went on to the beach area where we saw many wind surfers enjoying the very windy day. We drove through the Hague just to check out this city where they try to handle International justice. We made one last quick stop at Delft before checking into our hotel in Rotterdam. Since we had the car until 1 PM the next day we decided to drive back to Delft the next morning and view the city a little closer. They had several big churches and a great city hall in addition to a very unique bridge with twin towers. That completed our car tour of Holland.
We walked around Rotterdam and saw some impressive buildings (churches, city hall, World Trade Center, etc.), but the most impressive structures we saw were the Market Place and Cube Houses. The Market Place was like none we had ever seen before. It was all inside a huge shelter shaped building. The inside walls and ceilings of the building were painted and the end walls were clear panels of glass that allowed you to see the city. Along the walls of the outside of the building there are apartments where people live. Inside this market where many things to eat: bread, donuts, cheese, fries, sausage, fish, candy, tapas, etc. This wasn’t a farmers market but was more of a bunch of little kiosk restaurants. It was really very impressive. Outside the Market Place is a small community of cube houses. They were created to revitalize the downtown area with creative architecture in building residential areas and small businesses. These homes look like Rubik cubes positioned on a corner. Supposedly you need to be very creative to find furniture to fit in this living area shape. This is a very unique way to live but gives the area a lot of character. This city also has many unique bridges in different parts of the city. Rotterdam is very different than Amsterdam but it has its own charm and creative architecture. Today we board the Caribbean Princess ready for our next cruise segment – Norway/Iceland/Transatlantic.
Greg and Sharon