Yesterday had the whole crew driving down south to Amsterdam. We were thankful for the TomTom, as the interchanges and overpasses in Amsterdam’s outskirts made for some confusing twists and turns, but our GPS faithfully brought us to the doorstep of a distant cousin of Jack’s – Bouwke. She and her husband Ed (both doctors) live in a lovely little home, their daughter Agnes (in year six of university to become a doctor) was there too, and gave up a day to tour our group around the city. We spent time riding the tram around town, and saw Dam square, the Heineken museum and the famous Amsterdam market. The canals are amazing and the homes beautiful, and the bikes aplenty! How do they tell them all apart?
Agnes showed us her little apartment above market, with more twists and turns and staircases than you’d find in a big house. The kids liked the little rooms, and you can see how IKEA makes sense for little living spaces like that. One of her pictures is the IKEA black and white of Amsterdam’s canals with the red bike in the middle of the frame. She was surprised when Chris identified it as an IKEA print, and he wondered why she didn’t just go and take a photo of the same location herself, as it was only a couple of blocks away.
After some ‘cheers’ing in the Heineken tour, we jumped on a boat for the canal tour. Unfortunately it was raining quite heavily, but we still saw many of the famous sights of this beautiful city. How the Dutch can make use of every single square inch of space is really quite something, and the age of the buildings, art and sculptures was a real treat.
On the way home we stopped at a McDonald’s (third time in case anyone’s counting) and were able to finally pick up the stroopwaffle McFlurry – quite good, and a local favourite. So far, the McFlurrys here outshine what Red Deer can offer, and a quick glance has so far provided: Mars, Snickers, Peanut M&Ms, Magnum, Brownie, White Magnum, Stroopwaffle, Toblerone and Rolo. Take that Canada.
We also drove over the Afsluitdijk, an incredible piece of engineering that keeps the ocean out of Holland and also provides enough fresh water for farming and drinking. Before making it back home, we also drove through the town of Workum, where Jack’s mother was from – a wonderful town along the canals with two huge churches, quaint homes and a very expensive restaurant that the whole family bolted from when we saw the menu. Unfortunately the menu wasn’t posted outside like most restaurants, we realized we were in over our heads when we were sitting down. So, rather than paying $200 Euros for dinner, we tucked tails and ran…
The rain continues, so our plans to head north to the Frisian islands will not bear fruit. Instead, we’ll drive around looking for some indoor activities. The rain has been constant in Europe for the last 7 days, with cloudy, dry breaks popping up once in a while. The fears the family had of being ‘too hot’ will have to wait until Italy!