Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Home again, home again, jiggity, jig.

I am sitting in my living room in Manchester right now, looking at all the familiar things around me, wondering," Did I really just get home from such a fabulous trip?"  Laundry is started, suitcases are unpacked, piles of "stuff" on the dining room table prove that I did, but it is hard to imagine 36 hours ago I was there, and now I am here. Livin' the life!

Of course, as all of you know, the last 36 hours were not easy ones.  Traveling anywhere is a hassle, traveling internationally is exhausting. And traveling with Jerry is.....getting better.   We were awake for basically 24 hours, leaving Amsterdam at 3:30 PM their time (8:30 AM here) and arriving here last night at 12:45 AM Wednesday (their time 8:45 AM).  That does not consider that we had a full day before getting on the plane.  Sleeping on the way home is hard, because flying West you are always chasing daylight, so the plane is never dark.  Oh well. We are home, and I will survive! The time change this way is a lot easier than the jet lag when you go.

We had a grand last day with Kristine.  Had friends over to her apartment for dinner and wine Monday night.  Kris has Fabulous friends and are a great support network for her.  I made 2 kinds of soup and we had fresh veggies, dip, cheese ball, and soup.
          Friend Suzanne and daughter Sara

Kris, Inga, and Jean with soup.  Can you tell we have had some wine?

Tuesday morning was traveling day. Gorgeous 40 degrees! Sun, sun, sun!!!  Got the apartment cleaned up, we got packed, Kris and I planted the pansies that we had bought in her window boxes on her deck, and cleaned up and set the deck up for summer.  It was fun working with Kris because she is so darn creative, so we made the deck look like it was in a magazine (Well, not really, but the best we could)

Hanging candle jars on a wire.

Kris getting ready. Rosie the Riveter 

Then Joseime picked us up at 1;00 and drove us to Shippol airport.  Our flight was not until 4:40 but Jerry wanted to be early, and it was fine with the girls.  Kris had a doctor appt. at 4:00 so we just decided to humor him and get there early.  Good thing!

We walk in and look at the departure board.  Our flight is there:  Non-Stop Amsterdam to Minneapolis.  CANCELLED!!! OMG.  Jerry freaks (not really, but it makes a better story).  I go to KLM desk and she says, "Well now, let's get you home".  She was so nice, booked us Amsterdam to Montreal, Montreal to Chicago, Chicago to C.R.  Leaving.......just about NOW! But we are flying "Standby".  She says, "Don't worry, you'll get on".
Kris and Joseime waiting for KLM to come up with a solution.

Joseime had made a lemon chocolate cake (we would call them bars) for Lola & Bob that we bring home

 So we get to the gate and they are waiting for us, go through customs, bag is too heavy because of the cake, pay the fine, get on the plane and we have been upgraded to Economy comfort! It gives you 4-5 more inches of leg room, and let me tell you that 5 inches feels like the difference between a Volkswagen and a Cadilac back seat in a 7 hour flight. So, all's well that ends well.

Uneventful rest of the trip, but getting off, then on, then off, then on, and then off, takes a toll.  Our good and trusty friends the Tuetkens came to pick us up at 11:15 PM in Cedar Rapids, and drove us home.  What pals!  We got home, plugged in the cell phones, turned on the water heater, and crashed.  This morning I did get up and WALK the 8 blocks to Fareway and back with groceries, so I guess all that walking has rubbed off on me.  We will see how long it lasts.

People have asked, best part....favorite food....favorite place?  Really, there aren't any or we couldn't choose.  We love Europe and how they live.  We think the European people really have priorities in the right place.  Family is top.  Fun is too.  Money is not that important, or clothes, but beauty (art, architecture,  color...) is really important.  Quality is huge and I watched women find the best bunch of broccoli at a market, tasting cheese before they buy it, finding the vendor that they thought had the best stuff.  The people that we met were so nice to us, never cross or impatient with our poor Italian, French, or Dutch, or stupidity.  Jerry had a man spend 10 minutes helping him buy stamps at the post office while the other people waited patiently.  That just wouldn't happen here. Or when I got lost in the museum, the guards were so nice to me.  They are polite to each other ALWAYS.  They greet you when you walk in and when you walk out of a store, and not because some marketing guru says that's how to get more customers, but because they are polite. They say thank you over and over and over.  We found more easy smiles, more patient demeanor, more willingness to tease and kid than you find here.  And, we have made life long friends with some.

So, my favorite part?  Going and living like a local for a while, even though we were FAR from locals, it is a good life.  We will definitely go again, see different things, but go again for sure.  And that is the day after I got home, and I am exhausted.  Imagine what I will say when I find the money for the next trip?  Thanks for sharing this experience with us.  It was fun writing to you each day.  Ciao!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Last day of this fabulous trip

Hello again from Amsterdam.  Our last full day of our wonderful trip and it was sunny and mild.  Everyone here is complaining on how cold and late the spring is, but the beautiful sunshine was more than enough to make up for it.

Saturday night we went out for Indonesian food and ordered a "rice table" which was about 9 different dishes that we shared.  Yum, some spicy, some not, all good!

Then, of course, no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a walk through the "red light" district.

water balloons

cowboy boots!

Took a lot more photos, but can't post them. Cab home.  Bed

Our day yesterday was so busy I just couldn't blog.  I hit the wall about 9:00 PM last night and crashed.  So, sorry about that, for you blog "junkies"  I will try to cram 2 days into one.

Easter Sunday we left for the Scheepvaartmuseum, which is the maritime museum of the VOC. (Dutch East India Company.)  It was a fabulous museum, showing all kinds of navigation instruments, etc.
Here are a few street scenes before we got there.
Central Station

Trolley (Tram) lines

The crying tower where women went to mourn their men at sea

water taxi

Sea Palace, floating Chinese restaurant

Looks good for Easter brunch?

We were really the only Caucasians there without Asians.  Dim Sum for Easter! Beats ham!

So cute girls!

Am I sure I want to eat this?


I don't think so

Jerry ordered this, disgusting!

Coconut balls filled with Lotus goo

If you say so

The food was actually very good, considering we just pointed and hoped.


We walked from here

to here 

to here

to here - 5 miles!

Maritime museum and the ship we got to tour

This place was so cool!  We really had fun and the ship was amazing!!!!  It was like being on a pirate ship, although it was a replica of a 17th century trading ship from the East Indian Company.

Ship Prow Mastheads

The big dipper

Astroglobe - instruments to measure where you are.

Interactive Ship Log

Lots of ship art

The VOC East Indian

Friendly ship mascot, a big RAT!

Ready, aim, fire!

This is a BIG rope

In the captain's cabin

The potty

Upper deck

The hold

Cafe at the Amrath Hotel - Beautiful

Having fun!

Walked through the Red light district - again!

Inside the trolley

Walked through the Oosterpark

We had great intentions of going out for dinner after a rest but that was not to be.  We crashed after a Donner.

Monday we met Kris's friend Joseime for lunch at a typical Dutch place that was built in 1400's.  Really, and it hadn't had much done to it since.  But great food.
Baby bike?  All over here.

Crocus and Daffodils

Back on the Tram

First a trip to the English Hatters for a hat for Jerry

Kristine looks good in anything, but this hat is great!

Gotta have it!


Kris and Joseime

My sandwich ---huge

Jerry's BLTA - Bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado

Kris' goat cheese and pine nuts

Joseime got Pumpkin Soup

Then off to the Van Gogh museum

The guards caught me after this one and I couldn't take any more pictures.  Darn rules!

Coffee, beer, and tea with the peeps

2 good lookin' hats!

Palm beer!

We didn't have this, but it is apple pie!!!!!!

Came back and made h'ors douvers and soup and had friends in.  Lots of fun.  Kris and Jerry are sleeping, and I should be.  Big day tomorrow.  We have had such fun here.  Great way to end our trip. I will try to post from the airport tomorrow with impressions of the trip, but right now, I need to sleep.  Good night.  Fly home tomorrow.  Home late tomorrow night.  Donkey don (They say that is Dutch, but I think they are making it up!)  Ciao!