“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” ~Ibn Battuta~
Have you ever woken up wishing that time would just slow down? That was Iamo and I on the morning of day 11 in Koblenz, Germany, the second last day of #EE28102019. It was a beautiful morning. We woke up earlier than usual, and took our time getting ready & packing up, even at breakfast too. As if by slowing down our movements, that would hold still the hands of time 😁
I even made time to go out for a walk in the hotel gardens to take pictures – unfortunately, all those photos too, were on the lost memory card 😒. The smell of clean, fresh mountain air after overnight rain, combined with sweet floral scents from the gardens, was so refreshing and rejuvenating. I can understand why people pay to go recuperate in the mountains.
We left beautiful Koblenz for the Netherlands, just before 8am. It was another long but scenic road trip. The skies were grey, lots of storm clouds about & we knew it would rain somewhere along the way – but that didn’t dampen our mood. Everyone was looking forward to what lay ahead on this day. Thank you for the memories & Auf Wiedersehen, Germany! Goedemorgen, The Netherlands 🙂
We stopped for lunch at a rest stop called La Place in Panweg Enspijk, Netherlands. A lovely restaurant with a wide variety of food and drinks to choose from. The food was delicious, all made from fresh vegetables, fruits etc displayed around the restaurant. And of course, there were lots of places to take photos too 😁
Our first stop after lunch was at De Riekermolen, a “picturesque, rebuilt windmill dating back to the 17th century & situated along the Amstel River” – Google. By then, the rain clouds couldn’t hold off any more, so it was already raining when we arrived in the Netherland. But hey, no one has ever died from being exposed to a little rain, right? 🙂 Well, not that I’ve heard of anyway. And I certainly wasn’t going to let a ‘little’ rain stop me from taking a photo or ten, in front of the antique windmill 😁. A few of us braved the weather and got out of the coach to take pictures in the drizzle.
From the windmill we drove to a cheese farm and clog factory called Clara Maria Kaasboerderij- & Clog. It’s a family run business and has been passed down through several generations. The owner describes the place very well in Dutch, on their website. I googled it and have pictures of both the Dutch and English translation below. It is indeed a beautiful farm/factory and we had a lovely time there, learning how to make clogs and cheese. It truly is amazing how they have kept and still maintain the traditional ways of cheese and clog making.
After the interesting and informative tour of Clara Maria, we drove to our hotel in Haarlem, Netherlands;
Haarlem is a city outside of Amsterdam in the northwest Netherlands. Once a major North Sea trading port surrounded by a defensive wall, it retains its medieval character of cobblestone streets and gabled houses. It’s the center of a major flower-bulb-growing district, and famous for its outlying tulip fields, art museums and hofjes (almshouses built around leafy courtyards).Google
We didn’t get to tour Haarlem, but I loved the gabled houses – they reminded me of the christmas gingerbread houses, just surreal!
The name of the hotel we stayed at is the ‘niu Dairy’ – Dairy is inspired by all the farming and food production that used to happen on this spot (found that bit of information on the hotel’s website). We checked in, rested for a bit; we were too tired to do anything else, even though we said we would. By 5pm, we were back in the coach with everyone else for the trip into the city centre!
Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. Cycling is key to the city’s character, and there are numerous bike paths.Google
What can I say about Amsterdam! It is everything you read or hear about – a very liberal city! I mean, where else in the world would you find yourself walking around, feeling high, and you’re not even smoking or drinking anything?! I’ll get to that part later 😁😅 It’s also not as dangerous as what someone people make it out to be – however don’t take my word for it. We were there for only 2 hours. But! First impressions count yeah, so just putting that out there. Also like I said in one earlier blog – open mind and open hearts. And whatever you do, STAY AWAY from the bike paths! I mean it, I almost got run over by one.
Our evening in Amsterdam started out with a dinner cruise on the Amstel River for about an hour and half. Dinner was pizza which we stopped and picked up along the way. Following are some photos and video(s) from the cruise.
Following the river cruise, we had an hour and a bit to explore and sightsee on our own. We decided to check out the Red Light District out of curiosity – however as tour groups were banned, we had to do that without Matt, our tour leader. He gave us a few pointers about how to get there, what to do or not do eg NO photos in area: cameras/phones are confiscated immediately by police.
Off we went wandering along the busy streets initially as a group, then somehow separated, with the young ones going their own way, leaving the ‘seniors’ on our own 😁. For those who are not aware, prostitution and drugs are legal in the Netherlands – in Amsterdam, the Red Light District area is notorious for these activities.
10 or so minutes into our walk I started feeling light headed and having a really bad headache: trust me, we did not drink or eat anything – we heard stories earlier so we made sure not to do that! Even my throat was dry and itchy and it was all from the smoke & smell of drugs – they were just too strong! Much to our disappointment, we had to cut short our walk; Iamo and I excused ourselves from our friends and retracked our steps back to the main avenue, Damrak, hoping it would be ok there. Unfortunately there was no way of avoiding the smell and smoke. It is everywhere, but not as bad as it is in the RLD area.
What an experience!! We saw enough in the 10 minutes walk, however some things are better left unmentioned! Stay away from the RLD area, if you don’t have an open mind, is all I can say. We spent the rest of the hour buying souvenirs and window shopping around the Damrak and Amsterdam Central, most of the shops were still open. We made sure to stay away from cafes, just incase we bought the wrong cupcakes 😅. Apart from some souvenirs the only other thing we bought was water, just to be on the safe side!!!😁.
Oh another thing, we needed to use the toilet, however every eatery we went to didn’t have one – even the MacDonalds. All referring us to public toilets in the area: and no, I wasn’t keen to go there. Finally we ended up at this big souvenir shop and spoke to one of the young attendants: he referred us to his manager, an African (from Ghana or Nigeria). And bless their souls, they were kind enough to let us use the staff toilet!
Below are some memories from the night, mainly taken around the Damrak – no pictures from RLD area. We didn’t want to lose our phones or the camera.
We all managed to find our way back to the bus at around 9pm – lots of laughter and chatting as everyone shared their experiences. Back in the hotel lobby, we said goodbye to our friends from the Philippines as they were leaving the tour here. After all the excitement, that was a sad moment to end day 11. But what a day it was ❤