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The Group

Day 02: July 29th 1999 (Amsterdam, Netherlands).

Breakfast at 7:30am with the group in the hotel, then on the bus.  The bus is huge and black with neon “Heidebloem” marked on it in a crayon style.  Heidebloem means heather in Dutch.  The Belgian driver, Jean, was apparently the only bus driver skilled enough to pull the bus into the square to pick us up, delivering true door-to-door service.  The seats in the bus have lazy-boy footrests and recline a lot, so this bodes well for those long trips between countries.

It was 30 minutes to downtown Amsterdam.  Our first stop was the Anne Frank house.  This is where her family and friends hid during WWII.  They were eventually found and taken to concentration camps, and only her father and her diary lived on to tell the tale.  Her diary is now published in 53 languages.  I was unexpectedly moved by this museum, and it left me feeling depressed that people could live for years full of hope and then be destroyed.  I guess I’m still an idealist, no matter how cynical I sound.

We took a walking tour of downtown, and in so discovered why so many buildings lean out.  Since the buildings are vertical, the storage is on top and they need to lean out to give clearance so that loads can swing when hoisted.  We eventually stopped at Dam Square and then went on a canal tour.

Lunch was at a small café (we filled the whole place), and in the company of a friendly black cat we ate sandwiches and fruit, and even the beer was paid for.

Next stop was the Rijksmuseum, where we saw all the Rembrandts anyone could ever want to see.  I also took the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh (that’s “Gock”) museum, where they have hundreds of his paintings and sketches.

After the two museums we were all dead tired and walked-out for the day, yet still there was one more walking tour – the red light district.  Interesting to say the least.

Dinner was at a Chinese-Indonesian restaurant in Haarlem.  I burned my hand on one of the plates, but other than that the food was excellent and filling. 

After dinner I had a few beers with our guide Don, the assistant guide Ian (who had just arrived from Belgium, finishing up a BBB tour), and the bus driver Jean.  Don and Jean both smoke, but I didn’t mind.  We talked for 3 hours about all kinds of stuff, while watching the sun go down on the square.  I will get at most six hours sleep tonight.  I hope I don’t have a hangover.

To bed at midnight.


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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.