Friday, 12 August 2016

Charmful Canals of Amstel - Day 4

Peacful Canal

Amsterdam                                                            Netherlands

Monday 23rd February 2015

I woke up in the morning a bit later which was lovely for me. However, I suddenly noticed that my legs were aching from all the walking the past couple of days. Well, today was our last day so I shot out of bed with a plan of making the most of our time before having to say goodbye to it all. As I was getting ready I admired the sun beaming into my room hoping that we’d have a safe flight back home as the previous night’s weather didn’t bode well. I eventually headed downstairs and sat in the lobby area for a moment watching the football on the TV and then I seen a well dressed woman walking around the lobby as though she was doing reconnaissance until I seen her go across the TV with her finger checking for dust. I could tell she was an inspector so I thought I would make the place look cleaner by leaving the lobby and heading back to my room. 

I then got a message from Sam asking if I was alive. With the thumbs up to state that I was alive, he came down and knocked on my door. I opened the door gradually saying “housekeeping” and there was Sam with his suitcase and hand luggage. He came in and helped me make sure I had everything packed before leaving the room for the final time. Into the lobby we went and waited for the concierge to assist us placing our bags in the locker room. We decided that since we weren’t going to be in our rooms, we would check out and claim our 50 Euros deposit back. There was a small part of me thinking we wouldn’t receive it but because we didn’t incur any extra charges, we were handed our money which would hopefully help us out for the remainder of the day. 

Quiet Canal

We left the hotel wandering the surrounding area looking for somewhere different for breakfast. We were running out of options as our stomachs were beginning to rumble until eventually in the square next to the hotel, we came across a pub which served good breakfast so we took the opportunity and sat at the outside area watching the world go by. It was nice to just sit and watch the hustle and bustle around us as we sat still; we ordered 2 full English breakfasts and waited for them to arrive. As we waited, there was a faint sound coming from one of the main streets of feet clicking and clocking which became louder and louder until we seen what was making the noise. It was 2 large black horses pulling an old fashioned wagon with old style Heineken barrels. It was truly a remarkable sight to see as it continued on with its journey. There was a man on the table in front of us who shot up and ran towards it trying to get a good picture of the wagon as his family looked on amazed at what he was doing. I made a joke saying “he must be eager for Heineken” but I don’t think anybody heard me so I kept my head down and kept quiet. Eventually our food came and I was won over by the large eggs and thinly sliced crispy bacon. We wolfed our food down and made preparations to take our leave and wander the streets of Amsterdam. However, we didn’t get far until we stopped again admiring a shop window full of chocolate. We went inside to buy a chocolate plaque with smarties on top as if we didn’t have breakfast already. I tried to get the shop assistant to get one with a lot of smarties on but I don’t think she understood what I said; I think I need to speak more English than Geordie. 

Chocolate Heaven

Continuing on with our journey we walked to the North West passing by the expensive shops and souvenir shops trying our best not to go inside them looking at the hundreds of people weaving around each other. We were continuing our current path North West until the surrounding streets suddenly became quiet; it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. As we were walking we came upon something quite bizarre. We were watching on as a group of people were entering a building up a small set of ladders and through an open window. We were shocked to see what was happening as we passed by laughing. The surrounding buildings and canals became picturesque which meant we were in the Jordan district once more. As the weather was perfect on the last day of course, the area seemed that bit more beautiful as we continued on. Yet again we came across something interesting along the way which was a row of houses looking straight and organised but one which was majorly dipped to one side as though it had a stroke. We decided to go deeper into the Jordan area and Sam stumbled on a costume shop. Looking through the window we could see a Captain America and Spiderman costume which made us want to go in and check it out. As we entered we were lost with amazement of what they had to offer. 

Unique Building

They had a range of superhero masks, horror masks and also TV characters such as Bart Simpson and Peter Griffin. We headed to the upper floor and stumbled on more amazing costumes of superheroes and villains but my favourite of them all thanks to the child side of me were the Transformers costumes of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. We headed back down to stop me from buying the expensive costumes and then down again to the basement where everything was based on horror with zombies and witches moving when we got close to them making horrible sounds and screeches. It felt as though we were back at work so we decided to head out of the shop after complimenting the owners on how good it was heading north again. 

Costume Shop

We walked straight up to ‘Westerkerk’ church close to Anne Frank’s house and the doors were opened so we thought we would enter but not before we admired its elegant design at the top of the clock tower with its crown like dome and colours of red, blue and gold. As we walked in, I wasn’t expecting to see a church with no paintings on the huge walls surrounding us. It looked like it was a blank white canvass waiting to be filled with wonder. However, it was amazing to hear the echo of music around us and as we looked up and behind us, we could see where the music was coming from. It was an elegantly designed pipe organ with colours of silver and gold brightening the room even more. Having a slow walk around, we took our leave and headed west as the scenery became more beautiful and quiet. 

Westerkerk Pipe Organ

Then a faint sound of people became louder as we got closer to a busy market area then I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of bikes parked up in this area. We ended up walking through the market seeing what they were selling and to be honest it wasn’t much as it seemed like they were selling a lot of fabrics and old trinkets nobody really needed. We decided to head back east but in the northern part of the city where it became really busy again. 

Heading Towards Market Place

As it was passed dinner time we headed to our favourite Hard rock café. The thought of having some food there spurred us on as we seemed to walk quicker despite our tired legs. Time passed as we finally arrived at the famous Hard rock café entering its doors to take a seat. We thought we would have to wait for 30 minutes again but that wasn’t the case as one of the waiters showed us to our table straight away. We were welcomed by the familiar smell of BBQ sauce which made my mouth dribble just slightly losing what little dignity I had as we were given our menus. Sam decided to have ribs with chips and I decided to have the classic Hard rock burger and chips. As we waited we were admiring the vibe of the café and looking out onto the canal watching the boats go by so swiftly. Eventually our food came and couldn’t get over the size of Sams ribs. They were humungous and as for my burger, it was very large and appetising so we dug in with food shrapnel flying everywhere as we were literally speechless with what we were eating. We spent quite a bit of time at the café where Sam would brag to me at the fact that he had FREE REFILLS (gritted teeth) with his Coca Cola and I had my Heineken with no refills before we finally left waddling with our bellies full to the brim. 

Peaceful Canal
Sam and Me at Hard Rock Cafe (FREE REFILLS!)

It was nearing the time to head back to the hotel but before we did, we had a walk through the building of the ‘Rijksmuseum’. As we passed through it, we discovered the elaborate sign I was looking for which was the large wording saying ‘I amsterdam’. There were a lot of people climbing on the sculpture getting there pictures taken. Right next to it was a medium sized outdoor ice rink which was peculiar but amazing to see even though it looked like it was partly melting. At its centre was a draw bridge so we headed for that. We climbed the small set of stairs and stood on the bridge overlooking the sculpture and the huge museum behind it. 


I amsterdam
Ice Rink
Sam and Me

By this point it was time to head back to the hotel to make preparations for our departure. As we got back I sat at the lobby whilst Sam picked up our luggage as were quite a lot of other people too. As we still had a bit of time to waste we just sat in the lobby playing on our games whilst waiting for our transport. Quite a bit of time passed before a large black man came towards us holding a piece of paper. He said my name and we shot up with our luggage leaving the hotel. I was hoping to high five the concierge but he was no where to be seen. We got outside and seen that there was another couple going in the same taxi. We got into the taxi with Sam at the front and me in the back with the other couple talking about our holiday experiences and where we were from. The talking kept the journey from being boring as we were arriving at the airport. We grabbed our bags and wished each other a safe flight and entered the airport with my thinking hat on. Luckily enough there was a departure board right at the entrance and had immediately found our plane number. For once the check in area was right in front of us too so we headed straight for it. We were seen too straight away with our luggage going onto the belt and away towards the planes gate. We received our tickets but were told that we hadn’t been allocated a seat number yet due to overbooking. We passed through customs with ease as the detectors did not go off so no frisking was happening this evening. We then headed straight for our gate with ease and as we arrived, there was our plane getting prepared. A long time had passed as everyone was starting to line up to receive their seat numbers. We were in the middle of the queue which was fine for us then we got to the desk. We were slightly worried as we didn’t know if we were even going to get onto the plane or not due to the overbooking; thankfully though we received our new boarding passes. Again I had the window seat and Sam had the middle seat which was great. As I was at the window seat on the way to Amsterdam, we agreed to swap seats on the way back home so that Sam could experience it too; even though he pestered me about the FREE REFILLS. 

KLM Flight

In no time at all we eventually got into the plane and on our seats raring to go reminding Sam how nice I was to give up my seat so he would feel guilty about the FREE REFILLS. Once everything and everyone was accounted for, the doors were shut and the plane began to move out of the gate and towards the runway. As it was a large airport, I thought it would take a long time to get to the runway. That wasn’t the case though because as we were looking out of the window, the runway was quite close to where our gate was and before we knew it we turned going faster and faster and then we were off the ground gaining speed and altitude. We looked out of the window admiring the patches of lights on the ground heading for home. Sam was enjoying the moment too sitting at the window making the most of the view until we were above the clouds. 

On this plane had screens along the cabin showing a map of our location to our destination indicating how high we were, what speed we were doing and how long it would take to get to our destination which I loved. The cabin crew were coming along with snacks and drinks which we took advantage of as well. Time had passed as I was still staring at the screen in front of me and then all of a sudden, the seat belt sign came on; it was time to land. The weather in the North East was wind and rain and we felt it coming through the clouds. At times there were sudden jolts from the turbulence created but it passed and we were descending smoothly. 

The plane made a sharp turn to the left and I knew exactly where we were. We were going over Seaton Sluice and as we straightened up, Blyth was on the right side and I was constantly staring out at it trying to spot familiar locations. In no time at all we were flying over Cramlington, Seaton burn, Dinnington and then finally the runway. It was quite a hard thud down but we finally landed back home. The plane slowed down gradually until it eventually reached the gate coming to a stop. Everyone began to grab their things trying to rush and get out but we thought it would be better to wait until it calmed down. Eventually we got our chance and got out of our seats heading for the exit. 

After passing passport checks we were in baggage reclaim with our bags arriving on the belt first which was great. We were soon passing through the arrivals hall and heading for the exit. We headed for the drop off point where my grandfather was already waiting for us with my grandmother. We threw our bags in the boot of the car without trying to get hit from grandfather’s stick before setting off for home. Again we were talking about our holiday what we did and where we went which passed the time quickly as we soon approached the home straight once more. As we pulled up I could see my parents with happiness on their faces again. We got our bags and waved goodbye to my grandparents. Then I shook hands with Sam saying goodbye and saying it was a pleasure sharing this incredible experience with him. It was getting late after a brief talk with my parents and I was tired so I headed to my lovely double bed. 

I lay down reflecting on my holiday thinking of how weird and wonderful everything was and how organised each building, canal and even the traffic surprisingly enough seemed to be. Plenty people stereotype the city saying it is all about drugs and prostitution but that was not the case. The people were friendly and would always have time for us and help us out if need be and as we wandered the streets for 4 days, I can simply say that Amsterdam is a beautifully well organised city which has a lot more than meets the eye.

Peacful Canal
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