Europe 2008 (Harwich to Amsterdam) Day 10 – June 3

3 06 2008

Well, the Ferry cabin last night was very nice.  I didn’t feel any boat motion at all while I slept.  Neither did Mrs D.  We woke up at 0600, since we needed to take a bit longer to get organized in the smaller cabin of the ferry, and we were debarking at 0745.  The train station was basically across the street from where we got off the ferry.  The train was heading into Rotterdam first.  The transfer was fairly smooth.. we only had to ask one person for directions to the Amsterdam train.  As we got to the platform it arrived.  1 minute later we were off on the last leg of our Amsterdam destined journey.  The train was a "Sprint" train much like the "Go" trains they have in Toronto.  Double decker for handling the rush hour crowds.  The train was full of commuters.  I got to stand.  We made it into Amsterdam at 1000.  Since everyone had been warning us of the unsavoury nature of the crowds at the station area we didn’t really want to hang around much and grabbed a cab to get us to the rental car location.  My hope was that we’d be able to leave our luggage in the car while we toured Amsterdam a bit without the burden of luggage or car.  The taxi cost  20 euros to the car rental place on Overtoom.

We rented a Fiat Punto.  Kind of appropriate since I think you might have to punt it to get it up any serious hills. Small little car.  It sure was nice to see the steering wheel on the left again :)  We Talked to the rental guy and he let us keep the car and luggage there as  long as we would be back before 1800 to get the car.  Deal!  We took the tram back into downtown.  A whopping 1.60 euros each.  Boy, there’s some serious money to be made in the taxi business!

After getting back downtown, we took a canal tour on a boat which gave "100 highlights" in an hour.  Simple but a good way to see a lot of the areas around Amsterdam.  After finishing the tour, we then walked around the shopping pedestrian streets. It was very nice, and it struck me that there were 1000’s of tourists around.  I heard very little dutch among the throngs.  We passed by some flower shops, and being Amsterdam, some were selling "Canabis starter kits".  LOL.  Interesting city.  Surprisingly not much smell of the Whacky Tabbacky though.  We walked a LOT!  After looking at our map of the downtown area, it seemed that we weren’t TOO far from the car rental, so we decided to hoof it over to get our car instead of taking tram.  Mother nature made us pay for that idea.  A "rain shower" kicked in.  It POURED.  Thankfully we had our commemorative stonehenge umbrella.  With its smaller size, unfortunately the umbrella didn’t QUITE cover us totally,  we got a little wet.  Thankfully it stopped raining by the time we got to pick up the car.  It had been a while since I drove a standard, and I didn’t really relish the distraction of rain with the fun of driving in a foreign city while trying to remember to de-clutch.  It all went quite well.  No stalls!

The GPS guided us over to our hotel, the Tulip Inn, West Amsterdam.  Check in was no earlier than 1600 and we were just after that.  The hotel seems quite nice, but the area is a depressed area.  Many immigrants and a few appartment complexes boarded up.  Signs of broken car glass along the road didn’t exactly warm my heart as to the likelihood of finding my car the next morning without a broken window. I suppose we’ll see.

It had been a long day of trains boats and walking.  Having been up since 0600, we were tired.  We both passed out for a quick nap after getting settled in the room.  After waking up finally we found that hotel was offering a dinner special:  Ribs and fries for 13.50 euros.  Sounded like a good plan.  We both had the rib special.  The ribs were a bit dry but the BBQ flavouring was tasty and not overpowering. We asked for some ketchup to go with our fries.  Alas, sorry – no ketchup.  The waiter DID bring us the class dutch french fry add-on though:  mayonaise.  Tasty.  Somehow we just felt we didn’t really get tour value for the money and we were going to see if we could find a new place to dine tomorrow.

We went for a walk after dinner to scout out the  neighbourhood and determine if it really was as poor as it seemed.  Yup.   We also scouted out some possible ideas for dinner tomorrow.  We DIDN’T see a laundromat, so we asked at the hotel desk when we got back in.  Not in this area.  Apparently downtown only.  People out here do their own laundry.  Meh… can’t be THAT poor!

Once I got back in the room I took the opportunity  catch up on some blogging.  ADSL is FREE! FREE!  Can you believe it?  I’ve got about 6GB of photos to sync with home!  We’re getting 800kbps up!

Time for me to sleep and let the photos sync.

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