Our last port of call was Amsterdam. We said our farewells to the Uniworld Antionette’s wonderful staff and we were then met by a friendly local guide. The coach we boarded was so sleek in design that tourists were taking pictures of it while we toured the city – felt like Celebrities!
We secured tickets for one of the earliest canal cruise sailings of the day. When we finished the 75 minute cruise there was a long-line of tourists waiting to board future sailings. A canal cruise is a must when visiting Amsterdam.
Lunch was served in a historic restaurant that is over 500 years old. The interior exuded so much character, charm and warmth. The staff was so welcoming. We enjoyed an authentic Dutch meal that one of our passengers claimed brought back memories of his mother’s cooking.
Our hotel was was in a perfect location, in the heart of the city, only a short walk to all the main attractions.
The red light district attracts thousands of tourists to Amsterdam. We all agreed that hopefully Canada’s new marijuana laws won’t turn our country into something similar. We were transported into a different World where young people filled smoking bars and the streets. Everything imaginable they can make with marijuana was for purchase including ice cream…..
The shopping district was also packed with locals and tourists. Already its beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Amsterdam as twinkling lights lined the shopping streets. We were not far from an outdoor amusement area which was also a going concern. Long lines of patient ticket holders waited to get into the Wax Museum and Anne Franks house.
Most of us strolled for hours and enjoyed our free afternoon in beautiful, Amsterdam.
We gathered at 7pm for a farewell dinner. The restaurant I selected is housed in the 2nd oldest building in Amsterdam and was part of the walled city of years past. Towering, wooden beamed cathedral ceilings were decorated with candle lit chandeliers. The choice of menu dining experience was exceptional.
After we transferred back to the hotel some of us walked for less than 5 minutes to the cities famous French fry stand. Luckily the lines were not near as long as they were that afternoon. We of course just finished dinner and we full but still wanted to taste these popular fries so I placed a single order which we shared. Does this French fry stand deserve its hype? YES! Their fries were of course piping hot – they have a snappy crunch when you bite into them but the centre is silky soft. I didn’t order one of the many topping as we wanted to experience the true taste of the fries – the Dutch prefer to top their French fries with mayonnaise.
I was concerned that it may have been a noisy night since we were int he city core but it was the opposite. We all slept extremely well.
My group was the first in the breakfast room this morning. Many of us enjoyed freshly squeezed orange juice which we made ourselves by cutting oranges in half and placing them in an electric juicer. Along with scrambled eggs there was also both hard and soft boiled ones. Of course a Dutch breakfast would not be complete without some local cheese. I even spotted bottles of champagne. There was so much food it was impossible to taste everything.
At 8am we gathered in the the free standing fireplace lobby where I made sure everyone double checked that their luggage had been collected. Soon our driver appeared. He shared the downtown roads with thousands of bicycle riders – its an amazing sight to see. There just isn’t room for many cars in the core of the city so the bicycle is the ideal mode of transportation. The downtown to airport drive typically takes 20 minutes but it took the driver a good 45 minutes this morning due to a few traffic signal issues.
The airport check-in process was smooth but there was a bit of excitement after our immigration check. I was leading most of my group and while on an escalator, a young man ahead of me collapsed into my arms – he was out cold. Of course the escalator was still climbing and I knew if I didn’t do something quick my passengers would soon tumble into one another. I gently laid the gentleman down, climbed over him and lots of luggage but I was successful when I hit the emergency stop button at the top of the escalator. I then ran to advise airport staff that medical help was needed – help arrived immediately. My passengers helped to move the man off the escalator. Our carry-on bags were a bit of a tangled mess but we were all fine.
Security took a while to reach. The lines were long and moved in a confusing manor. Everyone said they were glad I was there to get them through.
We hit the odd turbulent bump during the flight home. The Air Canada attendants were efficient but not too friendly. The lunch they served was very good, mid-flight they served beverages without ice and a snack was served prior to landing.
After landing and getting through all the formalities at Toronto Pearson, I guided almost everyone to the Hilton where we are staying this evening. This is the hotel where my passengers parked their vehicles at the start of the journey. Tomorrow morning we are departing at different times so we said our farewells. Due to the time change we are all tired so will head to bed early. What a fantastic group of travelers I had on this journey. I thank them so much. We shared incredible experiences and many laughs but we are now anxious to get home. I especially look forward to seeing my Mom.
Don’t forget that on November 1st I am presenting morning and afternoon travel shows in Woodstock and Tavistock. We currently have over 200 RSVP’s but there is still some space if you would like to attend. Please let your friends and neighbours know too. Maybe I’ll see you at the show!
I have a couple very busy days ahead before I welcome my next travel group – we are heading to Lancaster County, PA, home of one of the largest Amish communities in North America.