Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Netherlands!

Chelsea and I headed out for our big adventure on August 10th.  We flew from Salt Lake City to Detroit.  When we got to Detroit we boarded our plane to Amsterdam.  About 30 minutes later we got off again, allegedly because of engine trouble.  As we were getting off we saw some law enforcement officials escort a young man off.  We didn't think to much about it and went about getting our free meal that the airline gave us to placate us as we were waiting for another plane.  We ended up with "gourmet" peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  They were good, but not $6 good! 
We started noticing there were a lot of cops in our gate area.  They gathered, discussed, then broke up and started walking around our area looking for people.
They spoke with airline people at our gate and basically made us all nervous.  They then announced our flight was ready to board (3 hours later).  We started wondering if we should get on.  Just as Chelsea and I were getting on, here comes the kid they took off earlier, escorted by Immigration officers.  It looks as though they were deporting him.  Probably got into some sort of trouble while on vacation or something.  We never did find out what the other cops were looking for and probably never will.  In the end they gave us $50 credits to use on another flight.

We made it to Amsterdam in one piece.  We were met by Eline and her dad, Erik.  They took us to Friesland where there was a sail boat race going on.  It was so beautiful!  We stayed at Erik's girlfriend's house and used her boat to cruise the canals and go to the race.
Eline and Chelsea
Janette, Erik and Hiskia
Some of the bridges were so low we had to duck to get past them!
This is a Dutch paramedic, one of the very few people we saw wearing a bike helmet.
It was a very festive day with a band playing rousing music!  They are wrapped in the flag of Friesland.
This is the view from Hiskia's patio.  Beautiful, isn't it!
We left the next day to head south to Utrecht, where Eline and her mom, Jolanda live. One thing we realized is that everyone in Holland has a bike.  Yes, everyone!  It is definitely the most used mode of transportation in that country.  There are bike paths everywhere and places to park bikes.  They generally ride basic upright bikes.  They don't go for expensive bikes with 21 speeds like Americans seem to need.  They do, however, all have a bell and lights, which are required.  But no one wears a helmet.  I think we saw about 6 people the whole time we were there wearing helmets.  And two of those were small children. They have bikes with child seats near the handlebars, bikes with big baskets, bikes made for two, and even three ( that was one made for a parent and two small children). They basically have a bike for every need. So when we decided to go into the city we hopped on bikes:

Eline and Chelsea
Me on one of Eline's bikes.
We went out to dinner at a little Greek place.  I had a gyro and it was great!
The Dutch version of the port-a-potty for men!
The Dom Tower, the highest church building in the Netherlands.  We walked up to the top!
I am a Diet Pepsi addict so was happy to find Pepsi Light.  It tasted different, but was still good.
Chelsea and me at an outdoor cafe.
The creator of Miffy (a bunny character in books and on TV) is from Utrecht so they have this cute light for a crosswalk there.
Chelsea and Eline
The bells at the top of the Dom Tower
Chelsea and me at the top of the Dom Tower
A view of Utrecht from the top of the Dom Tower
Eline and Chelsea at the top of the Dom Tower
This is my favorite photo of Eline and Chelsea.
Here they are in the garden at the back of Eline and Jolanda's house.
What a beautiful girl!

We went to Volendam to see Mr. Man, a statue that Chelsea had her picture taken with 10 years ago.  We did some shopping, ate some frites, prawns and Eline ate some raw fish.  We took a ferry over to Marken which is a cute little village.  The weather was beautiful and it was a great time.
We saw a lot of these beautiful sailboats.
Chelsea's Dutch slippers.

We went to see Het Loo, which is a palace which belongs to the Dutch Royal Family.  It is gorgeous as you'd expect.  We especially loved the gardens.

Anyone know the name of this plant?  We used to have one at our old house but haven't seen one since, until we spotted this at Het Loo Palace.
We went out for dinner at the Pannekoeken Huis that Eline used to work at.  It was very good.

Chelsea had a bacon and cheese pancake.
I had a pancake which was half apple and raisin and half bacon and cheese.  Delicious!
We went to Madurodam which is a miniature model of Holland, with all the major landmarks built to a 1:25 scale.  It was fun to see miniatures of places we had visited.
Miniature Dom Tower
This was taken of our reflection on the wall made of glass tiles.
We were there at the wrong time to see the tulip fields so the miniature will have to do!
On our last day we went to Amsterdam to see the Anne Frank house.  We decided to go on a canal tour and then went to the Ice Bar which is a very cold bar made completely out of ice including the chairs, bar and even the glasses!  We also went to the Red Light district.  I wasn't too keen on going since I've seen it before and I was with my teenaged daughter.  But Eline really wanted to show it to her so off we went.  Chelsea wasn't impressed, to say the least.
This is a 3 story bike garage which can hold over 3000 bikes!
This ship is a replica created voluntarily by Amsterdam's unemployed.
A house boat on one of the canals.  This is one of the nicer ones.
The narrowest home in Amsterdam.
Our canal boat.
When Eline first came to live with us she asked for American sauce when we went to McDonalds.  We had no idea what she was talking about so we made her get some while we were in Amsterdam.  We still don't know what it is except that it has some mustard and possibly some mayo and some small green stuff. 
Chelsea became quite the tea drinker while we were there.  She especially liked the fresh mint tea and now wants to grow some for herself.
Walking in the alleys of Amsterdam.
We learned that Coffee Shops aren't where you go to get coffee, but rather where you go to buy marijuana.  We didn't try any out though!  :)
All kinds of fun stuff for sale!  You gotta love Amsterdam!
This is a floating bed and breakfast.  We thought of your dear gay and lesbian friends when we saw this.  Amsterdam is one of the most gay and lesbian friendly cities in the world!
A typical Amsterdam street, complete with a Subway, Burger King and McDonalds.  Chelsea and Eline ate at the Burger King.
I chose to eat a shwarma instead, mostly because it wasn't American and Mike asked me to!  He loved to eat them when he lived in Holland.
The Central Train station in Amsterdam.   It looks so beautiful with the sun seting.

We had such a wonderful time visiting Eline and her family.  Jolanda was especially a great hostess, trying to speak English, and doing a great job!  We found that we had much in common, including the books we like to read.  It was an amazing vacation but I am glad to be home!