Sunday, July 15, 2012

07-15-12 Amsterdam Arrival (Blog)

Woke up at 4:45. (Why the hell do I do that?) Showered, went to the lounge for “breakfast” as usual. No coffee, no juice. Well, debarkation day is hectic for everyone, I'm sure. Passengers had started leaving the ship at 4 a.m. We were sandwiched between two other Viking ships, all unloading passengers in preparation for taking on a new group this afternoon. We were instructed to have our suitcases outside our rooms by 9 a.m. I'd arranged for a cab to pick me up at 9:30.

Much milling around, organized confusion. Lobby packed with suitcases with different-colored tags to indicate when they were to be offloaded for whatever transportation (airport, etc.) was required from the ship. Mine was green for people staying in Amsterdam. Said goodbye to several people only to run into them again a few minutes later. They finally announced my cab was waiting. I didn't see my suitcase with all the others, but assume they had already taken it up to the place where taxis waited, and a Viking crew member overlooked things. No suitcase. Back to the ship, found Andrew who said he'd go look for it. Gone about ten minutes, then finally appeared with my case.

The Blue Tower Hotel is a 20 euro ($30+) ride from the ship, in a very quiet residential and largely muslim neighborhood and, I learned, about a 20 minute cab or tram ride from the city center. The sidewalks are a mess, with debris everywhere. The hotel itself is quite nice, with 3 slow elevators. Everyone speaking English. I asked about a laundromat and was told there is one about 10 minutes away (I hope they're talking “walk” rather than taxi or tram), but are closed on Sunday, of course. So there first thing in the morning, then to the Rijksmuseum.

Oh, one strange thing about the hotel. They give you two key for the door and one to turn on the lights!

Think I'll take a canal cruise today, which involves going back almost to where I left the Prestige, just a few blocks from the Central Station. Will also try to find an Amsterdam hoodie while I'm out.

There are people who should not be allowed to roam about unchaperoned. I am one of them. Lest you ask, when you reach the end of this blog, why there are so very few photos of my first day in Amsterdam, I will tell you now. It is a rather pathetic tale, so why do I seemingly take perverse glee in telling you, thereby airing my failings in public? I suppose it is because, if to err is human, I have to be one of the most human creatures on earth.

Ready for the story? (Dorien, by the way, washes his hand of the entire incident, watching a passing cloud and idly whistling a little tune as I relate my mea culpas.) Okay, here it is. I did set out for the canal trip. It was raining. I walked to the tram line a block from the hotel, where I'd been instructed to take tram #14 or #21. I got on #21. Folded my umbrella and laid it on the seat next to me, then realized I did not have my camera. I immediately got up, and got off at the next stop, walking back to the hotel to get it. It wasn't here. Obviously, I had had it with me in the same hand as the umbrella, set them both down, did my “Oh, Gee, I forgot the camera” number, took my umbrella and did not look back to see if the camera was on the seat, which obviously it was. Oh, well, when you're as wealthy (or delusional) as I, losing a $160 camera means nothing.

Asked the desk where I might find a camera shop, for this trip is nothing if I don't record every possible moment of it. They said there were lots of camera stores in the city center. Back to the tram for a fifteen minute ride to the city center. Did I mention it was raining? Got off at the Dom stop (“Dom” apparently being Dutch for “Cathedral” and started searching for a camera store. And searching. Asked five or six people with no success other than the pointing in several different directions. Finally found one, bought the identical camera as the one I'd lost from a really cute clerk who made giving up the money a bit less painful.

So with a new camera, I could start taking photos immediately, right? Uh, not quite. The battery has to be charged first. So I returned to the hotel and am watching the battery charge. Only a bit more exciting than watching paint dry (at least you can try to count the number of blinks the little green light makes as it charges...I lost track somewhere after 2,347). Finally charged and I went out to take a few local photos, which will be posted with this blog.

And there you have it. The adventures continue. And tomorrow is another day.

Oh, I did have lunch at a little place not far from here. A really tasty soup and some unusual bread I'd not seen before.

And I did find a hoodie! It says “Amsterdam 75.” I asked the clerk what the 75 meant, and it turns out Amsterdam was founded in the year 1275. Why the hoodie leaves off the 12, I have no idea. I'm sure most people in America will think it's the number of some quarterback on the Amsterdam football team (unlikely as that may be) or that I was here in 1975, which would make the hoodie 37 years old.

See, now you've learned something. Won't make up for the lack of more photos, but....

Dorien will be posting frequent blogs and photos while on his current European adventure. You can see the photos on down past the blog. You're also invited to check out his website at

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