And we're off!!
So after a hideously early start we hustled downstairs for some breakfast and to meet a few of the other passengers. It was at this time I decided I needed to put on my big girl pants and be sociable. Not my natural tendency especially with people I don't know but I think it made my tour experience all the richer.
We met our bus, bus driver and tour guide and headed for Dover (I got some snaps of the white cliffs of Dover but it was through dirty glass and therefore not worth sharing)
Crossing the channel to Calais on calm seas (but I still found it a challenge. I don't get sea sick - I just don't like it that nothing stays still).
Then we drove from Calais to Amsterdam. Now that is your homework for this post. Look up on a map how far that is - sounds close but it isn't really. But on the journey we passed some amazing windmills which effectively keep the Netherlands as land. Apparently a lot of the area is below sea level or something and they 'reclaim' the land which I find to be an altogether fascinating concept.
We went on a cruise on the canals and marveled at the narrow houses and boats with shallow bottoms.
Here's a pic of my mum enjoying the cruise.
We went on a walking tour of the red light district where I discovered that it is so named because actual red lights light up the windows with the women in them. I found it all so foreign as our local guide proudly told us how the 'ladies of the night' could receive free help with their taxes. I didn't know that such ladies had to pay taxes. We wandered past cafes that had a unique smell - you know one of those cafes.
There are millions of bicycles in Amsterdam. I almost got run over by a bus, a car, a tram and a few dozen bikes - I was lucky to escape with my life. Okay I may be slightly over dramatic but I do know a few of the locals were getting irritated with me being in their way (note: don't accidentally walk on the bike road ways).
By the time we were heading back to the hotel it was around 10 o'clock. Bear in mind I had woken up at 3am and hadn't slept. I was beginning to question the wisdom of taking the tour. So a little upset and very very tired on the bus ride back I did as I always do when I'm over tired. I giggled. I giggled and giggled and giggled and mum joined in too. I don't even know what was so funny but it was apparently hilarious at the time. Now remember we had only just met our traveling companions and they didn't know about my tendency to giggle - well some of them were wondering if mum and I had visited one of those cafes and eaten a special brownie. Talk about making a good impression. They soon got used to my giggle fits.
I'll talk more about my wonderful bus mates in later posts.
Thoughts on Amsterdam... I've seen it. I don't really feel the need to go back. It was an interesting experience and I can see how it would appeal to certain personalities and certain types of people. I am just not one of those people. But I'm still glad I got to see it. I'd be very interested to know what the rest of the Netherlands is like. I think I'd like to go exploring...
Next we head for Mannheim via Cologne with a few stops along the way...