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Inaugural Voyage of the "Scenic Crystal"

Thur,19 April- arrive Amsterdam for afternoon exploring

Today we are covering a lot, as it was a very busy day.

Starting off with the connection at another large airport , Frankfurt. Walked and long distance from the international to the domestic departure gates and we even took the short cut via underground tunnel between the concourses. Moving sidewalk went on and on. Here is where I tried to make a connection to the Wi Fi, turns out the free is only for 30 minutes and you have to sign in and provide information your home the telephone service provider you use for your regular cell phone. Frankfurt had T moble as their link. Frankfurt to Amsterdam was a short 45 min. flight.
Schipol airport in Amsterdam turned out to be another long hike, however it was like going through a mall, you could probably do some good shopping here while waiting for a departure flight. I did say good, not low priced. Ground transportation to downtown Amsterdam is easy. Taxis Eur41 = eur 48, or you may take a train right into central station . We used the “Connexxion” airport to hotel shuttle Eur16 pp one way. They even had wi fi on the shuttle that connected with no problems. ( except Skype) Connexxion shuttles departed from the A7 position which was outside the main entrance for the terminal.
This took about 30 minutes to get to our hotel the NH Amsterdam centre, a great location , with the Singelgracht (gracht =canal) just across the street. The Leidseplein district ( theatre, entertainment and restaurant district) is just a 3 min walk from the hotel. This hotel has a modern feeling and the staff are very attentive and helpful. They have a nice restaurnt where they offer a morning buffet. Continental eur17 and full Hot eur22 per person. The buffet looked good.
The Rijksmuseum , Van Gogh Museum , Stedelik Museum and Heineken experience are only 10 to 15 minute walk from the hotel.

Our Adventure really begins after we checked into the hotel which was very easy and quick.

Amstil and Dam, the dam on the Amstil river…Amsterdam. Sometime called the “ Venice of the North”
So Sherry and I looked at several ways to get around and decided on using the Hop on Hop Off Canal Bus Cruise and Hop on Hop of Bus for euro 32 per person. This was for 48 hours, the ticket agent recommended that for another euro 4 we could also include the Hop on Hop Off Bus. Also note they have a 24 hour ticket. The Canal cruise had 3 different routes and 17 stops, the Bus had 10 stops. They covered almost everything you would want to do or see. Both are narrated as they travel through their routes. The total cost for 2 tickets was eur72 , we put this on a credit card and it did the exchange PLUS 3% service fee.
So for cad$46 per person we decided on taking both. Important to keep in mind is that the hours for both the bus and canal boat are limited 9 40 am to 5 40 pm and watch for the * on the schedule you might miss the boat/bus as weekends operate with different times
We found a wine and cheese tasting store Reypenaer" title="Reypenaer cheese">Reypenaer" towards the center of the Old town and hopped on the canal boat to go there, it took about 10 minutes. We had to get there for 4 pm and we arrived with time to spare so we walked a canal over and another street and got to Dam Square where we found them setting up for a carnival. It was quite the sight to see these large Ferris wheel rides infront of the Queens Palace.
Our building codes would never allow this. Damn Square

Leaning buildingsA little lean to these buildings

The Reypenaer Cheese tasting, they have been around for over 100 years and are a family run company. We paid eur30 for the cheese tasting and were surprised, along with the 6 different cheese we got 3 glasses of wine. The basement had the wine tasting area where they could seat about 20 guests. They had a brief video and then the lecture was very informative. We now are experts in Gouda cheese tasting, our Tasting Certificate is proof.

Cheese tastingReypenaer cheesCheese tasting cellars

Afterwards we took a little time to price out the cheese , aged 4 month , 1 year , 2 year and 2 1/2 year and bought some cheese for home, our plans were then to walk over to Central Station and hop on the Bus but reallized that the last bus already left. ( Watch out for the * on the maps)
Now we are using the most reliable mode of transportation , our feet so make sure you take good walking shoes. Our walk took us along the Herengracht where we arrived at our hotel 40 minutes later.

Don in Amsterdam 19 AprilHerengracht CanalSherry 19AprSherry found some sunshine

After a brief stop at the room we decided to find a restaurant not far from the hotel. Should not be a problem wth over 1250 to select from. Just up the road from us was a Thai restaurant, “Sawaddee Ka “did not look like much from the outside but we thought we would take a peek inside. It was 8 pm and the place was full, held about 50 seats and we found the last 2 . Reasonable prices , with over 85 selections. We selected a Shrimp Pad thai eur14.50 (5 large shrimp, with noodles, bean sprouts, onion and peanuts with sauce. The other dish was Chicken with green beans and yellow curry sauce eur12.50. The yellow curry sauce was medium in flavour and blended very well with the chicken and green beans. Two bottles of water were eur5. Everything had lots of flavour and would recommend this as one of those surpise places to eat at. Got back to the hotel just after nine and settled in for the evening. Tomorrow will be a full day.