Our goal for our second day in Amsterdam was ambitious. We were already holding tickets for the Van Gogh museum at I think 9 am when it opened. We were then going to rush over to the Anne Frank house to stand in line. As I said, it was early and ambitious! But the Anne Frank house was my daughter’s number one thing she had to do in Amsterdam. Other than simply being in the city, my wife’s number one thing was the Van Gogh museum. They were must do for the two of them! We got on the subway early. You can see how sleepy we were sitting in the subway station. Well, everyone but the photographer. He tends to get up earlier than the rest of the crew anyway.
I used to make fun of my dad, who went to bed early and got up early. Now that is what I do! The hotel we were staying at was right around the corner from the above-ground train station. We walked over and then headed down to the city. We were not going all the way into the city, and we stopped a couple of stops before Grand Central. We would be grabbing a bus. The system is effective in Amsterdam, although we did have a small disagreement about where we were. Well, where we were in relation to the map and the Van Gogh museum. We arrived near the museum, we were early, so we walked across the area between the museums.
There was a soccer tournament that blocked off the streets from cars. We were able to walk through — kind of fun to see the food area for soccer games. We arrived at the museum roughly 20 minutes before our time. So we waited outside. It was cool, but not raining/ The Van Gogh museum was amazing. The only painting of his I wanted to see that is not there, I have seen previously (it is in the Louver), and that is Starry Night. We wandered the museum for a good two hours (that was about 1:59:00 longer than the twins wanted to). The museum is arranged by the various periods in the life of Vincent Van Gogh. From his early days to the later days.
By the time we got to Amsterdam, we had collected several things that were coming home with us. The number of things was, in fact, greater than the originally projected additions and we were short at least one bag. We wandered, after walking by the long line for the Anne Frank house and deciding to do that the next day, to the mall. The mall was fun, and there was an art store in the mall. My wife and daughter got ceramic elephants to decorate (they sadly are still in the boxes, in my wife’s office, but the intent was there). Perhaps they will be painted someday! We wandered around the very interesting mall and found a suitcase and luggage store. They had a rolling computer bag that was perfect for the amount of stuff.
Plus, we also added cheese in the Dutch cheese shop. But we were barely able to squeeze everything in, once we added the additional bag. There were hats, statues, and of course, Captain Lars and his friends. But that was for a time, two in the future. We also wandered down to the drug store at the bottom of the building. There we got some cream for my ribs. That made all the difference, and I was able to fly home, walk, and not feel any pain. That cream was a lifesaver. It also didn’t have the horrible odor of Icy Hot, although I would not have minded the odor at that point. Pain relief was the goal of the cream. Sometimes when you are in pain, it doesn’t matter that you smell like a locker room!
That pretty much, other than going to the grasshopper was the agenda for day 1. The Grasshopper Restaurant is an Argentinian steak house in Holland. Right at the very edge of the Red Light District. I had eaten there many years before, and it was amazing food. I have been to the Grasshopper every time I’ve been to Amsterdam. So, dinner it was. The biggest carnivore in the family produced the food good and the steak perfect. (my daughter). We had a fun conversation before the meal, and one of the twins tried a local beer. There are evenings you have that you remember forever. This was one of those evenings. A great conversation, a great meal, and family all together!
The canals of Amsterdam. There are four cities in the world that have massive canal systems, that I have been to! Bangkok is the oldest. Then Venice and then Amsterdam. The King of Denmark saw the canals of Holland and worked hard to make them in Denmark as well Copenhagen is the fourth city with a huge canal system. The canals of Bangkok are very different, and they are called Klongs. But the chances of Amsterdam were ones that my wife truly wanted to see more than anything. It is a long story, but my wife’s family was partially from Amsterdam. Outside the city, but Amsterdam. Holland was her mother’s birthplace. I won go further as that is her story to tell not mine.
So the tulips, the canals, and the people were her people. Our first trip out that day was on the canals riding the canal tour. Over the next three days was to see as much as we could see. We thought we would ride the Canal boat, then wander to the Anne Frank house. That was not going to happen. When we arrived at the Anne Frank house that day, the line was already heading down the street from the house. We punted instead and wandered to the Red Light District. To say we had been there. The twins wanted pictures with themselves on the edge of the Red light district to show their friends. See, they would be able to say, and we went into the district!
The major discovery at the edge of the Red-light district was two-fold. The only people that wanted to go into the Hogs Head Inn (in the Red Light District) was my wife and my daughter. My wife reported that the place was full of Marijuana Smoke (it is legal there) I waited with the twins outside, they had discovered a Dutch taste treat, the French fry smothered in cheese (sold right outside a place that sold marijuana, imagine that). The twins ate the entire thing of fries happily. We then wandered around the city on foot for a while. Our goal was to eat dinner that evening at my favorite restaurant (I’ve been to Holland 4 times, and that restaurant four times!) The Grasshopper! The dinner was amazing as always.
My wife’s family is from Amsterdam. It was, along with Europe in general one of our very first dreams as a couple. By the time we were in Amsterdam, which was nine days into our vacation, the routine was established. We left Copenhagen early in the morning, landing in Copenhagen and checking into the hotel. We were literally within walking distance of a Soccer Stadium, close drive to the airport and of course, a short walk to the subway. We unpacked quickly and headed off to see the sights. The goal for the first day was to go to the Anne Frank museum and to take the water tour of Amsterdam. The initial pictures today are of the hotel grounds.
We were heading into Amsterdam, to have a light lunch and then hop on the Canal tour. My wife, who by the time we reached Amsterdam, was now asking “when are we moving here” every two minutes. We arrived from the hotel to Grand Central, the hub of Amsterdam. The hub, the grand canal, the subway and most of the roads all come to a nexus at Grand Central Station. The first thing we noticed upon arriving was the number of bikes. Amsterdam has the cleanest subway of any city, other than Copenhagen. I am reminded of that every time I get on the metro. The cars on the Metro are older, or perhaps the same age, but they feel older.
Amsterdam has, because of the canals and the water, a raised subway. Copenhagen has a mix of raised and underground subways. DC and its metro are similar to Copenhagen. Some of the track is above ground, and some are below ground. We walked the very short distance to the boat tour ticket stand. There was a gift shop, so we stopped in the gift shop first. We added hats to our collection (ok I added a hat to my collection). The next canal tour wasn’t going to be arriving for more than an hour. We decided to have lunch before hopping on the tour boat. So we bought our tickets and then walked out of the gift shop. My wife asked “when are we moving here?”
As I cruise along post-cruise, I just realized that today is the 4th post and 4th day spent in Copenhagen. We were only in Copenhagen for two days. Oh well. Today is some of the pictures from the Botanical Garden. My ribs, now four days in were still aching, sitting down, was painful. It also limited my use of the camera. I ruined a lens for my DSLR. The Camera still worked, video worked, but you couldn’t focus up close for pictures. I did, however, have a few pictures to share. We arrived at the Botanical Gardens before the Greenhouse was open. We were able to wander the beautiful garden. It, the garden was originally built by a member of the Danish aristocracy.
It was left/given to the City of Copenhagen at some point in the past 100 years. The Greenhouse sits next to a small university. The University sits on the backside of the Greenhouse, and the students operate the Greenhouse. They also have several really fun areas outside where they are growing several more native plants. The other thing was a series of outdoor gardens with different areas. There was a beautiful lake that was just down the hill from the Greenhouse. The flowers shared today are from outside on the way to the Greenhouse. They had many different flower gardens that you could view — the flowers doctored buildings as well, which was fun.
When we walked into the Greenhouse, there was a very fast temperature change. It was probably 65 degrees outside. Very comfortable for walking around. It was around 87 or so with nearly 100% humidity inside the Greenhouse. The rapid temperature change was a little disconcerting. I remember the change because I took about four steps, and my glasses fogged over. I couldn’t see, had to take the glasses off, and dry them on my shirt. It is funny sometimes what you remember. This ends the 4th post on the 4th day of our two days in Copenhagen. The next thing for us was heading to the airport in Copenhagen to fly to Amsterdam. It was only an hour flight!
At the end of our first day in Copenhagen, we returned to the hotel. We had decided to try the sky bar that was actually between the two towers of the hotel. The bar was pretty empty, and we found out they didn’t serve food. We enjoyed sitting on top of the hotel and had a beer and some appetizers. We were for the moment on top of the world.
Everyone was tired, it has been a long day, so we decided to enjoy dinner in the room and relax. We had one more ½ day to wander in Copenhagen and then we were off to Amsterdam. My lesson learned from flying low-cost airlines is you forget what status means. I was used to boarding the plane with the very first group, and I was used to not having to pay for luggage fees. Before this trip, I don’t remember the last time I paid to have my luggage on the plane with me!
In the morning, we had a quick breakfast and then headed out to see the sights. We took the subway into downtown Copenhagen and walked by the jazz festival. We were also able to have lunch at the Hard Rock café in Copenhagen. I have the hat to prove it. We also went into the coolest Lego store, honestly, that I have ever been it in.
Finally, we walked through the botanical gardens of Copenhagen, which was truly an amazing stop. The greenhouse with the amazing flowers was beyond words!
(most of the pictures are from our end of day bus ride around Copenhagen)!
I first went to Copenhagen with my parents in 1972. Open-faced sandwiches and a trip to a toy store Christmas display was the first couple of days we were there. But the 3rd day we went to see the Lady in the Harbor, the little Mermaid. Standing shoulder to shoulder with my father (ok of the two, I was the shorter one) he with his Pentax Single Lens Reflex camera and me with my Kodak Instamatic 110 took almost the same picture of the lady in the harbor.
It is a moment I have treasured and remembered since that day. In 2016 when we went out and about I wanted to recreate those pictures, the memories and to show my children what had captured my imagination. We walked from lunch to the little Mermaid, about 4 miles. The walk was more to show my family the magic that is Copenhagen.
We also got to walk through the Royal Palace. There is nothing like the opportunity for a good joke so I told the kids, if the Royal Family recognized me I would have to give up my life and become a Royal. We were able to sneak through the compound and no one recognized me.
Then it was the last few steps past the park to the Little Mermaid. A statue placed in the harbor of Copenhagen to celebrate the magical story by Hans Christian Andersen. No relation to me personally, first because he was a bachelor that never married. But also because my family name is Andreessen not Andersen.