We have a new tour guide Daniel (Asian decent, Dutch! The same as Lex). And a new driver Jimmy, who looks about 16 but probably around 25. We visited Zaanse Schans to see traditional clog making and cheese making. The clogs were originally required to keep feet dry and as trees were plentiful and no other available materials to make shoes. I bought a few souvenir tiny clogs for the kids and a vanity mirror for my bag from Amsterdam. We bought a small smoked cheese and a jar of honey mustard to enjoy later on. The traditional windmills were fascinating and the people very friendly, the residents actually live in the village and lots of people riding bicycles everywhere.
|Clogs of all shapes and sizes|
We left the village and we went to a tourist fishing village, this one was not on itinerary and we were charged €10 by the tour guide. The people on the bus were pretty upset about it as many of us wanted to go and explore Amsterdam earlier. We left the fishing village, which was very beautiful and next to the sea, so I was happy to have spent 2 hours on the coast as all the other cities have been inland. We we told the local fast food is Herring, raw or smoked herring, the raw herring is eaten cleaned and whole, you tip your head back and feed it into your mouth and bite off a chunk and chew! We opted for the cod bits and deep fried mussels with a garlic dipping sauce, they were delicious and we sat on the concrete steps together, looked out to sea and ate our seafood as the greedy gulls circled and squarked. I later read in our Itinerary that Volendam Fishing village was on the tour but we didn't realise that it wasn't optional. It was fun anyway but more time in Amsterdam would have suited us better.
|Smooth Pierre with windmills|
We left the villages and went to the Coster diamond factory, we we given a tour and saw the diamonds being hand cut and polished. We went to a private viewing room and were shown the difference in the types of diamonds and their cut and colour. We were shown real diamonds that ranged in priced between €2000 and €250,000. Amsterdam and Antwerp are the biggest and most important cities for diamond production cutting and polishing. The Coster diamond company produced all of the diamonds for the crown of Queen Elizabeth of England, they had a replica of it on display, the Real One is kept in the Tower of London, the largest diamond in the crown are the size of large figs. When they cut and polish the diamond they loose around 40 percent off the size of the raw stone. We spent the next hour in the square soaking in up the atmosphere and cooling our feet in the community pool. We then headed past the Heineken museum to go on the Seine river cruise. It was very informative and we saw lots of sights we would not have time to see. We cruised past Anne Frank's house and the many museums and churches. We saw the converted house barges and safe houses. The city is very beautiful and it feels a little contrived to me as all of the facades were very similar. We then made our way to the city centre and had 2 hours free time. We were dropper off in the red light district which was chock a block with thousands and thousands of people, bars, restaurants, coffee shops and shops. We went for a walk with James and Alexis who are a brother and sister from Texas USA, their parents work for a travel company and they went on a Reine river cruise and the adult children took the redline tour bus and are meeting their parents back in Paris tomorrow. They are both in college and really nice company.
There are 3 major cities in The Netherlands which are Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Haig. The temperature range in summer to 30 degrees and minus 20 in winter. The canals freeze over and people skate on them, industries are tulip and fresh flowers, cheese and manufacturing.
We went into the coffee shop and Pete bought a smoke and sat and smoked it while I chatted to a woman from Texas whose husband had been in the military and then worked in Dubai he comes to Amsterdam for the pot to relax his mind and body.
I went across the cobbled street to a bar called the Drink and Sink and bought a white wine, it was a measured 150ml and was €4 (it was tiny!). I asked could I take it across the street to drink it with my husband in the coffee shop. The barmaid said it is forbidden to take alcohol into the coffee shop but we could smoke our own pot in the bar! Pete was a bit spaced out and relaxed and very thirsty so we sat and had a beer and watched the people pass by. We went to the supermarket and bought beer 12pack of Heineken for €10 a bottle of wine and some toiletries total of €25.
We went into a bar to use to loo so we bought a drink and spoke with Amin from Iran who owns the bar. He started the conversation by telling Pete he can't smoke cigarettes I the bar only reefers are allowed. So he had to smoke his cigarette out front or in the smoking room, but he fired up a joint in the bar, just because he could, while I sipped my wine and ate my space cake! Amin was a great guy and he lent me an umbrella to get back to the bus as it had started raining heavily. We were back on the bus by 7:15pm and back to the hotel, everything was so funny, we laughed until we cried. It took me a while to realise the Space Cake was the culprit! We hate snacks for dinner and slept like babies. We were so excited as we were spending 2 whole nights in this hotel so we didn't have to pack up first thing in the morning!