Monday, July 25, 2011

On our last day (then home to New Amsterdam)

Post: Bernie: March 30, 2011Note: To follow our trip to Amsterdam from beginning to end, choose The plans are made from the index at right.

We slept late and then went out for a ritual send off sitting by the Keizersgracht canal that we over looked from our room. We left two bags at the hotel and went off in search of some souvenirs and to see a little more.

We eventually ended up near the University of Amsterdam in a very beautiful area that we had not seen yet.

We came across this "event" of flowers in coke bottles that was being filmed.

Then while asking directions we met a man who was born here and he gave us directions back to the Dam. We showed him where we wanted to go on this little map that we had been using and that was now falling apart. He pulled out his big detailed map of the city, so now we don't feel so inept, seeing that even a native needs a map from time to time to get around the city. Unless he just likes to carry one to help wayward tourists like us.

He also told us about a plaque on St. Nicolaaskerk in tribute to Henry Hudson upon the discovery of the Hudson River and the settling of New Amsterdam (now of course New York City). He also said that the Dutch celebrate the birth of St. Nicolaas (aka Santa Claus) on December 6th. Maybe we'll come back and celebrate together! That's my birthday too!

 Mix of the old and the modern architecture.

We wandered back up the Singel Canal weaving through some streets we had not been on yet and entered the Central Station area from Prins Hendrikkade and decided to stop in a pub at 35-36 (because it had a Guinness sign hanging over the door) called Haar Temsch Koffiehuis.

It is a pretty nondescript pub from the outside but inside it has woodwork that is inlaid with tiles of Dutch scenes, the tablecloths are rugs, there is art on the walls, an upright piano and a Wurlitzer juke box loaded with American rock and roll, blues and county, from Johnny Cash to Dion - and only one small flatscreen TV!

So we had a few hours to kill and before we needed to head out to the airport so we settled in for a few pints, a Tosti (lightly toasted white bead with cheese, but do not confuse this with a grilled cheese sandwich, because it was not grilled with butter or oil - just good bread and tasty Dutch cheese) and Appelgebak (baked apple pie severed hot with whipped cream). As we were munching these treats we noticed all these ties round this column. In fact a "Tower of Ties"! We asked the bartender what the story was and he said that when the pub opened there was this bare column and one day someone took off his necktie and tacked it to the column. Now there are hundreds of ties, and he said people send them from all over the world. I'm sending all of mine!

So if you are near Central Station and have some time to kill before a flight Stop in and have a Guinness, Tosti and Appelgebak (and leave a tie). I think next time we are here we should check this out at night and see how alive it gets with that piano and juke box!

With time to spare we headed over to Central Station and bought train tickets out to the airport. Oh, yes, you need cash at this end to buy tickets but at the airport end you can use a credit card. So have some Euros handy so you don't have to hunt down an ATM.

The most striking thing about the train ride was the flatness and the lack of parking lots for cars around the office parks that we passed. A lot of bikes but very few cars. We think that maybe someone has a bike at each end of the train lines. One that takes them from train to work and the other that takes them from train to home.

I slept most of the way to New Amsterdam while Joey watched a few movies.

So this is what time travel is like, leave at 5:30 pm on Wednesday travel six hours or so and arrive at 7:30 or so Wednesday evening. Ok, jet lag is finally hitting me now at 11:52 Thursday night.

Sarah picked us up and we visited with them for a few hours telling them about our travels. Once we got through customs at JFK...

Then out of Breuckelen (Brooklyn), through the Battery Tunnel and up the Henry Hudson Parkway...

...which was a totally fitting way to end our adventure traveling up along the Hudson River (discovered over 400 years ago by Henry Hudson) into Yonkers (which means 'gentleman farmer' in Dutch), by the turn for the Sawmill River Parkway (which was named after the sawmill on Adriaen Van der Donck's estate, Adriaen Van der Donck being the most influential of Dutch progressives (as opposed to Peter Stuyvesant the Dutch West India Trading Company man) in regards to establishing a Bill of Rights for the Dutch colony of New Netherlands, which in turn greatly influenced our own American Bill of Rights) to come.

You can read all about the Dutch influence on our lives here in America in a fascinating book titled, "The Island at the Center of the World". It draws from documents housed in the New York State Library in Albany and in Holland to tell this almost forgotten part of our American history that is so much a part of our heritage when the Dutch colony of New Netherlands in the New World "...It extended from Albany, New York, in the north to Delaware in the south.  It encompassed parts of what are now the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware...."


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