Today we traveled by train from Brugge to Haarlem, Netherlands via Gent Belgium, Antwerp Belgium and Rotterdam.Total travel time was about 4 1/2 hours, not too bad but a long day.
Arrived at our first Rick Steves hotel location in Haarlem Netherlands, called The Ambassador City Center Hotel. The hotel is right downtown Haarlem, under the main church. Although conveniently located, VERY NOISY at night at the church bells ring ALL NIGHT LONG every 15 minutes! Crazy.
We met the Rick Steves Tour group at 4pm in the hotel restaurant for an introduction to the tour and to meet the other tour members. Seems like a very nice and fun group of people. We are looking forward to the next 21 days!
Dinner tonight was at a local Indonesian restaurant. Food was served family style and was decent. We get so much great Asian dishes in the South Bay Area that it's really hard to compare anything else. Overall fun to eat though as we were served about 10 different dishes to try.
After dinner our server, named Jodie gave us a very informative tour of Haarlem. She is a native of the town and a college student.
July 8, 2013
Off to Amsterdam for the day today. After breakfast in the hotel, We walked from our hotel to the Haarlem train station and rode the train 30 minutes to Amsterdam Central Station.
We started the day in Amsterdam with a tour and visit to the Anne Frank house.
Our guide then gave us a walking tour of some of the main sights of the city. We were on our own for lunch - ate at a wonderful fresh whole food restaurant called La Place.
After lunch we walked to the Rijkes Museum and toured their exhibit of 17th Century art.
Eugene took a tour of the Heineken Museum while I soaked my feet in the "soaking pool" near the museum center.
We then took a canal boat ride through the city! The whole city is surrounded by and has water canals running through the city. The Dutch are incredible masters of water engineering as much of the country is below sea level. Canals and dams are used to control and manipulate water flow and water levels. Seems to be very much a survival skill of the country to be able to manage the water within the land and use it for the advantage of the people - transportation, crops watering, drinking water etc.
July 9, 2013
Boarded our bus this morning for the first time on the tour. The bus is very large for our tour group of about 25, which means we are able to be comfortable and stretch out on the longer rides. We had a total of about 6 hours of driving today, 2 hours to the Dutch Open Air Museum and another 4 hours to our next destination of Bacharach Germany in the Rhine Valley.
The Dutch Open Air Museum was a very large, maybe 20 - 30 acres of "moved" and "rebuilt" Dutch buildings, windmills and farms showing what life and culture was like in historic Dutch life. We liked seeing the paper maker and cheese maker. There were lots of sheep, goats and chickens too!