On December 6, 2016, off we flew from JAX for our much anticipated Netherlands adventure! We stayed for five weeks and had a marvelous trip! We did carry on only with two RS convertible bags and two personal bags in which we stuffed our crossbody purses when boarding. There and back were through ATL. We had fabulous flights over, long walk to passport control at Schiphol which wore hubby out, but then we were through! As soon as we landed at AMS I bought two anonymous chipkaarts and loaded them each with 150 E. This was a great idea as we never had to stand in any more lines to buy train or tram tickets while we were there, until we cashed out before leaving. We hopped a train into Amsterdam and walked to our apartment.
We had considered moving with our bags around the country but after analyzing train prices and times we discovered that everywhere we wanted to go was not more than an hour or so away, so we rented an apartment on the Herengracht canal for the five weeks. It was a wonderful location; fifteen minute walk to the train station, seven to ten to the grocery, five minutes to Grey Area or Rockland coffeeshops. We only took the tram to Westergasfabriek for the funky Christmas market and on the next to last day riding tram 2. Everywhere else in town was walkable. Our chipkaarts were frequently checked on the trains as we traveled to different cities. Sometimes twice in one ride by different inspectors.
The canals were decorated for Christmas with lights and special lighted exhibits and we could see the woven rope exhibit from our apartment. Several canoes decorated with spinning wheel Christmas lights and the pounding of drums for cadence came roaring by our apartment second night there. I caught it on video and it is marvelous to see. Too bad one is not able to share these things on the forum without making a special web page. All of my stuff is on fb.
The temperatures ranged from the mid forties to low twenties with wind chill. Wind was the worst. And it snowed!!!!!! We were so excited! My most important pieces of clothing were my cap, gloves, scarf, boots, and thermals. I took both fleece and thermaskins. Sometimes I wore one or the other, sometimes I wore it all.
I got sick at one point and went to the pharmacy where I was questioned as to symptoms and severity of illness to see if a doctor visit was in order. It was not, and I was prescribed some meds (25E) and told to drink as much water as I could bear. I was feeling much better and able to return to exploring two days later.
Where did we travel while there?
The day after landing we were off on ThatDamGuide countryside tour! Rory drove us around the water land area where we enjoyed apple pie and hot chocolate, walking Monnickendam, visiting a Beemster cheese dairy farm visit with tour by the owner, a cheese tasting and wine, and windmill tour at a working windmill making paper from clothes scraps.
Zwolle- visited with friends for two days. Lovely luncheon of homemade mustard soup, bacon, and fried bread crisps, followed by a walking tour around town, and a personal/gratis Janever tasting by a liquor store owner who then sent us off with a gift bag of four small bottles to enjoy. We also enjoyed a personal whisky tasting by our hosts where we discovered I am an Irish whiskey girl and hubby likes the Scotch whiskey. They sent us back with two bottles of our favorites to enjoy while in Amsterdam. The next day they drove us to Arnhem.
Arnhem to the Openluchtmuseum – the buildings were all open and craftsmen were plying their trade – wonderful, as only two things had been open when there on our RS tour. Skating rink open and lots of children and adults enjoying themselves. Our introduction to botercake and poffertjes. We spent the whole day there and loved every moment.