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September 10th, 2000 · No Comments

September 9 thru 15 Amsterdam Layover

Day 254 – 259

Amsterdam was booked, the IBC (International Broadcasters Congress) is having a convention and Amsterdam and they booked anything that looked like a hotel in the city. Larry was forced to reserve a room at the Golden Tulip in Rotterdam 40 kilometers away.

So after flying from Denver to Chicago to London to Amsterdam in 11 1/2 hours, he now had to find me, and drive another hour then locate a hotel in a strange city. What a guy!

We had a great room (thank you Sandy!), actually a suite overlooking the busy harbor city of Rotterdam. By the way, Rotterdam at night is a spectacular city.

Day 2

We only stayed one night then headed back to join the group who was now locating themselves in a great hotel in Noordwijkerhout. The Odyssey schedule was a rather crazy one. Due to the convention taking all the rooms, we had to camp for a night, then move to a hotel for two nights, then go back to the camp for another two nights before returning to the hotel for a night. Five years of planning and this is what we get????

Oh well, I’m trying to learn to take the lumps as they fall. I will not be the one to initiate change in this “organization”. We have come to the realization that even though most people assumed the trip was planned in advance. It was not. It has been planned as we go, sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. This chaotic schedule was not the result of planning, so we suffer. All we can do is make the best of it. Who would have ever thought someone could take on a endeavor of this size and “wing it?”

We are now on the count down to Australia and I have a ton of work to do. Before we board the plane, everything I own must be cleaned, not just for my comfort, but because the country will not let us in dirty! Seriously! They do not want us importing spores and nasty things into their beautiful country. This means I must get rid of all the lovely dirt I have been collecting over the past 8 months and 5 continents.

Well, actually I did wash my camp stuff in Washington, D.C. last May. It’s time to do it again. Of course the hotel and the nearby town do not have a laundry mat. I opted to do the tent, the fly, the ground cover and tarp all by hand in the nice big bathtub.

Rub a dub dub, away the dirt I scrub! It took most of the day, first washing then putting it tent up in the hotel’s banquet room to dry. Outside was a cloudy overcast day and it would still be wet, had we put it out there! I kick myself for not taking a picture, as I remember the scene, by mid-afternoon the banquet room was blossoming with at least 50 tents. I bet that was a Golden Tulip Hotel first!

My bike cleaned up rather easy, luckily the washing just 2 days ago got off most of the grime. I now only had to do a little work to bring it back to pristine…well sort of! I was thinking I was done when Merlyn came up, ran his finger under the fender…oops! Back to the wash tub, the fender was caked with so much crud, they would have deported me from Australia for sure!

We were all out back of this big convention center hotel, performing our tasks. The staff was breaking down everything in the trucks, the big canvas tent, the showers and all the other support stuff that goes with us . They had to clean and dry everything too. It was a huge job.

The funniest part was when Paula started pounding on something, it sounded like and American Indian’s drum. Rene, another staffer was dancing. We all teased them about doing a “rain dance” and requested they do a “sun dance” instead. They continued for awhile enjoying themselves, then a miracle happened. The sun came out!

The dance worked, the stuff all started to dry in the sun. Success! Way to go Paula and Rene!

Larry and I cleaned up and fell into bed for a much needed nap. I was thinking he was probably wondering why he traveled across the ocean to do camp laundry. Poor guy!

Gloria Anderson arrived with a wake up call to invite us to go “to town” with them. After having a leased van for 93 days, they were now returning it. I think she needed someone to help pry Gary’s hands from the steering wheel. As an experienced “pryer” I got the invite!

This picture was taken in the German wine cellar. Gary, Gloria and Sandy are following a different path. They have been good friends and I will miss them very much.

Happy trails….until we meet again!

(Gary, Gloria, Me and Sandy)

Actually Gary and Gloria are planning to stay in Europe and are not going to Australia and Asia with Odyssey. They had just downsized their large vehicle and rented one with better gas mileage and one they could take into the former Communist block countries, if they wanted. We all wanted to go with them and Sandy and see Amsterdam before they all took off.

Amsterdam is a very cool city. Looking at a map, one can see it is a spider web of canals. The layout makes it very difficult at first to understand, but very interesting to look at. I loved seeing the pleasure boats cruising the canals. Couples would be passing under the arched bridges enjoying the view of the city by night. I could see their candle lit tables, complete with wine, waiting to be enjoyed when they docked. I wanted to jump in the boat with them! What atmosphere!

We were all hungry for a nice dinner so on the advice of Sandy, we searched out an Indonesian restaurant. It was a new experience for both Larry and I. We ordered the rice plates, and all we served multiple dishes family style. The hot dishes were put on a hotplate to keep them warm, though they need not worry with Odyssey riders, we eat faster than air can cool! The food was delicious, a little spicy but not uncomfortably so. We all enjoyed it.

After dinner we walked the streets all the way into the famous Red Light District. It was rather shocking and strange. Ladies (and Men) of the night actually stood in strangely lit windows showing off their “goods”. All were dressed rather scanty, but they were dressed. The ladies came in all shapes and sizes the only thing they had in common was the bored look they wore on their faces.

None of them seemed to be getting any customers. It made me wonder if the whole thing was just a tourist set up to get people there to sell them the customary stuff you buy in a place like that. Could it be a “movie front” set up? Maybe it was just because it was Sunday night and early….

I noticed the strange layout of the buildings, noting the “usage” demands. It would be hard to resell any of these buildings to another type “user”. What type of user would need a building with 2×4 rooms and street level windows, red luminescent lighting and lots of bedrooms? These buildings are definitely for “specific use”.

Welcome to Amsterdam.

[flickr album=72157605969124565 num=50]

Day 3

The laundry is not finished. I still have all my clothing and a sleeping bag to do and so do Rich and Jane. We hoped in the car and drove over to Haarlem to look for a laundry.

Yes, I know. Most people go to Haarlem to sight see and enjoy the wonderful city. We go to do laundry. Everyone has their priorities. Ours is to get all it clean!

The street outside the laundry mat was fascinating. We were in a local neighborhood setting, it wasn’t a tourist area, we know because Jane went out to buy a t-shirt and couldn’t find a tourist shop in the entire area!

Across the street was an area filled with flea market vendors, selling everything from food to the typical “antique” junk. One side of the street was filled with normal everyday shops, several bakeries, a butcher and small specialty grocers. The other side of the street had mostly sidewalk cafe bars. It was a very busy area, full of life. Some people drove cars, but most were on bicycles, even some of the flea market vendors.

Jane and I at one point filled up every washer in the entire laundry mat. It was sad (but happy) to see the looks of disappoint on the faces of the regular customers when they arrived to see there was no room for them to do their wash. I was happy we were the lucky ones, but sad we used up so much space. Then the washers were not all that big. We couldn’t help it! The wash only took 3 hours to do. It was a good feeling to be done with chores, after two days of cleaning! Now it’s time to see the city.

Our plan was to take Rich and Jane’s car back to Germany to avoid the huge drop off fee if it was dropped in the Netherlands. Since Larry and I didn’t have a room and Larry is still allergenic to camping, we figured it would be fun to drive north, perhaps to Den Helder to see the penguins than go to Germany, spend a few days waiting until the group came to leave in Cologne.

We took Rich and Jane back to the hotel and said our good byes then headed north.

We rode across a 30 kilometer dike, as seen on the very top of this map. It was an amazing piece of engineering. The Dutch continue to reclaim land from the sea and keep it back by building huge dikes. We drove over in the early morning sunlight, riding alongside fishing vessel in the Nordsee.

This photo was taken at 8 am. The sun was shrouded in clouds over the Nordsee

The whole point of driving north was to see the penguins and have a place to sleep. We found a place to sleep after several tries, but when we asked where the penguins were, the people looked at us strange. No one seemed to know where the penguins lived, they thought we were kidding. I guess the 3 young men I met were either pulling my leg or going to see penguins in a zoo.

Day 3

Larry drove over the dike and headed toward Germany. Somewhere along the way we both started feeling sad we had not seen much of Amsterdam. We decided to risk going in to do a couple things, knowing all the while we would have to drive out to find a place to stay. We were ok with that and headed back to the city. I’m so glad we did.

My choice of two things to do were 1) visit the Vincent van Gogh Museum and 2) see the Ann Frank house, which was now also a museum.

The Van Gogh Museum was a wonderful new building that was very open and light. I never knew much about the famous painter other than to be able to recognize his work and the fact he cut off his ear. Ouch! After seeing his works in person, I will be an advocate. He was a very talented man, becoming a painter only 10 years prior to his death (he killed himself). In that time he completed over 800 works of various styles. He never gained popularity in his life. Although one of his painted netted $82 million at auction, he died bankrupt, feeling he was a burden to his brother who cared for him.

I have often fantasized what it would be like to bring back to life a person who died, so they could see how things are now. I wonder if we were to bring Vincent back, would he then be happy with his fame, or would he still be tormented by his perceived lack of perfection? It’s hard to say.

Anne Frank lived a different kind of life, dying in a concentration camp at the age of 16. She wrote a diary that brought the world to tears. To this day, hundreds of people visit the house where Anne and her family were hidden from the Nazi’s during the war. It still stands today, enveloped in the protection of a museum.

Otto Frank, Anne’s father worked for a company that manufactured jam. The warehouse was rather large and above it there were several floors. Towards the back of the building upstairs there was an apartment with living quarters large enough to house two families in semi comfort. Comfort from the outside elements, but not the comfort of freedom. They lived this way without going outside ever. During the day when the warehouse was busy, they had to sit still and silent with the fear of being detected. After years of living this way, they were found and sent away to a concentration camp. Otto Frank was the only member of his family that survived.

Anne had hidden her diary, miraculously, it survived.

The Diary of Anne Frank affected me many years ago as a young student and a female. I felt much pain and torment for Ann, her plight and the troubles of the Jews. Being in her house didn’t seem to affect me further until I read one of the displays on the wall. It was written by Nelson Mandala. Nelson spent 26 years of his life imprisoned because he was a black leader in South Africa. Nelson wrote “We had the Diary of Ann Frank on Robbins Island. Many of the prisoners read it and found strength and hope in it.”

I gasped, tears came to my eyes. The fight for freedom and human rights is not over. There are still people in this world being murdered, imprisoned and tortured because of the color of their skin, religious belief or other preferences. Man’s need to feel superior over another continues. It saddens me to think we still haven’t learned that lesson.

We left Amsterdam feeling not finished, but satisfied we seen some of it. The time had come to head south and find a place to stay. More surprises were in store for us as we cruised along the highway. Larry drove 90 minutes before stopping at a hotel. It was full. We continued further, stopping several more times, only to learn the IBC convention had not just filled up Amsterdam, but the entire country of the Netherlands as well!

One receptionist likened the situation to “grasshoppers arriving”. We were spreading in a plague like manner filling the hotels in an ever-enlarging circle. Finally we gave up and drove all the way to Cologne where we found a room at midnight across from the Bahnhof. We were back in Germany, far away from the IBC convention. Success!

This fellow is known as the “statue of no liberty” He was found in front of the Rijks Museum.

Advertisements are sometimes hilarious. This sign is actually a cigarette ad, I think. Or is a “only you can prevent forest fires” type message?

Very clever.

It reads “Never throw a CAMEL from a moving car.”

The Camel a cigarette no doubt, but the picture is of a poor old camel, plastered to a brick wall.


Tags: Netherlands · Northern Europe