Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our first trip: Amsterdam April 3-5, 2009

We arrived in Amsterdam after a 5 1/2 hour drive. The kids were ready to finally get there, since the autobahn was kind of boring....only trees and farmers fields all the way there. Once we got there we checked into our youth hostel (which was a first and last time experience for us...we'll explain later). After we checked in we decided to take the local transportation to downtown Amsterdam to check it out. We came across the Anne Frank Haus which we planned on visiting anyway. It was a real eye opener to see just how small of an area in the attic her family had to hide in for 2 years. We were not allowed to take pictures in the house, so we took a picture of the kids by a statue of Anne Frank. After the tour we needed to get something to eat. We found a vegetarian restaurant (since it was a Friday during Lent) which was pretty good. The kids had enchiladas, I had a casserole, and Thom had an eggplant and spinach lasagna. Thom's was the best!! After dinner we needed to get back to the hotel to take showers and get ready for our busy day.

Of course the next morning it was sprinkling rain and was a thick overcast. We had to change our plans a little bit. We decided to drive to a cheese factory and wooden clog factory (they were next door to each other). This was interesting to hear how they made cheese....we even got to sample some of the yummy cheese...there were many different flavors, goat and cow....smoked gouda, regular Gouda, pepper (spicy), pesto, garlic, multi spice, and much more. Feliciti did not want to try any of it...I think she was scared, but everyone else enjoyed it, and we all picked out our favs.

Here are all the different size cheeses that have to sit on the shelf for a minimum of 2 weeks..but up to 6 months. We were told the oldest cheeses they have are 2 years....which is kind of disgusting to me....I mean it's not like it is wine...right? This is one of the girls who makes the cheeses.
We then stepped next door to see how the shoes are made. This was very interesting too. After the man put a raw piece of wood into the machine, the shoe was molded. He passed it around, and it was still wet. He said they make about a million shoes every!!!!! We tried on some shoes, but they were NOT comfortable, so instead we just bought little shoes to hang on the fridge.

We checked out downtown Amsterdam, since the overcast was still heavy, and we did not want to chance going to the tulip fields and waste a trip because of the poor view. So here are some pictures of various things we saw. The middle picture is a "beer bike"....oh and there are a lot of bikes. There are more bike riders than car drivers. The third picture is the smallest house in Amsterdam (the one in the middle)

These are pictures from the city too. The second picture below is the front of Anne Frank's Haus.

We also visited a Torture museum since the weather was still not ideal. Jakob thought this was really interesting. The girls thought it was horrible. Honestly, it was sad to see such a reality that still goes on in some parts of the world.

OK, now we were told to try eatting at the Pancake Bakery...sounds good enough for us. So when we looked at the menu we were a bit scared. They had the normal pancakes with fruit and nuts and ice cream atop. But what caught our attention was the fish, cheese, bacon, meats, vegetables and other "odd" toppings. So Thom and I decided to share a Canadian pancake which had cheese, bacon, mushrooms and onions on it. Out of all the "different" choices, we opted for the least odd one. OH my goodness!!!! This thing was SSOOOO good!!! Even the kids said they would get that the next time we came here. The kids just got a basic pankcake. Actually these pancakes are more like crepes...oh so good.

Well the weather never cleared up and we were leaving the next day. So we decided that we would at least go to the tulip gardens on the way home after church. And we are happy that we did make it. The weather was much warmer, sunnier and no overcast. It was worth the wait. These gardens are called Keukenhof Holland

And just in case you are still wondering about the youth hostel. We were trying to save a little bit of money..and we figured as long as it had a bed and toilet and shower we would be ok...besides we were not there to stay at the hotel all day long. We were there for a total of probably 1 1/2 hours a day (excluding sleep of course). But we were told that we would have the bigger of the rooms since we had kids....oh my....I would hate to see the small room we were originally going to get. There was room for a bunkbed and 2 single beds and a tiny bathroom. We had to walk sideways to get to each was an experience to say the least....a learning curve. But overall we enjoyed Amsterdam....our first checkmark is made for our list of places we want to visit.
Our next trip is to Garmish and Berchesgaden over Memorial Day weekend. So stay tuned!!!