Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Whirlwind Trip to Amsterdam, May 26-28

We began this year’s trip in Amsterdam so that’s where we picked up our rental car. Since we now had a boat in France, we were going to have to make the drive back up to Amsterdam to return the car and then take the train back to Dijon where another car awaited us at the train station. (Rental car prices in Europe are very reasonable.)

Tuesday morning about 7 we were on the road to Amsterdam on a cold, windy day. We’ve made the trip several times so, other than the challenge of circumnavigating the city of Liege in Belgium, it’s not a very interesting trip, but fast on the tollroads.  And since it was cold and windy, the scenery was not as spectacular as the trip south.  Springtime in northern France with the vivid green of the newly sprouted fields of wheat and the bright yellow blooming rapeseed makes for a beautiful countryside.

After a stop in the Gas Station of Western Europe, (Luxembourg- 1.27 euro a litre.  France is 1.45, the Netherlands, 1.70) we made it to Hertz’ off-airport car rental location in Hoofddorp about 4.  The helpful attendant drove us to the nearby station and we caught the train into Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. Our first surprise.  No scaffolding!!! Last time we were here the building was shrouded for renovations. Not now.

Another picture of Cathy Jo’s back.

Now it was off to the streets of Amsterdam to find the hotel we had reserved on the Lindengracht, one of Amsterdam’s canal rings.

The view from our hotel window.

After we got settled into our room we made a quick phone call. Just before we left for Holland, we’d learned by email that friends of ours from Ventura, Glenn and Karen Farr, were going to be spending one night in Amsterdam on their way to an African safari (!).  Tuesday was that night so we got together at a local bar for a beer and a visit.  They had just arrived at 9 that morning and would be flying out at 10 the next day so they were still in jet lag recovery mode.

When we first visited Amsterdam in 2007, we rented an apartment for a week in a neighborhood called De Pijp (pipe), because of it’s shape. While there, we had eaten dinner twice at a great Turkish restaurant, Orontes.  Back we went and we’re happy to report it’s still just as good as we remember.

We think we’re in Amsterdam.

The next morning it was off to Centraal again, this time for the fast train to Paris.  There’s nothing quite like flying through the Dutch, Belgian and French countryside at a gentle 180 mph.  Quiet inside the train, the seats are huge and roomy compared to flying "cattle class" and you don’t have to go through explosive detectors or take off your shoes and belt.  And since it’s all in the EU, no passport controls, either.

Once in Paris we had an hour to change stations as the Thalys arrives at Gare du Nord and our train to Dijon, not the TGV this time but the local, was leaving from Bercy.  We survived the dreaded RER, Paris’ suburban train system (not our favorite, or anyone elsses, I don’t think!) and were on our way across the northern French countryside to Burgundy, where we’d spend the night in Dijon.  Thursday morning we picked up another rental car (a little bigger this time as an Ikea shopping trip was on the agenda) and, only getting slightly lost, made it back to the boat around 11.  Work was progressing on the bottom but it looked like another week in the boatyard before we’d be floating.

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