Monday, October 22, 2012

Oct 9 - Amsterdam

We awoke early and went to a nearby cafe for a breakfast of waffles with lemon and “regular” coffee meaning an espresso which was delicious. We flipped through the tour book and decided that we would take the 2:30 PM tour to Delft, The Hague and Madurodam. Madurodam didn't sound too exciting however it was part and parcel.

We strolled through the floating flower market full of tulip bulbs for sale.

We then thought that we’d stroll over to Anne Frank’s house. However, when we got there the line was too long to spend time in. 

So we decided to head back towards the meeting point for the afternoon tour at 34 Damrak. We strolled through the Red Light district and then found a pub and sat outside and had toastis for lunch, ham and cheese. Then sun came out and it was just a lovely way to relax and watch the people go by.

After lunch we met at 2PM for the tour. Our guide was Case and he was very knowledgeable. He explained about the windmills and when you see 3 in a row it is because 1 windmill can only drain 1.5 metres so if there is a need to drain up to 6 metres then the other 2 windmills will handle it.

This area is close to the airport so there is an agreement that when the farmers are finished harvesting their crops they must immediately plow the fields so the birds aren't tempted to look for seeds as the birds interfere with the planes in the area.

Delft is a lovely town. We stopped at a factory making delft china and had a guided tour of the process.

We then drove into the old town centre and had a walking tour of the town. Delft is a pretty typical Dutch town with canals. It is small and easy to walk around.
The painter Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) was born in Delft. Vermeer used Delft streets and home interiors as the subject or background of his paintings. There is a museum dedicated to him. He is well-known as the painter of Girl with a Pearl Earring which painted in 1665. Tracy Chevalier wrote a historical novel, also entitled Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999), fictionalizing the circumstances of the painting's creation. In the novel, Johannes Vermeer becomes close with a fictional servant named Griet (based on Chevalier's close friend Georgia Kendall), whom he hires as an assistant and has sit for him as a painting model while wearing one of his wife's pearl earrings. The novel inspired a 2003 film and 2008 play of the same name. The 2003 film stars Scarlett Johansson as the girl with the pearl earring, Griet.

We lost an elderly man on out tour. He had said he would just walk to the church and then back, however, when we all arrived back at the appointed time of 4:45 he was nowhere to be found. His wife was beside her self, they were easily in their late 70s and he didn't have a cell phone on him and she didn't have any money on her. The driver and tour guide did their best to find him but we had to leave. They convinced her to stay with the tour and assured her that one of the other buses would pick him up.

Next we headed to The Hague the centre of Dutch government and a financial district. It also contains the international courts of law and the Peace Palace. It is a very modern business centre that empties out at 5PM to become a ghost town.
The Peace Palace will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2013 and has become the icon of The Hague, the International City of Peace and Justice. It is a beautiful building in which people are working on a daily basis towards world peace.

Our missing passenger is reunited with his wife after being picked up by a Russian tour group who arrived at the Peace Palace just before we did.

Next stop was Madurodam. We had no idea what to expect from this. It turns out it is a fascinating exhibit of Dutch towns and buildings built in miniature to scale. I will do a separate post on this attraction as we took many photos.

A model of Schiphol airport.

The luggage belt taking the bags from the planes to the baggage area.

We arrived back in Amsterdam around 8PM. We went into the tour office and picked up tickets for the erotic show at Casa Rousso. The clerk smiled and said “hmmm Delft to the Red Light district, interesting”. We had to try some of their famous French fries before we head over to the Red Light district.

We eventually found our destination after we discovered  the real meaning of the open versus closed red lit windows. No photos allowed.
This image is from
The girls lounge in their windows dressed in scant, attractive lingerie.
Amsterdam, Red Light District

Along the way we thought we had reached Casa Rousso but it was just a door man directing us to continue to the green light ahead of us. When we reached it it had turned red which we later learned was to advise the doormen along the way to slow down the people as the line was at its capacity for now. Our tickets were taken and replaced by drinks tickets and a lollipop of male appendage for the ladies. The attendees were varied mix, young, old, male, females and many nationalities.

The theatre is quite small, set up movie style with red plush seats facing a stage where the non-stop performances take place. It was interesting for one or two acts but then it is rather repetitive. There are some humorous acts when there is interaction with the audience. Again no photos.

Back to the hotel and time for bed after a rather varied day of sightseeing.

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