Monday, June 17 – Cruising the Canals

We had to leave the ship but our vacation is not quite over. We got up and got ready by 7:00 and were able to go to the main dining room for a leisurely breakfast. Typically, we have to go to the Lido and get something quick as we need to be off the ship and on the road. I like the leisurely breakfast better.

We sat with the Dutch couple again. His sister was picking them up. They only had an hour ride to be back home. They would be going to work tomorrow (better them than us). They have another HAL cruise booked for May to Norway. Maybe we’ll sail with them again one day.

At 7:30, HAL started calling the groups. HAL lets you stay in your stateroom if you want to do so until the time you are called. Most ships make you get out by at least 8:00 and wait in a lobby area. I like to stay in the room but I know the room stewards would like for you to get out so they can clean it before the next group gets on. We left the room and went to the Ocean Bar to wait when the group before us was called. It was only 10 or 15 minutes until our group number was called.

We presented our ship card to security one last time and left the ship. We started walking down the port corridor. I was surprised there was no custom line. There were people in strategic areas just pointing the way to the luggage pick-up. We found our two pieces of luggage easily and then were pointed to the door. We exited and were asked if we needed a taxi. I said we would need one to our hotel downtown. The porter signaled and a taxi pulled up.

Only hiccup in the taxi ride was that he started to go down the road that was next to our hotel only to find the road was blocked by machinery and the road was being dug up. He had to back up the narrow road. I don’t know why there wasn’t a sign barring any thru traffic. Weird. We watched a number of cars doing the same thing. Of course, they bicycles just barreled on through, riding on the sidewalk if they needed to do so.

I couldn’t believe how fast and easy the disembarkation was. We were at the hotel before 10:00. I knew the room wouldn’t be ready but they checked us in and held our luggage. Chuck had received a weird pound note while in Belfast. It didn’t look like our other pound notes. The ship wouldn’t change it so he wanted to go to a bank or a currency exchange place to try and get it changed to Euros. He was afraid he was going to be stuck with a 20 pound note souvenir.

The hotel clerk pointed us in the right direction and Google maps picked up the route. We went first to the exchange place and it didn’t open until 11:00. We went next to a bank and they wouldn’t exchange it.  At that point, instead of back-tracking to the currency exchange, we decided to walk to the canal tour company headquarters.

It was a beautiful day. Sunny and in the 70’s. We found the company and purchased our tickets. They took us through most of the canals and we listened to the pre-recorded commentary through headsets. Our tour boat was low enough to go through the canal openings with no trouble. We did get to see the bridges opened for some of the larger ships traveling the canals. I didn’t realize that the houseboats lined up and down the canals were permanent resident homes. They lease the spot and have to pay for utilities. It was interesting. The real estate in Amsterdam is very expensive so houseboats are an alternative.

The canal tour was nice and relaxing. It might be nice to take a river cruise one day.

After we finished with the tour, we ate at the restaurant next to the tour headquarters overlooking the canal. It was nice so we ate outside. We tried the bitterballen – round balls of deep-fried gravy and cheese. Really good but you had to be careful biting into them – the gravy with cheese was very hot. I had a ham and cheese sandwich and Chuck had a hamburger. We split an order of fries. They served the fries with a big scoop of mayo on the side. I tried dipping the fries in the mayo like the Dutch do but I did not care for it. They mayo didn’t taste like our mayo either. I got one small packet of ketchup and used it on the fries.

A Dutch couple sitting next to us, I guess heard our accents, and asked how we were enjoying Amsterdam. We told them how much we liked it. They lived outside Amsterdam and had just come in for the day because the weather was so nice and it had been so bad all week. We told them we had had nice weather in Amsterdam prior to the cruise also. They said we needed to come back more often if we were going to bring nice weather.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a souvenir place, so I could get an Amsterdam Christmas ornament. It is ball-shaped with tulips painted on it. We were tired so decided not to go back to the currency exchange but would try it tomorrow. As it was close to 4:00, our room was ready. This time the room was on the ground floor overlooking the street. I was worried that the street noise would keep us awake but we didn’t have an issue with it unless a police siren was on.

We went back to the lobby at 5:00 and participated in their wine and cheese happy hour. We were too full from the late lunch and the cheese for any dinner. We called it an early night.

No towel animal tonight. ☹

More Ship Trivia –

Average Ship Speed for this Trip: 12.7 knots

Miles Traveled for this Trip: 2628 miles

Eggs Consumed on this Trip: 33,600

Bridges as far as you can see
Bridge made famous in Diamonds Are Forever

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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