Friday was our last full day on our boat. We were still sailing on the Rhine in the morning and as we looked out at the countryside along the river we saw the fog rising up from the ground. It looked a little ethereal. There is definitely a different landscape look in Germany. No mega homes, at least along the Rhine like you can find in the United States. There were some beautiful homes along the river and we were told that they were purchased by many wealthy Americans and I could see why. It just looked like a serene life, not much traffic, seemed like there was less hustle and bustle than what most of us American are used to.
We docked within very close proximity to Centraal Station, the main train station in Amsterdam. We were happy about that since the next morning we were going to go to Dusseldorf and hoped to purchase our tickets sometime today at the station and it would make walking to the station on Saturday that much easier.
After lunch we again were divided into groups to take a bus tour of the city. To be honest, the bus tour did not show what I think is the beauty of Amsterdam. We were in some run down neighborhoods and I was glad that I had been to Amsterdam before because if this was my first visit, like it was my cruise mate’s, then I probably wouldn’t come back.
There was a little park that had a windmill so we went there and all had a photo op with the windmill.
Back onto the bus, driving around again and finally let off in an underground garage by the Van Gogh Museum and Rijk museums. We had about 75 minutes to walk around and then we met again to walk to our canal cruise.
Honestly, forty five minutes was not enough to go into one of the museums. It almost felt like a waste of time that they built in. Luckily they had some stalls selling items but mainly food and beer – similar to a Christmas market and we all walked around and around them.
These stalls flanked a small skating rink which was fun watching Some skaters skated like they had never done it before and I’m sure some of them hadn’t.
While walking around I was able to go into the combined gift shop for both the Rijk and VanGogh – they were near the meeting spot for our tour guide. Paramount in my mind was the lack of space for anymore souvenirs – remember I had the reindeer hide from Strasbourg!
Everyone got to the meeting spot early. We then walked to the canal cruise dock and by the time we got there it was already getting dusky – another reason to me why Amsterdam was not being shown in her best light. Things I had remembered from before we didn’t see this time like the large parking lot for only bicycles. Speaking of bicyclists, there appeared to be fewer than when I was here before. Of course, being winter and late afternoon could have a lot to do with it.
We went through several of the canals on the cruise. We saw the houses along the Singel Canal that were slanting and crooked due to the rotting piling underneath the homes. We also went near the Anne Frank house as well as a church with a beautiful steeple. It wasn’t dark enough to see many of the lights yet it was dark enough that nothing was clear and sharp – just, in my opinion, a not very good time to take the tour. I believe we could have gotten to Amsterdam earlier in the day, perhaps even in the morning from Cologne. By car it is about 2 1/2 and if we left Cologne around 2:00 in the afternoon why couldn’t we have gotten to Amsterdam earlier so we could see everything during the day as well as having free time – which we didn’t until 5:00 ish.
We were disappointed in the day as we had purchased online at home tickets for the Ann Frank House for a 4:30 tour but if we had done the tour, we would have missed the canal cruise which my cruise mate didn’t want to miss and I don’t blame her. The order for the afternoon was bus tour, free 75 minutes and then the canal cruise. I wished the free time was at the end so we could have done it all and go to the Ann Frank House but sometimes you just have to make choices and can’t do it all.
The canal boat took us close to our ship. Once off the ship we decided to walk to Centraal Station and get our tickets for Dusseldorf. Now I have purchased many trains tickets in Europe from kiosks and never had any problems. We walked inside the station and see a ticket office. The manned counters are for local trains/buses only and we were international – going back into Germany. I found a machine, punched in what I wanted, found the train to and from and tried to pay. My credit card was declined even though I had been using it throughout the trip. Luckily I also brought my Charles Schwab ATM card (no money conversion fees and no foreign transaction fees) and was able to use it. We had a lot of problems with the ticket machine. We found someone who works for the train company to help us and even he had problems. The first machine would make our reservations, gave us a confirmation number but never let us actually print the ticket. We had to cancel out, use the confirmation number and go to another machine. When we tried the second machine to book my friend’s ticket, it wouldn’t let us do it. It probably took us, with help, about 90 minutes to book and print our tickets. The agent was really helpful, told us what track it would be on and pulled up on his phone the stops we would be making and had me take a picture of his phone with my phone.
Our last night we had plenty of time to say goodbye to those we met, exchanged email addresses or FB names for those we wanted to stay in contact with and packed our bags. Now we were off for an adventure on our own – Dusseldorf!