Wednesday, June 24, 2009
REPORT FROM AMSTERDAM
Excuse me ladies, do you know the way to the Swiss Hotel?
Today's post is an email I got this morning from Jeff:
We are in Amsterdam. We had quite the travel day yesterday. It took us 4 hours to get here from Brussels by train and I'm pretty sure you can do it in less. I don't know if we screwed up or if it is what it was. Hmmm? The train we were supposed to get on did not arrive as planned. In the meantime, they flashed another train on the sign and a few minutes later a train arrived. Now we have a problem. Is the train that pulled up our train or a different train? We got on and the conductor stamped our tickets so I figured all is well. We arrived in Antwerp (as our train was supposed to) but only after stopping in every small town between Brussels and Antwerp. This is the part that makes me think it could have been the wrong train. When the train stopped in Antwerp everyone got off except me and grace because our train is going to Amsterdam you see. Funny not a single person on the train except for me and Grace were going to Amsterdam because everyone got off. After twenty minutes of waiting Grace asks the obvious question in only a way that Grace can. Daddy? Why is there no one here and why is the train stopped? I guess this is my hint to go and check it out which I do. It turns out the next train to Amsterdam is two levels below ours and leaves in 25 minutes. So we lost about an hour. This train too stopped many times before we got off.
The walk from the train station to our home the Swiss Hotel is five minutes from the train station but that is only if you know where you are going which we don't. So we start off - the streets are madness - people, bikes, dogs, trams, buses, bums, potheads, AC-DC fans (yes they are in town and the place is abuzz). So Grace is a good sport and just follows 2 feet behind me. Where ever I go, so does she. I think in my head, I just want to get someplace where I won't be trampled and there is a little calm so that I can consult my map. It turns out that is Glenview, not Amsterdam. So I check out the map and we are a little off, so we adjust. We walk through narrow streets with coffee houses and the smell of pot everywhere. Poor Grace I think to myself. The place looks like a shit hole with the lowest of the lows assembled to do nothing more except sit with each other and drink and smoke weed. Almost everyone I see looks like they have not bathed or changed their cloths since they arrived, which could have been some time in 2008. We finally leave that street to go down a quieter and cleaner street and with much fewer people. I breathe a little sigh of relief until I see the girls standing in the windows. Yes, we are in the red light district. But it is clean and it is quiet and no one bothers us. We find our street and finally arrive at the Swiss Hotel in the heart of things but just far enough a way to not feel dangerous.
We got settled and went right out. We had a nice Italian dinner and we ate outside and just had the best time watching the people and the world go by. At least that is my recollection. Grace is a good sport. She does not complain. She tells me when she wants something, but she is satisfied to go to this place or that place or another place if that is where we go. We made The Ann Frank House our destination and we had a lovely tour. Very moving as you probably remember. We walked back to our home and had ice cream along the way. We got back about 9:30. I took off my shoes and laid on the bed and Grace, God Bless her asks if we are going to go out again or should she put on her pajamas. We decide to make this an early night and I turned out my lights around 10 pm.