The final leg of this amazing vacation was two days in Amsterdam. Our first night was on the ship and then we transferred to a hotel.
I had been warned by friends to be very aware of the bicyclists and they were so right. This city has 800,000 people and 1.6 million bicycles. They are everywhere!
One of our tour guides said that a car will stop to let you by but a cicylist will run you over. I didn't find any rude cicylists however you really did need to watch out for them. What I noticed is that there were very few expensive bikes. Most were very old. That's because they often are stolen so people don't want to pay a lot for a bike. The guide said they often pay more for a bike lock than for the bike.
One of our tours included a diamond house where we learned all about diamonds, how they are cut and what determines their worth. It was especially interesting because my friends father was a diamond setter in NYC.
Then they brought out trays full of diamond which were passed around for us to try on. When I travel I have some fake jewelry I wear instead of taking my good rings. So in the bottom right photo I have on my fake $30 ring along with a $3000 ring. Can you tell which is which?
We were told by friends to be sure to see the red light district so we signed up for a tour with a guide and I am so glad we had the guide. The tour was at 9 PM and the streets were very crowded. I knew ahead of time that there were prostitutes in windows but was still a bit shocked. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and the women have to be licensed. They rent space in this district and have a small area with a large window where they sit or stand waiting for a customer. Of course they were appropriately covered in the right places. Photos were strictly forbidden and I would have been too embarrassed to take one anyway. The other thing interesting on this tour was the strong smell of marajuana in the streets. That's because it's also legal. If you want to buy it or hash you go to a "coffee" shop. If you want a cup of coffee you go to a "cafe".
One of my favorite tours from this whole trip was the Anne Frank tour. This was a private tour and full of history. We started with seeing where she lived with her family prior to going into hiding. That's the top right photo and their apartment was the one on the third floor with the open window. The brass plates are set into the sidewalk in front of her home. These are called Stumbling Stones and mark the last known place a person from the Holocaust freely lived. They have been placed in numerous European cities. A person's name and dates of birth, deportation and death, if known, are engraved into the brass plate.
From the school we walked to the bookstore where her father bought the diary that Anne Frank used while she was in hiding. He gave it to her for her 13th birthday and the cover of it was the red plaid in the bottom photo. This was such an interesting bookstore, very old, quaint, with lots of narrow aisles and nooks. Of course we both bought a book there.
This was the end of our vacation. We flew home from Amsterdam after spending 13 wonderful days in France, Germany, and Amsterdam. I was more worried about the long flghts but they actually were not bad. The longest leg of the trip was about 8 hours with a connection in Detroit and then another few hours to get back to FL. I watched five movies! It made the time go by faster and I got to see several I had been wanting to see. I had heard that coming back was harder than going over and what I experienced was two days of doing a lot of sleeping. I just couldn't seem to stay awake. But now I am back to my normal and doing some stamping and excited that the new Holiday catalog is coming out with some really great products.