Paul Hunter and I were the only two from our table that were in the Crows Nest on the morning of the 14 of August to witness our arrival at the Northern Lock of the North Sea Canal. I think we must have been there starting around 3 AM, I know the time stamp on my first picture in the lock was 4:43 AM and that was several minutes after the captain had secured the mooring lines to the mooring points in the lock.
Here is what our good Captain Albert posted on his blog about our approach: “Last time I was caught on arrival by a tanker going extremely slow out of the locks, causing me to arrive just too late at the dock. So this time I brought my ETA forward to include some leeway for slow tankers and other issues that might delay a timely arrival. Good thing that I did as once again there was a tanker in the locks (see my photo) and we had to kill about 40 minutes. This time the tanker was not slow it was just that the lock schedule for him was not in synch with our arrival time. Still I had built in sufficient spare time now and we were docked at 0700 hrs. as scheduled.”
Here is a photo of the tanker that was giving our captain fits….
As I was waiting for what I thought were traditional lock doors to open, our ship was already un-moored and we were moving…. those crafty Dutch engineers used a different method for their lock gates/doors…. it turned out it did double duty as a roadway and a lock gate… see picture below….
By time we exited the lock it was just after 5 am, so Paul went below to get a couple of hours sleep before our arrival in Amsterdam. Since it was still dark, there was really no reason for me to stay on deck so I must have gone to the Lido for some early morning coffee and munchies. Captain Albert had this to say about our arrival and where we were fortunate to dock: “We were docking at the Cruise Terminal and according to the pilot we were the last ship to do so before Sail Amsterdam was starting at the end of the coming week. The Eurodam scheduled for the 19th has been banned to a cargo pier somewhere far away from town as the cruise terminal will be full with square riggers and other sailing ships. We already saw a number of them slowly making their way down the coast under Norway and no doubt we will see more of them tomorrow when we go through the Kieler Kanal.”
The scene we have dreaded since Tilbury, UK … our disembarkation….and we know that there will soon be people coming up that gangway to occupy stateroom 384, sleep in our bed and eat at table 150!!! Darn, this is the worst part of cruising…..
As usual it was controlled mayhem as we tried to spot our bags before going through customs, then more mayhem as Alan tried his best to herd his charges and their luggage on to our two awaiting tour buses, but true to his reputation he had soon had us off on our all day excursion of Amsterdam. At one point during the day we stopped for some “shopping” and Norm Kroner and I decided instead to amble a short distance across the street to a corner pub for a couple of Heineken beer. While were there resting our bones, and people watching, we were entertained by a workman and his helper loading some very fine cabinets into the back of his delivery truck.. why was this intertaining you ask? Well I took a picture of his footwear and you be the judge….
… what’s that again? Want a closer look….
…… not at his legs ladies, the shoes…some folks do actually were wooden shoes in the Netherlands!!
The first destination stop on our city tour was a visit to the Van Gogh museum, and our guide assured us that she would get our tickets for us…… however so did many other tour operators….and as usual, all the folks who were at other attractions on our previous excursions…. were there as well, how do they do that? The museum had a policy that only 1200 people could be inside at a time, so there we stood on the street, apparently there is no policy for how many can be in the waiting line at a time. Oh well, it’s the Van Gogh museum isn’t it., yeh along with several other Dutch painters. The other bus had gone to the Anne Frank House and as they arrived to join us in line, they advised that the lines there were as bad. When we exited the museum we were given the choice of bypassing the Anne Frank House and the driver would take us to our hotel – once again I raised my hand. Which turned out to be a great choice, by the time Barbara and he others arrived I already had us checked in!
Our accommodations for the next two nights was at the Okura Hotel, one of a worldwide chain of Japanese owned and operated upscale hotels. I think that the term “upscale” must mean that not much is included in the price our your room (450 euro single – you do the math). A couple of examples that cause me to think that way is a 17 euro (21 USD) charge for twenty-four hours of internet access, and 15 euro (19 USD) for the daily use of their health room (swimming pool and hot tubs). It did have a great view from the 14th floor and it was equipped with an even more interesting view of the bathroom through a clear glass wall that separated it from the bedroom, Yikes, Barbara was happy that the window included a blind that could be lowered from inside the bathroom… shucks!!
As you can see, the rainy weather finally caught up with us… however take a look at the view we had of a children’s school below our elevated perch….
…. we could even hear the roster crowing in the morning and the sheep bleating during the day… how cool is that?
It would not do our two days justice if I tried to include all of our experiences into one blog so….
Next: Amsterdam – Two days .. continued