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  • Writer's pictureSElliott

Day 2 - Guards! Guards!

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Up early today. It was a bit like being on the trip through the centre of Australia – “Bags before breakfast, breakfast at 6”. Well, bags had to be outside our doors by 7am. So our bags were outside our room at 6:50am before we headed down to breakfast. It was a buffet breakfast and there were some pancakes. These were quite different to those I’ve had before – really thick and spongy, and really yummy!!

After breakfast Mum and I had a quick trip outside to look at one of the statues outside the hotel, which turned out to be a replica of Rodin’s “The Thinker”. At least I think it was a reproduction, I can’t see them having the real one! We then went to the canal outside the hotel to wait for the boats for our canal tour.

Picture 1 - The Thinker, Amsterdam

The canal tour took us along the Noorder Amstelkanaal from the hotel, through the suburban Amsterdam. Amsterdam was named after the Dam that was built on the Amstel River in the 13th century and this became Dam Square which we visited yesterday. We then turned up Boerenwetering, narrowly missing the rowers, into the Singelgracht. This was constructed in the 15th century as the harbour grew and it became the main canal. The museum district is located where the Boerenwetering meets the Singelgracht and we skirted the outskirts of this, continuing up the Singelgracht before turning down the Bloemgracht to the Prinsengracht. This was one of three canals built in the 17th century. This was the “Golden Age” and Amsterdam became the biggest harbour in the world. During this century, three more canals were constructed – the Herengracht (or Patrician’s canal), the Keizersgracht (or Emperor’s canal) and the Prinsengracht (or Prince’s canal). These canals were built for mostly residential development. The Herengracht canal was constructed first - this was due to the importance of the gentlemen. These were men with money who were the decision makers in Amsterdam as the Netherlands were a republic at this time. However, they did have a prince! This was Prince William of Orange. He had, at the age of eleven, inherited this title from his cousin, who had inherited the independent and sovereign Principality of Orange from his Uncle. The Principality, at that time, was a feudal state in Provence, France! So Prince William of Orange was originally a prince of France! However, a Prince is still a Prince even if it is inherited!!

Pictures 2, 3, 4 - Amsterdam Canals

We travelled down this canal, narrowly missing a sleeping grebe that managed to float out of our way, before returning to the Singelgracht via the Leidsegracht to our disembarkment point.

Picture 5 - Canal Boat

As its name suggests, the museum district contains several museums. Most of them art museums. This includes the Riijkmuseum which houses Rembrandt's “Nightwatch” – which, when I hear of it, makes me think of Captian Vimes and Corporal Carrot! Unfortunately we did not have time to visit but the gardens of the Riijkmuseum are free to visit, so Mum and I did. They were nice gardens, not many flowers but nice with statues and fountains spotted amongst them. Similar to the central station, the outside of the Riijkmuseum was decorated with mosaic pictures and brickwork. The Riijkmuseum also has a musical clock which plays a really melodic tune. I didn’t get a recording but it was much better than your usual “ding dong”. There are moving figures at the clock that strike out the hour.

Pictures 6, 7 - Riijkmuseum, Amsterdam

Picture 8 - Riijkmuseum Clock

After the Riijkmuseum gardens, Mum and I wandered down to the Momo museum where there were some modern sculptures outside, including a jelly teddy bear! There was a gem encrusted rabbit in the garden of the diamond museum.

Picture 9 - Jelly Bear Statue

There is also the Van Gogh Museum which we again didn’t visit but we found out that the “Bridge at Arles” that is hanging on my living room wall is a real authentic reproduction of a Van Gogh painting!

By this time it was time to board the Dutch buses that were to take us to De Riekermolen. This is a historic polder drainage windmill by the Amstel River that dates back to 1636 and was the location that Rembrandt used to use for inspiration for his paintings. It was only a short trip from the museum square. On the way there we saw a traffic jam…of bikes!! We think that they were all part of an organised bike run.

Picture 10 - De Riekermolen & Rembrandt statue

A quick photo-stop later and we boarded the German buses that were to take us to Dusseldorf where we would board our ship, the Polaris.

We set off by driving along the side on the Amstel River before joining the main roads to Dusseldorf.

Picture 11 - The Amstel River

The reason for travelling to Dusseldorf to board our ship was that, due to the lack of rain in Europe, the river levels of the Rhine were low. This meant that our ship wouldn’t be able to sail between Amsterdam and Dusseldorf, hence the over land journey.

Picture 12 - The River Cruise Ship

We arrived at our ship just after 3pm and, after a quick trip to our cabin to drop off our bags, we headed to the lounge for a light lunch of soup, sandwiches and cake….lots of cake! The soup was really nice. We then had a walk around the ship when we found the bar and the fitness room but failed to find the way to the sundeck. Well, I’m sure we’ll find it tomorrow.

There was a safety briefing at 6:30pm followed by a briefing before dinner of what we were going to do the next day. A four course dinner. Mum and I decided to try all four courses to see the total size of the meal for future information. The meal started with quiche – a lovely warm quiche which reminded me of the leak and potato flan I make! Then I had veal consommé before confit chicken and finishing with ice cream. The restaurant is very nice (almost posh) and the meal was nice. I was a bit disappointed with the chicken, it was a bit meh. The carrots were nice.

Mum and I were wabbit after the adventurous day we had so we headed back to the cabin and bed.

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