(July 7th, 2001 to July 19th, 2001)
|click on colored words for pictures and/or hyperlinks|
|Saturday, July 7th, day 369 of Lisa and Joel's Excellent Adventure, we took Royal Dutch Airlines flight 1396 from St. Petersburg, Russia to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We took off from St. Petersburg at 4:50 PM (local time) and after a three hour flight we arrived in Amsterdam at 5:50 PM. (Amsterdam is two hours behind St. Petersburg.) After getting some Netherlandic guilders from an ATM at the airport, (the current exchange rate is 2.60 guilders to one dollar), we checked into The Hilton at the airport.
The Hilton cost more than we wanted to pay -- it was 250 guilders a night (with a great breakfast). Amsterdam really fills up, especially when it's high season (which is now!) so it would have cost us the same -- 250 guilders, for a nasty "0 Star Hotel" in the downtown area -- as it would to stay at the 5 Star Hilton by the airport. Which one would you have chosen?
It was really nice to get cleaned up and stay in a nice place. For the last few nights, since the hot water got shut off back in St. Petersburg, we have been showering out of a bucket of boiled water on the shower floor. (We couldn't even get cold water out of the shower after a while.)
Sunday, July 8th, day 370, we checked out of The Hilton and headed downtown to The Freeland Hotel. It was also a trip down in stars -- from 5 to 2 -- but, it still cost 155 guilders (with breakfast). Man is Europe expensive in summer!
After checking in, we checked out the scene in Amesterdam. Amsterdam is a really cool city. It's got to be one of the greatest cities in the world. Beautiful old architecture, picturesque scenes of boats floating gracefully down the canals and an energy and vibe that at times is very positive and enjoyable. Lots of people -- everyone of them with different hopes and dreams, different doubts and fears -- thrown into a huge melting pot of dynamic interaction. Business people in suits, just trying to get to work, construction workers repairing the streets, tourists with plastic bags filled with recently bought (and often overpaid for) souvenirs. Skateboard punks scurry over the urban jungle avoiding the traffic and conjestion of people. A huge mass of humanity and the energy that surrounds them. Museums, the waterfront, coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, theatres, music, dance, it's got everything a modern cosmopolitan city covets and more.
Monday, July 9th, day 371 we explored Amsterdam all day. We did a lot of walking. We hit Dam Square, we walked all along the waterfront, we went to The Naval Museum and the totally restored, 18th century war ship next to it. Later, we went to a movie. We maxed it out!
Tuesday, July 10th day 372, was another day in Amsterdam. Part of the day we spent in a cyber cafe, catching up on email and working on the website.
Wednesday, July 11th, day 373, we went to The Vincent Van Gogh Museum. We highly recommended it. Both in the way the museum is designed, for even the architect is an artist, to it's essence -- the finest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world, it is supurb in every aspect.
We bought a new digital camera today. Those of you who are faithful journal readers know we got our original digital camera stolen in St. Petersburg and we haven't been able to provide any pictures on the web site since then. Well, rest easy friends. The battery is charging as we speak so we are back in business as far as continuing to give all of the best images we can from -- Lisa and Joel's Excellent Adventure.
Thursday, July 12th, day 374 of this wild ride, we spent another day exploring Amsterdam. We went to The Heineken Experience, an amazing and at times totally interactive, presentation of what every aspect about brewing beer is all about. Plus you get 3 free beers! It's great. Later, we went to The Hash and Hemp Museum. It is a museum devoted to every aspect of the cannibis plant, from its various uses (industrial agents, rope, cloth, etc.), to its history (from its discovery to the modern "Drug War"). Although small and somewhat overpriced (it was 12.50 guilders each), it is a really interesting place and well worth a look (at least once). After another movie (we have seen 5 movies in six nights in Amsterdam) it was time for "nighty night".
Friday, July 13th, day 375 of our excellent adventure, we went to the post office, mailed some stuff home and started looking for a cheaper place to stay. While looking around for a cheaper place to crash we also went to the Houseboat Museum. What a waste of time! Later, we found the 1-Star Hotel Bim to our liking and dumped our bags into the care of an elderly Netherlandic couple renting rooms in their house for 100 guilders per night (no breakfast).
After spending some time on the information superhighway, and in one of the fine coffee shops in Amsterdam, and another day was shot.
Saturday, July 14th, day 376 of this crazy ride, we walked through the Westerkerk Cathedral (nice place) and took a picture next to a statue of Anne Frank. We decided to pass on the tour of Anne Frank's House. The line for entry reached around the corner. The extreme length of the line, combined with the fact that Lisa has already seen it, equaled up to us moving on to the movie theatre. (The new movie, Shrek, is good if any of you haven't seen it yet.)
Sunday, July 15th, day 377 of Lisa and Joel's Excellent Adventure, we took a stroll and sat by a pond in Vondel Park. It was a beautiful sunny day. Lunch was a glass of chardonnay and a roasted chicken sandwich next to a picturesque canal with amazing architecture as a backdrop. You get the idea -- nice and relaxing.
We sent out email/newsletter #22 today. All of your postitive feedback and amazing response to our emails and the web site have been tremendous. It's the thing that's kept us going for over thirteen months and counting. We love you guys!
Monday, July 16th, day 378 since we left Boston, heading west, started with Lisa running/walking to the grocery store. She loaded up on cheese, bread, ham, salami, wine, yogurt, cookies and of course -- peanut butter and jelly.
After both of us did our morning pushups (we're trying to do one extra pushup everyday!), it was off to Vondel Park. We laid in the grass and talked over a picnic luch. It was a great way to spend a day.
Monday night, Joel gave Lisa a haircut.
Within two weeks we will be back in the states. It's strange when we think how long we have been away. Three hundred and seventy eight days and counting. During that time we have had some great experiences, met a lot of great people and learned a lot about the world and oursleves. But, it will be good to go home.
Tuesday, July 17th, day 379, started with Lisa going to work on the transportation situation to our next destination -- The United Kingdom. Joel went to do laundry. We met up back at the room later, laundry done and bus tickets bought. Teamwork, that's what it's all about.
Later we had a late lunch/early dinner, with the main course being "peanut butter and jelly". Read any good books lately?
Wednesday, July 18th, day 380 was our last full day in Amsterdam. It was colder than the last few days, and raining. We didn't let the weather dampen our spirits as we set out for one more day of exploration in Amsterdam.
Thursday, July 19th, day 381, after another relaxing day in Amsterdam, we boarded a Eurolines bus heading to London. Goodbye, Amsterdam! Hello, The United Kindgom!