The early flight wasn't the best choice, but it was the only one that would enable me to meet up with my husband in Dubai (he was flying out from Sydney at 6m, or 3am Perth time) and then we would fly together to Amsterdam.
The taxi picked me up at 2,30am, was at the airport at 2,50am and by then I was already the 10th passenger in line at the Emirates counter that opened at 3am on the dot.
A few minutes later I was being attended, my bag dispatched, and then I took the escalators to the top floor to wait about 50 minutes until the Security/passport control opened at 4am!
|Easter chicks at Perth airport|
|Early morning pictures - Perth, Fremantle harbour?, Rottnest island and a fluffy clourds|
After an almost 11 hour flight I arrived in Dubai at 1pm local time (4h less than Perth) and walked to the departure gate for Amsterdam where I met up with my husband when he arrived from Sydney a short while later. Luckily we had only about 1,30h to wait to board the next flight.
After another almost 7 hours flight to Amsterdam, this time on the nicer and more comfortable A380, we arrived at 8pm local time (6h less than Perth) on the Thursday evening (a positive was we arrived the same day we departed), picked our luggage and went to the Avis counter to pick the rental car that our daughter had hired for us.
Our daughter had gone to South Africa for work and would only arrive the following day. Like the majority of Dutch people they don't own a car and we would need a car to take us to the tulip gardens on Saturday, etc.
When we arrived at the apartment building I rang the bell so our son in law could come down and open the gate to the garage to park the car. Then he helped with the luggage and gave us dinner before we went to sleep at about 10pm. For us it was already 7am and 4am of the next day respectively.
|Early morning view from my daughter's 18th floor apartment next to the IJ river (bottom right)|
On Easter Friday, 30th March, I had arranged to meet up with Dutch bloggers
Marianne and her husband Stef in front of Amsterdam Central Station at 10,30am.
It was a very cold morning (3C/37,4F!!) and I had to borrow my daughter's boots, beanie and winter coat as I hadn't wanted to carry all the heavy stuff, hoping the weather was better in Portugal and Hungary where we would go next.
|Amsterdam Central Station|
My husband and I caught the nr. 26 tram from Rietland Park station, a 7 min walk from the apartment, paid for a day ticket for both of us, but had to use a credit card as I didn't remember to look up what was the pin for our Qantas travel cash card, and the driver didn't accept money.
Just 3 stations later we arrived in front of Central Station and looked around the area for Marianne and Stef.
After our greetings we walked nearby to the former Stock exchange building at Beursplein 1, that now houses a beautifully decorated and quiet restaurant - Bistro Berlage.
We really enjoyed their company and hearing the stories Stef had to tell us about the city's architecture as he is a retired architect.
|My husband Jose, Marianne, me and Stef|
|Bistro Berlage and the former Stock exchange building|
The red brick building was designed for the Stock exchange by architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage, was constructed between 1896 and 1903, and the Stock exchange operated there until 1998. Its huge main hall with an area around 1600m2 is now used as a venue for concerts, exhibitions and conferences. The present King Willem-Alexander had his civil marriage ceremony in the hall in 2002 when he married the now Queen Máxima.
After a second round of coffee for them, and hot chocolate for me and delicious Dutch pastries, we left the coffee shop and crossed the street so Marianne could show us the Beurspassage on Damrak avenue, an arched passageway whose ceiling, walls and floors have been turned into a stunning artwork by Arno and Iris and Hans van Bentem.
Through the mosaic adorned ceiling, the chandeliers, mirrored walls and granite floors we are told a story about Amsterdam and the canals and we get the impression we are walking through an underwater tunnel.
|The beautiful passageway Beurspassage with Marianne in the left corner|
|Details of beautiful Beurspassage|
The tour around the area carried on with Marianne and Stef showing us through the Red light district - Amsterdam's oldest church - Oude Kerk, the quirky bronze statue "Hand over breast" on the pavement - one of a few anonymous statues around Amsterdam, who some people say were done by Queen Beatrix who is herself a sculptor, the narrow and leaning buildings, the original green glass windows of a building, the old gable stones that were used to represent names or professions of house owners when people couldn't read in the Middle Ages. All fascinating things!
|House gables, corner statue and gable, street name in Chinese quarter, funny signs|
Lunch time was upon us and Stef and Marianne took us to lunch at a restaurant near the Waterlooplein Market, a big outdoor flea market with over 300 stalls - the Eetcafe Blauwbrug at Waterlooplein 403.
Before they left to return to their home in Almere (about 46km away), they took us to the
City Hall building (City center Loket), situated next to the National Opera and across from the Amstel river, where we were shown "The Fiddler" another one of the bronze statues by an unknown sculptor. It's a beautiful statue don't you think?
And here we said our goodbyes to Marianne and Stef.
|The market square and the Weigh house|
My husband and I then went past the flea market again and bought 2 thick scarves before walking to Market Square (Nieuwmarkt), a centre for commerce since the 17th century. We bought some cheese at the daily market and took photos of the Weigh House (De Waag), a 15th century building, originally a city gate (St. Anthony's gate) and part of the old city walls of Amsterdam.
Nowadays the bottom floor hosts popular restaurants, while the upper floors are closed to the public. It's Amsterdam's oldest remaining non-religious building.
|Interesting and colourful snippets of life in Amsterdam|
|City buildings, Rietland park tram station and sculpture at the station with 3 tables with bee boxes in the top tier.|
As we were arriving at the apartment building our daughter was just getting out of a taxi from the airport, so it was great timing.
Later that evening the four of us took the nr. 20 tram that stops in front of their building and went out to dinner at the Taj Indian restaurant at Marie Heinekenplein 1, in the bohemian suburb of De Pijp. Both the food and the service were good.
The following day we drove to the Keukenhof tulip gardens in Lisse, a 45 min drive away, but that will come in the next post.
Sorry for the pictures overload, but with 650 photos taken in 3 1/2 days there's lots to show!!
Here you can read more about the statues by the "unknown sculptor":