European Riverboat Cruise

DAY 4-August 8 Amsterdam & Viking Tir

WEATHER: Partly cloudy and 71*

We get up at 6:45, shower and pack our luggage and set it out to be taken to the ship – The Viking Tir. We have breakfast and are ready to go on our tour today called the “Golden Age”, which includes : Rijksmuseum, Coster Diamonds factory, a canal cruise, restaurant-Vijff Vlieghen, a living area -Het Begijnhof, sculptures depicting The Night Watch painting by Rembrandt, and the Museum Van Loon.

Our first stop was at Coster Diamonds which is the world’s oldest diamond polishing factory. We see a crown and polishing tools. Rick gets sick again and we almost miss the next group tour to Rijksmuseum, but make it at the last moment.

Royal Crown of Great Britain – replica, at Coster Diamonds,where they polished the diamonds.
Replica British Royal Crown Coster Diamonds

The Rijksmuseum is our next stop and a very informative one. It has Rembrandt’s most famous masterpiece: “The Night Watch”, as well as many of his other paintings. It also has other famous paintings such as those by Van Gogh and here you can take pictures! Our guide is very good and explains the meanings behind a lot of the paintings. The museum is in the process of restoring “The Night Watch” painting, but before even starting they are scanning ever inch of the painting and analyzing it.

The museum also has a huge research library of books on history and the arts. The public is allowed in to look individually at books. They also have a model of the three masted ship that is part of the maritime museum.

We are then onto a canal cruise of the city, seeing some different things than we saw last night.

We get off the canal cruise and get lunch at a restaurant called Vijff Vlieghen. It is a very pretty old building and they serve a traditional Dutch meal with salad, meatballs and mashed potatoes with carrots, and apple pie. Rick is brave and tries eating a little.

Where we ate lunch in Amsterdam.

After lunch we continue on foot to see sights in Amsterdam. Our first stop is to where our older tour guide lives – Het Begijnhof. It is where only single women over 55, who are very religious, but don’t want to go into the convent live. You have to apply and be accepted to live there. It is very peaceful and quiet.

We continue walking. We go by a square where there is a statue of Rembrandt. It is the oldest statue in Amsterdam. There also are bronze statues depicting his “Night Watch” painting. We also see stained glass windows with Rembrandt depicted in them.

We continue walking and the guide points out homes/buildings that are actually sinking because the ground is so wet in this area.

Note the sloping angle under the windows on the middle black house and the last gray house.

We pass by more of the beautiful city of Amsterdam. Glad we spent two extra days here, in order to see the sights, and we still didn’t see it all.

We make one last stop for the day to see the Museum Van Loon. It is the home of the Van Loon family who have been connected to Amsterdam for 400 years and one of the best preserve homes in the Netherlands.

We then go by taxi to embark on our ship – The Viking Tir. We were upgraded to a room with a balcony, rm #229.

We have dinner, on board our ship, which was very good. Dinner is one seating and seating is open every night, so you never know who you will sit with. We end up sitting with a couple from Vancouver Island – Parksville Graham & Roseann and another couple from Conneticut. After dinner we are back to our room and to bed. Rick is out in no time. It was another big day. The ship is to leave the dock at 11:55, leaving Amsterdam. We really enjoyed our time here, but now on to more new places and things to see.

European Riverboat – Day 3

DAY #3, August 7 – Amsterdam & Haarlem

WEATHER: Blue skies with clouds, low 70’s

Well today we are awakened by a phone call, it is 9:30, and our Viking representative lets us know they are leaving on the Walking Tour of Amsterdam that we had scheduled. Oops, guess we will miss it! Oh well, guess we needed the sleep. We get up and shower and walk to a little local cafe to have breakfast. I have the “Dutch” Breakfast – boiled egg, ham and cheese slices, 2 rolls & 2 slices of toast with jam and peanut butter, hot tea and orange juice! We finish and meet our rep who takes us to our guide Steven for our tour of Historic Haarlem. It has just one other couple, who are from North Carolina. We ride in a van to Haarlem. I am fascinated by how everything: buildings, churches, streets, and homes are so old! I mean like from the 14th century!

Our first stop is to a restaurant to have lunch. It is called Jopenkerk, which used to be a church with pretty stain glass windows and now is a brewery! We have a huge meal and finish off with a tasting of four different beers:

  • 1. Jopen Adriaan Wit, Witbier/5%

2. Jopen Mooie Nel IPA, American IPA/6.5%

3. Jopen Ongelovige Thomas, Quadrupel/10%

4. Special Ancient Recipe from 1407!

I liked the darker one from the ancient recipe the best.

We then walk through the city on the old cobblestone streets, watching out for the bikes.

We visit and see different gardens/inner courtyards and local homes. The usual is no curtains on windows, and windows open because no air conditioning. Always cats in the courtyards (to catch the mice/rats). The homes have “cat doors” instead of doggie doors!

We next go to the world’s largest collection of Frans Hals paintings.

Military painting by Frans Hals
Frans Hals’ detailed portrait painting, noting fine detail of beard on top of white collar.

While we are touring the Frans Hals Museum Rick gets sick again, his gut just isn’t tolerating eating yet. We continue on to the Warmoesstraut shopping square in the center of town, including the large church – Grote Kerk.

We then head back to Amsterdam with a stop on the way out of Haarlem to see the only remaining old entry gate. It was built around 1400.

We arrive back in Amsterdam and walk around and do some shopping. We do dinner at a place called Savini, with homemade pastas. The old building is leaning like the tower of Pisa. We get back to the hotel and to bed by 11.

Savini where we ate dinner in Amsterdam – building leaning but has very close neighbor buildings so hard to see how much it is leaning.


DAY 1 – August 5: Verdi -> Reno -> San Francisco -> Amsterdam DAY 2 – August 6: Amsterdam (Day 1 turned into Day 2 with flight and time changes!)

WEATHER: Reno – warm & sunny, San Francisco – foggy & flight delayed, Amsterdam – warm, cloudy & 72*

We get up at 6:00 AM Monday to find out the bear got into our trash last night! Oh well, at least that is all he got into this time. Nick takes us to the airport and drops us off, Carrie is at her first day of her new job as a landscape architect. We make it through check in, but even with Pre-Check Rick has to do full scanner and full pat-down, but he just smiles and makes it thru without incident. Then an hour wait to board, but so much for that. Our flight is delayed for an hour due to fog in San Francisco.We arrive fine and no problem with timing. We get two text messages though: First from Loyalton and Sherri has new bruises and the Second from Jim & Shawnee and we are going to be GRANDPARENTS again! They send us a picture of the baby from the ultrasound. So starts our ADVENTURE this time!

The flight was 10 hours from San Francisco to Amsterdam and Amsterdam is 9 hours ahead of us in time and we were delayed an hour out of SF, but we arrive in Amsterdam right on time at 10:15 AM on Tuesday. Customs was a snap and we meet the Viking rep who takes us to our hotel – The Renaissance.

Hotel in Amsterdam, on a bike with front cart of flowers. Like the saying: LIVE LIFE TO DISCOVER
Art piece depicting all the bicycles in Amsterdam.
Our hotel-Renaissance in Amsterdam, the cow representing the Cheese Making in the Netherlands

We decide to take the tram system to get around. Our first tour is to the Van Gogh Museum with a guide and only 5 other people. It is very interesting, learning his life history and that of his paintings , but taking pictures isn’t allowed.

Grand Central Station behind the tram we took to get around in Amsterdam.
Van Gogh Museum with exposition of his Sunflower paintings
Self portrait painted by Vincent Van Gogh
One of Van Gogh’s paintings

Our second tour of the day that we scheduled was the Anne Frank walking tour. It was showing her history – where she lived, the school she went to, and where she bought her diary. But soon after meeting our guide Rick gets terribly sick. The guide is very understanding and finds him a bathroom in a bar. He almost passes out. We decide we can’t finish the tour and find the tram to head back to the hotel.

Building where Otto Frank worked and Anne Frank lived after going into hiding.
The house where Anne Frank lived before having to go into hiding.
Statue of Anne Frank in memorial park in the neighborhood where she lived before having to go into hiding.

After we get on the tram Rick gets sick again and we get off the tram and find another bathroom in a cafe. This time it costs 1 euro to use the WC. He throws up and we get back on the tram. By this time we are old hands at using the tram system! It is now later in the day and he says he will try doing our third tour we had scheduled for the day. It is a 4 course dinner cruise on the canals. The boat does have a bathroom so we give it a go. What a trooper! It ends up being a very nice dinner: bread, wine, mixed greens salad, hot tomato soup served in mug, veal & salmon, and rhubarb compote and chocolate mousse. All served on white linen tablecloths & napkins, not paper, while seeing and hearing all about the sights of Amsterdam. Actually quite relaxing. Here are some of the sights from the canal cruise:

Windmill as seen from dinner cruise.
Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht canal.
Westerkerk tallest church in Amsterdam
Saint Nicholas – Catholic church with night lights.
St. Nicholas Catholic church in Amsterdam.

Dinner :

Dessert: Chocolate mousse & rhubarb compote

Rick has about had it for one day! And no wonder, we have now been up for 30 hours and he has been sick on top of it all!

At the end of the dinner cruise we find our way back to the hotel on foot. It is now 11:00 PM here and definitely time to hit the sack. We have been up for 32 hours and jet lag is really setting in!

My first impression of Amsterdam is a very pretty, clean, well maintained really OLD city, with a lot of BIKES and CANALS!

“Bikes and Canals”
Two most popular ways of transportation in Amsterdam.