Monday, September 24, 2012

More of Amsterdam

We were not scheduled to leave Amsterdam for Haarlem until later in the day. The plan for the morning was to tour the city and visit the Van Gough museum. There were a total of 133 cruisers  divided into three groups under three program managers; I guessed, for easy handling. I think they know from experience that old travelers like us, complain and belly-ache a lot LOL.
While waiting for the rest of our group to come out, I struck a conversation with this guy fishing just a few feet away from our riverboat. I told my wife I'll just hang out with him and help him get his fish limit with his spare pole and do a solo walking tour of the city later. My wife said it is not going to happen. She is such a visionary LOL.

This is the glass boat we toured the canals of Amsterdam. There's not a young soul in our group except for our program manager (the brunette with dark glasses).


I wonder how much it costs to stay in that hostel? In all my years of travel, I still have to stay in one. I always thought they are only for young travelers.

Bikes have their own separate lane unlike at home where bike riders have to share the road with cars and other motorized vehicles.

This pic was taken from inside our cabin while we were on our way to Haarlem.

Some cruisers were taking advantage of the fine weather by sitting on topdeck and enjoying the view.

I hope we clear that bridge!

By the narrowest of clearance!

This bridge went up to let our boat through.

Cocktail party given by the Captain to welcome us and to introduce the crew members.

The wait staff being introduced

 Our first formal dinner

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Holland & Belgium and the Floriade, August 2012

My wife and I have done many ocean cruises but not a river cruise till now. She wanted to see the Floriade (a once a decade horticultural Expo in the Netherlands), so I decided we might as well go on a river cruise which covered this expectacle. Guess why she wanted to see the Expo...because her sisters gave her a glowing account of the one they saw ten years prior! Talaga naman!!
I asked her to make all the travel arrangements and I just reluctantly loosen my wallet when the bills came. Story of my life!
I had no idea what a river cruise boat looks like but I was relieved our floating mobile home was not this one LOL. 

The Royal Navigator is astronomically different from the cruise ships I am familiar with but it floats and looks good!

 Corridor leading to our cabin

 The bar and lounge area

 Our cabin with the beds folded up

 Beds ready for the night

 The dining area

When we arrived at Schiphol airport from the long flight from LA, we were met by a representative of Vantage and bussed to a hotel within eyesight of this view.

...and this one.

This was a bike country when I first visited in the late 70's and I can see, it still is. I hope it stays that way. I hate to see the two-wheeled motorized transports that dominate Saigon's chaotic traffic replace the noise-free and pollution-free pedal-powered bikes in Holland.

The hotel where we were assembled prior to being transferred to our riverboat is just a few minutes walk to the world famous Red Light District. At the instigation of our female companions (yeah, right!), we explored the area with the free time we had.

These guys were taking pictures of something so I walked in closer to find out the object of their interest.

Kaya pala! Condoms of all size, shape and color are boldly displayed.

Sex shop! I was tempted to walk in to find out what they sell LOL.

When my buddy and I found out that our riverboat was berth just a 15 minutes walk to the fame district, we sneaked out and checked the place again that night. We were strongly forwarned by the locals that taking pictures of the "working girls" in the "eskaparate" is banned. My point and shoot camera is not up to the challenge of surreptitious night shots anyway. This was the best I could do.

Some forbidden drugs in the US and other countries are openly advertised and legally sold here...and so is sex. What a country!! As old as I am now, I do not think my wife will let me take a vacation here by myself LOL.