This was the day we were boarding the ship, so we were excited about that. Meanwhile we signed up for a big tour package. In the package we were visiting the Rijksmuseum and take a boat tour of the canals. I was looking forward to both of these.
We had to set out suitcases out in the hallway and someone from Viking or a Viking contractor would pick them up and get them to the ship. So, we didn’t have to worry about that. However, some people were weary about putting the suitcase in the hallway. In fact, our neighbor joked about the fact as he was putting his two out while I was putting my wife’s and my suitcase in the hallway. We talked for a couple of minutes. He was a funny man. He was on the same tour as we were, and we introduced each other to our wives and friends. However, the group was divided into two groups, and they went with the other group. They were also on a different ship, so we never saw them again.
We first went to the Rijksmuseum. Our guide for the day was an art major and he was really informative. I am not an art expert so that helps me a lot. He said this big (it is very large) museum was built to house one painting, Rembrandt’s the Night Watch. Now that I have seen this painting in person, I will say not only is it a great painting, but it is a great big painting. This was one of the paintings hidden in caves during WWII so the Nazis wouldn’t get it. It was probably the most important painting that was hid.
There were other famous paintings hung there. One was The Milkmaid. I was in the sixth grade when I saw a picture of this painting in a book. I remember wondering why this painting would be famous. The book tried to explain in two sentences, but I didn’t get it. After listening to our guide for a couple of minutes, I started to understand why it was a famous painting.
In my preteen years my dad smoked pipes and cigars. One of the cigars he smoked was Dutch masters. When he finished a box he would give it to my brother and I to store junk as Dad’s did in those days. On the inside of the top of the box was a picture of a drawing of six guys. I used to look at the drawing because each of the six guys, even though they were dressed a lot of like, had different expressions and looked different. I knew at one time this was a Rembrandt painting but in the years put that all out of my mind. Well, imagine my joy when I saw this painting.
There were plenty of other paintings, vases and even a library we peered at from above. The library at Trinity College in Dublin is a lot better. I would highly recommend the Rijksmuseum even over the Van Gogh Museum unless you’re a big Van Gogh fan. They are both in the same area so try to see both.
Next we went on the canal tour by boat. Let me say it was nice and relaxing. I fell asleep a couple of times for a minute. We learned some more history of the canal, with some of it being repetitive from the day before. There was a small breeze, so it was cool on the river, and it was interesting seeing the streets from a different perspective.
Next we went to a Pub to have lunch. I think we had a choice between two dishes. The food was good with dessert too.
After lunch we walked to these rich folks house in the city. It was nice, but not that thrilling. They advertised the garden in the back. While nice, the ones in Ireland were a lot better.
Then Peter who drove us from the airport was there to drive us to the ship. I said, “Hi Peter” and he said he was surprised someone remember his name. So, I made sure to start every sentence with Peter after that. I think he was amused. When we went by city hall which we had pointed out to us at least a couple of time before, Peter said “That is the mayor”, pointing out a young (at least to me) lady who had just crossed the street. I told Peter when we get back to the States, we will point out how our driver almost ran over the mayor. Peter then said if we told that story in the city, they would say he should have ran her over. We all got a big laugh over that.
When we got to the ship they told us that there were two ships docked. We also read that the ships weren’t very wide. When we got on the ship we saw a line, so we passed an area to get in line. Our friends and us checked in separately as couples. When we tried to check in they had no record of us. I was starting to get worried. We eventually found out that little area we crossed was our ship. The ships were even narrower than I imagined. It had been a long day.
After we checked in at the right ship we went to our rooms. We got one of the cheaper rooms. Our bed was probably a King size, but it took up the whole room. The bathroom was a fair size, and the shower was bigger than other cruise ships I have been on. Actually, the room worked perfectly for us. We were hardly, in the room except to sleep.
Our floor had the restaurant and one floor below us was the lounge which had the meetings and entertainment. Everyone was served dinner at 7 pm every night. Let me tell you they were efficient friendly wait staff, and the food was out of this world. After dinner there was entertainment in the lounge. We stayed awhile but left to go the bed early as the next day we would be in Kinderdijk to see the windmills.