Lighting, Planes, Bikes and Boats Day 2

photo of a turtle swimming underwater

When we got off the plane we went through customs. We just showed the customs official are passport and they stamped it. The official didn’t ask us anything or to look at anything involving COVID. If anything, he looked bored.

When we went to get our baggage, it was easy as we each checked in one suitcase. However, there are many baggage claims in Amsterdam, and we had to take a few twists and turns to get to ours. The first thing I noticed that there were a lot of unclaimed bags just sitting in the airport. I immediately thought of the workers shortage. We lucked out and our four bags came out in a row. We soon found our driver Peter who was taking us to the hotel. We paid extra to spend two nights in Amsterdam. There was another couple who were joining us in the van. We later became friends with them. They were a nice couple from a Nashville, Tennessee suburb. Peter took us through a maze to get out of the airport. I saw quite a few people in line at a check-in line. I was glad we weren’t flying out of the Amsterdam airport. But then I thought to myself I had no idea if the airports we would be flying home from would be any better.

The airport is a little way from Amsterdam, so the drive started off easy for Peter. However, once we got into the city I didn’t envy Peter driving. We were told there were lots of bikes in Amsterdam. Everybody rides them. I watched the bike riders and saw old ladies and young professionals in suits. The one thing I didn’t see was a lot of teenagers which was my bike riding prime.

The hotel was located in a neighborhood where the buildings were really close together. When we went in the Viking representative told us that since check-out time wasn’t until the afternoon, we could check-in they would take our suitcases, but we wouldn’t get a room right away. They said this was a good time to explore the city.

The lady for the couple we didn’t know asked if they could help arrange some tours. Someone from Viking that people at the hotel would help arrange getting tours of the museums and other tourist points. However, the Viking person said many of the museums were already sold out and they were on their own. Our friend the former tourist agent gave some advice to the couple, and we all became friends.

We checked in and were preparing to leave to visit our friends son who lived in a city 45 minutes south of Amsterdam by train. Then the young clerk (she was in her early 20s I would say) said our room was ready. I and my wife’s room not our friends. So, we took a few minutes to get our suitcases up to the room.  We invited our friends up in case they wanted to drop some stuff off so they wouldn’t want to have to carry it the rest of the day. So, the four of us went to our room.

Now two things coming up that are important. First our friends bought a carry-on suitcase of items their son needed from the States, which of course they were planning to take to him on the train. Also, as a security measure your key has to be used to operate the elevator. It will only take a person to their floor or the first floor.

So, we go up to our room, drop stuff off, use the bathroom and comment on the big mirror in the bathroom. We then buy a two day pass on for the subway. Use that to get to the train station and get on the right train to our destination. We are enjoying the scenery, which is pretty but not spectacular. Then one of our friend’s looks down and says we don’t have the suitcase. Now we think we probably left it in the train station when asking when buying our ticket and asking what train to take. Which causes us to panic because we can see the bomb squad detonating the suitcase. In addition, they put their son’s address on the suitcase and could see him talking to the police about the suitcase. However, we soon figure out we left it in the hotel.

Their son greets us at the train station. We have a five-minute walk to his apartment. It is located in a busy area of town. This is good and bad. He is in the middle of shopping and restaurants which is nice for a young man on his own. The bad is it gets loud at night, and he does have to work.

On the way to his place, he buys us chocolate eclairs in a ball. My wife and I decide to split one as they are big. They were fantastic. Wow!

His place is on the third floor. To get there you have to go up those European stairs that look neat, big on one end narrow on the other, but are not fun to walk up. Also, his second bedroom is another flight up. I tell you his set up on the roof is really neat and it has a pleasant view of the city. I would spend a lot of time up there. It is hot in his building, and he doesn’t have any air conditioning.

After the tour it is time for lunch. Yes, we had dessert before lunch, its vacation. There is a nice plaza in town, and we enjoy a nice lunch in the plaza. This is one thing I enjoy in Europe. They like to eat outside and there are some excellent areas for eating outdoors.

In the afternoon we walk around the town. My wife has me buy something, so we have change for tips. We visit at the apartment. Our friends are going to stay with there son for dinner, but my wife and I hit a wall. So, we leave to go back to the hotel during the day while it is still light. Actually, it stayed light out fairly long in the evening during our visit.

When we get to the train station, there is no one in the ticket booth. Now we don’t know what train to take as we don’t see a board listing which train goes from which stop. We ask a clerk in a store, and she said she doesn’t know as she never travels. However, we walk down to the main platform and find someone to help us.

We make it back to the hotel safely. We texted our friends the suitcase was in the house. Their son was going to come to Amsterdam for dinner the next day to pick the suitcase up. Now not having showered since the previous morning, I decide to try the shower. The shower was big and had a head from the ceiling and one high up on the wall that you could take off. I just used the overhead one and it was a great shower.

I was reading and half asleep when our friends called for their suitcase. I was half asleep, so I grabbed the suitcase and didn’t grab my phone. Big mistake. I was also under the assumption that the doors would open as we were already upstairs. However, as I type that sentence I see how faulty that logic was. When I got down there I tried knocking on the door, but no one answer. I ran up to the fifth floor but there was nothing to unlock the door. I’m still carrying that darn suitcase.

I then walk down the stairs and end up in the kitchen. A young lady see’s me and ask me what I was looking for. I said the elevator. The way she acts I’m not the first one to embarrass myself like this. I explain why I ended up downstairs and she puts her card in and presses four. When the door opens of the fourth floor, my friends were walking back to room. We got it out settled and I went to bed. I did sleep very well.

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