… to Amsterdam (day 2)

Y’all, we had a hot breakfast this morning! The hotel (which is already really awesome) had a regular continental breakfast but also eggs and bacon! Protein! It was delicious, even if the eggs were a little runny.

After breakfast we drive about 25 minutes through the Dutch countryside to tour a cheese farm and see how wooden shoes are made. 2 guys were running late and we ended up leaving without them! Yikes. It was overcast again but luckily not raining so driving through the countryside was really nice and a relaxing way to start the day.

We toured the Henri Willig cheese farm and learned about how the various cheeses were made. We got to sample so many different types of cheese; Victoria really enjoyed the pesto cheese and truffle cheese and I liked the garlic herb one. They were all pretty good though! I also had been telling everyone about Stroopwafles and they had samples there so everyone tried those too and loved them, of course. I had to buy them too!

Nearby was the wooden shoe tour where we learned how the shoes were made and had an opportunity to try them on. My favorite were the hand carved ones, mostly because of the romantic story behind them. Back in the day when a guy wanted to propose to a girl, he would hand carve a pair of shoes for a woman and carve his name into them. He’d then place the shoes in front of the girl’s house and if she wore them, it was her way of accepting his proposal! Cute. I got Bailey and Olivia (my nieces) wooden tulips there, too. I think they’ll like those!

Next on our list was a bike ride through Edam, a 13th century Dutch fishing village. Several of us hadn’t ridden a bike in years so we were hoping it would be like… riding a bike… and it would all be okay. It was, and everyone survived. The rain held off and it wasn’t very cold so it was a great ride! We rode through the most amazing scenery in the adorable little city: tree lined paths, cobblestone between cute houses, over the canals, and along the IJssel Lake Beaches. We stopped several time for pictures, once at a windmill house. As we were taking pictures, the woman who lived there came home and wasn’t very happy about it… so we left. We also stopped to get gelato and it was so delicious. I really enjoyed the bike ride and having the wind in my hair. It’s still surreal that I’m here and having these experiences. I love it.

We headed to Volendam, a famous fishing village, for lunch where we had fresh seafood on the village’s shore. The town was pretty busy but it was a fun place to be. There were two dogs playing in the water and on the beach and it was fun to watch them. I went to stand on a rock by the water and slipped and almost fell in and immediately after, Victoria did the same thing except she DID fall in and got her shoes soaking wet. Some lessons are learned the hard way! We all got a good laugh though.

We were back in Amsterdam by 3:30pm but had almost no time to do anything because we had to regroup with Marlene at 5:15pm to go to a group dinner. We walked past the “I Amsterdam” sign but there were so many people climbing on it that it was impossible to get a good picture. We then attempted the Van Gogh Museum but the line to just buy tickets was 45 minutes so we went to the Rijks Museum. By this point, we only had an hour because he museum closed at 5pm so Victoria and I decided to ditch the small group we were with and just wander the Rijks Gardens outside the museum. We relaxed under a canopy by a pond in one of the gardens until it was time to go; it was much needed after the busy day. We had Wi-Fi so I Skyped my dad for a few minutes and just caught up on the news. Apparently a gorilla was shot and Taylor Swift and her boyfriend broke up? Good story, USA.

Everyone met up a little after 5:15pm and we walked over to Bojo, and Indonesian restaurant. We had a “mini rice table” with a mix of different types of food. It was pretty good. Some of it was not my favorite but some of it was pretty spot on.

After dinner we boarded a boat for a canal cruise through the Amsterdam canals. The tour gave us some great history of the canals and the buildings and it was very interesting to hear, even though most people were not listening. Apparently Amsterdam really has their act together with water control because the city wouldn’t exist without the canals. Plus, they are the only city who is actually prepared for when the sea level rises. I really enjoyed the boat ride and took a lot of pictures. My favorite spot was the “Seven Bridges” spot where we got a glimpse of 7 of the old arc bridges in a row. Shout out to the boat captain for slowing down for me to get some pictures (I think he knew I was one of the few paying attention AND the only one taking photos).

The cruise ended around 8:30pm and because we were so exhausted, Victoria and I headed back to the hotel. We got to experience the Amsterdam Tram (we had only ridden the train up that point) so that was a new thing too! Once back at the hotel (which we love, by the way), we Skyped, uploaded pictures, blogged/journaled, and got ready for another long travel day tomorrow! I got to see my sweet puppy and talk to Chris so it was definitely a good day followed by a good evening!

Amsterdam was great! I loved the city; it gives me good vibes and I really enjoyed just strolling around. The weather actually cooperated all day too and we even saw the sun and blue skies after dinner!

Tomorrow we head to Germany!

Until then,

Jillian

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