Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Our Trip to the Netherlands

A week ago, we flew to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on KLM airlines.  Here's brief record of what we did this past week:

Monday, April 23rd - The flight was not full and both Scott and I were able to snag a row of three seats and slept the whole red-eye flight.  We arrived about 2 pm, Amsterdam time.
Flying to Amsterdam
Sleeping on the Red eye
Scott enjoying his breakfast
Before we left, we had dinner with Jane Rasumussen at the Lion House in downtown Salt Lake City.  It was fun to hear about her trip to the Holy Land a couple weeks before.
Sue and Jane
Tuesday, April 24th - Amsterdam Day 1 (Family, Church & Anne Frank)
After deplaning, we bought our I-Amsterdam Cards.  We bought a 24 hour card.  It entitles us to FREE entrance to all the museums, trams, buses and trains for 24 hours.  It's a great deal!  We paid $59 Euros.
Then, we rented our car.  Normally, you don't drive in Amsterdam, but we will be touring north, south and west in Holland so we needed transportation.  We had to put the car in storage for 48 hours which costs us $96 Euros (ouch!) but then it was worth it's weight in gold.  Our car was brand new - not even a kilometer on it!
Citreon Cactus - a zippy, peppy car
I snapped a picture of a canal as we drove into Amsterdam.  I LOVE the building, water, boats.  Such a fun city!
Driving down Prinsengracht - a NARROW cobbled street
We checked in at the Dikker and Thijs hotel on Prinsengracht Street - just 4 blocks from my grandparents, 5 blocks from the Westerkerk.
Dikker and Thijs Hotel
Bedroom with antique wood beam ceilings
Modern European Bathroom with a BEST shower EVER!
We walked over to Laurierstraat and Rozenstraat (just off Prinsengracht Street), the two street that my 8th great grandparents, Marie LeBeau and Daniel Levent met in Amsterdam.  They were married 17 Nov 1697 in Amsterdam.  Daniel's mother, Sarah de Semery (9th great grandmother) also lived there and my 7th great-grandfather, Abraham Beau Levent was born there in 1698 and came to Pennsylvania and died in Oly Township, Berks, Pennsylvania in 1770.
Scott called this little red car a "DUCK" on his mission.  They are tiny and narrow.
This tiny car was so small, I could see over the top AND
it was a two-seater without a center console.  It was so narrow!
Rozenstraat looking down to Laurierstaadt.
We went to the Westerkerk, a Protestant church built in 1635 (also on Prinsengracht Street) where my 8th great-grandmother, Marie Lebeau is buried (on top of Rembrandt's grave).  We walked up the VERY narrow Westerkerk tower stairs up to the observation tower and my legs burned and hurt for three days afterwards.  But, it was great to start our visit to the Netherlands.
The Westerkerk - Protestant Church Built in 1620
Our tickets to the Westerkerk Tower Tour
NARROW stairs
We literally climbed up more than 1/2 the church tower - 48 meters high - 158 feet
The Carillon from 1620
One of the giant bells
View of Amsterdam from the cat walk
View of Amsterdam from the cat walk
View of Amsterdam from the cat walk
Stairs to took going up and down!
The EASY stairs - but very narrow
We also went to Anne Frank house, 2 houses down from the Westerkerk.  It also had steep stairs and was interesting to view.  We didn't think we were going to be able to get tickets, but the day before we flew, they opened up 70 tickets and I was relieved.
Anne Frank's Hiding Place
Front Door of 263 Prinsengracht
Anne Frank Memorial Statue
Wednesday, April 25th - Amsterdam Day 2 (Walloon Church & Museum Day)
Today, we walked...A LOT...and saw Rembrandt Square, the Walloon French Protestant Church where my ancestors attended church for a time, and then went over to the Museums in the east part of the Amsterdam ring.
Rembrandt Square
Walloon Protestant Church for French Refugees
where my ancestors attended church
East Indian Trading Building
Before we went into Rembrandt House we saw this house that was leaning so much I nick named it the Leaning Tower of Holland.
Leaning Tower of Holland - The Sluysracht built in 1695!
Across the street was Rembrandt's original home before we went Bankrupt and became penniless.
Our tickets - Self Portrait via Pen and Ink c. 1639 age 36 years
Outside Rembrandt Van Rijn's Huis Museum
Side View
Rembrandt's Bed
A few of the hundreds of painting there
Pen and Ink of Rembrandt's mother
After this we toured the Jewish Historical Museum where many Jewish artifacts were held.  This part of Amsterdam was the Jewish center.  It was very interesting learning about Jewish culture.
Our Tickets - 5 Jewish Different Museums
Next, we toured the Hermitage Museum where we saw many of the Dutch Master paintings.  We paid $10 Euro extra per person to see the Masters Collection and well worth the money.
The Hermitage Museum
Our Tickets to 4 Exhibits
My Favorite - Old Man in Red
The detailing is AMAZING!
The Bio of this painting
Rembrandt's Wife - Saskia but the painting is entitled Flora
The Bio of Flora
Vases in the Collection
Close Up of a Vase
Tulips in the Garden were even masterpieces
Close-Up of God's Handiwork
Following this we toured the Jewish Holocaust Museum, which, frankly, was a disappointment.  There was really nothing to view.  From what we understand, many youth in Europe don't even believe the Holocaust ever happened it was all made up.  This museum supports this notion.  I think Europe just want to forget it every happened.
This is just a representation of suitcases of children - no other information
A poor exhibit to remember the holocaust!
Following the museums in the northwest portion of the ring, we took 3-4 trams and went down to Museum Square where we went into the Rijksmusuem, filled with many Dutch masterpieces along with antique period pieces.
Next, we went to the Van Gogh museum.  Did you know Van Gogh completed a painting or drawing every since day!  Astonishing.  I wanted to really see Starry Night, but it wasn't on display and I learned later it was in the Museum of Fine Art a couple miles away.  Photos were prohibited in this museum.
Finally, the last museum for the day was the Diamond Museum.  Very fun!  The $1,000,000 Golden Racket along with replicas of crowns across the world was fun to view.
Our Tickets
Thursday, April 26th - Keukenhof Gardens and Delft
Today, we checked out of our hotel and drove to Lisse, Netherlands where the Keukenhof Tulips are located.  It was a stunning display and array of beautiful flowers: tulips of all shapes and sized, crocus, daffodils and other spring flowers.  The gardens were simply stunning.  There was also a small windmill on site.  I'll let the flowers do the talking.
My ticket and guide book of the gardens
I was interested in the way they plant the tulips and bulbs.  They "lasagna" or layer the tulips depending on when they flowers.  Clever!
After Keukenhof, we drove over to Delft and went to the factory and showcase there.  We learned interesting things on REAL Delft and what marking to look for.  I bought a beautiful Delft plate with money I brought to spend.
Our Tickets
Delft on Display
Master Delft Painter
Delft on Display
Delft for Sale
I wanted to buy this piece very much!
It was my most favorite but I didn't have $679 Euros on me.  😢
So I bought this piece instead
This is the markings of my Delft plate
Cute "Delft" car out front of the museum
Then, we checked into our suite at the five-star hotel, The Grand Karel V in Utrecht.  The building is located at Geertebolwerk 1 and was originally built by Napoleon's brother in 1348 and was used as a monastery until 1807 when it became a hospital until 1990.  By then the building was in disrepair and then bought and restored to it's former glory  The building is named after Emperor Karel V (at one time the ruled the largest European empire), one of the prominent guests who stayed at the monastery.
The entrance
Reading and TV Room
Our suite is at the end of this hallway
Half of the Bathroom
More Bathroom - the Toilet was in a separate location
across from the closet
View from the bathroom
King Bed with Cornice and Velvet Draperies
View from the bed with a double desk
Two Windows overlooking the Court yard
Our Euro Bed complete with Velvet Draperies and Cornice
View of the Court yard
The hotel also had another building of rooms with a wellness center consisting of spa, sauna, pool, hot tub, foot soak, tanning beds, facials and massages.  The grounds were stunning.  Just a classy place.
Our suite in the back courtyard are the two on the second floor left
We had dinner at the Karel V Bistro.  We watched the chef and sous chef prepare our food.  I had the special and the food was delicious!  It was themed around types of asparagus.  Here one of my courses and dessert and Scott's dessert. 
Friday, April 27th - King's Day (Dutch Holiday) in Utrecht
King's Day is the one day in the Netherlands that every city and town celebrates.  Interestingly, it's also the only day of the year you can have a yard sale.  So, we decided to change up our itinerary and just walk the streets of Utrecht and experience this once in a year day.  There was lots of trash on the streets from the party atmosphere the day before and as the day progressed, more and more people came out dressed in their orange suits, shirts, hats, leis, shirts.  Orange is Queen Beatrix's favorite color and so the new King is also named, William of Orange.  Queen Beatrix abdicated the thrown in 2013 to her son, William-Alexander.  I also got some frites on the street.  So good!
Trash for 2 days...usually the Netherlands is VERY clean.  This is equivalent to our Mardi Gras.
My jacket score at a yard sale
Even the shopping windows are orange
They LOVE their orange!
While shopping the yard sales, we stumbled upon a tiny delft vase and saw that it was REAL delft dating to 1903 (Y).  I bought it for $1.00 Euro and bartered it down from $1.50 Euro.  Not bad.  I had a couple small chips out of it, but it's the real deal so I didn't mind.  Most delft is fake, so I was excited to find this!
I had heard about the ladies outdoor toilets, so here's a showing of the mens, womens and pay potties. If you want privacy, you pay .50 - $1 Euro to use it.
So unsanitary...but the way it is.  Better that than nothing.
This is permanent fixture on the street for women!  Yuck!
Saturday, April 28th - Temple in the Hague and Zaanse Schans Windmills
We toured two placed today - first the LDS Temple in the Hague.  We met a cute couple from Sandy, Utah - Cliff and Valerie Winegar (and ironically ran into them 3 other times throughout Holland!  How's that for a small world!).
After the temple session we drove to Zaanse Schans.  I wanted to go to Kinderdijk because the windmills there are in the country, but the benefit of going to Zaanse Schans was that there was more in this location to do such as the klompen shop (wooden shoes), chocolate shop, cheese shop, weaver's shop, etc.  It's more of the tourist village of the traditional Dutch things, so it made more sense to head this direction.  I loved the quaint Dutch countryside here.  Did you know it takes less than 2 minutes to make one wooden shoes?!
I loved these carved wooden shoes the best.
A few of the assortment of antique klompen
Yummy doughy waffles with Dutch chocolate
Sunday, April 29th - Church in Den Bosch and Giethoorn (the Venice of the Netherlands)
Sunday, we drove 45 minutes south to Den Bosch for church.  This was Scott's favorite place on his mission and he hoped to see someone he once knew, but unfortunately, after he left the Netherlands, the US Military shut down the Air Force base there and the little branch was disbanned for nearly 10 years.  Now, there is a full ward, which a building of it's own.  Back when Scott was there the branch met in the same building as the Jehovah's Witnesses.  We did meet a man there who was in the same temple session as us, so that was fun.  We opted not to have someone translate for us.  Scott said he understand 50% of the meeting and I understood about 30% of the meeting with my six years of German in HS and College.  It was a great experience and singing the hymns in Dutch really brought a tear to my eye.  The members were so very friendly.  It was a great morning.
The small chapel
14 Missionaries from Den Bosch over the last 10 years
Upstairs was the family history center and classrooms
After church, we drove 1.5 hours north to Giethoorn, a little town nicknamed the "Venice of the Netherlands".  This little town can be driven to, however ALL the streets in this village is only accessible via canal - that means, you either walk or drive your small boat to visit people.  All the building except for one was thatched along the main canal.  That house that was not like the other was a French inspired home with brick and tile.  The canal is only about 3.5 feet high!
We rented a private small motor boat and drove along the main canal and then into the lake and back to the starting point of the village.  There are some regular homes with wood and a small mobile home park in the village by the lake, but on foot, you don't see these - just the quaint little thatched homes.  In the day, the people who lived in the village opened their living rooms as their business or livelihood with the rest of the home as their living areas.  People in the village would shop at your home for the thing you specialized in.
We met a nice man who rented his boat to us.
He said it gets busy there and they sometimes don't like tourists because it's always busy.
Scott steering out boat
Enjoying the canal
Heading out to the lake
The water was choppy.  We thought we would capsize.  The lake looked like it was about 50 feet deep.
When we returned to return our boat, I asked the man how deep the lake was.  He chuckled and said
it was just as deep as the canal - 3.5 feet.  Amazing!
On the lake
Back on the canal
So peaceful
We love Giethoorn
Ironically, we ran into the Winegar's here who we met in the temple!
We had lunch in Giethoorn also at Cafe Fanfare.  It was a cute place.  I had steak tartar and smoked salmon.  Scott had the farmers bread and soup.
Our lemonade you make yourself.
Crush the lemon, lime, orange and mint.  Yummy!
Last few photos of Giethoorn.
We also toured the Giethoorn 't Olde Maat Uus Farm
Monday, April 30th - Muiderslot Castle, Last Things on Amsterdam
Today, was our last tour day.  We chose to drive up to Muiderslot Castle - a castle dating back to the early 1200s!  Looking at the flags of the castle we realized that originally English royalty lived here about the time the Netherlands became a country.  The Netherlands never became a country until 1581 when they rebelled against Spain and before that the Franks.
The castle was really cool to tour.  We took a self-guided tour of the exterior of the castle including the turrets, saw their potty system, how they defended the castle with hot oil over the drawbridge.
Antique castle keys
Female breast plate.  Notice the garters, too.
Ladies shoe from 1200 and small ring.
This was where hot oil or tar would be dropped on intruders to the castle
Stairs to the turret from the guards room
One of 8 latrines on the castle premises.
The throne
The "bowl" which dropped into the moat.  Very unsanitary.
We also paid for a 5 room interior tour of some of the rooms.  The tour was in Dutch so we had translation cards:
(1) The children's bedroom - 3 children would sleep in this bed.  This is usually not included on the tour, but since there were only 8 people for the first tour we were fortunate to see this room.
(2) The Bishop's Chamber or Lesser Dining Room
(3) The Castle Kitchen - Our guide was very attentive to the two children on our tour.
(4) The Knight's Hall
(5) The Prince's Chamber (where William I, of Orange - future king of the Netherlands once stayed).
People slept sitting up as a superstition
thinking if they slept flat they would lose their brains
Babies were swaddles so that their limbs would grow straight.
Girls and Boys were gowns until about age two when they were fully potty trained.
Painting left of William I of Orange (Maurits of Nassau) on horseback (R)
After the castle, we enjoyed the grounds.  The cooks garden and also the flower garden.
I loved driving in the village of Muiden with it's quaint cobbled streets.
After our tour of the castle and we drove into Amsterdam, which we found out was a BIG mistake.  The GPS took us through Central Station - the biggest hub of the city with all the Eur-rail trails.  The roads were FULL of construction AND we found out it was a children't holiday on Monday, we the parents as well as their children were flocking to the capital.  We were trying to find a parking garage knowing it would be expensive, but then I remembered there was parking on the side streets to Laurierstraat and Rozenstraat where my grandparents lived so I headed this way and sure enough we had parking!  Lots of handicapped options, too!  Scott and I split up and I headed to the Westerkerk to see the inside and he headed over to the cheese shops where he wanted to buy more cheese.
You'll notice that the floor of the church is filled with graves stones likes the ones below.  Most of the stones are only marked with a number.  The church is trying to figure out who is buried under each one since the 1600s.  My, that will be a task.  My 8th great grandmother, Marie Lebeau is buried under Rembrandt's stone, however, the church doesn't know where it is exactly.  Rembrandt was a pauper when he died so it wasn't marked.  Marie Lebeau smuggles all the families gold and silver into her gowns but after being in Amsterdam so long, they must have used up all their money surviving.
The only marker for Rembrandt van Rijn
Amsterdam was starting to get ready for spring.  Since land is sparse, people decorate their front yards as their gardens.  Here's some photos of one pretty home near Laurierstraat I thought was beautiful will small pansys.  It sure dresses up the street!
We met back up in an hours and then drove to our last hotel, the Tulip Inn over by Schipol Airport.  Scott dropped off the car and came back.  We had transportation over to the airport provided by the hotel so we didn't want to deal with returned the car in the morning.  Good thing, too because it took Scott 45 minutes to return it only 3 miles away!
Web Photo
Tuesday, May 1st - Fly Home
We took the shuttle to Schipol Airport and fortunately for us, our hotel was the first stop.  It's actually a bus - not a shuttle and the luggage was everywhere.  Such a disaster.  The next stop loaded up the bus nearly to full and by the third stop, it was the greatest amount of people to board the bus and we only had room for 3-4 people and their luggage.  The other 35 people or so and their luggage didn't made the cut.  However, another bus came to take them to the airport.

The airport was VERY strict on security and we must have showed our Passport and Boarding Pass at least 10 times throughout the airport even after we passed through security.  We even had to show our ID at the terminal.  While it was quite annoying, I'm glad they had it.  The US should take note. 
Waiting for my Delta that had to be inspected.
Delta was our carrier home and I have to say, compared to KLM, Delta is just a tin can.  There was absolutely NO legroom and I was very happy to be short so I could lay my legs over Scott's lap and get a stretch.  They did have a lot of Dutch and European food on the flight home, which was appreciated.  I LOVE European food - it's less sweet and much more healthy than food in the US.  The flight was VERY long - 10 hours since we flew above England and cross over the Farloe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, the Canadian Northwest Passage of Nunavut Province and Manitoba, Saskatchewan and into North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.  
This French guy reminded me of Jean Valjean
Scott watching a movie - one of three
The vacation was so great and I LOVED the Netherlands.  It was a clean, lovely place.  The streets were quaint; the people very friendly; youth, very clean cut and it was just a wonderful trip.  I hope to go back again someday.  I could easily live in Holland!
Web Photo

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