We arrived in Amsterdam and took an airport shuttle to our hotel in the Leidseplein around 6 pm Amsterdam time. One thing I am disappointed by here is the size of the cars. Every other time I've been to Europe, I was impressed by how small their cars are, and I've come to think of the U.S.--particularly the Phoenix area--as a bunch of size queens. Which we are compared to Amsterdam, but there are still more SUVs and full size sedans than I would expect.
The Leidseplein is the "hip" area close to the old city. In my anal worry-wort way, I decided we needed to walk to where to we would meet our tour the next day in order to time the walk and figure out the route. OMG Amsterdam on a Friday evening is a hoppin' party. People walking the streets, floating past in boats on the canals drinking beer and champagne, lots of boutiques and flowers. We didn't realize how late it was because sunset is at 9:30 pm and our brains were still on Arizona time. We located the tour office just as it was closing. Then we went to a yummy Indian restaurant. When we came out, it was dark and the clock said it was 10:45 pm! The temps were cool and breezy with a smidge of humidity.
We hit the hay and got up at 6 am Saturday to have time to get ready and eat breakfast, then we walked the same path again, this time not stopping for photos (too much). The heel pad I put in my walking shoe for my slightly smaller right foot failed and I got a giant blister on my heel.
We started our day with a city tour by bus. This included a visit to a diamond factory. I sat that out for foot reasons and because who cares. After the city tour, the guide walked us to the pharmacy so I could get a blister pad. We wandered around the area of the pharmacy and tour company shop looking for lunch, me with one shoe on and one shoe off in stocking feet. The back streets are as busy as the main drag (Damrak) with lots of shops and pubs and restaurants. We had pizza for lunch with good Dutch cheese.
Today was much warmer and sunny and more humid than Arizona, but there was a breeze to compensate. After lunch was the tour of the countryside. The Amsterdam area has lots of fields, mostly I think of a bushy grass that catttle, sheep, and horses feed on. Very rural and pretty. We also saw ducks and cranes. I continued one-shoed on this second tour. Our first stop was a touristy little area with lots of windmills. I did pretty well one-shoed on the gravel, and as far as I can tell, hardly anyone noticed. The next stop was the village of Volendam. We visited a cheese factory there, at which point I decided to tell our new tour guide about my foot situation, since the trek to the factory on cobblestone streets had slowed me down quite a bit, and made Deborah and I late to the factory, resulting in no place to sit. He helped us find a store where I bought a cheap pair of ugly flip flops.
From Volendam, we took a boat ride to the fishing village of Marken where we visited a wooden shoe artisan's shop. I bought some cheese crackers in Volendam and used them to make friends with some ducks. When we got back to the tour company store in Amsterdam, I wanted to rent a rickshaw back to the hotel, but we never saw an empty one until we were within a few blocks of the hotel. I hobbled back that whole way with my new flipflops now aggravating my sore back and knees. But I was determined to get home to the bathtub in our hotel room. A nice soak, and I am ready for bed.
Museums tomorrow with zargon10, who got us tickets for museums that includes a 24-hour pass on the street cars. Yay!