Thursday, May 31, 2018


Wednesday, May 16th, 2018           Van Gogh Museum          weather overcast and cool

We were awake at 7 am and both of us has seen the scales go up so no more chocolate candy bars.  The last two will be saved for the plane trip home!   Just have to keep them out of sight!   The weather is cool and overcast…no more shorts today!


Jim left about 8:30 am to walk to the Van Gogh Museum; about the same distance in a different direction as the Rijksmuseum.   We’d purchased his ticket online and emailed it to his cellphone.  It is sitting in a PDF file that he’s going to let the museum open when he arrives.   He’s had some trouble with his chip credit card so will attempt to use it to rent the audio headset (yes, it worked okay).  And, the museum staff opened his ticket with no problems when he arrived.  You have to purchase your ticket online…no walk up cash tickets available.   We have found that many stores require that you use a credit card, no matter how small the purchase.  Example:  The bakery for 3 croissants.   We do have a card that has a chip and a pin, but the cards with only the chip seem to work well also. 
While Jim was at the museum, I ordered my friend Trisha’s latest mystery novel on my Kindle.  And re-downloaded the first two books of the trilogy so that I could re-read them first.    Trisha St. Andrew’s “The Soul of an Owl” can be found on Amazon Kindle.   We were real estate agents together many years ago. 

I also had an email from my friend Pete who schedules the speakers at OLLI (senior educational classes at the university) at home asking me to give travel talks in the fall and spring sessions.  Have agreed to do one on Scotland in November, will just be arriving home from there; and one on my newest Camino in the spring session.  I do enjoy sharing my journeys.

We have a remodeling going on three doors down; major undertaking with much removal of dirt from under the building.  We’re been told that Amsterdam is a city built originally on sand surrounding many tree trunks sunken into the ground, now they use concrete pillars.   As a result sometimes the buildings tip a bit!  Almost all of the buildings are at least four stories high.  From what we can see the entire ground floor has been removed along with the dirt.  Each day brings new noises and questions.   

I got off my duff and took a walk around the neighborhood looking for the shop that had the sign in the window “Fam. Jansen Plein” or “Family Jansen Square”.   My daughter-in-law Holly suggested we purchase it when she saw the photo on Facebook.   I found the shop easily, Peter’s Letters, and inquired of the owner the cost of the sign:   102 euros.  A bit steep for a souvenir, they are custom made.  But fun to consider.  

Jim arrived home from the museum at noon; very excited about the content of the Van Gogh Museum.  He said it was one of the most complete collection that he’d seen.    A side note:  posted some photos on Facebook but because of my screw up, I wasn’t able to get the museum photos posted as they considered them already posted…..okay… everyone has seen them before and these had a screen over the prints.  They were the only ones he was allowed to photograph.  I think I hit the post button twice or something.  But it keeps the day interesting!

Our landlord, Sven, stopped by and asked if we’d like a “cleaning”.   How nice to know we’re getting all fresh linens tomorrow plus cleaning because we are here more than a week.  Unexpected but appreciated.  

About 2 pm we started our walk to the Rembrandt Plein; have it all mapped out and it’s not that far from the apartment, only a couple of miles.  There we saw the “Night Watch”, up close and personal, and took many photos.  The square is nearly always full of tourists.  From there we continued to walk to the site of Rembrandt’s home.  It’s now a museum and we visited the inside on an earlier trip.  Just wanted to make sure it was still there.   LOL 

Our walk also included the outside of a Flea Market; will visit the stalls later.  On the way home we stopped at the grocery store for supplies plus an ATM stop.  I’m trying to accumulate small euro bills for my trip to Spain this summer.  The small stores don’t like the fifty euro bills that the ATM likes to give you.

We arrived home about 4:30 pm and crashed… .both are tired from the walking.  Our steps today totaled 12,324 equaling 5.37 miles and Jim actually had 7 miles with his walk to the museum and back. Great Day!   But, we still played our daily game of cards before heading to bed.

Thursday, May 17th, 2018          Weather dry with a cold wind        Museum and Trams

Jim went out to walk at 7 am while I continued to sleep.  He’s trying to get his sugar numbers down before he takes his morning blood test for diabetes.  He did a mile and a half in an hour.  Did it help?  Not much. 

 This is a model of the home where the church in the attic is located.  The top three floors are dedicated to the church.  The lower floors are preserved much as they would have existed during that time period..

I actually slept until about 8 am.   Housekeeping is coming today so we plan to be gone most of the day.  By 10 am we were out the door on the way to the Tram # 4 to Central Station.  We purchased a one day ticket for 7 euros each.  We rode to the Central Station and starting walking heading towards the “Red Light District”;   our first stop was at the “Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder”, “Our Lord in the Attic”, Museum.  It was about 16th Century when Amsterdam closed all of the Catholic Churches.  They were allowed to practice their religion but only privately.   There were about twenty-five churches built inside of private homes.  Of those only one remains.   It is now a museum and takes over the top three floors of a large six story home of a wealthy Dutch family.  It sits on a canal and is in the “Red Light District”.    The home was restored to its original condition when it was made into a Museum.  The portion used by the family is now the Museum offices and display rooms.   The church remains as it was originally.  Beautiful.   I’m always looking for five fingered vases; found one at this museum for sale for about 35 euros.   My friend Shari collects them at home.  

We walked in and out of tiny streets near the Oudezijds Voorburgwal Canal after leaving the museum looking for the entrance to the Old Church.  Finally found it but it is closed for repairs until May 25th, several days after we leave.  From there we walked through small streets around the Old Church and discovered the “windows” with the girls.  It was still early in the day and we only saw one girl looking for business.  Soon we’d reached the main street of Damak again where the Trams can be found. 
Using our all-day pass we boarded Tram # 4 again for a short ride and then transferred to # 9 that took us to the Dutch Resistance Museum near the Artis Park.   It is a small museum and having entered at the same time as a high school group of students with their teacher; it was very crowded and noisy.  The exhibits were good but mostly in the Dutch language.  We are truly spoiled by so much being translated into English in the museums and exhibits.  The exhibits basically dealt with the period of time of occupation from 1940 to 1945.  There was a photo of a window in a restaurant that had a sign stating that “Jews could not enter”.    There was a bicycle that had a wooden back wheel and a very small child’s size rubber wheel in the front.  Times were definitely not easy for the Dutch and it got much worst before the end when people were starving because their food was being shipped to Germany for the soldiers and German people. 
By 2 pm we were back on Tram #9 headed out towards the western end in the area of Diemer.   Once there we had to transfer to a different Tram (still a # 9)  that was nearby for the journey back to where we started at the Central Station.    We then found Tram # 26 and rode the entire length over the water to Uburg.  We returned back to the Central Station and once again started walking south. 
We walked again through the Red Light District and since it was later in the day there were five woman looking for business.  But, as everyone knows, if you take photos you run a very good chance of having your camera/cell phone tossed into the canal.  
We walked all the way back to Damrak Street and found our favorite Tram # 4 and headed towards the apartment and our last ride on Tram # 3.  We rode to both ends getting off in the middle on the way back to visit the flea market again that we’d walked past yesterday.   We were both hungry so purchased a sandwich and a drink to keep us going until dinner.   The flea market was fun, many very old things plus a large variety of new and cheap clothing and souvenirs.   Difficult but we didn’t buy anything but we did keep close watch on our wallets!   Back on Tram #3, we went all the way to the northeastern end; taking us past the museum area where we could see the Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum and several others as we sped by on the Tram in both directions. 

We hopped off the Tram near our park on the way back and picked up a Subway sandwich to split before walking home through the park.  A good day, and we definitely got our money’s worth out of the Tram all-day ticket.

Enjoyed our dinner and played a game of cards after dinner. I’ve decided to do a Facebook entry with photos of bicycles.  They are everywhere and have their own special roads along the side of all regular roads.  Our steps today were 10,921 making 5 miles for a total!  The day was definitely cooler, no summer clothes and our white jackets were really not very warm.   We should have worn our warmer gray jackets.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Monday, May 14th, 2018              Amsterdam   Day 2            Sunshine    Rijksmuseum

Jim was out the door by 8:30 am for his walk to the Rijksmuseum so that he would be there for the opening at 9:15 am.    He actually arrived early and hardly had a line.  He so enjoyed several hours of his favorite old master paintings; especially one with the same name as his maternal grandmother.  Our son has researched the records and says that “yes” he is a relative!    Johannes Jelgerhuis (1770 – 1836).  He was an actor and also a painter.  

I stayed home most of the day and worked on my issues with Facebook; I had to change my password and fix several other protocol issues.  All is working well now.

Then I washed my hair and did my blog for the first time in nearly a year.  It always takes me a while to get warmed up and remembering all of the various things that I have to do to post on the BlogSpot.  I’ve decided to post two days at a time since I’ve already written in a journal each day and just need to flesh out the stories.  I’m planning to insert a few photos each day; but I no longer understand how to link the blog to my thousands of photos.  Technology has changed on that and I have not figured it out!  
I plowed through the hundreds of emails and cleaned most of them out!    I easily kept busy the whole time Jim was at the museum without any problems. 

Jim arrived home about one o’clock; exhausted from his five hours of walking in the museum plus the trip there and back.  He slept for a few hours and then we walked to the grocery store that we’ve found only a few blocks away for supplies for our meals.  We’re going to try to conserve both money wise and calorie wise while we are here.  We ate far too much rich (but delicious) food on the cruise ship!

I made Jim’s reservation for his visit on Wednesday at the Van Gogh Museum; one has to have a timed visit arranged prior to arriving.  He had his ticket on his cell phone when we completed the purchase.

I spent time today also checking on my twin sister, Mary, and her physical condition.  She’d taken two falls on the cruise ship; the last one was rather serious.  When she arrived at her daughter’s home in Michigan they took her to a medical clinic for x-rays, then she was sent to the hospital for a cat-scan and ultra sound tests.   They were concerned about possible blood clots because of the long airplane trip.   She has 6 or 7 broken ribs and 2 fractures in her pelvic bone, but no blood clots.  The doctor said she is already beginning to heal and just needs bedrest.  Also, she’s to use a walker and not the cane to equalize the weight on her pelvic bone as it heals.  The doctor didn’t see why she would not be ready to travel by the end of the month.

I took another walk and checked on the trams to see if I can figure out which one goes to the train station.  Also did long telephone calls with both Bonnie and Mary.  And, we played a full card game of Hand & Foot….Jim won all four hands!    We enjoyed our dinner with fresh strawberries for dessert.

Today’s steps:  4206   less than two miles

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018            Amsterdam Day 3        sunshine & shorts        riding the Tram

 We were awake by 7 am; it’s a beautiful day full of sunshine and the people are out in their summer clothes enjoying the sun after a very long winter!   We are reading Facebook for morning news!  Our table in the corner looks great this morning.  Everything in here seems to be natural, unfinished, wood and soaks up any liquid rapidly.  Last night I knocked over a small glass of red wine!   I grabbed paper towels and liquid soap and cleaned it as fast as I could….we were in the middle of a card game….and this morning one would never know it happened!  Thank goodness!

Today I plan to walk the neighborhood to find several things:  1)  where do I take the trash and 2) the location of the tram stations and which direction they go.  I could ask Sven but that would be too easy.

The trash was easy.     At the entrance to the park there is a large mechanical trash deposit.  This is for regular trash, open the drawer, put the bag inside and close it.  That drops into a huge container under the sidewalk that is emptied on a regular basis by a huge truck that lifts the whole big container out of the ground and dumps it into a truck for disposal.   The bottles go in a similar machine a block away.  Also nearby is another container that takes only paper and/or cardboard.  At the opposite end of the street there is a honey cone shaped container that has a window in it.  It is for compositing left over food.   The Dutch are very ecological minded.
To learn the trams I walked and found out where the stops are located.  They look like bus stops but are located in the center of the street on a narrow island.  Each tram line goes in one direction and then returns on a second set of tracks.  We now have a map that shows all of the lines in addition to the Metro Lines.  Most go to the Central Station at some point, but not all of them.  Today we did our first tram ride taking #4 at the station located about two blocks away from the apartment.  This one goes all the way to the Central Station and the other end of this tram ends next to the Convention Center.   We only purchased a one hour ticket for 3 Euros each …had to use a credit card, no cash purchases; and rode to the Central Station, then back to the Convention Center and then back to the Central Station.  I’m sure the conductor got a kick out of the old Americans!   But they were good to us and when our ticket indicated it was out of time at our final departure when we arrived back at the Central Station; they didn’t ask for any additional fees.
We walked around the train station and visited the tourist office across the street.  From there we walked a block to St. Nicolas’ Basilica and visited the inside for Jim to see.  We are both going to attend mass here next Sunday.   We then began walking back towards our apartment by way of Damrak Street.  We walked past the Palace and Old Church, the WW II Memorial, and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.  But, did not find Rembrandt’s Square that has the bronze life size statues of the “Night Watch”.  We’d seen it three times on the tram rides this morning.  We must have missed a street.  But decided to stop looking and find it another day.

Stopped at the grocery store that Jim had found yesterday on the way to the Museum.  Dirks has just about everything and the prices are reasonable.  Picked up some food to fix for dinner and some breakfast items.  We were home by 2 pm and had walked four miles. 

This afternoon we enjoyed playing our card game of Hand & Foot and each won two rounds.  Fun and not keeping score…just who has the most books! 

I talked with my twin on WhatsApp today and she sounds good.    Bored with sitting but not hurting so much as when she was moving around!  After dinner I then got busy on the laptop and posted a new blog of the journals from April 16th and 17th.   Our Day in Key West and a Day at Sea.   Posted today’s activities and photos on Facebook and checked emails.  

It was nearly 10 pm when I finished and it was still daylight outside.  The days in the summer are long here in the upper reaches of the globe.  My steps today were 8,137 making for 3.53 miles