Saturday 18th August – travel to Amsterdam
It was an early start as the train to Amsterdam leaves Berlin HBF before 11am, so after coffees and buying lunch for the journey, we found our platform (and Dale & Jared from the Belushi’s gig) and it was time to hit the road again. The trip lasts about 6 hours and I got bored after about 2 (at this stage I’m thinking that not taking the bus which takes almost 10 hours was a great idea). Reading, watching TV comedy and writing up the travel journal were just a few of the ways that I tried to stave off the “are we nearly there yet” thoughts and comments. The journey was really hot as the train was lacking air conditioning. At Hilversum the announcer let us know that everyone would have to get off and change trains as this one was being taken off for Health & Safety reasons. No big deal really as we we’re meant to be changing at the next stop anyway & we still arrived at Amsterdam Central Station by 5pm.

Carrie on train to Amsterdam

Carrie on train to Amsterdam

Once we arrived it was just a case of jumping onto the tram and checking into the hotel. That done we went out to discover the area and grabbed a bite to eat at Opium, a café, bar, club & restaurant that sits right on the lake. We are staying to the west of the city near the Sloterpark (where the Loveland Festival takes place) and it was very peaceful indeed – very different from Amsterdam city centre, much more calm and relaxing than the tourist filled winding streets around Dam Square. There was some kind of non-marching band in the area that night. They seemed to appear, make their way through the restaurant, into the club area at the back of the building, upstairs to the bistro café and them off they went again. No-one really seemed to know what was going on, but certainly didn’t mind their night being interrupted in such a manner. In fact some of the diners got up and joined in the parade using their cutlery as makeshift instruments.
Sloterpark, Amsterdam

Sloterpark, Amsterdam

Sunday 19th August
A beautiful sunny day in Amsterdam (33 degrees), so we sent the most of it in the parks of Amsterdam. Firstly we went to the Rembrant Park and then onto the Vondelpark for a lunchtime picnic. In the afternoon we hung out at Museumplein and in the area around the Heineken Brewery as this is an area we know well from previous visits. We finished off the day with curries from the Balti House restaurant before heading back on the tram.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Monday 20th August
We headed into town in the morning to spend sometime amongst the madness of Amsterdam’s busy central streets. We started off at NEMO in the baking sun and stayed there a while soaking up some rays.

View from NEMO, Amsterdam

View from NEMO, Amsterdam

Stopped for lunch in the Wertheimpark (which is one of the oldest parks in the city) and then spent the afternoon in and around the Damrak. We took some time to stop by the Bloemenmarkt & Nieuwmarkt and grabbed a few presents to take home. As we went past Rembrantplein we stopped to watch a pretty good busker; he was playing guitar and had a loop pedal – pretty fast but tasteful stuff.

Tuesday 21st August – last day in Amsterdam
Last day in Amsterdam & on the road for this leg of the summer tour 2012. After getting all our baggage together (and leaving it in the hotel’s store) we decided to spend our last day investigating the area around the Sloterpark. We walked all the way round the lake (close to 8 km) and took in all the local sights and sounds. We are starting to get a little tired from all the walking about we’ve done during this tour, so that combined with the summer sun encourages lots of little breaks to rest our weary feet.

Sloterpark, Amsterdam

Sloterpark, Amsterdam

The flight back home left at 9.30pm so we headed out to Schipol Airport in time to check-in, drop of the guitar at the ‘out sized baggage’ desk and grab some coffees before we head home. It’s been a few years since we’ve been to Schipol Airport & I’d forgotten how large it really is. The entrance is surrounded by giant flower pots filled with sunflowers and just above the door-way is a piece of wire-art, which looks a bit like someone is playing with the planes (grabbing them from the sky)… not the most comforting image in the vicinity.
'playing with planes' - Schipol Airport, Amsterdam

‘playing with planes’ – Schipol Airport, Amsterdam

The flight went well – a bit shaky but no delays etc The guitar made it back in one piece and the flat is still standing (with an excessive amount of junk mail).


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