Amsterdam, Netherlands – September 2, 2017.
It was day one in Europe (day two of the trip with the flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam consuming over 8 hours). We got into the airport just before 6:00 AM local time and we knew our ride was waiting as soon as we cleared immigration and customs. Soon, however, is an inappropriate word. The airline (Delta/KLM) lost one of our three bags so carefully packed for our 14 day Baltic cruise. The bag contained all of my wife’s evening gowns/dresses and all of her dress shoes. Needless to say, panic was definitely in earshot.
We spent over two hours waiting for the bag to magically appear. When magic failed, we worked with KLM filling out the lost baggage paperwork (twice, because the agent failed to save his ‘work-in-progress’ when he went to copy our cruise itinerary). So, two hours behind schedule, we exit into the terminal to find our ride. We found our cruise agent right away and they called their car service. The limo driver who was originally supposed to take us to our hotel was still at the airport waiting for his second pickup of the morning, so we took advantage and hopped into his beautiful blue Mercedes sedan for the ride to the Mövenpick hotel next to the cruise terminal.
Since we were arriving very early in the morning, we had no expectation of getting a room right away. We intended to drop off our bags (one short) and then take a morning tour of the city. After offering us a chance to upgrade our room for a fee, the hotel finally relented and gave us a free upgrade and assigned us a room on the 14th floor. Here are a couple of photos from our room window looking down on the cruise pier and the extensive railway yard.
After we got settled into the room we went down to the lobby and let the Holland America Lines cruise desk and the concierge know about the missing bag the we hoped would show up from the airport at any minute. Then we were off on the 5-10 minute walk to downtown Amsterdam to find a nice cafe for breakfast.
On the way, we came to understand why we were warned about the many bicyclists and to stay clear of the bicycle lanes. I swear, there are more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are people. Here is a small sample taken in front of the train station:
There must have been thirty thousand bicycles parked in this immediate area. With map in hand, we were searching for the Dwaze Zaken art cafe in the area. It took a few minutes for these Amsterdam newbies to get our bearings, but we found the place with its name all but covered by awnings shading the glass front windows.
We had a healthy and delicious breakfast inside with fresh coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. The omelet I had was made with local ingredients and the bread was thick and substantial.
From there we walked back past the train station to our hotel to take a nap and try to recover from the six hour time change. Here is a picture of the front of the central train station.
After our nap, we attempted to see some more of this wonderful city. I don’t know about you, but the time change turned us into a couple of zombies, just trying to get through the day. We did see a few sites and I snapped a few pictures. We just lacked the excitement and energy needed to really enjoy our experience.
Here are a few pictures from the Dam Square in front of the Amsterdam Royal Palace:
Notice the street performer painted in gold in the lower right corner of the last picture. Here is a closeup of him.
From Dam square, we walked down the pedestrian only Kalverstraat, past the many retail stores and cafes, weaving in and out of the crowds. Eventually we cut through an alley size street to the SPUI (plaza book square) and sat on a park bench for a rest. I snapped a few pictures from the bench to capture the flavor of the area:
Including a view of De Krijtberg Church across one of the many canals.
From the square, we decided to have an early dinner at a restaurant recommended by two different friends who had previously visited Amsterdam, the Haesje Claes Restaurant on Spuistraat. The restaurant did not disappoint. Here are a couple of photos of the table:
Here was my main course of Braised Beef: Slow cooked beef in grandma’s style with red cabbage , mashed potatoes and apple compote.
Then it was back to the hotel to call KLM to see if they had located our lost bag. We were told to call back between 10PM and 10:30PM, just before their service desk closed. We called at the appointed time and were assisted by an actual caring person (a woman named Regina) who went downstairs to the baggage loading area and found the bag. She promised the airline would send it to our hotel when they reopened between 8:30 and 9:00 AM.
That meant we could get a good nights sleep.
The next morning we had a wonderful buffet style breakfast included with our hotel room. Then we went down to the lobby to await the arrival of our lost luggage, letting the concierge and the HAL Cruises service desk know that the bag should be on its way from the airport. Well, we waited and we waited. We were due to board the ship at 1:00 PM and there was no sign of the courier. Just as we were about to go next door to the cruise terminal to board, the bag arrived. The woman courier didn’t even get the bag to the sidewalk in front of the hotel before she got a big hug from my wife. The day had been saved. We could now dress up to eat in the main dining room of the ship instead of going to the Lido deck with our everyday jeans and tops.
So now the cruise begins on ms Koningsdam, the newest ship of the Holland America fleet:
Photo compliments of HAL.