Europe – Day 2 – January 26th, 2018: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Adventure, Outdoors, pictures, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

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Not in America, You Don’t! – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Not This Either!

As you can see, Amsterdam is quite a forward-thinking progressive place. It’s a young, vibrant, accepting and awesome place. It’s got a laid-back energy and relaxing vibe that is quite pleasant.

After a good night of sleep it’s off to explore some more. Between our schedule and the time changes it caught up with us last night with a vengeance. I had an alarm set to get up this morning so we would not sleep the day away.

We walked over to a stop and took a train back to Centraal Station and walked around the area. This picture only shows about half of the building.

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Centraal Station – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

There are bikes literally everywhere and there are these tiny cars that use the bike lane. There was a huge bike parking lot/covered garage we saw that had thousands of bikes.

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One of the Tiny Cars That Drive on the Sidewalk/Bike Lane – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The bike lane looks like a part of the sidewalk instead of the street and you’ll get your ass ran over fast if you don’t pull your head out of it. The crosswalks are in segments so you don’t cross the street all at once unless you get a green light to do so.

We went in to see the inside of The Basilica of St. Nicholas. I love the details and grandeur of the old architecture. It was the first time I had been in a cathedral and it didn’t disappoint.

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Basilica of St. Nicholas – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Basilica of St. Nicholas – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Basilica of St. Nicholas – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The public transit is amazing. It’s just amazing. It is so convenient to use and it definitely gets used. You do see private vehicles but public transportation is so prevalent and handy I would not own a car here. Street parking at our hotel is €36… a DAY!

Seeing American cars is strange here, but even stranger I have seen two 1990s Jeep Cherokees, a brand new Grand Cherokee, and a few Teslas.

It’s quite easy to walk most anyplace and find nearly anything you need. We have walked past hardware stores, grocers and countless restaurants and coffeeshops. Coffeeshops sell cannabis, smart shops sell psychedelic mushrooms and mushroom growing kits, herbal non-cannabis recreational drugs, and paraphernalia for everything imaginable. Some souvenir/grocery shops sell cannabis edibles. There are even “seed banks” that sell cannabis seeds. They apparently have very few drug issues from what we have read and heard, and we have not seen any Reefer Madness-like situations – murders, rapes or the dreaded piano-playing hysteria. The main issues sound like it stems from mostly Americans who can’t handle their intoxicants.

Many of the restaurants open in the afternoon and stay open until 1:00 AM. They are usually the local eating places and not that shitty American fast food that is starting to invade everywhere. It’s horrible to walk around this beautiful city with so much great food available and see signs for Domino’s, the King, the Clown and the Colonel here.

After a warmup we went out for a quick walk to find food. I ended up finally getting to try a shoarma (shawarma). It was all I dreamed of and more. The taste was so delicious I wish I had gotten two. We also stopped by a bakery where we picked up a few things. I got a frosted waffle for breakfast and some macarons.

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Macarons in Amsterdam

This is two of the four I bought. I got a red velvet (which was better than the cake!), a cherry one, strawberry is on the right, and I don’t remember the one on the left but they were all very tasty. I guess we’ll see if the waffle makes it through the night!

We have to get up early (3 AM) tomorrow to catch a bus for our next destination so it will probably be a short evening tonight. We will be getting some groceries to eat later tonight plus breakfast tomorrow at the local Lidl store. This is the chain hitting US shores now and is supposedly going to disrupt the U.S. grocery industry in a major way.

That’s all for now; 3 AM comes mighty early. Will update tomorrow from our next destination!

Europe – Day 1 – January 25th, 2018: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Adventure, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Travel, Uncategorized

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One of Many Canals in Amsterdam

We finally made it!

We arrived in Amsterdam in the late morning after our brief stopover/plane change in Iceland. We had the option of staying in Iceland when I bought the tickets but we will save doing that for some other time. I hear it is an expensive place to visit and we wanted to concentrate on Europe.

Amsterdam is one cool city. We were pretty beat after a long night with little sleep. We got to our hotel and checked in.

Hotel d’Amsterdam – Our First Hotel in Europe

We went for a walk and got a local burger and it was quite delicious. Unlike any burger I have had before but I would definitely eat another one.

I did damn near throw that delicious burger right up when I saw this giant hideous billboard. Basically it’s the size of the side building it’s on. Yeah it was the goddamn Kardashians. It’s an underwear ad (of course), and smaller versions of the ads are around Amsterdam. Rant complete.

We wanted to have a look around so we set off on foot exploring some of the area, checking out quiet back alleys full of great food and shops of all sorts.

It was a cool afternoon and the wind picked up so it got chilly. We went back to the room and we both ended up passing out for a few hours.

After our nap we went out for another walk and find something fast and easy for dinner.

Off to get some well-earned sleep for the night. Vacation is just beginning- we’ve got a lot of things to see and do!

January 24th, 2018 – Off to Europe!

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

Well, we are outta here and off to Europe! Just shy of eight hours flight time on the first leg of the trip. We have a layover for a plane change in Reykjavik, Iceland. It is a quick layover for only about an hour and a half or so then we board the second plane for the last push to Europe!

I checked us in for our flights for the trip over last night. We actually ended up with better seats than we originally had so it was nice to be able to move forward a little. I don’t like sitting in the back personally and the farther forward the better.

We have an afternoon flight with a few hours to kill beforehand so we’ll be sitting around a little while until time to go but at least we have spare time in case there’s a problem. Luckily we have a late checkout of our room plus we have to be at the airport a few hours early to get through security.

I have never flown to a foreign country so this is new to me. I have driven into Canada several times so I’ve been through the questions but this is just a little bit different.

Getting through security was a breeze – we signed up for a free temporary CLEAR subscrption to get through faster and it sure did the job! We jumped right up to the front of the line and avoided the wait. We got here early and are now just waiting around to board.

Once we got on the plane there were a lot of empty seats so the other person in our row moved. Now we had our side of the row to ourselves. I slept maybe two hours – I have trouble sleeping on planes so I was lucky to get those two. They had the “northern lights” playing on the cabin lighting. We are gonna be tired later but that’s okay.

Hopefully I’ll sleep on the next leg to Europe! Stay tuned!

January 23rd, 2018

Adventure, food, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

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Yes, That’s a Giant Milk Drop

Vacation is officially underway!

Jim flew in last night from KC and boy are his arms tired! We have been so excited for this trip and it is finally and really happening!

We had breakfast and then took off to do some running around. It started out as a overcast and sprinkly morning. We threw on some rain gear and hit the bricks.

First I took him to see Jimi Hendrix’ grave in Renton – a must for music fans. We then went over to catch the light rail to downtown Seattle. The sprinkles turned to real rain as the day went on.

We went to Capitol Hill to Dick’s for a delicious burger and fries. A must for foodies and visitors alike! We walked around the neighborhood a bit and thought that it is a pretty interesting area.

We got back on the Link train and went back one stop to Westlake to catch the monorail to head over to the MOPOP. We got on the monorail and Jim was talking with the driver of the monorail and the driver said he thought the MOPOP was closed. Needless to say we were disappointed in hearing that news.

We walked around a little but decided to head to the iconic Pike Place Market and walked around there for a while. With the museum being closed it screwed up our timeline for doing things – we now had hours to fill. We were to meet up with Jim’s nephews who live in Seattle at the Five Point for supper around 6. We decided to head back to the hotel to hang out and kill some time until it was time to meet up.

I had not met his nephews before and we had a great time. They were a lot of fun to talk with. One of his nephews had his girlfriend there and she was really nice as well. Plus cheese curds and honey!

Tomorrow’s a big travel day for us so it’s time for sleep.

January 21st, 2018 – Making a List… Checking it twice…

Adventure, Just things, Travel, Uncategorized

We’re not talking Santa here. We’re talking about Europe! It’s been a long wait since buying those tickets two and a half months ago. Many sleepless nights, spending a few dollars buying some travel items, weighing the backpack repeatedly, whittling down the contents of it and cutting what we can get by without.

But now our bags are packed and we are ready to see the world! Jim will be here tomorrow night and we’ll see what happens. We may get out and about tomorrow night, but it may be more of a night to rest. We will hit it hard and heavy on Tuesday and Wednesday seeing and doing some things in Seattle. I think Jim will like Seattle quite a bit.

Now that departure to Europe is imminent the reality of actually leaving to go is really sinking in. I am getting a little anxious to go – not really scared but just that “not knowing but it’s gonna be fun” anxiety. For me this is a major bucket list checkmark. That doesn’t mean it’s just something to “get out of the way”. For me the bucket list is experiences you have and not just some expensive goal.

It’s a long time in the air to get there – 12-13 hours total flying each way. I’ve flown a long flight only once before and never anything this long. That was my trip to Hawaii a few years ago. Reading the guidebooks will be something useful to pass the time since we will be changing time 8-9 hours ahead so sleeping on the plane will be a priority so we can hit the ground running when we get in to our destination late morning. Our timing is actually pretty good it turned out both departing and returning to Seattle. I didn’t plan too much on times when I made the flight reservations; that was secondary to price and luckily we got the best of both.

Well, it’s off to bed for now. Hopefully sleep will happen!