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17th March

Cousin Tooske
Cousin Tooske

Today we set out to achieve 4 things and managed to get to them all.

We drove to the town of Wezep and in particular the cemetery where we visited my father's grave as well as the nearby Ijsselvleidt Estate where my father lived his last 6 years.

Then onto Hindeloopen the town where my ancestors came from in the 1600's.My many times great grandfather helped build the church there in the 1600s

Onto Zaanse Schans, a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses. Very scenic spot.

In the late afernoon we drove to the Amsterdam suburb of Amstelveen where my Cousin Tooske and her husband Peter live. I had not seen Tooske since 1987, Rayls not since 1980. We had a lovely dinner and chat. Tooske is a renowned pianist and she played us some of her own compositions. Nice night, back to our apartment just before midnight.

15th March - Amsterdam

Ryan in clogs
Ryan in clogs

Today we caught a train from Hilversum to Amsterdam.

We had all slept well, it was much needed sleep.

it was a 10 minute walk to the railway station. 11 euro each return to Amsterdam, around $15. 

It's a bit warmer today, maybe 14C, no rain. Fairly pleasant. Some people suggest that we travel at the wrong time of the year and maybe we do. However, we don't mind the cooler weather and I suspect Amsterdam would be crowded in the summer. There was many people there today but not overwhelming.

We had arranged to meet my cousin Arjen at De Bijenkorf which is is a high-end department store on Dam Square. We were a little early so we shopped a bit with Rayls buying some face clothes just as Arjen met up with us. We first met Arjen in 1980 here in Holland. He was just 16. I met him again in 1987 and then he came to Australia in 1996. He was very good to us in our 2001 trip, drove us to many places. He is very different to me, very outgoing and loud but we get on great. We had a nice chat at the fifth floor restaurant for maybe an hour. Bit of catching up but lots of laughs.

After Arjen left we shopped some more before heading to nearby Nieuwendijk Straat where there was a quilt shop which sadly for Rayls was closec on Mondays.

We walked across Dam Square and into the Kalverstraat, a 750 metre long shopping mall. At the far end is Munttoren Tower at Muntplein Square. Here Rayls checked out a Delft Store whilst Ryan and I sat in a Maccas. 

Then onto a guitar shop, Dirk Witte just 150 metres up the road. Ryan enjoyed a half hour here. 

We the walked along the cobble stone streets an canals the 2 kilometres to the Politiebureau Raampoort where my grandfather was stationed as a police officer in the early part of the last century. On the way we checked out a ukelele shop where the owners were very interesting to talk to. She was from Florida and was disillusioned with the USA and in particular its health system. He is from Liverpool and sounds like, also looks a bit like, Ringo.

The Raampoort is no longer a police station but police offices. A strong part of my family history there. 

Then it was along the streets and canals back to Central Amsterdam. Along the way we saw Anne Frank House, long line. Once back to the Centraal Station we spent an hour on a canal cruise. That was fun and interesting. Into the harbour where we saw the biggest shop I gave seen (Schootsman)  baring down on us. Everybody seemed to know what they were doing but I suspect that ship would have needed some distance to stop or turn. The cru use was great and unlike the cruise around Manhattan, I never fell asleep once.

Onto the train back to Hilversum and a slow walk back to our apartment, via Maccas. Rayls and I were very sore. It wS a long and tiring day but lots of fun and nice to have just a taste of Amsterdam.