No worse for the wear…Amsterdam keeps giving and giving…Boarding the cruise today…

Me in front of soldier statues. It was a very windy day! ” Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) is a major square in central Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was cast in one piece, and it is Amsterdam’s oldest surviving statue in a public space.”

With many photos from Amsterdam yet to be posted, we may save them to share at a future time, perhaps on the cruise on a sea day. Today, we board the ship.  

Tom, arm-in-arm with the statues.

Checkout time is noon at the Eden Hotel (charming, canal view) when we’ll arrange a taxi to take us to the passenger cruise terminal, a short distance from here. We’ll be ready to go.

Diplomatic building with many flags.

Now, at 10:30 am, Tom is streaming a Minnesota Vikings pre-season game with one quarter remaining. Since we never unpacked, only opening the bags to get clean clothes and toiletries, it will take 10 minutes to close the bags and be on our way.

There are 1000 bridges over the canals in Amsterdam.

Last night we had a great meal at Rain Americana Grill, walking distance from the hotel, adding to our daily distance up to 3.5 km, 2.2 miles. It was a lot of walking for me. But I’m thrilled I was able to do it, however difficult it may have been, and suffer no ill effects today.

Many of the vast estate homes have been converted to offices, apartments, and condos.

Tom needed some American food, so we selected this spot. He had a burger and chips while I had a gluten-free, starch-free burrito that was delicious with lettuce leaves as wraps. I have been craving Mexican food for some time. What a treat!

Menu of marijuana and other such products are available for sale to any adults who desire to partake. We happened to walk down an alley to run into people smoking pot outside at the cafe. From this site: “Cannabis has been available for recreational use in coffee shops since 1976. Cannabis products are only sold openly in certain local “coffeeshops” and possession of up to 5 grams for personal use is decriminalized. However, the police may still confiscate it, which often happens in car checks near the border.[citation needed] Other types of sales and transportation are not permitted, although the general approach toward cannabis was lenient even before official decriminalization.”

This morning we decided to wait until we board the ship to eat since they have such great options in our fare. Until I meet with the maitre’d to review my printed food list, we’ll wing it in the buffet. There will be plenty of salad bar items that will work for me.  

The small park where this statue of Rembrandt is located is a popular gathering place.

During the day, I’ll drop off the food list and make a particular order for tonight’s dinner until they coordinate my restrictions with the chef. Most likely, it will be grilled salmon, veggies, and Caesar salad (minus the croutons) on this first night. Fine with me.

Today’s photos continue from yesterday’s sightseeing along and in the canals of Amsterdam. Unfortunately, as the boat moved along, I couldn’t recall the names of the structures in many of the photos.  

The Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant is located on one of the canals.

Also, I try to “live in the moment” and pay attention to the scenery before me rather than worry about identifying the buildings the next day when I prepare a post.  

And live in the moment we did. The unique scenery continually enthralled us. Everywhere one turns, there’s something magical to behold. We both agreed we’d like to return to the Netherlands at some point and see more of this unusual country with design elements unique to the country.  

There are approximately 2500 houseboats with permits to dock on the canals.  Utilities are made available for those houseboats. Illegal boats can’t access city services.

We’d yet to see tulips (wrong time of year), windmills (not in the city), and stores selling wooden shoes, all very touristy but fun to see. Yes, sometimes we behave just like tourists delighting in the all too familiar tourist traps and sightseeing expectations.

Various types of mallards paddle in the many canals.

So, off we go, folks. Our next post will be from the ship on a sea day. We’ll share all the photos and excitement we’ll experience along the way.

Have a lovely day filled with wonder.

Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2018:

What a lovely scene on the Crocodile River, as seen from Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.

Amsterdam doesn’t disappoint…We accomplished more than expected…Challenging but rewarding…Food photos…

We were impressed by the stunning historic architecture on both sides of the canals in Amsterdam.

There’s no doubt I’m struggling to walk. I hope this pain will dissipate as I continue to wean off the awful medications, but a part of me is terrified it won’t go away. It takes everything I have to walk a block, let alone navigate stairs and ramps.  

We wished we could post the identity of all of these great highlights, but it wasn’t possible as the boat moved along.

My heart doesn’t struggle, or so it seems. It’s just the legs that could be entirely from the statins I stopped a few weeks ago.  Here’s the data on this situation from JAMA, and here’s the link to the report:

“Results  The mean (SD) duration of statin therapy before symptom onset was 6.3 (9.8) months. Resolution of muscle pain occurred a mean (SD) of 2.3 (3.0) months after discontinuation of statin therapy. Six patients (13%) were hospitalized for the management of rhabdomyolysis; 2 had reversible renal dysfunction, and 1 with preexisting renal insufficiency subsequently began lifelong dialysis. Hospitalized patients developed myopathy more quickly after initiating statin therapy (1.3 vs. 7.1 months; P = .048) and were more likely to be taking concomitant medications known to increase the risk of statin-associated myopathy (P = .03). Thirty-seven patients received another statin after an episode of statin-associated myopathy; 21 (57%) reported recurrent muscle pain, whereas 16 (43%) tolerated other statins without recurrent symptoms.
Conclusions  Patients with statin-associated myopathy experienced complete resolution of muscle pain on cessation of statin therapy. Although no deaths occurred, 13% of the patients required hospitalization for rhabdomyolysis. Recurrent muscle pain was common on statin rechallenge.”

The covered canal boat.

The above-highlighted comment about full resolution in 2.3 months makes me very hopeful. As we begin this big journey in our world travels, I do everything to stay engaged in our activities and avoid complaining to Tom.

The tour couldn’t have been more enjoyable.

He’s so helpful, guiding me across the uneven pavement, through crosswalks, up hills, and steps. Today was a real test of both of our resolve and determination as we walked almost 3.2 km, 2 miles, on the streets of Amsterdam, reveling in every moment, which was a good distraction for me.

What did we see and do? Firstly, all of my sandals and shoes to wear on the cruise had recently fallen apart. , My two pairs of long-wearing black and beige Clark sandals crumbled with pieces falling off in the suitcase. I’d been wearing them for almost seven years! Plus, the one pair of high wedge sandals I had were a thing of the past, and I left them behind in Ireland.

There’s a large hook hanging from the roofs that remain in place. Since most of the buildings in Amsterdam are so narrow, which results from a tax base determined by the width of a building, it’s impossible to get furnishings up the narrow staircases. Subsequently, these large hooks on the exterior of buildings are used to hoist the items to the appropriate floor.

Knowing we had to find a shoe store within walking distance was a daunting task, but I learned that trying to walk would be better than taking a taxi, forcing us to be out and about seeing a bit of this beautiful city.

Each building has its unique design.

After a very long walk, we stopped for breakfast along the way, we found a few shoe stores, and I was able to purchase two pairs of comfortable flat shoes, one a dressy flat black sandal and another, a very comfy pair of Sketchers slip-on shoes. I was thrilled.  

Surprisingly, the shoes weren’t more expensive than they’d have been in the US. Everyone talks about how expensive it is here. Yes, the hotel was twice as much as we usually spend, but we had accumulated points to use, which softened the blow.

Many elaborate former homes from the 17th and 18th centuries have been converted to governmental and diplomatic structures. Not this building’s construction year of 1843.

Dining out is comparable to the US from what we’ve seen so far. Last night we dined in the upscale hotel restaurant, Brasserie Flo, which turned out to be rated #720 out of 3736 restaurants in Amsterdam. I loved the food…Tom did not. He’s not the gourmet kind of guy. Here are a few photos of our meals.

Tom’s veal and mashed potato dinner.

This morning we had breakfast in a pub we encountered on our walk. They didn’t make eggs with butter or healthy oils, so I ordered a chicken Caesar salad. Tom had a ham and cheese omelet, which he said was “just OK.”  

My rack of lamb on a bed of assorted mushrooms was delicious.
Please understand, I am traveling the world with a picky eater, but then again, he has to live with all of my peculiar dining options. We figure it out as we go. It’s not perfect, but we’ve learned to live with these limitations, and now…others.
This seafood platter for two looked appealing, but Tom’s not a big fan of most seafood. It didn’t pay us to spend Euro $125, US $141 for this meal alone.

After we had breakfast and walked the distance to the shoe stores, on the way back, as we walked along with one of the 100 canals in Amsterdam, we spotted a canal boat tour starting in 15 minutes. This was ideal for us.  

As we walked down the narrow street, exploring and looking for a shoe store.

We’d hoped to tour the canals today anyway, and this avoided us going back to the hotel for more walking, only to find our way back to another tour boat.  It had been raining off and on all morning. It was sunny when we left the hotel.

The clock tower building.

This particular boat was fully enclosed with big glass windows we could open when the rain stopped. We were grateful that a few minutes into our tour, the sun came out once again, and we were able to take many photos, more than we can ever share here today.  

Ornamental pillars at one of the 1000 bridges in Amsterdam.

More photos will follow in tomorrow’s post, which we hope to finish before heading to the ship at noon. This is all happening so fast! This time tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be situated in our cabin and hopefully unpacked, ready for the cruise fun to begin.

Have a fantastic Saturday night, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2018:
Tom’s excellent new haircut. She cut his hair this time as opposed to using the electric clippers. Cost with a tip? ZAR 130, US $9.35 (includes tip). Wow! I love the beard! For more photos, please click here.

Part 1 Venice…One more city knocked off our “dream list”…

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise as a feast before our eyes.

In writing our post yesterday we mentioned our busy day was subject to change and change we did! After all, we’ve determined that flexibility and adaptability are a way of life these days.

One historic building after another.

Running into our friends Nicole and Gerry shortly after we posted our 48-hour schedule, they asked if we’d be interested in getting off the ship earlier in the day to wander around Venice with them. 

The waterways were exactly as we had perceived them, crowded with a never-ending in a maze of canals.

They offered to get maps, charting out our day inquiring as to various transportation options were available to get us on our way to the much desired St. Mark’s Square location. With so much on our minds to accomplish in such a short time, plus greatly enjoying their company, we opted to let them take over the planning for the day and evening while we’d joyfully follow along.

Look at the crowds!

We agreed to meet at 2:45 pm, allowing us ample time to first lounge by the pool plus get our packing out of the way. Mission accomplished. We loaded up our passports, a bottle of water and a camera and off we went.

Every direction we turned there was another waterway.

Our goal was to walk the streets of Venice traipsing across endless bridges over the canals, see as much as possible, taking photos along the way, ultimately ending up in St. Mark’s Square after which an additional 15-minute walk we’d work our way to the Norwegian Spirit boat shuttle in a designated area along the shore, Riva Degli Schiavoni.

What a view!
The buildings along the canals were often unique, but most were attached.
The cathedrals are breathtaking.

The shuttle arrived every 30 minutes, would bring us as close as possible to our ship upon return, requiring another 15-minute walk.

As our ship continued on to our docking location.

Unbelievable shops, restaurants, hotels, apartments, and massive historical buildings lined our way on the lengthy rather vigorous three-hour walk.  Not quite the three-hour walk as in Petra, Jordan but nonetheless, quite a walk on a yet another very hot and crowded day.

Need I say, we have no regrets.

 All these photos were taken as our ship maneuvered through the main channel approaching the cruise ship pier in Venice.
Moving furniture is often done by boat in Venice, the preferred method of transportation
As we approached the pier for the cruise ships, they were lined up back to back.

Arriving at the pier in Venice an hour earlier than expected, we took our time getting off the ship to meet Nicole and Gerry for what proved to be a very interesting and enriching day.

We wondered if there would be a “parking spot” for our ship.  We squeezed into a good spot.

Today, as I write this, we must get off the ship in a half-hour, leaving many more photos of Venice to include tomorrow when I complete the Venice series while in our new home in Tuscany, busily unpacking and settling in.

Back tomorrow!