Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Holland and Amsterdam

We made it to Holland on Saturday afternoon, ate at the train station, and then spent the night in our hotel.  The next morning we woke up bright and early because we wanted to go to church but knew it would take a while to get there.  So we woke up at six thirty and were on the shuttle at seven forty five.  We got to the train station and rode the train into Amsterdam, only to find out that the train station in Haarlem was under construction (the train station by the church). So, everyone who wanted to go to that station was being transported by bus.  So we got back on the train, rode it to the connecting station and then boarded buses out to the train station.  This took a total of about two and a half hours.  Church started at ten and we were already late!  We were going to try and take a city bus but it was way too confusing.  We never would have found it.  So, in desperation, we got in a taxi and had him take us to the Church. We were so relieved when we finally made it there!  It felt like coming home even though we were in a strange country.  The people were so nice and welcoming.  One of the members even sat behind us in sunday school and translated the meeting for us.  We were able to stay for most of sacrament meeting but had to leave half way through because we had to make it back in time to check out of our hotel.  Trying to find the church and having it take so long to get there made me realize how lucky I really have it.  Scotty and I walk three blocks to get to our church.  We can see the temple from our house.  We are so blessed to live so closely to our Church.  I truly respect members who live far away from their meeting house or who have to travel far just in order to worship.  We met up with our tour group later that night and then grabbed some dinner.

Here were are outside our little church house in Holland!

Later sunday night we decided to take a little stroll around Amsterdam and enjoy the scenery.  Amsterdam is beautiful.  As long as you stay out of certain areas, its quite enjoyable.  Out of all the places we visited, the people here were the nicest.  We loved all the canals and windmills.  It was absolutely picturesque.  We found out some interesting facts about Holland.  About a car a week falls into the canals in Amsterdam.  There are more people than there are bikes.  There are even house boats in the Canals where people live as a permanent residence. 

There are some of the house boats in the back ground.  

Highlight of the whole trip.  The Anne Frank house.  There is something about WWII and the time period that has historians, writers, and others obsessed with.  I grew up listening to the heroic stories of my grandpa and have always had a close affinity and love with this time period.  Going to visit the Anne Frank house, even in its somberness, was like a dream for me.  It seemed unreal to walk through the house where Anne spent the majority of her adolescence.  No pictures were aloud inside so this is the best picture we could get, just by the front doors!  As a side note, I don't know why I am wearing my scarf that way.... perhaps my ears were freezing!?

Stroopwafles.  Any one ever see the best two years?  Well, they eat these in that movie.  That is how Scott knew even to go looking for them.  One time during a stroll, it started to rain so we ran inside this department store and low and behold stroopwafles.  They are made of a thin cinnamon waffle cone with carmel in the middle.  You can get the hot or cold.  My personal favorite was the cold because the carmel was chewy.  We ate at least  a package a day and brought about twenty packages home as gifts for our family and friends.

My favorite artist is Van Gogh. So naturally we had to go to the museum just dedicated to him.  It was great.

We found this random big wooden shoe!  How funny!  So I made Scott get in it to take a picture. Hilarious!

We decided to go on a river boat cruise.  Best thing ever.  For a little over an hour, we toured all the canals of Amsterdam.

These houses are called the dancing houses of Amsterdam. Its kind of hard to see, but they are not completely level.  Because all the houses are built on shifting soil, when houses settle, they tend to settle really uneven.  Just another interesting fact, it costs about 750,000 Euro to buy a one bedroom, one bath with a kitchen apartment in down town amsterdam.  Thats about a million U.S. dollars.

We also got to go to a cheese factory!

And a wooden shoe factory!  It was really cool to see how wooden shoes were made.  We would have bought some if they weren't more than a pair of Jimmy Choo's.  They have wooden shoes for gardening, for weddings, amongst other shoes for special occasions.

Amsterdam and Holland were great.  The only thing we were sad about was all the rain.  We had booked a bike ride through the Dutch country side and it was cancelled. Oh well, we will just have to come back to do it again!

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