When we came into the London airport, the line at customs was longer than the Lord of the Rings trilogy and, since my grandma couldn't stand that long, we put her in a wheelchair and started wheeling her towards the line. Before we could get there, however, an angry-looking man stopped us and informed us that we could go to a different line - a line for the elderly, the newborn, and others who need help - a line which only had a few people in it. We gladly took this express lane and were out of customs in about ten minutes!
We thought that a wheelchair might just help us through the airport in London, going to the Netherlands, as well. So we went and requested one... Instead of letting us take one ourselves, we had to wait... and wait... and wait... for an attendant to attend to us. Finally, someone came after about 20 minutes
When we got to the security lines, all of them had about the same amount of people in them. If any line had more people than the rest, it was probably the special needs line! So we waited some more and eventually made it into the wide open spaces of the Airport. Then came another problem. We were so early, our flight hadn't been assigned a place yet! So our attendant took us to the waiting area where he thought the plane would come in, and we waited there.
Moral of the story: It's okay to take advantage of your grandmother's status as an 'elderly person,' but sometimes it doesn't really work out all that well. :P
For the first few days in Holland, we stayed in my great-uncle and aunt's house. They were camping through Italy at the time, so we had their very large house (especially for Holland) to ourselves.
Their son lives only a few blocks away, so he let us into the house. We had another reason to be grateful for him the day we went to Amsterdam...
There are three major modes of transportation in Holland. Biking, is, of course, most prevalent (but more on that in a later blog post). If you are going long distances, there are trains that run all over Holland (how nice that the game Ticket to Ride had a Netherlands expansion!). Lastly, you can drive (more on that in a later post as well).
Because we had been cautioned about finding parking in Amsterdam, we had decided to take the train. For some odd reason, however, the ticket machines only took special pre-bought passes or coins. We didn't have 70 euros worth of coins (each) just lying around in our pockets, so we were a little stuck... And then my dad's cousin showed up! Huzzah! He was able to pay our way with his pass (we paid him back later) and we were able to make the train and get to Amsterdam! Yay!
Straight out of the train station, we went on a canal tour. This one hour tour took us down the major canals of Amsterdam and a voice narrated to us (in three different languages!) what we were seeing.
Some of the sights from the boat:
(Yes, those houses are crooked. Many are, because someone didn't take Matthew 7:24-27 to heart.)
(A Chinese restaurant...)
(Don't even ask me what that is.)
After the canal tour, we walked to the Rijksmuseum for some culture.
The Rijksmuseum is an art museum, famous for its collection of Rembrandt's - including The Night Watch.
They also had some Vincent Van Gogh paintings:
And some really beautiful paintings of ships on the ocean!
There was also a really cool model ship. The Unicorn?
We walked back to the train station after the museum.
One of my favorites parts of our time in the Netherlands was just walking through the streets, seeing the Dutch architecture, hearing the Dutch language, and just seeing the Dutchiness of everything.
(Paving the road with cobblestones...)
(In addition to crooked buildings, in the cities, you see a lot of buildings that lean forward too. Stay tuned for a later blog post to know why!)
(Bike parking lot!)
Live long and prosper!