It became far too long to document the entire trip in one post, so I have decided to split it into each country.
Our tour leader was Tim Sayer, a Brit who has been with Expat Explorer for more than four years. He said he had the longest seniority. The driver's name was Henk, known to be a veteran driver in this industry. The group consisted of 45 people so the bus was pretty full. They are from all over the world, largely from Australia, a few from Aruba, a couple from New Zealand, two ladies from California, a few from Malaysia and Vietnam, Philippines, India and several from Canada, plus us and the Yoons and Mr. Choi.
The day was bright until almost 11pm. This was the new experience of white nights. But, thankfully, these white nights made this trip possible covering so much everyday.
Now Amsterdam. This is not the first time to travel to Amsterdam, but the city is so full of many events, museums, places of interest and things to do. So it is never boring to visit this exciting city.
|The canal cruise boat|
|Kris with the Yoons and Mr. Choi|
|Canals and bridges|
They claim that the water in the canal is good for swimming but it did not look suitable to me.
The country is pretty flat and draws a lot of wind. Thus, it has also developed a good way of using this wind for energy via the famous windmills.
Amsterdam's population is approximately 850,000 people but has 1.1 million bikes. Every where, people are biking. It is the most common transportation. In Amsterdam, bike riders have the right of way not only over cars but also pedestrians. We had to watch left and right often to make sure we do not interfere the bike riders. Bike routes were well developed wherever you went.
After the canal cruise and quick dinner on the cruise boat, we entered the Red Light District. In Netherlands, prostitution is legal and prostitutes are an official profession. Ironically, the Red Light District developed around a church that existed before the district's development.
|Bikes on a bridge and a canal|
Bull Dog is a coffee shop where they sell not coffee but marijuana... legally. Many visitors come to try this drug that is usually illegal else where.
We also visited Dam Square, passed by Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.
Netherlands is also famous for its tulips (Keukenhof - tulip festival), tasty cheese and yummy caramel waffles. We stopped over at a small farm (Clara Maria raising 120 cows) to watch how the gouda cheese and Dutch clogs are made. Dutch clogs are no longer widely used because the land is now pretty much paved, unsuitable for walking on the clogs. The gouda cheese consumes a lot of milk. To produce one kilo gram of cheese, they use 10-11 liters of milk and the process takes 7 days. The cheese may last for good theoretically, but the taste deteriorates after 5 years. Amsterdam is also home for Amstel beer.
|Dutch Gouda cheese|