Four countries in a day.

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There’s not a great deal to talk about for today. This was the day I jumped into the Eurostar train and was whisked to Europe in around 2 hours.

I can’t help but think of all the people throughout history who were forced to make their way across the channel… delayed by weather. Even William the Conqueror was delayed when he was on his way to invade England. He was waiting for several weeks and it was only when he ordered a saint’s body to be dug up and paraded around the town with prayers that the winds shifted and he could set off. Imagine if he could’ve been there in 2 hours, with no dug-up saints to worry about? Luxury!

I started the day in England, then rode the train through northern France to Belgium, then took the bus to Holland. Pretty incredible when you’re from Australia, when one country takes up a whole continent.

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We are a small tour with only 21 people on it and we all started together in London, with no one else booked to join us here. So we were able to sneakily take in the first of the included tours today, rather than go to the hotel and wait till tomorrow. This was good as now I have the whole day free tomorrow.

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We went to the iconic (apparently) Gassan Diamond company. We saw diamond cutters at work and then we were taken into a little room where a very tall Dutch woman with very bad teeth did her best to sell diamonds to us.

No one bought. 🙂

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Gigi, our tour guide, was saying that the houses in Amsterdam are so tall and thin because you used to get taxed depending on the square footage of your house. Hallways/stairs were counted as one room, so you’d minimise the width of the stairs to maximise your living space.

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That’s why these hooks are out in front on a lot of the apartment blocks. You use them to winch your furniture in through the windows, as there’s no way people can fit them up the stairs.

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Tomorrow, on my free day, the Amsterdam Gay Pride march is scheduled. Here’s the mini car yard getting into the swing of things.

The tour had an optional tour of a farm with a working windmill, but I’ve decided to get up early and go and queue outside the Anne Frank house instead. Windmill? meh. Anne Frank? OMG!!!!

Wish me luck negotiating a city without Scott, Deana or Pam, and in a foreign language. It’s probably lucky I’ve got a full day free: I should be able to make my way from one side of the city to another and look at an attic in that time. I’m thinking of doing the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums as well, all going well. I’ll probably take in the march if it’s anywhere near me, too.

I just have to watch out for gypsies, pickpockets and thieves. According to everyone, they’re everywhere…. I hope my Marleybone market bag is sufficient to deter them with its cosy shoulder strap and many pockets with zips.

Now I’m off to our introductory dinner. (Two courses, 2 drinks included.) Whoopee!

 

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5 Responses to Four countries in a day.

  1. scottsabode says:

    Woohoo! I read that they were merchants’ homes that also acted as their warehouses, so the winches were to get the stock to the top floors where they were stored. That’s also why the top half of the house appears to lean out over the street.

  2. scottsabode says:

    http://www.amsterdamgaypride.nl/canal_parade/
    The parade is on the canal, starts at 1:30 and goes right past Anne Frank’s House.

  3. Snoskred says:

    I know a word in dutch, but it is a swear word. 🙂 I can tell you the word for chicken, if that helps!

  4. foodnstuff says:

    The Dutch all speak perfect English. They learn it at school, compulsory I think.
    Just be aware with shoulder bags…they can come up behind you, slash the strap with a knife, grab the bag and run. We were told this in America; Europe was a better place then, I presume. All is changing now (our trip was in the late 70’s).

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