Monday, June 15, 2009

I Can Rumba

Hey family and friends! I can Rumba. I won't say I'm good (because I'm not)but it's the closest I've come to dancing. These dance lessons will be considered a success from this day forward even if we never learn. The feel of Bill and me dancing was good enough. I still can't believe us. Learning this stuff is even harder than we thought and I realize we won't learn that much because we aren't good studies, but it is fun and when we learn how, I can see how it would be a lot of fun.

We have seen Kay and Alan ( our Consuegras) in a whole new light. They are not only incredible dancers but they are wonderful teachers as well; very patient and easy to learn from. They have so many on board the ship that know them and appreciate what they do. Believe me, there aren't many people that could teach me or Bill how to Rumba. What fun. I am amazed about how beautiful Kay is in this venue and how handsome Alan is and how well they do together. This is definitely their calling. I did not look on them as the gurus that they are. :) This has been so much fun already just getting to know them and meeting more of their family and friends. Everyone is having a great time and getting to know each other is the best part of all.

Amsterdam was quite a treat and different than anything I can relate to. The red light district was incredible. I couldn't help but feel sorry for these girls but they all seemed so sure of themselves. They stand in the windows selling their wares and althought it sickened me (truthfully), it also intrigued me. How these women could stand so brave and "out there" and not flinch or think anything about it. Or so it would seem. The guys figured out pretty quickly that all the women were not women(by seeing their adam's apple of course!).

There are so many young people in Amsterdam and oh, my the bikes.
There must be more bikes than any mode of transportation. Bikes have their own stop light system but not a whole lot of them pay attentionto signs. We had to watch out for cars, bikes, skaters,and each other because we didn't know which direction they would come from. Bicycles have the right of way. Our cab driver told us there was at least one biker death a week because they don't stop or use the signals or slow down for anyone.The bikes are rigged to accommodate any amount of passengers. There are baby seats that will carry several children, carts attached for carrying products. Most of the bikes are very old and rusty looking but there are decorated ones, rusty ones, and some that don't even resemble bikes any longer. I saw bikes carrying whole families.

Some coffee shops sell marijuana cigarettes or hash (I'll have to research, I thought they were the same thing).They also sell dessert...hash brownies. You can also get a cup of coffee if you wish.Darrell, your post cracked me up but honestly, I think I talk like you suggested anyway, so people probably wouldn't be able to tell I was happy after a cigarette at the coffee shop. LOL

What surprised me: It is cold, rains most of the time, and the flowers that are planted in window ledges, apartment building sides and every available spot. They are beautiful...every color, every hue. They have canals that they traverse by boats and there are so many house boats where families live.You can take a canal boat and get on and off whereever you want in the city. I wonder how they keep the houseboats warm. There are S shaped metal buildings along the city sidewalks. These are for men to go to the bathroom in. They are quite open and you can see the men standing inside and they come out zipping up their pants. I guess it's better than going on the sidewalks as I know some do in places like NYC and New Orleans. I guess the metal potties would be an improvement. There is a six hour time difference. We know this because Jeni called back to say we called her at 2, 4, and 6 a.m. to share some interesting tidbit with her. She couldn't have been too happy with her traveling parents. LOL

The place we stayed (The Kap hotel)was so tiny and that seems to be the way places are there...very tiny. That prepared us for our ship room which seems very roomyin comparison. There was no lift at The Kap so we lugged four suitcases up stairs that looked like a joke at first. That was the roughest part of the trip, getting the suitcases up and down those very narrow stairs and then walking over them in our room. The place was very clean and reasonably priced compared to other places and the location was perfect for getting around. Another big pay off was the quaint little garden in the back of the building where we had our breakfast. A lesson learned here is that if a person from Scandanavia say, "oh, you can walk it easily", you know that means that if you have trained for years you might be able to walk. Scandanavians seem to be very healthy. I think it's all that bike riding. Their food seems a lot healthier as well.

We went to a place to eat in town where you could get a $10 Argentina steak and sit at tables outside. I loved the atmosphere. We learned from this experience to be wise about what's happening at dinner. Mario served us each bread and butter before the meal came out. Later we found out that he was charging us five dollars for that bread. To make a long sad story short and sad, we were taken and that was the most expensive $10 steak we ever had. We were charmed by Mario throughout though and we we were thankful that at least we had such a charming waiter who made us laugh before he stiffed us. LOL

We saw the place where Anne Frank and her family hid out in 42-44 in Amsterdam. Her father, Otto, was the only survivor of the concentration camp and he talked via video of Anne Frank and his family. He said he talked to Anne a lot but he never knew she was thinking the things she put down in her diary. I guess that shows that we really never do know our children (or they us). He is the one that was instrumental in getting her diary published. I didn't know the diary was red plaid and it was a good feeling to see it and see her writing. We talked to a woman who hid, as Anne Frank did, (but she didn't write a diary. She was there visiting and Bill struck up a conversation. The most interesting part was listening to her stories I think. To think of all the people who were hiding just as Anne Frank was is truly mind boggling. What a horendous time for the world. I understand what our exchange student from Germany was telling us when she talked of the deep shame she had, that Germans had still over the atrocities. It's something Germany will never outlive she said. I felt shame while I was there that human beings could do that to other human beings. Well, the visit to Anne Frank's hiding place was certainly something that touched us deeply. I'm glad I went.

As we headed home one night after being downtown, I shared a tram seat after a day on the town with Thor (I don't make these things up) and his dog, Urk. The dog and he had been to the beach all day and were very tired but Thor picked Urk (Benji like dog) up and put him in his lap so I could sit down. What a handsome man AND dog! Both blonde, disheveled, and gorgeous blue eyes. sigh Ok. I admit to being a bit jealous of Urk.

The sun rises around 4 a.m and sets around 10:30 p.m. We will be onboard on the longest day of the year so I'm ready to see what that will feel like since there seems to be so many daylight hours as it is. Often I have thought it was about 6pm and it will be 10pm.

Food here is different. (Amsterdam at least) We had pancakes that were the size of car wheel and I made the mistake of ordering a hamburger which we found out was not exactly beef. The x-meat inspector that was with us said it was horse meat but the woman showed us the package that said half of it was pork. They don't have the same stringent rules and regulations about their food that we do. We were trying to figure out what parts of the cow and pig they added to make ground beef. I refuse to labor the point any longer, I will not order beef in Holland. Good to know -since we will be staying in Amsterdam on the return trip as well.

We boarded the ship, the Celebrity Century, yesterday and it's been 'pampered, spoiled, taught and shown beauty every minute so far. The food has been incredible and getting to know our friends and fammily in the dance class has been incredibile.

I can't begin to tell you how different this cruise in from the one that we took previously. I have a room with flowers (even a pink rose in the bath room), champaign that we haven't even opened yet, and our bed turned down each night and chocolates put on our pillows. If that first trip was from hell, this must be heaven. Someone just knocked on my door and delivered appetizers..tiny little pates and crackers. I know it's heaven now.
One last thing. sigh Admitting here that I really can't Rumba but I did learn a few steps and it feels a lot like the Rumba to me.
I must return to my life here on board the Celebrity cruiseship.
Tomorrow: Sweden. Ja Ja


Anonymous said...

Delighted to hear from you and not have to wait until you return to share your adventure..sounds like you are very much enjoying your trip so far and looking forward to hearing more..CA

Sue said...

Judy, sounds like you are having a marvelous time. Looking forward to more and pictures.

Victoria said...

Not surprised you can rumba - with Bill at least. I think I'll be a v3egeterian if I ever get to Amsterdam! Bon continued voyage. Thanks for taking us along.

Mary said...

Judy, how fun it is to picture you doing the rumba.

I remember the redlight district of Amsterdam from the long ago time when I was there. It amazed me that such a place existed. I also remember the bikes. With such density of population, this is definitely the way to travel rather than everyone trying to get around with cars. Yes, the window boxes are definitely beautiful. Your post triggered a lot of memories for me, and I will look forward to seeing photos eventually. And to reading more about your journey!

Peggy said...

Wow Judy I am so glad I found your post. It does sound like a great time for you--and I am not surprised that you and Bill can dance. In fact I bet you do very well! What a fun way to get to know Jeni's inlaws!

I particularly enjoyed your descriptions of Amsterdam. Do try to see the Van Gogh museum on your return! I am not at all surprised about the weather--welcome to Holland. I am surprised about the hamburgers being part horsemeat. I was aware they sell horsemeat there but it was always clearly labeled in the meat markets. I did not use much ground meat there. LOL And we rarely ate out and would not have ordered hamburgers!

The flowers are really beautiful this time or year in particular. One thing all that rain is good for I guess. All your descriptions brought back memories for me. I don't know why they always take tourists to the red light district--so many other things to see and do. The old part of the city is very beautiful around the canals. Or it used to be! We did not go into Amsterdam when we were there in March.

I look forward to the Sweden report as well! Dance on!

ashley rice said...

Thanks for the trip. I love the part about bicycles in Amsterdam! great blog, I love your "conversation."

ashley rice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ashley rice said...

thanks for the adventure! great blog, loved the bicycles in Amsterdam.