AmsterDAM that’s a cool city.

Going from Oslo to Amsterdam was actually a bit of a downer.  Because to get there, we had a day at sea – which meant a day of, “What should we do today?”  Which turned into, “Oh shoot, this cruise almost over, we should start packing while we’re killing time in the North Sea.”  Yeah, total bummer.

And the ship doesn’t even pretend they want you to say because you start getting mail at your door that includes exit tags for your luggage, invoices reminding you of what you bought while on board and details on how they’d like you to leave the ship (8am, promptly after swiping your ship card for the last time) in two days.  Rude…I thought we were friends.  Don’t they have any sympathy for our mental state?

The quickest way to Amsterdam is through a lock system (basically this is a stopping point to change water levels – enabling the ship to take a short cut – obviously they were really in a hurry to end our tour).
Never having been through a lock system, I opted to get up at the crack of dawn to watch the process.  My folks had done the whole Panama Canal, so this was old hat for them. 
Here’s how I remember it – early, cold, dark and misty.  I also remember the minute I found out that I could have just waited for the reverse show scheduled at 5pm the same day.  Doodies…I hate when I give up a perfectly good sleep-in unnecessarily.

After the museum punishment of Oslo, I made sure to read up on the Amsterdam tour.  It started with the words “Tour of the Reclaimed Land.”  Oh boy.  Snoozer Potential.

Wrong.

The whole tour was about how Holland opted to use a windmill system to lower the water level in order to inhabit the lands.  Without the windmills, the land would be under water.  With it, the land is total utopia for plant life. 

I never thought the words “Hydrangea Envy” would cross my lips.  But I did take several pictures to bring back to my own garden – my Hydrangea has not responded to these motivational posters.

We did tour an old windmill – and, yes, they are still maintained by real live Millers (in case there is ever an emergency, they’d crank these up to help out).  More importantly – they really do wear wooden shoes!  Who knew?? 
 Evidently they are really good in the saturated ground for keeping feet dry. 
Especially when you are heading out to the outhouse.  I’m not seeing very much privacy in this area…
The thought did cross my mind to buy a pair (of wooden shoes, not prehistoric outhouses that leave last night’s dinner in your canal). 
Then I remembered where I live.  Probably not very useful in the drought land.
And the most popular response I get to anyone who hears I was in Amsterdam?  “Did you smoke any pot?”  Um, no, I did not.  I did however make note of the Cannabis Cafes – especially while walking past them.  And you can actually buy the seeds in the flower market.  No wonder the people were so chill.
After a day our touring in the mist, we were forced back to the ship – to once again face the fact that we were now just one day away from our departure.  
As we were beginning our trek back to the lock…a rainbow popped up behind one of those new-fangled windmills.  
Those were either storm clouds or the exhaust from the Cannabis Cafes…   
And after an hour or so we were back at the lock that stirred me to get up so early – except this time I could see it.  This just doesn’t seem like a great idea…but I’m no engineer.  It seemed even more sketchy as we sailed in – noting that we had what seemed like a yard of space on either side.  And the tiniest string tossed out to some potentially homeless and or high dudes to ‘guide’ our ship through.  Right, just aim us at the little white dot up there. 
We made it through with no drama, other than folks fighting for the best seat in the observation lounge.  People get testy when they know their next job is to pack up their dirty clothes!
Oh, yes – back to the shoes – this was the pair I loved the most.  Not quite my size, but definitely a fashion statement, no?

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