Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Partly Cloudy – 70s

Edinburgh, Scotland to Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 351 Nautical Miles

Total Voyage: 1740 Nautical Miles

Disembarkation from the Azamara Journey was quick and efficient.  We did “walk off” not at the recommended 7:15 AM time but later in the morning.  No issue…we even kept our Sea Pass this time.  Passport Control was also quick. 

Welcome to Amsterdam (Small)

Welcome from the PTA (Passenger Terminal Amsterdam)

We decided to walk to the hotel this morning because the weather was perfect and it was supposed to be a 10 minute walk.

Our hotel, the Hotel Parklane, is located in the Plantage District of Amsterdam.  It would have been a 10 minute walk but the canals and streets are difficult to read on the map and advice from a local put us a bit off track.  We did see some nice canals along the way.

 On our way to the hotel (Small) On the way to hotel (Small)

On our way to the hotel

After a few twists and turns, we used some local sites to find the hotel. 

 Hotel Parklane Amsterdam (Small)

Hotel Parklane

The Hotel Parklane is located near the Artis Zoo and Amsterdam Botanical Gardens in what was at one time the Jodenbuurt (Jewish District) of Amsterdam.  It is a three story converted home run by a family (I believe).  It has no lift and our room, Number 5, is on the second floor.  While that doesn’t like sound like a big deal, there are many stairs and they are steep.

Stairs at Parklane Hotel (Small)

Stairs to the Second Floor of the hotel

I lugged our suitcases up to our room.  The room (no picture) was pretty nice.  It had a lot of room and very high ceilings – there was no AC (only a fan) and no screens on the windows.  The bathroom was pretty spacious with a nice shower.  Toiletries were midget size and there was no conditioner.  The bed was low to the ground and lumpy but good size.  We had neighbors on all sides so we are hoping that it will be quiet.  We do have a nice view of the Wertheimpark across the street.

Since the day was young, we decided to start exploring the city.  Amsterdam is pretty compact and our hotel was a good jumping off point for all of the city.  We got some advice from the hotel clerk and we were off and walking.

The first stop was Wertheimpark. 

Ellen entrance Wertheimpark (Small)

Ellen and Wertheim Park

It is literally across the street.  The entrance to the park is adorned with two imposing statues created by Dutch sculptor, Jan Wolkers.  In the center of the park, there is a Holocaust Memorial, Nooit Meer Auschwitz (“Never again Auschwitz”), consisting of six large broken mirrors.  The memorial is dedicated to the tens of thousands of Dutch Jews deported then murdered.  At the far end of Wertheim Park, there is a street – Anne Frankstraat – named after Anne Frank.

Holocaust Memorial Wertheim Park (Small) 

Holocaust Memorial

From the Park we next went to the Portuguese Synagogue. The Portuguese Synagogue was constructed by Sephardic Jews in 1615.  This synagogue, along with three other synagogues, served 100,000 Jews, the largest Jewish population in Europe.

Portuguese Synagogue1 (Small)

Portuguese Synagogue

We purchased a pass that would let us go through the Synagogue as well as the Jewish Museum, a block away.  The interior of the Synagogue was expansive and spectacular.

Portuguese Synagogue Interior 1 (Small) Portuguese Synagogue Interior 2 (Small)

Interior of the Portuguese Synagogue

The Synagogue is based somewhat on the Temple in Jerusalem.  It has exterior walls surrounding the synagogue as well as a ring of connected buildings.  In addition to offices for the Rabbis (“The Rabbinate”), there was a chapel (below) and the Board Room (far below)

Portuguese Synagogue Chapel (Small) Portuguese Synagogue Board Room (Small)

As we left the Synagogue to our next destination, we heard a familiar voice. Yes, Janet and Rebecca, cousins from Chicago, were just about to enter the Synagogue.  The two of them were in Amsterdam on a short vacation and by sheer luck we ran into each other.  Had we left a few minutes earlier, we would have missed each other.  It was nice to see familiar faces in a new city.  We spent a little time chatting and made plans to meet tomorrow for dinner.  We would communicate via e-mail.

Janet and Rebecca and E Portuguese Synagogue (Small)

Reunion at Portuguese Synagogue (Small)

Family Reunion in Amsterdam

Using our pass, we went to the Jewish History Museum – basically across the street.  This was part of the complex of Synagogues in Amsterdam.  It consisted of the New Synagogue , the Old Synagogue, and the Children’s Museum.  The Museum also had free WiFi, which was a bonus.

  Jewish Museum (Small)

The New Synagogue

Members of the Tribe Jewish Museum (Small)

Famous Jews together for one Photo

Our walk continued to the Moses and Aaron Church (Mozes en Aaronkerk).  This was a secret church for Catholics during the Calvinist period.

Moses and Aaron Church (Small)

Moses and Aaron Church

We continued down Jodenbreestraat (“Jewish Broad Street”) which was the center of Jewish Life in Amsterdam.  Off this street, we arrived at the Rembrandt Square – a busy square with restaurants and shops.  It also has the Rembrandthuis Museum (Rembrandt lived in this part of Amsterdam) which incorporates his original house.  The monument across the street (foreground below) has a reference to Jerusalem but I could not make out the Dutch.

Jewish Memorial Rembrandt Square (Small) 

Rembrandt Square and Monument

Ellen bikes and canal (Small)

The Canals, bikes, and Ellen

Nicolaaskerk is located at the end of one of the canals in the picture below.

Nicolaaskerk at the end of the canal (Small)

For dinner, we went to an Italian restaurant recommended by the Hotel staff.  It was behind the Park and over the canal, nestled in a group of restaurants.  The pizza (7 Euros) and Veggie Lasagna (8 Euros) were OK especially the pizza (very small lasagna portion).  The Coke Lite was truly “lite” (6 oz maybe).  Too much smoking interfered with the dinner.

Pedometer: 11,636 steps; 5.52 miles; 570 calories

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