Oude Houthaven

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12 travelers at this place

  • Day4

    Sep 23 - Diamonds and the Scenic Pearl

    September 23, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    The day dawned with overcast skies and evidence of rain last night. We had our usual breakfast and headed out about 9:30 a.m. for a 20-minute walk to Royal Coster Diamonds - no rain to dampen our spirits. Amsterdam has a long heritage of diamond trade and industry – the city has been a major diamond centre since Sephardic Jews introduced the diamond cutting industry in the late 16th century. They came to the area to escape religious persecution in Spain. Royal Coster Diamonds was founded in 1840 and claims to be the oldest still-operating diamond polishing factory in the world. So far there have been no challengers. The company has handled a few historical masterpieces, such as re-polishing the famed Koh i Noor diamond mounted in the Crown of Queen Mary and the Dresden Green Diamond, held in the New Green Vault at Dresden Castle.

    We had booked a tour - to our astonishment, our tour consisted of just the two of us. It was ably led by Josef, himself a career diamond man. We learned about how diamonds were created and where they are found. (Over the past 30 years, Canada has become a major world diamond producer, producing 23 million carats in 2017, valued at $2.6 billion USD.) We learned how diamonds are rated on the four C’s - colour, cut, clarity and carats. Josef described the various cuts of diamonds, especially the Royal 201-facet cut created by Costers. We were able to watch artisans polishing diamonds - a process done using high speed and other diamonds. A diamond polishing/cutting apprenticeship is only 7-10 years if you are considering a career change. He then took us into a special room and showed us unset diamonds and let us examine them under a loupe (eyeglass). Especially lovely was a heart-shaped diamond - one of the most difficult shapes to cut. We toured the show room of fabulous jewelry. Such beautiful items - deciding how to set each diamond is an art unto itself. We also had tickets for the Diamond Museum next door. There, we learned more about mining techniques and about the history of the diamond industry and saw replicas of famous crowns and tiaras. What a cool way to spend a morning.

    How's this for a bit of Girl Power? Between 1991 and 1994 Pauline Willemse, a diamond polisher at Royal Coster Diamonds, polished the smallest diamond in the world. This is a brilliant cut stone with 57 facets, weighing 0.0000743 carats (0.01486 mg). 0.16–0.17 mm in diameter and with a height of 0.11 mm.

    We packed up after lunch at Chez Anne’s AirBnB and trundled down to the tram stop. The tram dropped us off at the Central Train Station about 20 minutes later. We were proud of ourselves for not wimping out and taking a taxi. From there, it was a 10-minute walk to the pier where our home for the next two weeks was docked - the Scenic Pearl. (I’ll get a picture when we are docked tomorrow in Antwerp.) This is our third cruise with Scenic. We did the Tulips and Windmills cruise in 2015 and the Jewels of Europe cruise in 2016. In a delightful bit of serendipity, our cruise director for this cruise is Andreea, who was our cruise director for the 2016 cruise on this same ship. She gave us a huge hug and welcomed us aboard. (Shannon Crane - we both agreed that Andreea is your doppelgänger!)

    We have unpacked and are enjoying some downtime - we haven’t had a lot of it since leaving Grimsby on Friday afternoon. Harry, our butler, has just been to visit. Service is the watchword on Scenic cruises. Good chance to get this writeup done. We have a briefing at 6:00 p.m., dinner at 7:00 p.m. and we sail at 7:30 p.m. Tomorrow, we are doing a tour of Bruges in Belgium, a medieval city famous for its lace making. We have been to Bruges before - its many enchanting characteristics demand a second visit, and perhaps another small lace purchase.

    All aboard!
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  • Day13

    Leaving Amsterdam and Rotterdam

    May 7, 2015 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Despite high taxes and excessive government regulation, Amsterdam is a city that can barely function. Overpopulation and choking traffic are problems that the government has not been able to solve. We caught the bus at 5:30 pm in front of the NH Barbizon Hotel, a grandly beautiful modern interior in a historic building. We used their rest rooms before leaving to hit a traffic jam that delayed our return to Rotterdam about an hour. Hal and Sharon Miles happened to be in Horizon Court, so without even removing our jackets, we dined with them. I went back out on deck to grab a few shots of the sunset as we left Rotterdam.Read more

  • Day33


    August 19, 2017 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Looking around the city. Bikes everywhere. They rule the roads in the city. Went to have a look in the Red district. Very interesting but sad that this still exists. But we were still nosey and went to see the ladies in the windows. Smelt the air....full of dope. They have special coffee shops for smoking the stuff and eating special cookies. Gave this a miss.Read more

  • Day32

    Bridges, bridges and more Bridges

    July 20, 2016 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    in the city of over 2000 bridges Amsterdam! can u imagine the cost of upkeep!

  • Day80


    June 22, 2017 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We got woken up to the roaring building alarm telling everyone to evacuate the building.
    *grumble grumble*
    After the fire in London recently I was anxious to get out straight away but classic William DORDLED out of bed and into the toilet while the whole building is screaming NEE NOR NEE NOR.
    I stood by the door stuck between 2 impulses. One to run and one to wait for my idiot.
    Our room mates had long gone by now.
    He finally finished his 30 second wee and I went into the corridor which was packed.
    Story goes it was a false alarm but still, could not believe his lack of urgency. Especially after last week. I have no desire to die in a building fire.

    I snoozed for another 20 before starting to pack.
    I think I need a new toothbrush. My teeth still feel furry after brushing.
    Will has a very sad tummy :( has done for days. it's really awkward listening in to such private business but the toilet echoes 🤣
    We checked out with 3 keys - either our room mates left one of theres behind or my theory about be cleaner from last night is spot on.
    We went to central, Wills tummy needed food so we stopped in at the first thing we saw - Burger King because Will was getting pretty desperate for pain relief.
    He slowly nibbled on a cheese burger and I tried their big mac version, King Mac lol.
    Doesn't even come close.
    We then walked the terribly long 1.7km journey to our house boat.
    Ok so it's not that far but with my big bags, 100m is too far lol.
    We found the boat relatively easily.
    Our front door is so tiny!!! Because it leads to the bottom of the boat. Watching Will get in was quite funny.
    I went first, then the bags then him.
    It only came up to my hips so he had to practically fold in half hahah
    The inside is awesome though!!! Love it! We have aircon and a tv so we are set for our planned lazy day.👍🏼
    Nap time ✌🏼

    Woke up to the sound of rain 😍
    A massive storm soon came though. I loved it! I sat on a fluffy mat and looked out the little circle window. If Amsterdam floods the best place to be is on a boat 💪🏻
    It went for ages and the lightning from outside lit up our little space.
    So cozy :)

    In our welcome booklet thing it says there is a mini fridge and all drinks are free... we can't seem to find it though 🤔🤔

    We have no intentions of going out into the storm so we have decided to try using deliveroo.

    We have order pasta and pizza. I've put in the instructions to not enter the boat and I'll go upstairs when the app tells me they are on their way. 👍🏼
    We are watching the soccer at the moment.
    Cameroon Vs Australia. It took me a good solid 15 minutes to realize it wasn't in English.

    Our food was eh really hahah we are having such bad luck.
    At least it didn't break the bank.

    We went out to the supermarket. On the way I pet a cat 😍😍😍😍😍 beautiful baby rubbed up against my leg.
    I liked the walk to the supermarket. It was more suburban and you got to see where people who live in Amsterdam actually live.
    They have this big beautiful weed growing everywhere up their houses. It's actually quite a large flower.
    We bought bread and filling to make sandwiches to have for lunch tomorrow. We might go see some windmills. You shouldn't go to Holland and not see a windmill.

    Walked back. I've had a bowl of coco oops and we are watching the Telly.
    The room temperature is just right 👌🏻
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  • Day81


    June 23, 2017 in the Netherlands ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Thus far this has been a wasteful and yet wonderful day. It's 6pm and we haven't left the boat yet.

    Woke up around noon. Went to organised a bowl of cereal for some coco pops for us both but when I took the bowl off the rack it's unbalanced the cutlery which then fell off, slid down the curvature of the boat and I got stabbed in the foot. Lucky it was butter knife or it would have pierced me for sure. This version of events just hurt a lot!
    No cut so happy with that.
    The coco pops were so good. Didn't realize how much i like coco pops until be had then at the hostel in Bruges.
    I had a mid afternoon nap which took me all the way through until 5pm hahaha.
    I think Will was on his phone the whole time.
    Before my nap we tried to make sandwiches but the bread was some multigrain vegan free rubbish. Will finished his first sandwich but couldn't finish mine for me. He touched the meat and was horrified by its texture because it was raw. We had a heated discussion over how I had just poisoned him 😂😂😂😂 then I googled the name on the wrapper - it's meant to be raw- which was my assumption - and apparently it's traditionally ox meat. Not sure if our batch was though.
    The second sandwich was put in the bin.

    Now after my nap, I'm writing this while sitting on the deck of the boat waiting for our Indian deliveroo person.
    Yesterday just went so well we thought we would do it again.

    The Indian was good. We got some share deal which ended up working out well.
    I'm trying to organize Denmark and Norway it's so stressful because I'm waiting for people to reply. We have finalized meeting dates with both danish groups and Randi has offer accommodation in Norway woohoo!
    Julie is also trying to get us free ferry tickets to get from the top of Denmark to Norway but and while that is great I still don't yet know what ports I also need to get to and from.

    Found out Laura is in Amsterdam lol so we are going to meet her tomorrow before getting on the train.
    It's going to be a massive Ukutula reunion week lol.
    I feel like we haven't properly done Holland having not seen a windmill lol. Except the boring white ones we saw which we also have so it's not as exciting.
    On our final night we celebrated with a final joint hehe sorry mum.
    I don't want to pack. Our stuff is everywhere lol
    Should shower... won't have opportunity for 2 days but i really cbf right now lol
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Oude Houthaven