Tulips, Delft, and Exploding CheeseJune 20 in the United States
We’re back home now and it’s my job to try to recreate our last full day and trip back to NC. So here goes. Once Johnny was up in the late morning, we decided to check out a different pancake place—this one near the Leidseplein. While the service was slow with one poor guy serving all the tables, the food was great. We got a cheese and mushroom savory pancake and two sweet ones. Delish!
Our main activity of the day was a little bit of shopping. We first checked out a Delft shop on the Leidseplein and saw a ton of gorgeous vases, plates, etc. Then we hopped on a tram to the flower market and Muntplein. The flower market is not at all what you would expect because there are only a few actual flowers there. It’s primarily a place to buy bulbs and seeds for tulips and other flowers. One side of the street is lined with stalls for the market and the other side is little shops selling cheese, souvenirs, and food. The number of different types of tulip bulbs on sale was amazing. I was particularly taken with a bucket full of blue/black tulips unlike any I have ever seen.
At the end of the flower market is the Muntplein with an old photogenic clock tower. There’s a Delft shop in there as well so we checked that one out, too. Rich spent quite a while trying to get a photo of the tower while the sun played hide and seek. He finally prevailed! Then we wandered back to the tram stop by way of a waffle shop where we simply had to try a freshly made stroopwafel. For those who haven’t had this little delight, it’s two thin waffles sandwiching a layer of caramel. Yum!
We headed back to the houseboat by way of the first Delft shop and started a hot game of Phase 10, pausing now and then to watch another game of the World Cup. In the late afternoon, we hopped the tram again—this time to the Spui stop where we had a dinner reservation at Haesje Claes, a traditional Dutch restaurant. It’s a beautiful place with dark paneled walls and dim lighting. Johnny tried a duck leg inspired by Jack’s blogging about “blame Abba’s duck leg” on the trip we took with him to Amsterdam. We all had a far too heavy, but totally delicious, meal and toasted our last night in Amsterdam.
The next morning, Rich and I woke up early and walked down to our little corner café for breakfast and, most important, coffee, while Johnny slept late. It was a gorgeous day—sunny, cool and breezy. Than it was time to run clean-up on the houseboat as we stripped sheets and gathered up towels, took out the trash, and washed our dishes before heading out to the airport. We decided we could easily make the return trip via tram and airport train, so we caught the tram from Leidseplein to Centraal and then boarded a train to Schiphol airport. We had no trouble getting our boarding passes for the Iceland Air flights, making our way through security, and finding a spot for lunch. Everything went smoothly on the 3-hour flight from Amsterdam to Iceland and then on the 5-hour flight from Iceland to Boston.
The Iceland flight had been late leaving, so our hour and a half layover in Boston was a bit tight. I checked Flight Aware and they said our JetBlue flight to RDU was late. Whew! The fun started when we had to wait in a long line to get through passport control. Then we had a terrible time finding our way to the domestic terminal where we needed to get our JetBlue boarding passes. We finally got there and tried to print passes at the kiosk—no luck. They sent us to the help desk which was overrun with large groups of people with huge piles of suitcases and badly-behaved children. No one ever seemed to leave the two clerks who were on duty. Finally, in desperation Rich went to a different line across the room. We eventually made our way to the front (where the clerk chastised us for breaking the line, which we hadn’t done!) and were told our flight was closed but we might make it if we ran. She gave us expedited boarding stamps on our boarding passes and we took off running to security. Rich made it through, but Johnny got stopped to take off his shoes because he put his boarding pass (the one with the expedited stamp) into the bin and couldn’t retrieve it. I waited behind him while he got his shoes scanned. We told Rich to go on to the gate to tell them we were coming. Johnny and I got through the metal detector and then my bag was pulled out for additional scanning. I told Johnny to go on to the gate while I waited to have the bag searched. It turned out to be a little ball of cheese that caused the problem. They found it and swabbed it for explosives!! Really?? By this time, I was somewhat frantic. I got my bags together and started running (Yes, running!! Me!!) to the gate with tears streaming down my face. I was almost there when I spied Rich motioning me to slow down. It turned out the plane had not yet started loading, so I had time to wash my face and pull myself together. Rich and Johnny were very sweet and helped me calm down. The rest of the trip was uneventful. We were so grateful to see Kenny waiting for us at RDU at nearly midnight to take us home to bed!
Except for that little airport drama in which Rebecca lost her cool (something that almost never happens), the return trip was smooth. In fact, the whole trip was smooth: we got where we were supposed to get in both Iceland and Amsterdam with no trouble, despite the fact that we spent better than half the trip seriously jet-lagged; we enjoyed moderate temperatures in both places and felt smug whenever we checked on the weather in North Carolina; we saw some remarkable landscapes in Iceland and Rebecca and I enjoyed the never-before seen sight of a sparkling clean Amsterdam almost completely free of graffiti and homeless panhandlers (unlike the Giuliani model for New York, the Dutch approach is to take care of their homeless rather than just forcing them to move somewhere else); we ate wonderfully well, including Johnny, who was totally open to trying anything put in front of him and liked almost all of it, including some pretty exotic dishes in the rijstaffel we went to; and Rebecca and I had the pleasure of introducing Johnny to the great pleasure of visiting new cultures and having unfamiliar experiences and the equally great pleasure of returning to the familiarity of home, which there’s no place like.Read more