I managed to locate my hotel with very little trouble. Luckily my room was ready for occupation, however FINDING my room was to prove more troublesome. My room number was 409, and I was directed to the lift by the Receptionist. I pressed 4 and exited at the 4th floor. I walked around the corridors of the floor only to find the rooms went to 407. I even checked the fire escape map just to check I wasn’t going mad! I couldn’t locate room 409 for the life of me! So, I went back to Reception, by this time hot, frustrated and rather less fragrant than previously, where a second receptionist told me to go to the SECOND floor and follow the corridor around. Of course! How stupid of me!
I eventually found my room which was located in the newly refurbished annexe. I opened the door to find a huge room, akin to a barn complete with beams! All I wanted to do was get out of my travel clothes, shower and rest. I read two chapters of my current book and dozed off for 30 minutes. I awoke to Paul calling to make arrangements to meet him, Jim and John-John. I eventually located the guys in C&A buying clothes. I was sorely tempted to make a few purchases myself but reminded myself of my vast wardrobe at home, and my small hand luggage travel case which was already full. With amazing restraint, even for me, I resisted… especially when I learned that they operate online! 😉
The guys wanted to go to a market they’d heard about, so I grabbed some Frites and Mayo (local delicacy) to eat en route. We eventually found the market, which sold all manner of produce. I bought an ethnic style necklace and we decided to go for a much needed cooling drink afterwards. We found a street side café with a free table and ordered some soft drinks. The weather, by this stage, was glorious and we lapped up the rays as we chatted and drank. At 5pm we parted ways for a siesta/rest with plans to meet later that evening at the bar of the American Hotel in Leidesplein by 7.30pm where we would also meet the rest of our 15 strong gang and celebrate with the birthday boy!
Many cocktails later 6 of us decided to grab a bite to eat, and found a Dutch style restaurant called Mirabelle. The food was OK (I had shrimp croquettes and rib eye steak) then afterwards, by this time it was 11pm; service was slow! we re-grouped with the rest of the gang in a bar on Amstel called “Café Rouge” which bears no connection to the restaurant chain of the same name. We drank, we sang, we enjoyed each other’s company. Then, at 12.30am I hit “the wall”. A combination of too much to drink, and not enough rest, finally hit me. Well, I had been awake for nearly 22 hours. I bade my farewells and walked back to my hotel which took me about 25 minutes. I have walked across Amsterdam in the wee small hours on my own before and had no qualms about doing it again despite the protests of some of my friends. I convinced them I’d be OK as I’ve always found Amsterdam to be as safe a place as I have ever known. Pity I can’t say the same about London! Nonetheless, the more concerned blokes in our party insisted I text to say I got back safely, which I did. My main concern was walking across the city in my heels which were starting to run and cause a blister!
Finding my room much easier than I’d done previously that day, I read a couple more chapters from my book, and fell asleep after 1am. I had a very pleasant night’s slumber and woke around 9am the next day – unheard of, for me! Having a 7 yo child, I’m normally pre-set to wake around 7am, no matter which day of the week it is! It was so nice to have a proper sleep in! I woke to a text from Paul, arranging to meet him, Jim and John-John for breakfast in Leidesplein. I checked my bag into left luggage at my hotel and met the guys as planned. A restorative glass of orange juice, a strong coffee and a Croquet Monsieur later, we were ready to make our way to the Rijksmuseum which was a short 5 minute walk away.
Once at the Rijksmuseum, I was delighted to find two huge Henry Moore sculptures located outside. I am a huge fan of his work and am lucky enough to live 10 minutes away from his old home, Hoglands, in which the Henry Moore Foundation displays a significant number of his sculptures and features his old workshop with working models and maquettes galore!
Going to the Rijksmuseum always reminds me of an old friend, who, having consumed too much alcohol one night, stumbled his way to what he thought was Centraal station, only to arrive at the Rijksmuseum which is a very similar looking building. In his drunken state he wondered why there were a distinct lack of trains!!
We decided which bits of the Rijks we all wanted to view, and agreed to meet back as we wanted to see different areas. John-John and I made our way to the 3rd floor where the modern art was located, and walked around the museum together as our tastes as fairly similar when it comes to the arts.
We were all delighted to find that there was a more extensive collection of Henry Moore sculptures in the gardens outside the museum so we agreed to view those before heading back to collect my case, then onwards to Centraal for me to catch a train towards Schipol and my eventual flight home.
We caught a tram to Centraal (hurrah!) I bought a train ticket and checked out the times (conveniently every 15 minutes) then went for a coffee and snack. My flight back was rather uneventful; I bought the obligatory Toblerone from the airport shop and walked halfway across the airport to my gate. On arrival at Stansted I was very surprised to find my hubby and son waiting for me at the Arrivals gate – a perfect end to a lovely weekend!