Monday July 9, 2012

There was a feeling of déjà vu the other morning as our cruise-ship tied up in Rotterdam. This was the third time we been in this busy port – and it was now our turn to bid “Tot ziens!” (“goodbye” in Dutch) to the ms Rotterdam and its friendly crew. With our hats on our heads and our bags under our arms, we climbed aboard a waiting coach and headed for the nearby city of Amsterdam (and hour-and-a-bit-away) and the Convent Hotel – our accommodation for the next two nights.

Our Mad Midlife Kiwis spent the afternoon exploring, then got together for a typically Dutch dinner at a downtown restaurant with the untypically un-Dutch name of Humphreys.

Amsterdam– built across 70 islands and connected by 1000 bridges – is renowned for its dykes, canals, bridges, houseboats, windmills, cheeses and bikes. (They don’t have car-parks – they have bike-parks!) And we spent the next day (Sunday) enjoying this remarkable city and its surrounds … watching clog-makers make clogs in 13th-century dyke-village of Zaanse Schans … watching cheese-makers make cheese (and gobbled up the samples) in knock-your-socks-off Edam, one of the best-preserved old villages on the former Zuiderzee … and watching windmills make wind (?) as we motored across the famous canal-laced polder landscape.

We lunched in the picture-perfect fishing villageof Volendam (that picture spoiled slightly by rain)… took a small-boat ride to another picture-perfect village, Marken … then drove back into the city for a leisurely canal-cruise aboard a glass-covered boat. We decided not to join the 2-3-hour-long queues into the World War 2 hiding-place (now a museum) of teenager Anne Frank (her oh-so-moving diary rates second-only to the Bible in print-numbers and translations). And we wrapped up the day with our final Farewell Dinner – at a Dutch/Indonesian restaurant.

All good things come to an end … and, sadly, our Grand Baltic Adventure was pretty much over. And if you’d been at the hotel the following morning (Monday) you would have seen our intrepid Kiwis hugging each other, farewelling each other, and heading in different directions – some to further travel in Europe or the UK, the rest of us to Singapore and (eventually) home.

Yes, I know. We say this at the end of every Midlife Madness adventure – but it’s true! We’ve had a BALL! We’ve seen so much, done so much, learned so much, gained so much and laughed so much that we don’t know where to put it all!

We’ll never forget our lovely long weeks in Scandinavia …Russia… the Norwegian Fjords. And we’ll never forget each other …



The show aint over till the fat lady sings – or, in this case, till the little yellow ducky quacks. And three more prizes were claimed in these final days:

The Pyjama-Party Award was won by Derek – who forgot to leave some clothes out of his main bag on the last night of the cruise. That bag was taken at midnight by the crew for disembarkation, and Derek arrived inAmsterdam with no socks on his feet and still wearing his nightshirt!

The Leave-The-Packing-To-The-Men Award was taken home by Bruce – who had the opposite problem. Having urged his wife, several times, to check all cupboard and drawers in their cabin and make sure everything was packed properly, Bruce discovered the following morning that he’d left three shirts still hanging in his wardrobe!

The Locked-Out-&-Homeless Award was won by Allan – who returned from a very-early-morning walk on the streets of Amsterdam to find the hotel front-door firmly locked. Unable to raise anyone, Allan had no option but to sit outside like a vagrant for a lengthy period of time, until staff arrived to let him in!


  • Come Feb/Mar next year, we’re cruising around the bottom end of SOUTH AMERICA – a fabulous journey that includes the rounding of Cape Horn … a day in the Falkland Islands (weather permitting) … the awesome, thundering Iguazu Falls … and the spectacular Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu. Call Roger (Lion World Travel) on 0800 277 477 – or email – to request an InfoPack and register your early-booking.
  • We also have places left on next year’s RHINE & DANUBE Cruise (June). If your ‘bucket-list’ includes destinations like Amsterdam, Cologne, the castles of the Rhine Valley, Nuremburg, Vienna and Budapest… decide now that you’re going to join us. Call Roger (Lion World Travel) on 0800 277 477 – or email – and tell him: “YES, I WANT TO COME!”

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Hi to all the midlifers, well when we left you at schipol we thought we would have lovely quick flight to gatwick how wrong we were!!!!
    12 , yes 12 hours later we left the airport……. Our flight was cancelled due to it being broke!!!!
    And then we could not get on another until 9.40 pm that night, which then was delayed until 10.20 pm, so instead of getting to my cousin for lunch, we arrived at her place after midnight….. Needless to say not happy bunnies, but know schipol well now…….
    Thanks for being a great bunch of travelers, and see you back in nz…..sue and graeme

    • Hi to all back home on 13th August. Great tour with you all – experienced the 2nd part of my holiday in UK and Bergerac France with family. Love to hear from my fellow travellers please – cheers pam c. my email address

  2. A simply supherb tour and would do it all again. Still dream of all that sumptuous food on the Rotterdam!!!! Cheers Pam. PS will send you that recipe for fudge when I get your email address Judith.

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