Friday May 31, 2013

I realise you’ve been hanging-out for another report, and we’ve got a bit of ground to make up, so let me keep this brief – okay? Okay …


After 11+ hours in the air (yawn), we touched down at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam (Holland) around 7am, and were delivered safely to the Convent Hotel in the city-centre. With its cobbled streets, picturesque canals, colourful markets, old crooked houses, Rijksmuseum, lumbering windmills, steep-gabled mansions, cosy Dutch cafés and countless bikes, the Netherlands’ capital is one of the most captivating places in Europe … and, despite misty clouds and drizzly rain, we Kiwis were soon captivated!

Come early evening, we paid a respectful visit to the museum-plus-hiding-place of Anne Frank – one of the millions of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution during WW2. Teenager Anne kept a diary (now published in more languages than any other book, save the Bible) until 1944, when someone betrayed her family to the SS. She died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen camp.

Finally, we wrapped up the day with a classy, fun-filled ‘Midlife Madness Welcome Dinnerat a local “cellar” restaurant … Yeehaa!


Following an early wake-up call, we drove through Amsterdam’s outskirts to Aalsmeer, home of the largest flower auction in the world – where we caught early-morning buyers bidding for zillions of flowers, and marvelled at the organisational brilliance involved. Then, in the quaint little town of Zanse Schanse, we checked out some traditional wooden houses and watched clogs being made – before driving to a one-time-fishing-village-now-famous-tourist-attraction, Volendam, where we ate lunch and tasted some cow, goat and sheep cheeses.

However, what we’d really been waiting for happened late-afternoon, when we arrived at the dock where the Amadeus Princess, our floating hotel, was parked. We went aboard, unpacked in our cabins, had drinkies in the expansive lounge, sat down in the dining-room to a scrumptious five-course dinner, crawled into big comfy beds, lay our weary heads on huge soft pillows, and went out like lights.

Pray for us, won’t you. This non-stop pampering is gonna be awful, but we’ll do our level best …


Amsterdam, first settled as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, is one of the world’s best and oldest hangouts: a unique metropolis made up of 70 islands (and land reclaimed from the sea) connected by canals and bridges galore. So, with one further morning to enjoy here, we grabbed the chance of a leisurely city-tour – plus a magical canal-cruise in one of Amsterdam’s famous glass-covered boats: along tree-lined waterways lined with Burgher’s mansions, gabled roofs, floating houseboats, the Royal Palace, the ‘Magere Brug’ (the city’s most photographed bridge), the Red Light District, and more.

Then, an hour ago, as the clock struck noon, the Amadeus Princess set sail along the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal, through the flat polder landscape of Southern Holland. (The weather? Warm and sunny!)

If you’re doing nothing tonight, why don’t you join us on Deck 3 for a rousing, brightly-costumed, hand-clapping, leg-kicking, petticoat-flashing Dutch folklore-show?

PEOPLE NEWS: Nominations for our hotly-sought-after Midlife Madness Awards are being received … and two of these quacky yellow ducks have already been claimed:

  • Cheryl-with-a-C walked off with the ‘Zippety-Doo-Daa’ Award – and the long-story-short goes like this: (i) Cheryl lost her camera, and reported that it had been stolen from her bag somewhere between Singapore and Europe; (ii) she sparked a full lost-&-found plus search-&-rescue, but to no avail; (iii) she was, therefore, on the verge of buying another camera when, (iv) lo-&-behold, she discovered another zip in her bag and another compartment she hadn’t previously noticed, and (v) therein (you guessed it) was her stolen camera.
  • Alan-with-an-A took away the ‘Whatever-You-Do-Don’t-Push-This’ Awardfor letting his curiosity get the better of  him whilst seated in the loo on our Singapore Airlines 767. Spotting a red button and wondering what it was for, Alan pressed it (as you do) – and, when nothing happened, pressed it again. He then saw it was an alarm, for summoning the cabin crew, and, quickly finishing up, he vacated the loo. His place was instantly taken by another urgent passenger, the door was quickly closed, and Alan walked quickly back to his seat – passing, on the way, two crew members who were rushing to see why the alarm had been pushed. (We would all love to know what happened after that …!)

TOMORROW: We have an afternoon rendezvous in the great German city of Cologne, dominated by its vast Gothic Cathedral. So stay tuned …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this page, and add your ‘COMMENTS’! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.

This entry was posted in 2013 Danube & Rhine by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

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 Alison & Alan (Keen), hope all is going well and you’re relaxing. The itinerary looks great. Thinking of you.

  2. Dear Grandma (Helen Wylie), I miss you. I love you forever and I know you are a long way away. I wish you would send us a beautiful postcard and bring us back something beautiful that isn’t a postcard. From Huey (and from Monty and Zachy too) xx

  3. Hello Margy Vincent
    Amsterdam ziet er geweldig uit! Het gaat goed, het weer is hier warm en zonnig. Blijf op de hoogte.
    Love, Tony

  4. Nice to see Robyn & Anne Franks being protected by a “Canterbury” umbrella!!!
    Say hi to those familiar faces in the group>


  5. Hi Mum, the trip is sounding great! Lovely photo of the group. Hope you really enjoy Germany – make sure you sample all the local delicacies! Happy birthday to Dad today. Lots of love, Rachel

  6. Hi Mum (Helen Wylie) Great to hear what you’ve been up to. You look like you’re having fun! Dad would be proud of you. Love Jill
    Hi Grandma, the places you are visiting look amazing, can’t wait to visit them myself sometime soon! Enjoy the rest of your exploring. Love Sophie xx

  7. Cheryl with a C, glad you found that camera, loved the story ha ha, looks like you are having an awesome time away….. are you wearing your whistle and name tag

  8. Hey Mum (Cheryl Thomson), looks like your having a primo time. Typical about the camera, only you haha. Shame about the floods, hopefully the weather clears soon and you guys can carry on. All good back here so have a ball !!!!

    Lots of Luv
    Allan, Ciaran, Janine and family xxx

  9. Message for Gay Hardie
    Hi Gay, up to Friday blog your trip so far sounded fabulous and such fun. Loved your group photo and your smile said it all! Bet your birthday on 30th was super special for you! Your itinerary looks very exciting so TRY and have a ball!
    Lots of love

  10. To Patty Osborne.
    Hi Patty and Gaye. Sounds as though you are having a great time, All good here. Impact has gone well. Beatuiful weather.. Take Care Love Heather

  11. Dear grandma Helen McKenzie,
    Mia thinks the pictures of Amsterdam are lovely – especially the clogs.

    Nice to see your smile.

    In the throes of organising Frankie’s birthday party and getting Mia through her ballet exam. Your adventure , photos and news light relief .

    Many hugs Julie, Mia and Frankie xxxxooooxxx

  12. Hi Cheryl with a C: Sounds like you are having an awesome time. Glad you found your camera. We want to see all those photos. Hope the floods don’t hold you up for too long, just drink more wine. Say hello to Robyn and John, Margaret B and Sandra – from Diane and J

  13. message for Gay Hardie. Loved your photo and the holiday sounds amazing. Happy birthday for the 30th May. What a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday. All is well here. Love Lynne

  14. Hi Cheryl loved the comments about the camera hope the floods go down just drink more wine and have fun love sis and ross

  15. Hi Marg
    Probably like the relatives of everyone else we’re wondering how you’re being affected by the flooding. Hope it isn’t going to ruin any of the trip.

  16. Hi ya Coons … Am still cracking up laughing about the guys pushing the red button in the loo … what a hoot … the poor person who went in next probably got the third degree .. ha ha.
    Hey you are really getting us keen on hitting Holland .. sounds so lovely.
    Yea we will most definitely meet you on the deck .. we are home now and the
    rain is such a welcome sight NOT!!!! We just want to head off again. Maybe we will join you on your trip .. that would be a blast aye. 🙂
    So glad you are having fun .. Massive hugz from us .. the Kerks xxxx

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