we got to the train station with plenty of time before it was time to start the last leg of our trip.
we wandered through the station checking out our options for food - everything from kiosks to sit-down restaurants to grab & go-style stores with fresh hot and cold entrees to choose from.
we were amused at this kiosk:
but ended up at the tried-and-true for our caffeine fix.
it was finally time to board our train, stow our luggage and find our seats.
in no time we had left france and were going through belgium.
and then we were in the netherlands and getting off the train in amsterdam.
there were dedicated bike lanes everywhere, which were not only for bicycles but mopeds and even motorcycles. and it was fun to watch them ride right from the street onto waiting ferries.
uber took us to our home for the next few days, the hotel JL no. 76.
i was really amused by the randomness of their lobby decor.
once we got things somewhat settled, we decided to head on out and check out the city. and we found that we had a whole street of high-end shops right in our back yard.
there were tons of shops and restaurants and bicycles everywhere. we learned pretty quickly that we had to watch out for several levels of traffic as we crossed the street - first, we had to look out for bicycles/mopeds/motorcycles. then there were trains. and cars. and then we could finally cross the street - but then we had to watch out for all of those layers again in reverse. we almost got taken out a few times throughout our time, and we joked that it was how we would go out - run over by some sort of vehicle in amsterdam. heh.
as we walked along, we found lots and lots of things to buy - cigars, stroopwaffles, shoes, clothes, rubber duckies, you name it.
every day is pancake day in amsterdam.
it also happened to be a record-breaking day weather wise. it was almost 90 degrees, and i was walking around in the only dress i had - but it was black and long-sleeved. coupled with the hot flashes i've started experiencing, i was dying and sweating my face off. and so when we came upon a cute little shop with a sale on all dresses, i went in. i picked out a dress i knew i'd wear often once back home, and changed into it as soon as i'd paid for it. ah, much better.
cheesy photo op!
as we continued to wander around the shops started to...change. heh.
also, if you didn't know - when in amsterdam, if you go into a "coffee shop," it's likely not what you're expecting it to be. although once you get near the entrance, the familiar weed smell will tell you what they're offering inside. we never did go inside any of them, though. i'm too much of a fuddy-duddy for that.
we decided to head back towards the hotel, where i ended up taking a nap while the hub went around the corner to one of the cigar lounges he'd found via yelp. a couple of hours later, i went over there to meet up with him so we could go find some dinner.
just a couple of blocks away we found one of the restaurants that had been recommended to us by the clerk at the hotel. and we love a good plate of meat.
our server brought us these little glasses of what tasted like limoncello at the end of our meal.
we headed off again to catch a glimpse of amsterdam nightlife and found ourselves in the red light district, which turned out to be that "seedy area" we'd walked through earlier.
by then it was well past midnight and we were both pretty wiped out. we caught another uber and headed back to hotel JL no. 76 and passed out cold. i'd say we'd definitely made the most out of our day, wouldn't you?