5th & 6th Jan.
Whether we went travelling again depended on Sue getting well, neither of us wanted to repeat the disappointment of cancelling of our trip down the Amazon of last January, so with that in mind Sue resolutely stuck to the task and remaining in pyjamas for four days, she kept herself warm, dosed herself with medication and ate what ever I cooked, without complaint. By Friday, we felt that she had got on top of the ‘bug’ and permitted the family to visit in the evening for a fish and chip supper.
On Saturday morning Sue showed further improvement and seemed nearly back to her old-self so we set about getting the house ready for our extended absence. The alarms and camera passwords had been transferred to Suraj so that he could monitor the house online. Our neighbour had been asked to keep an eye open (we do they same for them), the pool had been topped up and for the first time during a winter excursion I had left the cover on. Gas, water and some non-vital electrical equipment had been disconnected and Jamie had been primed to take us to Tilbury Docks. He had booked to have a meal at the Oxo Tower in London after dropping us off at the port with Ashton, but when she woke up she was too ill (may have caught Sue’s bug) and he was taking his best friend Tommy instead.
He dutifully arrived to pick us up at 1.30pm before picking Tommy up on our way to the A14. We completed the journey in a little over 2 hours, with just the one delay thirteen miles away from the port. There had been a crash on the slip road off the notorious M25. Fortunately it delayed us just for 20 minutes and we were soon checking in onto the Colombus.
Our cabin was ready for us so we quickly located it, dropped off our carry-on baggage and set off to find the Plantation Bistro for a much needed coffee. With thirst quenched we returned to the cabin to find that our suitcases had been delivered so we set about putting away things in drawers and checking the various documentation left in the room for our information.
Like most others, we then had a good wander to locate the position of various facilities before returning to our cabin and changing for the evening meal in the Waterfront restaurant. We had opted for a second sitting so it wasn’t until 9pm that we sat down. We had also opted for a table of six so that we could chat to fellow travellers, but disappointingly we were the only ones that turned up, so ate alone. We hoped that the others had chosen to eat in the buffet for that meal and would turn up on the following evening or perhaps they were guests that weren’t being picked up until Amsterdam, we shall see.
We managed to stay awake long enough to take in a show in the theatre, the ship’s resident singers sang a medley of songs finishing with Nessum Dorma. Then off to bed.
Breakfast was followed by a game of bucket bean bags in one of the bars. A fierce competition, magnificently won by myself by a huge margin, with Sue coming in 2nd place, my prize for lobbing bean bags into a bucket 3m away was a ship’s pen. We were brought down to Earth with a dismal showing in the following quiz, with a score of 7/25, though 11/25 won the prize of a plastic piggy bank. Truly life-changing prizes.
The ship docked in Amsterdam at 1pm so after lunch we left the ship to see the sights. As our berth was in the centre of the city most of the tourist venues were within a 30 minute stroll, today it was rather a chilly wander around this canalled city, constantly on the lookout against being mown down by the seemingly millions of healthily motivated citizens on bicycles going about their daily business business. We felt sorry for the poor little children strapped into box like contraptions on the front of mum or dad’s cycle, they looked blue with cold while the adult looked decidedly warm with the extra exertion of transporting their offspring.
Following the map on my mobile phone we easily found ourselves outside the Anne Frank Museum after navigating and photographing our way over picturesque bridges and alongside busy tourist boat infested waterways. We knew that the museum was booked out weeks ago, but we were playing our luck and hoping for fate to smile on us, she didn’t. After a few photos outside we visited the nearby Tulip Museum and discovered the history and industry of tulip growing. It seems that they originated in Afghanistan and the sultan Sulliman the Magnificent was particularly struck by them, it is thought the name tulip is derived from the shape the flower and its similarity to that of the turban. Sue made some purchases in the shop.
We next came across the Cow Museum and then the Duck Museum, amusing affairs of plastic/pottery collections of of these animals in as many different poses and situations as you can imagine. A bit of fun that raised a smile on an increasingly cold day.
We finished our ramble around the city with a wander around Magna Square where the Royal Palace is situated. The square itself was busy with various protest groups displaying their banners, posters and propoganda paraphernalia. There was the pro-Israeli group opposite the pro-Palestinian group, with the pro-Lebanese to one side, all very low key and civilised. Scattered around were also the obligatory human statues touting for donations, for a while we were attracted to a whip cracking entertainer who promised over his Tannoy to all and sundry a superb performance of what we never found out as the cold got into our bones as we, along with everyone else waited patiently while he set up the equipment for his act. It appeared to be some sort of bondage thing (very apt for Amsterdam), but we left chilled out before he started.
We visited a Mison pottery outlet on our route back to the ship, Sue to make a purchase and I to escape the Dutch refrigerator outside.
The Dutch passengers were still boarding the boat as we returned, eager for warming coffees we hurried inside.
The show before our evening meal was a musical and dance affair. We had company for dinner, Ian and Diane from Plymouth, they had eaten in the buffet the previous night. We got on well and chatted throughout the meal, we wondered if the other two seats would be occupied on the following night.