> SlowTrav > Stories > Pauline's Pages > 1997, Italy, Switzerland

Summer 1997 - Italy and Switzerland

Back to Zurich and off for a weekend in Amsterdam

Friday July 25

Breakfast at the local cafe. Good coffee, rolls, butter, jam. The cafe filled up at 9:00, with construction workers and other locals. A nice cafe. Bought cow bells in a hardware store - Grosse Joe's - 2 small and 1 large. They offered to gift wrap them.

Took the train to Tasch and our car. Drove to the Goppenstein car train to ride through the mountains. Drove into Thun for lunch. Then took the Autobahn all the way to Zurich. Cloudy, some rain.

The driving in Zurich was crazy for the last 15 minutes trying to find EuropeCar. Dead end streets and I couldn't figure out the map. Returned the car with the usual chaos. They called us a cab immediately, then I sat in the loaded cab while Steve stood in the office watching them not be able to print the bill. They blamed it on a new computer system in Paris. In the end they gave up and we left without our final bill.

Dinner at the vegetarian restaurant. Raining. Using the umbrella that is barely working. Spent the evening packing and arranging things - all set for Amsterdam. We will leave most of our luggage with the hotel because we return for one night before we fly home.

Saturday July 26

Slept well with the window open. We have a room on the quiet side of the building this time. Every bed in Switzerland has been 2 singles together, each with their own comforter. Taxi to the airport and a quick one and a half hour flight to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is warm and sunny. Arrived at the hotel we had booked (Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky) but hated it. The lobby was great, but the rooms horrible. We made them give us a different room, but it was no better. We decided to stay just the one night and move to a nicer hotel. It is supposed to be a very good hotel, but it sure wasn't.

Headed out in search of frites. We remembered the frites stands from when we were here in 1988. Walked through the crowded shopping area, found the peaceful canal area, found the hotel we had stayed at last time (Amsterdam Wiechmann Hotel on Prinsengracht), but we couldn't reserve a room (they do walk-ins only). So we looked at the Sheraton, which we assumed would be horrible, and it was very nice (several old canal houses connected), so we booked a room for the next day.

Walked some more and got really lost, walked the length of the downtown area, found frites by the train station, had some with mayo and shared a beer. Found better frites in a paper cone, on Damark, the main, crowded busy street, and shared a cone. We have now had enough frites. Sat at a cafe outdoors on a canal bridge and drank beer. Back to hotel at exhausted with aching legs and feet from what turned out to be five hours of walking. Steve says our up and down walking muscles are in shape from Italy and Switzerland but not our flat walking muscles.

Went out for dinner to an Indonesian restaurant for vegetarians rijsttafel. Walked around the Red Light district. Hookers on display in windows, young men standing round looking, counting their money, negotiating, lots of drunks, live sex shows, porn on display in windows. Last time, when we walked around this district and even went to a live sex show, it seemed more wholesome. This time it was really crowded and creepy. Maybe we are just getting older. Started to rain.

Sunday July 27

Woke up to church bells, checked out, walked to the better hotel (Hotel Pulitzer), and checked in. Bought a London Sunday Times and went to a cafe for breakfast (recommended by woman who checked us in). Our hotel room is lovely and looks out onto a canal. Nice noise from the street: people, occasional cars, church bells, water noises, a nice breeze. Overcast today.

I went out to the big, Harrods-like department store on the Dam (De Bijenkork). The Dam was full of people swarming across the streets ignoring the lights. The store was packed too. Wonderful things. Great towels and sheets in the linen department, books and magazines upstairs, great selection of Kipling bags. I bought a bunch of things to take home.

Monday July 28

I get waves of teariness, thinking about the vacation ending. Had breakfast in the local cafe. Bright, warm and sunny today. Went to the Van Gogh museum - great paintings, but very crowded. Lunch at the Pancake Bakery - pancake restaurants are very common here. Walked along the canal streets. Found a drugstore selling candy in paper cones and bought double salted black licorice.

Dinner at an Italian restaurant (Caprese Restaurant Italiano).

Tuesday July 29

Sunny and warm. It was a great weekend in Amsterdam. Breakfast at the cafe. Took a taxi to the airport, flew back to Zurich, took a taxi to the hotel and retrieved all our luggage. Spent the afternoon walking around Zurich. Our last dinner at the vegetarian restaurant (Gleich).

Wednesday July 30

Taxi to the airport and a Swiss Air flight home. Delta (and Swiss Air) are much better than American Airlines.

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