- Amsterdam -

I'm aware of the irony that my last post was about the mundane things in life and the next few posts are about our trip to Amsterdam and Venice. I guess if I "scheduled my blog posts with an editorial calendar" that wouldn't happen. Oh, well - here's the beginning of my travel log. We have planned this trip for a few months. Initially, we were just traveling to Venice using Hilton Hotel Honor points and American Express sky miles. Then we realized that all flights to Italy went through the Delta hub in Amsterdam, so we decided to stop for a few days in Holland on the way and experience two European canal cities. 

Eating breakfast on the run is typical of this trip to Amsterdam and Venice. Scott has a packed itinerary for us and eating isn't on it, so I have to grab a bite when I can. On this pretty morning I had a chocolate croissant and orange juice as I watched the morning boat traffic on the canal in front of me.

There are over 50 miles of canals in Amsterdam - every main street is also lined with a canal. The population in the city is very dense and people are packed into small apartments and homes. The houseboats are fascinating to see and hard to imagine how those people live on the water all the time. Often having a houseboat spot is handed down from generation to generation, and the residents have special privileges hooking up to water and electricity.  

We climbed five stories of steep spiral steps and ladders to get halfway up the Westerkerk (West Church) and see the incredible city views. Westserkerk is the church that was near the home of Anne Frank - she could hear the bells ring as she and her family were in hiding. 

We paused for an hour while Scott made a sketch of a canal bridge with the church in the background. As I sat on a bench nearby, I decided to count the traffic. Bicycles are the main form of transportation in Amsterdam. It is astonishing how many bikes there are and how many different people are riding bikes. Young and old - with kids and with shopping bags - in suits and dresses and mini skirts - and, I'm not kidding, everyone is thin. Seriously, I got depressed because every person I saw (except some German tourists) was lean and blond and gorgeous. Back to the traffic...in one half hour I counted 110 bicycles cross the bridge, 12 cars, 1 truck and 9 scooters. 

Scott is amazing at finding places in a city. He knows how to use a map and he's not afraid to jump on public transportation and GO. I went online and found that there is only one LDS ward in Amsterdam.
On Sunday morning, we boarded the tram (like Trax in SLC) and headed for the suburbs. It took waaaayyyy longer than I expected to get there. Scott figured out exactly what tram to take and where to get off. It was about a two-block walk from the tram stop to the corner where the church was. I could not believe it as we went around the corner and saw the steeple of the church tucked into a little neighborhood of schools and a park. We went inside and felt that familiar comfort of being with fellow church members. After the meeting, we were greeted by several people and invited to have a cup of Pero (like Postum). We met a wonderful man who had served his mission in Cache Valley, Utah. He had a darling eight-year-old daughter by his side. He kept saying, "Small world, isn't it?" and we certainly agreed.

The canals and streets by night. The city is lit up and very beautiful at night. We stayed out walking and enjoying the street scenes every night until almost midnight. The only negative was that it was COLD and I didn't pack for the weather. I needed a down-filled parka. But that's easily forgotten and the memories are of great dinners (yes, Scott did slow down enough for some wonderful pasta, gnocchi, and fish and chips), friendly people, beautiful sights, and the joy of discovering all of it together.