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Hoopster95

BRILLIANCE (British Isles) June 19-July 2,2018 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Hi everybody,

I just got home a couple of days ago from an excellent bucket list 12-day British Isles cruise aboard Brilliance:

 

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June 21 - Amsterdam

June 22 - at sea

June 23 - Edinburgh (Scotland)

June 24 - Invergordon (Loch Ness)

June 25 - at sea

June 26 - Greenock (Glascow)

June 27 - Dublin

June 28 - Dublin

June 29 - Holyhead (Wales)

June 30 - at sea

July 1 - St. Peter Port (Guernsey, Channel Islands)

July 2 - Dover, England

July 3 - Amsterdam

 

 

Jetlag has been a little rough on me this time around, and I've had a super heavy work load on my return... besides sorting through a couple thousand photos and a few videos (nowhere close to being finished doing this!) and a wedding to go to Saturday, I haven't had time to start a review. Hopefully I'll start by Sunday or Monday. I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride!

 

For now, here's a few teaser photos.... can you guess where they are?

 

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I barely recognise those pictures being the UK because of the blue skies!! Hope you had a good time!

 

Ps: we just loved Vancouver!

 

 

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I barely recognise those pictures being the UK because of the blue skies!! Hope you had a good time!

 

 

 

I agree we are just having some amazing weather at the moment :D

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We are getting a heatwave in the UK right now (well what we call a heatwave). Great weather for a UK cruise.

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We have brilliance booked for next year and never been on this ship before so interested to hear your thoughts and see your pictures. We are from the UK and even I think your itinerary looks great - I would do it!

Weather here has been fantastic for the last few weeks so you picked a great time to go.

 

 

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SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

 

You’ve started your review!!!!!

 

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

 

(Can you tell I’m excited??!!)

 

So, Mike and I just got home the day before yesterday - and from all of the unpacking, laundry, sorting mail, playing with pets, kissing on the kids, etc, etc, I haven’t even had a chance to breathe - let alone start a review!!!

 

With that said, we had an AMAZING time on this cruise with you - TOO MUCH FUN!!! “The Three Amigos” could have been our name - it was cool that you hung out with us “old fogies” - and the laughter we shared I will remember always!!!!

 

Can’t wait for your review!!! (Say good things about us, please...ha ha!)

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Following with interest, on my bucket list. Thank you for doing this:D

 

And, what a great and pleasant surprise to find Sherri again, after... what... 4 years??

Glad to have u back on board, DQ :halo:

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And, what a great and pleasant surprise to find Sherri again, after... what... 4 years?? Glad to have u back on board, DQ :halo:

 

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!

 

YES!!! Sherri is back!

 

Haha... For those of you who are unfamiliar, Kanscocoa is an iconic reviewer on CC.... for me, made famous by her hilarious "Middle Aged Drama Queen" solo-Allure review several years ago. Many of you might remember it

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1781792&highlight=middle+aged+drama+queen

 

She has several others as well (insert "Middle Aged Drama Queen" into the search tool here on CC and scroll down).

I had the honor to have dinner and hang out with Sherri & Mike much of this cruise.... what a blast!

She is so not a drama queen.... other than when dh leaves her stranded on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with no one else in site (foreshadowing) LOL!! :halo::evilsmile:

(do keep your Seattle idea in mind, k? I'm all over it.... or you guys detouring to Vancouver and I'll show you around :D)

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I barely recognise those pictures being the UK because of the blue skies!! Hope you had a good time!

 

Ps: we just loved Vancouver!

 

 

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Hey little britain! I'm glad you enjoyed your Alaska sailing... followed your thread there. Yes, had a great time on this sailing visiting your neck of the woods.

 

From previous posts last month, looks like the May UK sailing had 10-11 days of rain out of 12. The UK weather on this sailing was beyond phenomenal and extremely lucky for us obviously. The morning we were rounding the north coast of Scotland, I was jogging the running track in regular gym gear in the cool morning breeze. Some of the pictures you'll see you won't even recognize the seas .... some days they were as smooth as glass with ripples of the sun or moon shining as Brilliance sailed onward.

 

Most days were 20 degrees celsius (mid 70's F), t-shirt and shorts weather... only in Guernsey did we get a hard dump of rain for about an hour and it became cooler, a majority of cruisers ran back to the tenders mid-day as we were all drenched and needed to get warm and dry.

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any Brilliance experts? The search function isn't helping me. Just realized our (aft) cabin 1604 is beneath the Windjammer outdoor cafe!!! How much noise can we expect? We like to sleep in.

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any Brilliance experts? The search function isn't helping me. Just realized our (aft) cabin 1604 is beneath the Windjammer outdoor cafe!!! How much noise can we expect? We like to sleep in.

 

Google:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=brilliance+of+the+seas+1604&rlz=1C1RNVH_enCA559CA585&oq=brilliance+of+the+seas+1604&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l2.6857j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

https://boards.cruisecritic.com.au/showthread.php?t=2537612

 

You should start your own thread.... in a day your question here will get lost on my review (or on anyone's other threads) as we get to the next page. That way when the next person types in "1104" or "1604" in the search tool they will find your thread you created asking the same question.

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My granddaughter and I will do this cruise next July. I’m hoping you share details on tours, etc. Janis

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Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport

 

I wish to point out some things you should all know about Amsterdam's International Airport known as Schiphol Airport

 

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This airport is MASSIVE!!!... Not necessarily the terminal, but the physical area (acreage) of the entire airport. As we were landing, I noted I couldn't see the airport terminal. I did notice other planes and a large® building way off in the distance, as well as another plane landing beside us on another runway (probably a mile away I'm guessing?). Turns out our plane landed on the farthest runway possible from the airport terminal.... to make matters more complicated, our terminal we had to get to turned out being at the opposite side of the terminal and the very farthest gate of that entire wing of the terminal.

 

I remember glancing at my watch when we landed as we were about 10 minutes late. I noted this as I had a hotel shuttle booked for a certain time after landing. Not exaggerating one bit, it took almost 25 minutes for the plane to roll along at what, maybe 25-30mph, along runway after runway, crossing over a freeway, then down more long runways, and all the way around the entire terminal to get to the gate.

 

It was then another 10 minutes of a very brisk walk to get through the huge terminal to the customs/immigration desks. Thankfully, travelling in Air Transat's "Club Class" (business class) in the first row, I was able to get off first and high-tail it through the airport, arriving to immigration at a relatively small line.... US/CAD/"other country" passports on the left, EU passports on the right... extremely easy and quick.

 

Bottom line --- do not book your transportation to your hotel or the ship too early... give lots of time leeway. Imagine if that immigration line had several planes coming in at once for example! That could've added another 1/2 hour or more.

 

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The airport is extremely easy to get around, plenty of large signs everywhere and more information desks than I can remember than in any other airport. The options are endless upon exiting... service desks offering shuttle services are right there, along with taxi's and hotel shuttles. Outside everything is clearly labelled with various pick-up points for transit and private vehicles

 

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Unlike many large port cities in North America, Amsterdam (like many European large cities) has an amazing network of transit and transportation that makes it extremely easy to pick and choose for your needs ($$ vs. convenience). Post cruise, I took the the tram and direct train from Brilliance back to the Airport, which I will explain at the end of the review... so easy I couldn't believe it... all the talk about being scared of being late for a plane, not knowing what to do, booking a RCL shuttle for 5 times the cost is hogwash... just the smallest bit of planning would show many options to fit anyone's needs. I hope to dispel any myths or apprehension with this part of anyone's journey.

 

Because I arrived 2 days earlier than the cruise, I booked a hotel shuttle service called "Connexxion".

https://www.schipholhotelshuttle.nl/

 

I could not have been any more satisfied with the service and delivery. Waiting for my luggage, I found my confirmation email and quickly sent a reply stating the plane had arrived late and I missed my shuttle time. I was replied back to in 5 minutes "No problem sir. Just head on out to A7 as per the directions to find us and we'll be there for you". On their website, this map is available to find them... and it's to scale.

 

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Aha! A7, labelled with the company's name.... just down the sidewalk from where I exited the Airport terminal

 

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I found the representative just off to the side with the blue jacket and he checked me in. Within 10 minutes, 7 of us were loaded into the shuttle bus and off we went. I was the last to be dropped off. With dropping off the first 3 couples it was 30 minutes total from airport to my hotel in central Amsterdam close to all the site-seeing venues.

 

Cost?.... 17.50 euro per person. This includes one luggage and one carry on. Great service.... excellent communication, quick, comfortable, easy to find, not one bit stressful whatsoever. Having landed at 11:30am, I was at my hotel checking in at approx 1:15pm. Note this company will not pick up or deliver to the cruise terminal, however fully recommend them for arrival pre-cruise or after a post-cruise stay at a hotel.

 

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Hey There!! Been a while! Loving your review and reading with interest. We are doing this same cruise in a couple of weeks!!! Can’t wait to see what you did!

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Thanks for doing this review. I’m interested in how tendering in Edinburgh went. It was a near disaster last year on Vision—shore side tenders didn’t show up, water levels were lower than reported, so a tender ran aground and others sucked up mud and overheated!

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YAY, HOOPSTER95, I LOVE your reviews!! I've been waiting for this one. Thanks for taking the time, you reviews are so detailed and thoughtful!

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Yay another hoopster review! Currently planning my September Greek Isles Cruise using a lot of your tips

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Hey There!! Been a while! Loving your review and reading with interest. We are doing this same cruise in a couple of weeks!!! Can’t wait to see what you did!

 

Jane,

 

Where have you been? I so miss your terrific reviews. Been on the Jewel lately?

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Jane,

 

Where have you been? I so miss your terrific reviews. Been on the Jewel lately?

 

Hey! Haven’t been on CC much lately. I hang out mostly on Facebook! We were on Jewel in February for Diego’s last cruise. The end of an era! The reviews got a little too much for me. I’m getting old, I guess!

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Our cruise next year on brilliance leaves from Amsterdam so I am eagerly waiting for your thoughts on the hotel you stayed in!

 

 

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Looking forward to reading more about your cruise -- we had such a great time when we did the 13 night itinerary in May and I'm curious to see how your experiences compared to mine.

 

Post more soon!

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Yay another hoopster review! Currently planning my September Greek Isles Cruise using a lot of your tips

 

Awesome... really happy to have helped. :D

 

 

Hey There!! Been a while! Loving your review and reading with interest. We are doing this same cruise in a couple of weeks!!! Can’t wait to see what you did!

 

 

 

The Queen of RCL CC reviews is in the house!! Hope you enjoy and you get some tips, and I really hope the weather holds for you.

 

To everyone who has posted, thank you for the kind words so far :)

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A day and a half pre-cruise in Amsterdam

 

I'm going to try to keep these next few pre-cruise Amstersdam posts as short as possible in order to get to the Brilliance and the UK... I was asked in a previous post about my hotel. I don't have many photos but I will touch on it.

Keep in mind my motivation for what I'd was looking for regarding accomodations:

  • travelling solo so budget minded
  • location location location ... must be close to everything so I can quickly get everywhere I want to be
  • Must be relatively decent reviewed on-line so that the greater average approves it.

I chose the Nadia Hotel. It is definitely not for everyone. Firstly it's within a very old building extremely close to Dam Square and Anne Frank House, so both the location and appeal of staying in an older/heritage building was instantly appealing. They also have solo rooms. My cost was a crazy low 225 euros for two nights. However no elevators and the stairs/risers are equal to an old church... extremely steep and dangerous. The rooms are very budget minded and there are no amenities other than a low end continental breakfast in the morning. So, if you are not mobility challenged and do not expect more than a bed to sleep in nightly in a cool old building in a superb location at an amazing price for a downtown large European city location, then I totally recommend this hotel. For the record, if I was traveling with my GF there is no way I would stay here... simply too budget and not nice enough for a vacation experience in my humble opinion. My next choice would've been at the Kimpton De Witt which also had a solo supplement, had everything Nadia had regarding location etc, but was an upper end hotel (2 1/2 times the cost however for 2 nights).

 

The walking distance from Hotel Nadia to Anne Frank house was about 2 minutes. To Rikjsmuseum about 20 minutes. To the Centraal Train Station about 20-25 minutes. Pretty much everything I needed to do and see was within a 25 minute walk in any direction... perfect! Those who insist on staying close to the cruise ship pier "for convenience" (ie. Moveinpick Hotel) are misguided doing so in my humble opinion, pretty much falling for the "fear" or the "I'm lazy" trap of the unknown... not as convenient at all if you are touring the city pre or post cruise.

 

So having checked in to Hotel Nadia, dropped off my bags & freshened up, is was o to site seeing for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Up today is

  1. Rikjsmuseum
  2. CLovers 1 hour Canal tour
  3. Anne Frank Museum

Note the map below. I've labelled where the cruise ship pier is, my hotel, and the main things I did in order over the course of two days with the numbers.

 

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1) Rijksmuseum

I got to Rikjsmuseum earlier than planned... leaving the hotel at about 1:30pm, I arrived at the front of th Rijksmuseum just before 2pm. I had a 1-hour inside museum tour booked at 3pm. If you book a 1 hour inside tour within the museum online, you get to skip the entire que outside in order to get to your meeting point by the ticket desk. In my case today, there was no line on this afternoon but have seen photos and read reviews from others who waited an hour. I made my way into the museum to familiarize myself where I needed to go to check in,. spoke with reception, and then headed back outside where I was able to walk around the back of the museum into their gardens and get a photo of the iconic "Iamsterdam" sign at the rear of the property.

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The gardens area are beautiful as well, especially with a "dancing water feature" that is no the ground.... you can enter it, then it closes in on you so that you cannot exit it for about 30 seconds without being soaked.... then the water pattern changes on on "wall" so that you can exit before it closes again.

 

 

After enjoying the hustle and bustle outside, it was time to enter into the museum. While they have several Van Gogh's in here, this museum is dedicated more so to Rembrandt's works, and especially the famous "Night Watch" painting. The 1 hour tour was invaluable as with most museums, unless you are a historian you really don't know what to look at first and which pieces are the major works of art and why.

 

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"Night Watch" in center

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The one hour tour itself was based fully on the artwork areas of the museum, however there are many extensive impressive exhibits and various rooms of artifacts outlining the rich Dutch history. Here's only one example of at least 20 areas of further exhibits ranging from artifacts, furniture, more artworks, clothing/armour, weaponry ... all sorts of things.

 

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So besides the tour, I spent about another 45-50min walking through the galleries stopping to read only a few of the placards that interested me and taking photos. If you are not a historian and deeply interested in Dutch history, then I estimate 2 hours is plenty time to get a good feel for the Rijksmuseum. If you wish to delve into it moire because of your heritage, or simply your interest, you could easily spend at least 4-5 hours in here reading about every piece of artwork and artifact as you go. Van Gogh's museum is next door and I am glad I did not book it... I am told it all paintings, whereas the Rijksmuseum is varied with the Dutch history and artifacts... I was "art"ed-out after the Rijksmuseum and definitely would've been dis-interested had I booked tickets to go to Van Gogh's museum now as well.

 

With the very enjoyable 20 min walk through the streets and along the canals, the short visit into the rear gardens and to the "Iamsterdam" sign, and then into the museum itself.... I found this to be an excellent, and most importantly easy, introduction to the vacation and to familiarizing myself with the city without being stressed out after a long flight (aka. jetlag)

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2) C Lovers canal cruise

 

If someone had told me the next tip, I would've followed it and been very happy: Don't pre-book a canal cruise online.

 

Two main reasons

  1. There are no joking at least 10 different boat companies doing canal tours with a different boat passing by every minute it seems... and they were relatively empty for the most part.
  2. You can see the boats physically to determine if you'll like them. I found the boat I booked on even though was reviewed very highly and one of the larger companies, the boat itself was mostly domed/glass covered, and so actually seeing out of dirty glass vs. an open air boat with no cover at all was a real downer for me.

I pre-booked on line for C Lovers, the larger orange canal boats you see in many Amsterdam canal photos. They have many boats leaving from many different locations around the city, and was only one of two with a departure just a block away from Anne Frank House and my hotel, so I found this to be extremely appealing as I was combining these two activities to end my day.

 

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Note the boat is mostly covered, so site lines are also obstructed.... other than a car-like "sun-roof" which slides open for a small portion (about 3 bench seat widths). It was difficult to get any real photos or site see properly, unless I stood up ... in hind-site I much preferred walking or the bike tour (to come), however I made due for the hour with a nice ride around Amsterdam with a "HOHO bus" commentary provided by head phones as we went along.

 

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There's a couple of other small open-air boat companies, one with a bar and they serve drinks during the canal tour. They also sail you through some of the smaller canals compared to the large river boats and they were only 5 euro more. I would've much preferred those. However, they may start/end their tours from only one part of the city so you;d have to make your way to their pier wherever that may be. In hindsite, this would've been very easy as it's so easy to get around. Here's one of them:

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g188590-d12691954-Reviews-Flying_Dutch_Boats-Amsterdam_North_Holland_Province.html

 

 

At this point I was getting hungry with little time before my Anne Frank House appointment and no time for a sit down dinner. So do as the Dutch do and eat their fast food..... herring! There's a "fish" stand with a sorts of Dutch traditional foods just around the corner from Anne Frank House and the Westerkerk church with a variety of options, but of course upon asking the clerk what is the most traditional and which I should choose, she immediately said the very traditional pickle and onions herring. Ok then... MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!! ..... ok, I'm lying, lol! It wasn't all that bad, but wouldn't order it again.

 

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I also bought a package of Stroopwaffles to munch on as I watched the world go by, and that satisfied me for the evening.

 

3) Anne Frank House

 

Anne Frank's story is famous, and no need for me to get into it here.... there's pages and pages of info on line.

The most important thing you should know is to book tickets on-line at least a month in advance... for an evening timeslot at least 2 weeks in advance. I noted that both the nights I was there this venue was sold out about 14 days prior right through it's final booking time of 9pm. Also note there is absolutely no photography allowed inside, so guess how many interior photos I have to share with you? You guessed it.

 

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Anne Frank and her story from the official website is here: http://www.annefrank.org/en/

Tickets here: http://www.annefrank.org/en/Museum/Practical-information/Online-ticket-sales/

 

And don't expect a high frills, massive signage amusement park type of advertising when arriving here.... Anne Frank House is incredibly modest, with the original facade/front door still facing the street, as plain as can be. The main doors to the museum are around the corner, you can't miss it. I'll also mention that I've been to a few Holocaust museums (ie. DC for example, I cried leaving this place) with original artifacts, writings/diaries, various old movies, etc... and this story/venue did not impact me at the level other exhibits. As a #1 "must-see" and prebook months in advance venue for Amsterdam, I expected more.

 

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I was done at about 9:30pm and was beat! Having slept only about 5 hours on the flight, it was time to get to bed to try and catch up on rest as I had another long day tomorrow.

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After a great night's sleep, I was ready to go for the day. Munching on the continental breakfast provided, I had a great view of the canal and Westerkerk Church from the Nadia Hotel breakfast room.

 

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This morning was bike tour day, however that wasn't until 10am. Being only about 8:45am I had ample time to get out for a morning walk around the downtown core to get fully acclimated with the streets and distances between areas. I also noted that if a boring continental breakfast of croissant/yogurt/fruit isn't to your liking, there's plenty of great cafe's and shops to stop by in order to try some local delicacies .... like dutch pannakoek (foreshadowing for tomorrow morning)

 

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In the meantime, you can scroll back up to the map provided... I walked east from my hotel to the Royal Palace and Dam Square where the National Monument is located. I specifically wanted to note this as the Palace is available to the public on certain days and times... sure enough it was open over the course of the week (closed when dignitaries and Royalty is staying there)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Monument_(Amsterdam)

 

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Note that this city is not alive at 9am. The streets are not that full of commuter traffic or those heading to work like in many other metropolitan cities here in North America.

 

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You will see in pictures tonight what this area looks like during the "normal" day hours.... super busy and bikes everywhere.

I made my way up to Centraal Train Station to check out the area. Here's a site you don't see everyday... a multilevel bicycle parking garage!

 

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And you think that's a lot of bikes? Think again... you see this around the city in high traffic areas more often than not.

This is Centraal Station, which I will point out again tomorrow on my way to Brilliance and again on the final day when I make my way back to the airport to go home. Central has quite a bit of history to it

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam_Centraal_station

"Amsterdam Centraal was designed by Pierre Cuypers, who is also known for his design of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. While Cuypers was the principal architect, it is believed that he focused mostly on the decoration of the station building and left the structural design to railway engineers". Wow.... railway engineers designed this building! There were other things mentioned to me about Centraal by our bike tour guide which has escaped me. Interesting place.

 

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Hi Claudio! Wow, this cruise looks amazing! Can’t wait to hear all about it! It is off to a great start with awesome pictures and commentary. Definitely on our bucket list.... Thanks for sharing!

 

 

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4) We Bike Amsterdam

 

I had booked a 3 hour city tour with We Bike Amsterdam this morning. They offer a couple of other options for bike tours as well. I chose them for convenience/proximity to my hotel, but mostly for their excellent reviews.

https://www.webikeamsterdam.com/

 

This turned out to be a great morning and quite fun... simple bike ride, not strenuous at all, with superb information about the history of Amsterdam, how the city was built (dams! and the millions of posts buried 75 feet down into the marsh holding up the city), various locations of significance including the Dutch West Indies Trading Company first office from the 1700's and other great sites.... besides, the biking and views riding around were spectacular! Note the many house boats

 

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I thought one of the more interesting sites I had zero clue about were the "hidden churches". Have you ever heard of them? There are supposedly hundreds. During the Eight Years War, Netherlands won it's independence from Catholic Spanish rule. Catholic churches were converted to protestant and Catholics were forbidden to worship in public or in a church that looked like a church. The result were churches hidden behind the facade of residences and canal houses.

 

Take a look at this average looking building on one of many canal streets... note the red hat under the window. This was a hat manufacturer or hat store back in the day

 

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But go inside and walk through to the back of the building, and you come across this

 

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Pretty cool! Note the 3 level balcony and the height of the pulpit & organ. Today this venue is used more for conventions and meetings. It's called De Rode Hoed (The Red Hat in Dutch)

https://www.inspirock.com/the-netherlands/amsterdam/de-rode-hoed-the-red-hat-a520750661

Another I found on line which is much more beautiful if you wish to hunt for it during your visit is this one

"Our Lord in the Attic"

http://mikestravelguide.com/things-to-do-in-amsterdam-visit-the-secret-church-in-the-attic/

 

Here's another interesting photo.... see anything out of place

 

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This is the narrowest canal house in Amsterdam... only 1 metre wide! Thankfully it widens at the back. It is very close to Anne Frank House, the Royal Palace and so forth, so really easy to find with a wonderful short stroll along the canals when you're in the area with plenty of outdoor canal cafe's/restaurants around

http://www.simplyamsterdam.nl/Narrowest_house_in_Amsterdam.htm

 

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We had a great tour of the city riding through Jordaan, the Jewish Quarter, over to the new city, through Vondel Park

https://www.google.ca/search?q=vondelpark&rlz=1C1RNVH_enCA559CA585&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjhiPXyj5PcAhXOGjQIHa0bAAwQ_AUICigB&biw=1600&bih=745

and ending with a ride around Museumpline (the museum district)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museumplein)

and through the famous Rijksmuseum tunnel on our way back to the bike store.

 

_ox606glPfY

 

 

This was a great start to the day, a must do for anyone wanting to say they actually conquered biking in the streets of Amsterdam!

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Hi Claudio! Wow, this cruise looks amazing! Can’t wait to hear all about it! It is off to a great start with awesome pictures and commentary. Definitely on our bucket list.... Thanks for sharing!

 

 

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Hey Debbie!!! How the heck is the whole gang?! Thanks for dropping by and following along .

Say, is Alaska on your bucket list anytime soon??.... How about May 13, 2019 on Ovation? (note my signature) ;p

I'd love to turn around in the check-in line in Vancouver like on our Hawaii sailing with you guys unknowingly standing right behind me again lol! That was funny. Hey, with Ovation you can relive the Quantum sailing too ;)

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Hey Debbie!!! How the heck is the whole gang?! Thanks for dropping by and following along .

 

Say, is Alaska on your bucket list anytime soon??.... How about May 13, 2019 on Ovation? (note my signature) ;p

 

I'd love to turn around in the check-in line in Vancouver like on our Hawaii sailing with you guys unknowingly standing right behind me again lol! That was funny. Hey, with Ovation you can relive the Quantum sailing too ;)

 

 

 

Everyone is good, thanks! That was funny! We did do Alaska in 2009... Maybe 10 years later is a good time to go back, especially on a Quantum class! [emoji4] We do already have Canada / New England booked for 2019.

 

 

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Great start!!!

 

I totally missed Amsterdam’s skinniest house - how did I miss that? And here I thought I had exhaustively explored every nook and cranny of the city...I guess we’ll have to go back, just so I can see this. ;)

 

I totally agree with your suggestion about waiting to book a canal cruise until you’re actually there...I saw those boats with the roofs, and wondered if the view was good or not. Now I know. We used Those Dam Boat Guys, and had a blast...it was BYOB, but that was perfect for us. :)

 

And snaps to you for doing a bike tour. Hubby asked if we could do one, and I was immediately, “Nope.” I am not a very good bicyclist, and knew I would not only wipe out, but I would probably take down about 30-40 other bicyclists who were unfortunate enough to be near me. Wasn’t going to happen. Nope.

 

Keep it going!! (I’ll be starting my own review next week, when I get settled in my “writing place” and have some peace and quiet. :)

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any Brilliance experts? The search function isn't helping me. Just realized our (aft) cabin 1604 is beneath the Windjammer outdoor cafe!!! How much noise can we expect? We like to sleep in.

I've had 1604 on Serenade. Yes, some noise from Windjammer, mostly chairs on the deck and some conversation from above. It didn't bother me much, but everyone is different. I loved the cabin and have it again next September.

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We used Those Dam Boat Guys, and had a blast....

 

Keep it going!! (I’ll be starting my own review next week, when I get settled in my “writing place” and have some peace and quiet. :)

 

 

Ya, I saw this boat company and was jealous :)You must've had great photo ops.

You're going to have a massive following on your review lol! Can't wait myself :D

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5) Westerkerk Church

 

Having finished the bike tour, it was time for lunch. Iasked our guide for a referral for local food. He pretty much smirked and saidnothing close by will give you good “local” food, however he asked if I wouldbe interested in Dutch pancake (pannekoek) for lunch? Of course I said sure, sohe said find the Pancake Factory… “turn right, go over 3 bridges, turn left andyou’ll see it”. Ok… so off I went!

 

 

The directions were perfect, as I turned the corner afterthe 3rd bridge there was the little door to this restaurant, howeverwith 25-30 people waiting in line outside to get in… GRRRRR! Wasn’t going towait in a one hour line but at least now I know it’s likely pretty good here with so many people waiting. Imade a point then and there that I would skip the mediocre continentalbreakfast from the hotel and come here tomorrow morning.

 

 

Onward I go to find a place to eat, but not before passingby Anne Frank House again and all the crowds of tourists… the Pancake Factoryas I just discovered is only a block down from here, and thus only 3 blocksfrom the hotel… sweet! Continuing on I walk right in front of WesterkerkChurch, where I noticed the door open. It was not open the evening before. Peaking inside, they obviously had aclerk/counter taking payment for entry up to the bell tower. I had read onlinethe views here are fabulous, so putting my hunger aside I went in.

 

IMG_4619_zpsocwhum4g.jpg

 

Wersterkerk has a little bit of cool history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westerkerk

Built in the late 1600’s, Westerkerk is the largest built Protestantchurch in the Netherlands. The guide took us up the winding stairs to the firstlevel with a couple of various displays. The bells have a story behind them whichI can’t remember, but I have a close up of one of them dating back to the 1700’s

 

IMG_4751_zpswr2vzkvi.jpg

 

Note the guide walking up the extremely steep stairs inbehind the beams. Note the width/diameter of the beams. Huge!

 

IMG_4756_zps4xouvh0q.jpg

 

The highest allowable level is the top of the wooden-builtportion of the church about 2/3 of the way up. The upper portions are closedoff to the public. The views are spectacular nonetheless. Here’s the pano viewlooking south … I’ve labelled the Rijksmuseum in the distance (about 20 minwalk) as well as my hotel & the Royal Palace to the left (10min walk)

 

IMG_4776_zps48fxzz2v.jpg

 

You’ll find the 3 XXX symbol everywhere in Dutch history…. it's the Amsterdam Coat of Arms, the official symbol of the city, and as a result can be found on everythingfrom manhole covers to light poles and government buildings. It consists of ared shield and a black pale with three silver crosses, two golden lions, theImperial Crown of Austria, and Amsterdam's motto: "Heldhaftig,Vastberaden, Barmhartig" ("Heroic, Steadfast, Compassionate").be sure to keep your eyes peeled for this triple X symbol all around town—fromtraffic bollards to the Red Lights District—but also remember that it hasnothing to do with sex tourism and everything to do with cultural heritage.

 

IMG_4767_zpswiddwobe.jpg

 

One more photo of the view, this time looking north overtopof the Anne Frank Museum directly below.

I’ve labelled the Pancake Factory eahead about a block and ahalf, and Centraal station up no the top right (about 20min walk). Another20min walk to the right of Centraal will take you to the cruise ship terminal.

 

 

IMG_4773_zpshwehqfju.jpg

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Now coming down from the church tower, I was hungry! The day before during my walks and picture taking, I noticed a restaurant/café across the street right from Westerkerk on the canal with a menu of local dishes. I didn’t bother hunting around any further for food and headed there.

 

 

IMG_4652_zps1118gtvv.jpg

 

I asked the waitress what she had on tap besides Heineken and of course ( I had forgotten) they have Amstel which is Dutch as well. Amstel is the major canal/river flowing through Amsterdam. And get this…. “Amstel”…”dam”…the early settlement name was Amsteldam , obviously with dams built in the delta to keep the tides out. Over the years it transformed to Amsterdam.

 

I also asked the waitress for her favorite local lunch meal,and she pointed me to the “HutSpot”, basically the Dutch version of “Shepperd’sPie” without the pie. The photo below does not look at all as good as it tasted…hit the spot big time!!! And the Amstel lager was great as well as I watched the world go by (remember the view I had of Westerkerk from this café, 1st photo in the post above) In the previous post, I showed you the picture of Westerkerk from where I was sitting having lunch.

 

IMG_4654_zpst8hvj7ri.jpg

 

 

6) The Royal Palace

 

#6 is labelled on my original city map at the beginning of this review, as well as in the pano shot from the top of Westerker. Finishing lunch, it was about 2:45pm…. I had a break now to do what I wanted until dinner time and my 7pm Red Light District tour. I wanted to be close enough not to be rushed, so decided to head over to the Dam Square area and the Royal Palace. I had read online that the Palace would be open in the summer for public visits, but could not remember the dates/times. My short 10-15min walk over there was rewarded…. I entered for my approx. 1 hour’ish visit

 

IMG_4741_zpsl1axshy9.jpg

 

Here’s the official Palace website

https://www.paleisamsterdam.nl/en/

It was built in the Dutch Golden Age of the 1600’s, and also later became the Royal Palace of Napoleon. There is some fantastic art in here, and obviously the opulence of the rich is obvious.

 

IMG_4682_zpscgmc8gea.jpg

 

Note the view they have over Dam Square from their elevated balcony, and imagine when they were in rule presiding over the inhabitants of Old Amsterdam from here looking out over the crowd.

 

IMG_4716_zpseyfdfdiw.jpg

 

There are a ton of fabulous photos and information on line if you’re interested so I won’t go on about this, however I can say I enjoyed this visit for a little over an hour and was well worth getting a feel for the history of the monarchy.

 

IMG_4722_zpsizncxvuh.jpg

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