Flights were smooth which was great because we had 7 students of our 38 who had never flown before!
Barry White making good use of the selfie-stick. A good looking crew after 12 hours in the air and in airports
Upon landing Amsterdam and going through customs we met our Tour Director from EF "Derek" from Wales.
From there we were whisked away on a large and comfortable pink Coach bus. You can't miss it.
Straight to the hotel to rest after 12 hours of flying?? Not a chance. Our first stop was to a local Amsterdam farm where we all learned about cheese making and how to make traditional wooden clogs. This farm is one of only 3 places you can legally make clogs in the country.
Najara holding some cheese rounds and assisting in some shaved cheese samples. Probably some of the most delicious cheese any of us have ever eaten. The outside is hard as a rock and could do serious damage but the slices were delicious. Over half of us bought some cheese to take home.
Here is the farm owner and cheese and clog master. This guy was a character and quite a showman. Here he is with Bethany who bought a pair of authentic wooden clogs with her name engraved in them. Wooden clogs were surprisingly light and comfortable. Clogs are mainly used for gardening now.
Rows and rows of finished and unfinished clogs. This simple contraption actually makes a 1/3 of the authentic Dutch clogs in the world. As the farmer said the wood shoes make for "no sweaty feet in the summer and warm feets in the winter."
Grant at the farm posing for a future MySpace profile picture. Got to love Grant.
Drove into the city of Amsterdam after the farm. Amsterdam is the principal city of the Netherlands and is simply names after the "dam" that was put up near the "Amstel" river. Hence "Amsterdam." We learned that Amsterdam is one of only a few places that is below sea level. This is possible through an innovative system of dykes, dunes, and canals. In fact Amsterdam is a city surrounded everywhere by canals. We will be taking a canal cruise tomorrow.
All in all we did a ton of walking today. Somewhere between 4 and 5 miles based on one student's FitBit. Lots of walking which is great to do in Amsterdam because you can get everywhere. Also only 1 in 6 families in Amsterdam actually have cars. Everyone rides bikes. This is great but they fly around the city and you really need to pay attention to what is going on at all times between the bikes and the public subway trains.
It is also good they ride bikes because one of the most popular things in Amsterdam are "frites" which are french fries that come in a cone. While you can get them with ketchup there are 40 other flavors. The most popular being mayonnaise and some type of thousand island mixture. They were pretty amazing.
I think Isabelle Furbino captured the greatness of frites and various toppings in this picture.
The Dutch painter Rembrandt's work is everywhere in the city. One of his most famous pieces "The NightWatch" was turned into a bronze statue area in the middle of the city. The kids had a lot of fun posing in this area.
Finally our walking tour on Day 2 concluded with a nice traditional Dutch dinner of mashed potatoes with carrots mashed into them with a kielbasa type sausage and gravy. Delicious. The whole milk ice cream and raspberry sauce was also a nice treat. Very fresh.
After dinner we were back in the hotel at 7pm and in rooms by 9pm on night #1. A nice modern hotel after a long long day is just what everyone needs. Another long day tomorrow but we are off to a great start!
Till next time... Thanks for reading!