Buffet breakfast to start the day. Europeans like their deli meats, cheeses, plain yogurt and hazelnut spread in the mornings. After breakfast, Christian dropped us all off at Centraal Station for free time. Being September, it was windy and chilly. We took the tram (#2 or 5) down to the IAMsterdam sign and surrounding area. The tram was pretty cool I guess – a preview of what the LRT (Light Rapid Transit) is to come in Toronto. A 24H pass is 7€ and basically when you enter the tram, you just tap the box and it will beep; to exit you need to tap again to let you off. The line for the Van Gogh museum was pretty long and the Rjksmuseum was under construction so we decided to walk the same route of the tram and get to see the city and hop back on when it got closer to the time to meet up.
We ate at Allstars Diner for lunch where I got a apple pancake. The syrup isn’t as good as Canadian maple syrup but it wasn’t bad. While you are in Amsterdam, you need to get yourself stroopwaffel whether you prefer to eat it with or without a coffee is up to you. Stroopwaffels are 2 little waffles with caramel inbetween and the perfect treat when you grab a coffee; you place the waffle on top the coffee and wait for the caramel to melt – delicious! We didn’t have enough time but you also need to have some moo frites – french fries with mayo. The weather had changed and there was a light drizzle as we waited for the whole group to gather and load back up onto the bus. Amsterdam has so many bikers and bikes everywhere and just like what I learned in Sociology of the everyday living, it’s organized chaos with lanes dedicated to pedestrian, tram & bikes etc. What I find particularly funny is that the police here drive Volkswagons while the taxi drivers drive Mercedes Benz or Audi cars.
Off to Rhine Valley – St Goar in Germany.
Facts of Germany:
The highways are called Autobahns.
The highways used to not have speed limit as Hitler didn’t want his tanks to be stuck in traffic.
Germans are convinced that driving faster is safer as you need to pay more attention.
Population of 82 million.
in 1990, Germany became unified.
German fashion sense is shorts, socks and sandals.
They are proud to have unleashed David Hasselhoff to the world.
When Oktoberfest comes around, Germans get dressed up in their lederhosen & dirndl.
Germany is 1/3 of the most industrial countries and one of the starters for the EU to get together and unify the use of the euro.
Older cars need to pay taxes so rare to see any older cars.
1200 breweries. Produce over 100 million litres of beer a year. German beer is brewed to the laws of 1516 – no preservatives therefore no hangovers.
Rhine valley is mostly famous for the wine they produce and the castles. German white wines are generally sweet riesling grapes that have to be handpicked as the vineyards are on hillsides. Often one vine will produce only one bottle of wine as the dry freeze process is tempermental. Besides Canada, Germany and one other countries are known for their ice wines.
On this tour, we unfortunately miss Oktoberfest by a day or 2. We finally got to St Goar around 6-630PM where we went to the Beerstein shop and saw some of the limited edition and Oktoberfest beersteins. There was also a Birkenstocks store where it was literally 75% less cost than in Canada as it is made here and is sold at factory manufactoring price – 35-45€. There was also the largest freestanding cookoo clock and you could purchase a smaller version if you wanted. We had our group dinner at Hotel Montag serving up German cuisine including cured meats and spaetzle. Our hotel – Winzerhaus is about 30 minutes away from St Goar. As Sophia had mentioned, that night was to be a quiet night after the wine tasting to recuperate from “amsterdamage” for those who went a little too hard. We went to Urbarer Winzerkeller for wine tasting for 8€. There are 2-3 groups of 3 travelling on this bus so each day, we battle on the bus to see who gets the room of 3 or room of 4 where a single traveller joins the room of 4. We had Elizabeth “Tay” from originally Chicago but lives in Tuscon, Arizona join us. She’s a funny lady and has a little one year old girl at home. Each of us had our own bed however our room was at the very top floor and it was only stairs.