Hallo All, (Dutch for "hello"...I've got this one!)
Yes, we are alive and on the other side of the world...Utrecht/Amsterdam to be geographically correct and it is HOT, HOT, HOT!!
The northern hemisphere is having the hottest summer on record and they are not loving it, me either! It is up around 35 everyday and, as they don't do A/C that much, there is not much relief.
We spent our first 4 days in Bangkok and that was cooler, plus we had A/C and pools everywhere. It was full of massages, manicure and a bit of shopping...very nice way to start a grand tour!
On arriving in Holland we went straight to Utrecht 40 klm south of Amsterdam for 3 days, a very old, once walled town with lovely architecture and canal systems. Unfortunately, no ancient aircon and no swimming in canals! We wandered the streets, did a canal tour (nice cool breeze), checked out a few restaurants/cafes (not the cookie ones-yet?) of which there are hundreds (obviously the Dutch mostly eat out!). Our favourite one (sorry travel traditionalists) was a Mexican Cafe that had frozen Margaritas by the jug (or 2)!! A cute town and worth a visit.
We also might as well admit our favourite restaurant in Thailand was a German one, beautiful schnitzels and cold beer or cocktails!! No one ever said we were normal!
We are surviving (a good description) on mostly public transport and it's not treating us too well ! There is very little English signage in Holland and our Dutch is very wanting so a few mistakes (luckily not on the day of arrival with bags or our trip back to Amsterdam from Utrecht !!). We have missed at least 4 train/bus connections (so far) by about 1 minute requiring us to stand on roadsides or station platforms for an extra 20 minutes which are very hot and have no seats! Luckily we are getting a little better and hope our tripping (no, not the cookies!) in Amsterdam will go better! No wonder they all ride bikes!
That leads me to another subject, aside from many cafes Holland has dozens of hairdressers and millions of bikes! So basically you eat out, ride your bike everywhere and don't mess up your expensive hairdo with a helmet as they are not compulsory! NO Helmet Hair here!! We are feeling very out of place, I have never ridden a bike (and not tempted now) and my trust in sure-footed Kev possibly injuring himself doesn't lend itself to him trying now either!!
Well, I will leave you for now with some photos of Utrecht as we need to get out and about in Amsterdam proper, miss a few more metros and search out these elusive coffee bars, I need caffeine! Yes, coffee shops don't have coffee but sell the other naughty stuff, coffee bars have coffee, who said travelling was easy? Haha!