Fall Trip, 2015 Amsterdam

 

By the time we arrived in Amsterdam we had been traveling for over 4 weeks.  That is 4 weeks of me getting Ben in and out of the car, getting the wheelchair in and out of the car, getting the suitcases in and out of the car, packing the suitcases, unpacking the suitcases, trying to anticipate what we would need at each stop and packing a suitcase just for that stop and failing to think of every little obscure thing that Ben could possibly want and then having to go stand in a dark, cold  parking lot while tossing around suitcases in the back of the car just to find…  I was more than tired of traveling and more than tired of trying to find the cord for this device and that device and plug this in but don’t forget to unplug it and take it with us 10 minutes later.  More than one time Ben had the back pack full of all his devices and cords thrown in his lap with the admonishment, “you figure out how to get it in there!”  So I was happy to get to Amsterdam where we stayed for a week with no car, in a nice warm hotel room with plenty of European plugs.

We booked the Amsterdam part of our stay through Accessible Travel Netherlands.  www.accessibletravelnl.com     I had tried to arrange it all on my own.   Because we wanted to rent a motorized wheel chair for Ben to use, I was having a problem finding accommodations  in the city center which could handle the size of a  wheel chair in the elevator.  I finally gave up and contacted Veroniek  Maat at Accessible Travel.  What a savior! 

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Veroniek met us at the airport, arranged our transport in to town and came along to make sure the motorized wheel chair had been delivered and that our hotel was fine.

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The hotel, The Doubletree by Hilton, City Center, Amsterdam.  Less than 5 minutes  walk from the train station and the center part of town.

 

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  View from our room on the 10th floor.  The very busy river that reminded me of the harbor in Hong Kong. 

Even though we ended up staying here,  a much more expensive hotel than we normally would stay in, it was so worth it.  It was new!  A large room with lots of electrical plugs.  A bath with a shower and a tub.  (more about this in another post)  The room came with breakfast, Ben’s favorite meal of the day.  Although the motorized chair would fit in the room, the staff suggested storing the motorized chair and using his regular chair inside the hotel.  They would be responsible for charging it .  We would simply show up at the desk with one or the other chairs and make the change and they would handle it all.  It was very nice to have someone taking care of a portion of things for me. 

Amsterdam is a beautiful city.  And admittedly we were not all over the city but what we saw was very clean.  Very well run from a tourist point of view.  I saw very little graffiti.  I saw no beggars/pan handlers/sketchy types that would make me think ‘ohhh, should we be on this street’. 

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One of the two bits of graffiti that I saw.  And really, this is more street art that ‘tagging’ or graffiti. 

The train station was clean.  No one appeared to be living there or using corners of it as a toilet.  It had a nice variety of shops that were not over priced.  (We had dinner from the little grocery as take out in our room for several nights).

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Art work in the train station

 

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The piano in the train station.  Every time I walked by there was someone playing and a small crowd gathered round.

The motorized wheel chair that we arranged for Ben to use turned out to be a 3 wheel cart, much like the courtesy ones that are available for use in stores in the US.  These carts are fine in a smooth, level, not too crowded environment. We were advised to use the cart on the sidewalk rather than the bike lanes that are all over the city.  The bike lanes are more crowded than the car lanes.  There are a lot of bikes in Amsterdam.

 On our first outing with the cart the streets and sidewalks were crowded with folks.  The sidewalks were uneven, had tables and chairs in them, did not always have curb cuts.  We had been out for maybe 15 minutes, trying to find somewhere for dinner and Ben tried to go up a curb at an angle.  Didn’t work.  Ben, the cart and I were all splayed on the pavement of an intersection.  Fortunately, there were many helping hands, many people speaking English and a policeman offering to call an ambulance if we needed it. 

I had been walking behind Ben and had seen that he would sway from side to side even going over the slightest bump.  So I was not entirely surprised that the spill had happened.  He just doesn’t have a sense of balance and is not able to shift his weight to compensate as he needs to.  Needless to say the tumble put quite a damper on our enthusiasm for getting out and seeing the sites.  The strong winds, rain and cold also did not encourage us either.  And I was just plain tired and jet lagged.  So we did not see as much of Amsterdam as we had hoped.  But what we saw and ate we enjoyed very much.  It is a beautiful city.  And working with Veroniek at Accessible Travel was a good choice. 

More Amsterdam pictures in another post.

 

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