We traveled to Amsterdam, Venice, and Florence at the end of March for 2 weeks.
It is the first time we “squeezed” in three separate cities.
We flew to Amsterdam, via Panama City, starting here in CR. The train station in Amsterdam is just downstairs in the airport and there is a steady stream of trains taking weary travelers to the Central Station in Amsterdam, a 15 minute ride. How completely civilized! Upon arrival at Central Station we followed the very clear directions to our VRBO apartment, only a 5 minute walk.
|Amsterdam Central Station|
|Typical Canal in Amsterdam|
I enjoyed seeing the houses along the canals and especially loved the slate grey ones with red trim. All are narrow and tall with a large hook for hoisting furniture to the upper floors.
VeniceWe flew to Venice and again were pleased with the easy connection from the airport. A bus just outside the baggage area took us directly to Venice and we again had only a 5 minute walk to our “hotel”; a monastery. Our room was simple but perfect with a big window looking over a small courtyard.
|A gondola on the Grand Canal|
|St. Mark's Square|
We went to the Doge’s Palace and the Correr Museum. The Bridge of Sighs is in the Doge Palace, which is the passage/bridge between the palace and the prison. The museum and the palace were interesting and filled with great art, but we were already becoming a bit “art weary”, therefore opted out of visiting several other museums. It was fun just being there and of course we enjoyed the food.
FlorenceAfter 3 nights we took the train to Florence. The train station was only a short walk, but we had to haul our suitcases up and down the bridge steps. The trip was relaxing, we had reserved seats and enjoyed the comfortable and scenic ride. At time we had speeds up to 245 kilometers/hour. Again we marveled at the efficiency and convenience. We could have taken the same train to Rome and other areas beyond.
|Copy of David|
We decided to explore a garden off the tourist path and found Bardini garden on the map and researched through the internet. It was great walk across the medieval stone Vecchio Bridge over the Arno River and up the hills via narrow streets. We stumbled upon Galileo’s house and observatory/workshop along the way. The garden was uncrowded and we enjoyed familiar spring blooms. The Wisteria tunnel was wonderful, even with only half of the blossoms emerged. The views of Florence from the hill on which the garden is situated provided a totally different perspective.
Back to Venice
|One of the bridges that we had cross with our luggage|
We walked to the airport bus the next morning also, even though the strike was over, we needed tickets from our location and there wasn’t a place to buy them. Not a huge problem, the same bridges and a very big one over the Grand Canal---one step at a time!
We arrived back in Amsterdam learn that the airport to central station train was not in service due to maintenance work. But there were plenty of buses to get us to a functioning train that would take us on to Central stations. The only problem was the trains for that leg were few and far between and full. We managed to cram ourselves into the second train and make it to the city Centre. It felt like that should have been utilizing those pushers you see on Japanese trains! What were we saying about the fabulous transportation systems?
Our last full day in Amsterdam was spent at the Botanical gardens. It was a bit funny to be in the huge greenhouses and find several plants that we have in our yard. But outside, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of the familiar early spring flowers that we do not see in a tropical climate.
We had another transportation glitch between Panama City and San Jose, the airline had lost our reservation, but it was resolved in time for us to make our last flight and get home to one very happy dog!
You can see more photos of this and some of our other trips at: http://www.norm-collie.com