When I arrived into Amsterdam, just the other day, I hit the ground running and have not stopped since. I have enjoyed a foodie tour in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam, explored the Resistance Museum there and, yes the 81st Hard Rock, not up to 84th. It was no so much that I wanted to see all of Amsterdam, but more so to experience it and I essentially had a full day. I wandered the streets, met people and simply felt my way through my day. It has been many years since I had been there, so as with other cities where I had been before, but also many years before, it was from a totally different perspective. The first time I was in Amsterdam was some 37 years ago, and yes, I have been there since, but it is always different to simply gain new insight and while I was there for a couple of specific things, I gained a new appreciation for this city.
As this first few days in Europe has been a bit of a whirlwind, the past few days, have been no different and while it was in a way planned around Hard Rocks to add to the collection, Rotterdam was the exception. It does not have one and I had never been there before, and so when I hopped the train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, a short trek away, about an hour, I was absolutely impressed and when I arrived, stored my luggage, got a map and my google maps and, with the help of a colleague, went on to explore this wonderful city, which was burned to the ground, with little exception, during WWII as it had been a main port city and very important, so the Nazis destroyed it. I explored all around the city in about 6 or 7 hours, plenty of steps in about 18,000, roughly, but I saw life here. I would have to say the highlight was seeing the New York Hotel which was the home of the Holland America Line with the ocean liners between Rotterdam and New York City, but there were many wonderful things. Is a day enough, by no means, but not having been there before, it was certainly worthwhile.
Upon returning the train station, I collected my luggage and I was off to Antwerp, and yes, there is a Hard Rock there, but it also has an amazing Cathedral and the old city is beautiful. I had never been there before and my friend and colleague, Frank Neels, hometown. I asked for some ideas from a afar, he lives in the Czech Republic now and so having an evening and a full morning, the next day, I went on to explore and in a few hours, certainly go a feel for this city. Unfortunately, Rubens House is temporarily closed, but a statue of him in the main square, right next to the Cathedral and the Hard Rock, was there for the pictures. In both the case of Rotterdam and Antwerp, I would like to return to see more, but this part of my 6 weeks here was a whirlwind, so I wandered and got a feel for each city, both new to me. Also, the story about “French Fries”, I mean Frites was explained in more details. Has something to do with fish………..
Certainly, there is more to see and having not been to Belgium at all in some 37 years, and a new perspective, especially with the next stop, Brussels, which I had not seen since 1985. The Grand Place is as magnificent as always and the city, for early March was very, very busy, maybe a bit less to my liking. The Manneken Pis is still there and the crowds and touristy experiences as well. His female counterpart is also there, but the opposite direction. She was not there in Brussels, when I first went to Belgium, or perhaps I did not know of her. Also, this idea of putting outfits on him, to me is bizarre. It was not that those so many years ago, but time keeps on moving forward. In any case, it was nice to return and yes, other places in Belgium deserve time such as Bruges, which is one of my favorite cities and have been there before, and Ghent, where I have not been, but that simply means I will have to return to Belgium.
After leaving Brussels yesterday morning, I took the two hour train ride to Cologne from where I write this week’s blog. Yes, I have been here before, and it too, has been many years. I took the same approach and fortunately, the Dom and my hotel, were meters apart, but I also strolled along the Rhine River to the Chocolate Museum (Lindt), but I was not going to spend 14 Euros to go in. I did a cursory look at the shop and saw many, many families, so for sure it is stop that is very family friendly. Actually, right across the street was a mustard museum that has been around since the 1800’s and while they did not offer tours at this time, they did do tastings, and so I did. I also had a wurst, 3 Euros, no bread and my choice of mustard. It was a highlight for sure. Lastly and the evening was where else? The 84th Hard Rock and I was treated royally and was given the iPad. I played the music I love and mixed and matched and the staff and the customers seemed to like it. One of the waiters even thanked me as they must listen to the same tracks repeatedly and for about 3 hours, between my wings, Kolsch beers and a portobello burger, yes, a portobello burger, I put on the songs. I have to thank the Operations Manager, Jose, for his kind hospitality and his crew was wonderful. He reigns from Nassau County and moved is way up the ladder and offered the job in Cologne. He does not speak German, but he seems to have figured it out.
Shortly, I will leave for Berlin for the first of 3 business portions of my trip at the largest travel trade shows and will be able to stay put for 4 nights, so not packing and unpacking constantly. It will be a nice break to take a breathe and catch up on things for my clients and sharing more experiences as I get one day closer to being with Rosa again. As always, stay safe, stay healthy and always look for the best in a situation and be patient as the best things in life are worth waiting for. Thank you as always for your support of my crazy little world and my small business. As always, I look forward to your comments, questions, concerns and continuing the discourse through whichever means you read my posts!!!
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin