Returning to Active Life in a Big Way – Friends, Art and a Party

Day 105, Grand World Voyage

Tuesday, April 18, 2023; Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Visiting dear friends! Getting off the ship! Celebrating a 150th birthday!

Today was a great day in Amsterdam.

My highlight was lunch with dear family friends. More than 30 years ago our mother wrote a book on quilling with a fellow quiller from the Netherlands, Trees Tra.

Over the next few years, they became close friends, and our families visited back and forth. Their daughters each spent a summer with my parents.

We last saw Trees and her husband Ton in Rotterdam during the Voyage of the Vikings in 2019. Last summer my sisters and I went to New York City last summer to see their daughter Darja and her family at the end of their U.S. vacation.

Today, Trees, Ton and Darja continued our tradition and came into Amsterdam from their home in Vught, Netherlands, to meet us for a long lunch.

We all agreed that our parents, Linda and Jim, would be so happy today that we were able to get together once again. A lot of our fellow cruisers have met with friends and family in almost every port along our journey, but I think these are the only friends we know who live near one of our ports.

After lunch, we crossed the street to the Van Gogh Museum. I ordered tickets long ago, which was a good thing because there were none available today. The museum was packed, and it wasn’t always easy to see the paintings from my perch on crutches.

Many patrons were pushing their way to the front, only to take a quick picture and then move along.

I found that trying to juggle my iPhone camera while using crutches wasn’t easy, so I just relaxed and enjoyed studying the art. Now that I have learned more about painting, colors and composition, I am seeing art in an entirely different way. And Vincent Van Gogh put so much into his work. His sketches even remind me of some studies we have done in Ben Sack’s drawing class on this cruise.

We caught a taxi back to the ship (the only way for me to easily get around town) to rest and prepare for the night’s festivities.

I snuck up to the Lido Pool area to snap a few pictures before the crowds obscured it all.

After a special gala dinner, we headed to the Lido and found one of the few remaining open tables. Waiters circulated with complimentary drinks and hors d’ouevres.

The Tiny Little Bigband played seemingly without a break – one of the best musical acts I have seen on board – until almost 10 p.m. when Gus Antorcha, Holland America’s president, arrived to make brief remarks and cut the cake.

Earlier in the day he participated in a ceremony in Rotterdam honoring the occasion. The party continued, but I didn’t stay much longer, as I have another big day tomorrow.