Discovering Savannah: Mercer Williams House Museum

Mercer Williams House Museum

On the last day of our Savannah trip, we visited the Mercer Williams House Museum. The 1994 non-fiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, written by John Berendt, is based on events that occurred there in the 1980s. The story is about Jim Williams, an antique dealer and restorationist, who’s on trial for the murder of his assistant. There were four trials. Mr. Williams was finally acquitted; the jury believed it was self-defense. There is also a film based on the book, which was directed by Clint Eastwood and released in 1997.

Before we got inside the house, we bought our tickets at the gift shop. The gift shop was once the carriage house for horses. Unfortunately, the tour guide informed us that no photographs are allowed on the tour. We first entered the beautiful garden, which was designed by Jim Williams. Plants bloomed with pollen dusting some surfaces. There are two levels of raised terraces built with Savannah grey brick, and the walkways are slate. Some of the plants include banana trees, palms, ginger lilies, ferns, grapevines, tea olive, and Carolina cherry. Also planted in the mix is a sweet shrub bush from Mr. Williams’s grandmother’s garden.

After going through the large entryway at the back of the house, we entered the dining room. Many portraits are displayed on the walls. Most of the furniture and art in the house are from Mr. Williams’s private collection. The artwork includes 18th and 19th century English and American portraits and Chinese export porcelain. Some portraits are of people who used to live in Savannah. General Hugh Mercer (great-grandfather of the songwriter Johnny Mercer) bought the land and had John S. Norris, an architect from New York, draw up plans. From the museum brochure: “In his design for Mercer House, Norris added Renaissance Revival elements to his standard mix of Greek and Italiante. The house and carriage house are constructed of deep rose-colored bricks called Philadelphia Reds, which were brought to Savannah aboard barges towed by sailing vessels. Using a symmetrical interior design, Norris combined 15-foot ceilings with floor-length windows and anchored the first floor plan with a 60-foot entrance hall that retains its original ceramic tile made in England at Stoke-on-Trent.” Construction began in 1860 but was interrupted by the Civil War. The house was finally completed around 1868. The Mercer family never lived there. The property was sold to John Randolph Wilder, a cotton merchant. After Wilder moved on, the Shriners used the building for their meetings. The members used to roller skate up and down the entryway! The floor tiles are original and remain in good shape. The house was vacant for 10 years and was about to be sold to the city. Fortunately, Jim Williams purchased it in 1969 and saved it from becoming a parking lot. It took him two years to restore the house. Jim Williams saved over 50 houses in Savannah and the Lowcountry.

As we left the dining room, the guide pointed out the 15-inch-wide door jambs. He also explained how the house is designed to cool, by air flowing up from the basement. We admired the beautiful spiral staircase but were not able to climb it. The Fire Department doesn’t allow visitors upstairs, because there is only one way down. When we entered the living room, the guide told us how, at an early age, Mr. Williams took in old furniture, fixed it up, and re-sold it. That is how he began creating his fortune. There are a lot of beautiful period pieces to admire. During the filming of the movie, Clint Eastwood had the original furniture replicated, with the originals going into storage, because he didn’t want any of the original items to get damaged.

We also saw Mr. Williams’s office. The original shutters still hang in the windows on the main floor, with no heavy drapes collecting dust. There are collections of Audubon engravings, ivory tusks and shells from Cabbage Island, an island Mr. Williams owned for a time. Many trophied stuffed animal heads peeked at us with glassy eyes! Mr. Williams had a cat for many years and scratch marks can still be seen on some of the furniture. We didn’t see the kitchen and there was no mention of it. My guess is that it’s adjacent to the dining room, but I didn’t think to ask at the time. The bathroom is quite large and the walls are covered in red, velvety wallpaper.

At the end of the tour, the guide informed us that Mr. Williams died of a heart attack in 1990, at the age of 59, eight months after his acquittal. We wondered if it was caused by the stress of the trials. Jim Williams’s sister, Dorothy Williams Kingery, currently owns the house. Her daughter, Susan, helps manage the museum.

The book and movie made tourism flourish in Savannah. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil “became a New York Times Best-Seller for 216 weeks following its debut and remains one of the longest-standing New York Times Best-Sellers.” My Book Club read it back in the day, but I don’t remember too much about it. My only memory is that many parties took place in the house.

Other beautiful homes in the neighborhood.

Monterey Square – Happy Spring!

Be sure to take a carriage ride, if you go! We hope to visit the “Hostess City of the South” again.

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. ~Anita Desai


One of America’s Most Haunted Cities

Mirabelle’s (to the right)

On the second day of our Savannah trip, we found Mirabelle’s, a little pop-in restaurant, where we ordered a waffle and a panini at the counter. Many people enjoyed eating their breakfast or having a cup of coffee inside or on the patio. The restaurant is across the street from the Cathedral. Hubby enjoyed the Lemon Zinger, a waffle with lemon-lavender curd crème, served with raspberry and cardamom jam and whipped cream. I liked the Tacchino, a panini with honey roasted turkey, applewood bacon, Swiss cheese, fig mustard, arugula, pressed on sourdough. Once we found this place, we kept going back every morning. It was a short walk and reasonably priced.

We were happy we didn’t get a car, since we were able to walk everywhere. There’s a free shuttle, called the “dot” that runs along Drayton and Whitaker Streets. The dot goes to the Savannah River, by or near the Squares, and travels pass Forsyth Park, with many stops along the way. After breakfast, we decided to wait for the shuttle. It’s supposed to swing by every 10 minutes. We waited about five minutes, without seeing one of the purple and green buses and hoped we could catch a ride later. We took a short walk to Bull Street, where we could discover and walk through more Squares. It was only a 15-minute walk to the Savannah River.

The closer we got to the river, the more busy it became with traffic and people visiting shops. After we crossed Bay Street, we walked down steep stairs to find a dark and creepy tunnel. The cobblestones are tricky. People need to watch their step as a few have come undone and are naturally bumpy. The river was calm and there weren’t many boats cruising by. River Street is over 300 years old. “The port was once the primary location for incoming goods and was the leader in exporting cotton. Today’s shops, bars, galleries and restaurants that line River Street were once cotton warehouses. Initially, the stones that make up the 200-year-old cobblestone streets were ballast material on ships that sailed into the Savannah harbor.”

We walked along the river and explored a few shops on the way.

Only one ship was docked close by that day – the American Independence.

When we headed back to our hotel, we walked up what is called the “Stone Stairs of Death,” which has 33 historic steps on the western end of River Street. There’s a railing to hang on to, so it wasn’t as bad as what the name makes it out to be! Later in the afternoon, we ended up walking back to River Street for dinner at the Olympia Cafe. The food was served practically before we sat down! I had Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and Hubby had a Gyro Dinner. The food was very good, and we ate it up before I thought about taking pictures of our delicious meals.

On the way back to the hotel, we saw the dot bus heading towards us. We decided to hop on and got a nice tour of the city. We got a little nervous, because we thought the bus turned by Forsyth Park. However, the bus kept going and going. I wished I had my map with me, but there is an app to download. Now is not the time to download an app, I thought to myself and wondered how much of a charge was left on my phone battery. Anyway, the bus finally took a left turn, and we ended up getting back to our hotel safe and sound. That bus ride spooked me a little, and I couldn’t help noticing the creepy feeling I had after visiting River Street.

They say Savannah is one of America’s most haunted cities. Savannah has had its share of disastrous events. Many battles have taken place there, “From the Siege of Savannah in 1779, …to the American Civil War’s Savannah capture by General T. Sherman.” Residents also suffered through the 1820 Yellow Fever epidemic, which took a tenth of Savannah’s population. There was also a terrible fire on January 11, 1820. “A rapidly spreading fire broke out in a stable. The blaze destroyed 500 buildings before dwindling that afternoon. But this wasn’t the first catastrophic fire Savannah endured. In 1796, a deadly fire ravaged the city, destroying 229 houses and 146 outbuildings.” Plus, there were “mysterious murders” and “savage slavery” that took place in the historic city. After reading about these facts, it’s not surprising to learn it is one of America’s most haunted cities. If interested in learning more, click here.

I felt better after getting back to the hotel where it was quieter and where it felt calmer. After doing a little research about haunted hotels in the area, I found out that the DeSoto Hotel only has a minimal amount of paranormal activity!

Stay tuned for Day 3…

America’s First Planned City

My husband and I enjoyed our recent visit to Savannah, Georgia. We stayed at the DeSoto Hotel. The hotel is quite charming and is located in the Madison Square neighborhood. The City of Savannah has 22 Squares that are parks with monuments and also help to name the adjoining neighborhoods. The Squares are only a few blocks apart and run through the center of the downtown area. “Savannah is known as America’s first planned city. General James Edward Oglethorpe laid the city out in a series of grids that allowed for wide open streets intertwined with shady public squares and parks that served as town meeting places and centers of business. Savannah had 24 original squares; 22 squares are still in existence today.”

The first DeSoto Hotel was built in 1890 on the site of General Oglethorpe’s Barracks and is named after the General. The current hotel was completed in 1968. The terra cotta artwork of DeSoto pictured above is from the first hotel. The original crystal chandeliers, which still shine brightly, can also be seen pictured above. The newer version of the hotel is now considered historic!

We enjoyed the view from our room! On the other side of the bridge is South Carolina.

We were greeted by beautiful music when we visited the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, which is located in the Lafayette Square neighborhood. There were many people visiting. The docent said she couldn’t give tours while the organist was playing, but she talked to us about the stained glass windows, which were installed around 1904. When the church was first built, a lot of the parishioners didn’t know how to read. The windows tell stories about the saints. She talked about how to recognize the saints by looking at what they’re holding or carrying. She pointed to a window of St. Cecilia carrying the harp, because she’s the patron saint of music. The docent also told us about the fire that occurred in 1898. The Cathedral was destroyed, except for the outside walls and the two spires. The Rectory and St. Vincent’s Academy were saved. The cause of the fire was never determined, but it was speculated that the boiler might have malfunctioned. Many donations were received from around the country, and the parishioners finished re-building the church in 1899. The large baptismal font, located near the entrance of the church, was carved in Carrara, Italy and weighs 8,000 pounds. We enjoyed seeing the beautiful architecture of the building, which is built in the French gothic style.

The organ is located in the balcony. The sun shined too brightly to capture the details of the Great Rose Window, which is directly above and behind the organ. St. Cecelia is in the center holding her harp while angels play different instruments around her.

We took a short walk and found Chippewa Square where about 80 percent of the movie Forrest Gump was filmed. “The Battle of Chippewa was an important skirmish in the War of 1812. This square took its name from this battle. The centerpiece for this beautiful square is a Statue of General James Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia.” We thought the bench featured in the movie would be at the Square, but it turns out it was a movie prop and is now located in the Savannah History Museum. We walked by the Historic Savannah Theatre, which is the oldest theatre in the United States. Mama Mia was showing at the time.

We walked until we found Forsyth Park, which is 30-acres and named after Georgia’s 33rd governor. “The city’s most famous fountain—installed in 1858 and modeled after the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris—crowns the northern edge of the park…” It was fun to see people playing frisbee, strolling along with their children, walking their dogs, and enjoying the beautiful, warm weather.

On the way back to our hotel, we found Saints & Shamrocks, a cute gift shop. The shop caught my eye, because it had a little yard flag with a St. Patrick’s Day theme sitting out on the sidewalk. I knew my daughter would love to have it for her yard, yet I wondered if the little pole at her house was buried in snow. I decided to buy it anyway. The sales ladies could see that my husband wanted to get going, but they encouraged him to have a seat in the back, while I took my time walking around the place. Before I knew it, I had a handful of gifts for our children.

We walked about three miles our first day, and my feet were sore! Sometimes one Square looked like another Square, and I think we might have walked in circles a couple of times! That afternoon, Hubby went to the pool, which is on the second floor of the hotel, while I took a nap. 🙂

That night, we went to Treylor Park-Hitch for dinner. We only had to walk down the block and across the street to get there. I decided to try something different. We saw chicken pot pie on a couple of menus, so we thought it must be a popular item. The pot pie was prepared quite differently than what I’m used to – it’s cooked inside of a tortilla. It was a bit spicy and quite tasty. My husband enjoyed a Patty Melt. Both items were served with cooked cabbage. Somewhere during our day, we discovered that Savannah is one of the most popular destinations to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! That might be why the restaurant served cooked cabbage that day.

We both thought the area was fun, with its 120 restaurants, 22 Squares, and southern hospitality (everyone was so polite!). We couldn’t wait to go exploring the next day. To be continued…

Few City Sounds Interrupted the Quiet

On the third day of our Montana trip, my husband and I decided to have a large breakfast. When we walked around downtown Whitefish the night before, we saw a small cafe tucked away off the main streets. It felt inviting, when we saw the cozy booths and the wooden paneled walls filled with pictures of wildlife or landscapes. A large fireplace decorates one wall – the stones reminiscent of the mountains surrounding us. Most of the tables were full at the Buffalo Cafe. Luckily we found a booth close to the fireplace. We hoped the classic breakfast would keep us full until after we got back from exploring.

Taken from the bridge at the entrance of Glacier National Park

We were lucky to be greeted with another sunny and warm day, when we entered Glacier National Park at the main entrance. We heard about how beautiful Going-to-the-Sun Road is, but the nice man in the booth informed us that the road was closed for the season for road repair. He told us about another route, so we found Carmas Road and headed on our way. Our first stop was at Lake McDonald at the Fish Creek camping site. The water of the lake was still and only a few city sounds interrupted the quiet. It felt serene.

A little creek flowed to make its path through the sandy beach. We found a large walking stick to help us balance and were able to walk across the jagged rocks without ending up in the lake. We sat upon an old log and listened to the “sounds of silence.” Even the birds were enjoying the quiet that day.

Only a few people were exploring the area. We decided to head back to the car, where we were greeted by a bus filled with teenagers. Their voices swarmed around us like bees waiting to get out of their hive. It felt like a bit of luck had been showered upon us – it was nice that we got to enjoy the quiet time when we did!

We travelled up the road a little longer and spotted a sign for a trail. Having been greeted with another sign about bears, we decided it was too far of a walk to go without bear spray, so we took a long look at the majestic trees. A little further down the road we came upon a beautiful sight.

Many saplings were growing, each fighting for their space, reaching towards the sun. Which one would get to be the tallest, I wondered.

On our way back down the road, we found the visitor’s center and went for a hike to find a small camping area with cabins and shops. There we saw the other side of Lake McDonald. We sat on a bench and watched people fishing and admired a group of four women getting in kayaks. Their paddles made ripples in the water.

Before we knew it, it was early in the afternoon. We headed back and made a stop at The Huckleberry Patch in Hungry Horse. We quickly browsed the shop to see if there might be a gift to buy. I had a hankering to get some huckleberry jam but couldn’t figure out how to pack it on my carry on, so we found the ice cream shop instead. While we read the menu, a lady came running in. “Does anyone want this huckleberry ice cream cone? I got it for my husband, but he bought something else for himself,” she huffed quickly. She was a little out of breath and sounded a little peeved.

“I’ll take it,” I said, after looking around to see if anyone else wanted it. Since no one else said anything, the lady gave the cone to me. “Thank you,” I said to her before she flew out as fast as she entered. You can never have too much ice cream when you’re on vacation! My husband bought a different type of cone, and we sat at a table and stared out the window making sure not to waste a drop.

When we got back to Whitefish, we found the City Beach of Whitefish Lake. A family played frisbee on the beach and wiggled their toes in the water. It was nice enough for a swim, so we headed back to the lodge to swim in the warm pool.

That night, we went back to the Buffalo Cafe and had the Parmesan crusted chicken breast, which was grilled and “finished with a lemon pepper aioli, served with roasted carrots and mashed potatoes.” It hit the spot!

The next day, we got up early and drove back to Spokane, Washington. We made it – even though the “change oil” light – which started to shine shortly after we started our road trip – still shined. The car and driver got us to where we wanted to go. We arrived at the airport well before our flight was ready to leave.

Thanks for reading! It was fun to write about and remember our trip. 🙂

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ~Anaïs Nin

God’s Creations

On the second day of our Montana road trip, we had a quick breakfast at the lodge and stopped at a nearby grocery store to pick up lunch. Cell phone reception is spotty, so we knew we had to rely on an old fashioned map and our own good sense.

We visited the area in October. The trees were starting to yellow, but mostly evergreens were in view. Our travels took us through the small towns of Columbia Falls, Hungry Horse, Martin City, and Coram.

Highway 2 travels along the outskirts of Glacier National Park from West Glacier to East Glacier. The roads were well maintained and not too scary as we passed through the hills. It’s a 28-mile trek from West Glacier to our first stop.

Some of the areas are not well marked. We were lucky to find this spot and made a quick turn onto the road that led us to a parking lot and rest area. We got out to explore some of the paths. A train trellis can be seen in the middle photo above and the photo on the right. We learned how the goats like to stop in the spring to get nourishment from the wet seeps that hide in the rocks. The goats visit the band of rocks along the Flathead River mostly in May and June, but can be seen from April through August. Glacier is heavily populated with bears, and we didn’t want to meet any up close, so we ate our lunch in the car, with the windows rolled up!

A short jaunt lead us to Bear Creek River Access. Some fishermen were trying their luck at this spot, but they weren’t getting any bites. We sat a short time to admire God’s creations.

Next, we stopped at the Roosevelt Memorial Obelisk, which was built at Marias Pass on the Continental Divide in 1931. To learn more, click on the pink text highlighted above.

We continued on Highway 2 to East Glacier, then headed north/northwest on Highway 49 and drove through to the Two Medicine Entrance Station.

After seeing this sign, we took a little walk around the man made trails, where there were plenty of other people making noise to hopefully scare off any bears!

More time was spent admiring the scenery! The rocks look more colorful here. No bears or wildlife approached us.

We headed back the way we came.

That evening Hubby enjoyed a Montana pork chop, and I had a delicious piece of salmon at Abruzzo Italian Kitchen in downtown Whitefish.

When we got back to the lodge, we went outside and sat on the patio by the river, and there is where we saw a little deer chomping on the neighbor’s lawn. Such a nice ending to a great day.

I thank you God for this most amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite, which is yes. ~E. E. Cummings

Discovering Duluth – Congdon Park

We recently took an easy hike through Congdon Park, which is hidden in a residential neighborhood on the east side of Duluth, between north Hawthorne Road and 34th Avenue East.

The waters of Tischer Creek moved low and slow.
A waterfall trickled down rock formations.
The sun shone high above.

Duluth – October 2020

The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats

If I was a Bird, I’d Want to Live Here!

My husband and I didn’t know what to expect when we were off to our next stop – Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands. We were not to be disappointed.  We took a tour bus to the gardens, which is a 40-minute drive from Amsterdam.  Our tour guide talked about the gardens while we were on the way, and he spoke five different languages!  I could only understand one but recognized parts of others, sometimes!

Keukenhof Gardens

Our tour guide informed us that over a million people visit the gardens during the eight week period when the flowers are in bloom. “More than 7 million tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths fill over 32 hectares (79 acres) with color and fragrance.”  The flowers are arranged perfectly into artistic pieces of work.  Not only were the flowers beautiful, but we also enjoyed seeing the ponds and very large trees.

We snapped over 90 photos while we walked around the gardens for three hours. It was very difficult to narrow it down, but I’ve posted 29 (to be exact) of my favorites here.  Being amongst all the flowers, trees, and birds was timed perfectly since we had just gone through a very long and cold winter at home.  Plus, the flowers all seemed to be at their prime, except for some daffodils that had seen better days.  Some of the flowering trees were losing their petals, but we got to see them in all their glory before the wind picked up.

We could tell by the songs they sang, that the birds were glad to be there, too. I couldn’t help but think, “If I was a bird, I’d want to live here!”  Keukenhof Gardens was spectacular and more than I ever imagined!

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Anne Frank’s Hideaway Home

It was a cool and windy day when my husband and I went to tour Anne Frank’s House and Museum. Thankfully, the sun shined down from a light blue sky to warm us. There were many people standing in line with their previously ordered tickets in hand. A group of about 20 people enter the museum in 15-minute intervals. Right now, tickets need to be ordered on-line 60 days prior to the tour because there is a renovation in progress.

263 Prinsengracht

When we first entered the bright museum, we each were handed a monitor for our guided tour. Every room has a sensor on the wall. A recording on the monitor gives details of each room plus other historical events about World War II. After seeing a few rooms in the museum, we entered the first floor of 263 Prinsengracht. The first floor is the warehouse of the spice company that Anne’s father, Otto Frank, and his partner, Hermann van Pels, set up. We climbed the narrow and steep wooden stairs to get to the second floor, which was the office space.  There we saw a beautiful view of the canal below. At the end of the hallway is the bookcase that hides the Secret Annex. The rooms were mostly empty because the Nazis removed the items after they captured the eight people in hiding. There were a few personal items on display that included: Mr. Frank’s Charles Dicken’s book – he was teaching himself how to read English; Margot’s, Anne’s sister, writings from her Latin correspondence course; and copies of Anne’s diary. The original diaries were not on display due to the renovation.

Each room has a photograph on the wall of what it looked like when it was furnished. The first room we entered, after going through the door that was camouflaged as a bookcase, was where the Franks stayed during the day. Before we entered Anne’s room, we noticed the wall where Mr. Frank marked the growing heights of his daughters. Pictures of movie stars were pasted to Anne’s bedroom wall, just as she left them. There is a small bathroom on this floor where they also did laundry. Up the next level is a small kitchen area that everyone shared, and Mr. and Mrs. van Pels also used that area as their living quarters. Peter’s room is adjacent to the kitchen and the walls are decorated with photos of movie stars that Anne also pasted there. From Peter’s room, we could see the steps to the attic. The attic is closed off with Plexiglas at the ceiling. A tilted mirror gave us a view of the place where Anne liked to go to get fresh air and look at the sky and trees.

The exit took us to the museum store, and as we walked down the stairs to exit the museum, there is a giant portrait of Anne on the wall. One can’t help but think about the sweet girl and others like her and her family. Even though we know the outcome, a person’s heart sinks when they read the last sentence in Anne Frank’s diary: “ANNE’S DIARY ENDS HERE.” When my 13-year-old self read The Diary of a Young Girl, I never thought my older self would visit her hideaway home. I was fascinated with the diary back then and felt I could relate to some things she was going through. Familiar things such as how she got along with her family and friends and how she appreciated the outdoors. Anne’s story stayed with me.

I recently read the book and was amazed by how great a writer Anne was. Anne described her surroundings and circumstances so well. Not only her emotions came through, but how she loved and how she thought she didn’t love some people. Anne was wise beyond her years in the ways she understood humankind.  Of course, Anne had bad days – who could blame her with being stuck where she was – but she mostly managed to stay optimistic and hopeful while she was in hiding for those two years. Most likely her positive attitude was due to having her diary. Anne wrote, “When I write, I shake off all my cares.”

At first, Anne wrote her diary for herself, but later she decided she would like to write a book about the war based on her diary. She edited her diary many times as she was going to use it as a reference. Immediately after the Franks, van Pelses, and Fritz Pfeffer were arrested, the secretaries, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, who worked in the office, found Anne’s diary and held onto it until after the war. Mr. Frank was the only one of the eight to survive the camps. In the late 1950s, the house was going to be torn down for a new development, but many people in Amsterdam campaigned against the demolition. The house was preserved and turned into a museum which opened in 1960. The Anne Frank House is the third most visited museum in the Netherlands with 1.2 million visitors every year.

After the war, Mr. Frank worked at getting Anne’s diary published and it has been read by people from all over the world. Mr. Frank answered thousands of letters that he received from readers of the diary, and he concluded each letter with: “I hope Anne’s book will have an effect on the rest of your life so that insofar as it is possible in your own circumstances, you will work for unity and peace.”

Being in the Secret Annex was a surreal experience for me because I could not believe I was actually where I was at the time. Even though it made me feel heavyhearted, I am glad I was able to visit Anne’s hideaway home. That visit will help Anne’s story stay with me all the more.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world. ~ Anne Frank

Hectically Moving Crowds

Amsterdam Walk About Town

Amsterdam Walk About Town

Amsterdam is a beautiful and interesting place to visit. My husband and I arrived on a Tuesday late in the morning the beginning of May.  We were met at the airport by Peter, who drove us to our hotel in a Mercedes van.  Mercedes are a very common sight in Amsterdam.  The ride felt very comfortable, not only because of the type of van we rode in, but because people drive on the right side of the streets in the Netherlands.  When we got closer to town, we noticed the bicycles.  The city bikes have fenders, chain guards, and a skirt guard on the rear wheel.  A shocking amount of people were commuting to work and other places on bikes in their office-type clothing.  No one wore a helmet and sometimes babies were strapped in either on a bike or a person who was riding one.

Rembrandt Square

As we neared where we would be staying, Peter had a hard time finding a place to park. Luckily, he was able to wedge the van in between two cars that were parked alongside a canal, and we got pretty close to the hotel, the NH Schiller.  The hotel was built in 1912 and is located next to Rembrandt Square.  The lobby is decorated with stained glass windows, woodwork, and artwork painted by Frits Schiller who once owned the hotel.  The headboards on the beds are also reminiscent of the creations of the artist.

NH Schiller Hotel (Bottom Photo is Headboard)

We quickly checked in, got a map, and went for a walk to find Anne Frank’s House & Museum. Along our walk, we commented about the stunning architecture of the buildings.  Some buildings seem crooked as if they are leaning onto the next.  Canals wind about the town.  We marked our way by how many canals we crossed.  We ambled down a main street, by the Royal Palace, took a left turn to cross three canals and found Anne Frank’s House pretty easily.  We would return to the house of the well-known author later that night to go on our tour.

Amsterdam Royal Palace

Amsterdam Royal Palace

The streets were not only alive with bikers and walkers, but trams, buses, cars, and a horse and carriage helped make the town boom. Ferries dotted the canals.  Around a million tourists visit Amsterdam this time of year during an eight-week period to see the tulips at Kuekenhof Gardens, a 40-minute drive away.  We wandered around a little more and came upon a little restaurant called Mama Pancakes.  My husband’s breakfast came with scrambled eggs, sausage, beans, and bacon, chopped up like ham.  I ordered an omelet with ham, and toast on the side.  Both meals came with a garnish of shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  The coffee was served in a tiny white cup atop a little matching saucer.

Amsterdam Mama Pancake CoffeeTiny Cup of Coffee

Our tour of Miss Frank’s house was soon to arrive, so we went back to our hotel to get ready. Now that we knew the way, we felt confident we would get to the tour on time.  We only worried about staying out of the throng of the hectically moving crowds!

All went well, and I’ll write soon about our tour.

Thanks for visiting!