We had a day at sea between Bergen, Norway and Amsterdam. We spent a quiet day as we usually do on sea days. We didn’t see anything interesting until after dinner. We had heard that we had been passing oil drilling platforms during the day and when we went out onto the Promenade Deck after dinner, as we often do, there were six platforms visible. The sun looked like it might give us some nice colour as it set so we went to the cabin and got our cameras and went back on deck to see the show. Nothing as spectacular as in Iceland, but it was a nice sunset and the lights on the platforms lit up as night approached.
The ship sailed from the North Sea through the lock and down the long channel to Amsterdam while we were sound asleep. By the time we woke at 8 the ship was docked, all the paperwork and processing had been completed, and we were free to go ashore. The cruise terminal is located about a kilometer from Amsterdam downtown and Central (Train) Station.
We had breakfast, gathered up our coats and cameras and headed to Central Station to find which train would take us south to Dordrecht. The Netherlands has a very effective and efficient network of trains which move thousands of people every day between cities and to and from work. We purchased a Class 2 Intercity ticket to Dordrecht and got to the correct platform less than ten minutes before the train arrived (if we had missed it we would only have had to wait half an hour for another one).
The train took us out of Amsterdam, through farm and flower countryside and made 5-10 minutes stops at about 8 towns and cities, the largest of which was Rotterdam. It took about an hour and 40 minutes to get to Dordrecht.
Central Station Once we got to Dordrecht we asked directions to Maasstraat where Noah’s Ark was docked. Our information said it was about 1.4 km so we thought we would just walk, but the information folks said it was too far and we should go round the corner and catch the No. 4 bus. We had no Euros (we needed $2 coins for the bus tickets) and had meant to exchange some money at the front desk before leaving the ship but we had forgotten. Fortunately there was an ATM at the train station and a currency exchange office that gave us some coins for our Euro notes.
The number 4 bus arrived just as we got to the bus stop (again, not a worry if we had missed it as another one would be along in 15 minutes). It took about 10 minutes to get to Maasstraat and we just got off the bus, crossed the street and walked up the road to the Ark.
A Dutch man, a construction contractor, received a vision to build Noah’s Ark in 2004 to show people that the Bible stories were real and God did care for them. I haven’t read the book of the whole story (we bought it) but I think it took him about 2-3 years. The ark is ‘life size,’ made of pine wood and at anchor in the canal. It is 150 meters long (495 feet), 35 meters wide (115 feet) and 25 meters tall – four stories above the water level (82 ½ feet). It is HUGE.
Once inside you follow the ‘elephant’ footprints through the Ark, hear about how they built it, and what tools and equipment Noah may have used when he built his ark. Pertinent Bible passages about Noah and other important Bible characters, and about Jesus are related with mannequins and murals. There are life-size models of animals from Elephants to DoDo birds, a section on the seven days of creation, the time of the dinosaurs, the mysteries of the cosmos, a restaurant, a conference room, two open air courtyards – one at each end – a walking deck around the top story, live birds, ponies, goats, rabbits, a wallaby, and a donkey. Everything on the ark is made of wood. It was very interesting, well presented and truly an amazing feat of construction.
My wide angle lens broke/locked up and the focus ring will not move so I have been having to use my zoom lens since leaving Boston. John kindly loans me his wide angle every now and then when I just can’t get the shot I want with my zoom, but it has been driving me crazy not to have my 18mm. Amsterdam is a shopping mecca so we were sure we would be able to find an electronics/camera shop if not on the ‘main street,’ at least not too far away. We walked almost as far as Dam Square (about 500m from Central Station) before spying a large department-type store. They did not carry camera equipment but the information guide told us there was a large electronics store on the other side of Central Station which sells everything. So-o-o, we walked all the way back to the train station, through to the other side, up one side of the building and down the other and no Media Mart. We asked someone else, “It is about a 12 minute walk down by the Hilton Hotel – which is on a street across the canal from the cruise terminal! Sheesh. Finally we located the store only to be told they don’t sell 18-55mm lens separately (this is the normal size that comes with a camera body). He had an 18-135 in stock though so 339 Euros later (about $500) I walked out with a new lens. Heaven!
My poor feet were aching by this time and it was after 5 o’clock so we went back to the ship, changed clothes quickly and went to dinner. We are in Amsterdam until 5pm tomorrow, which is the half-way point of the cruise. 200 people just booked the Boston to Amsterdam segment and are getting off and an equivalent number of people are getting on to sail from Amsterdam to Boston. Sure beats being stuck in an airplane for hours. Sail the Seven Seas from continent to continent.