The hotel was really nice. Although our room was the first room down the hall from the lobby and restaurant, it was quiet. Geert woke up at 8am (perfect!) and went straight to the hotel breakfast buffet. I honestly didn’t care how much it cost. We needed to fuel up.

It did not disappoint. All of the breads and pastries and yogurts and meats we could eat. And an orange juice machine that squeezed your juice for you and a cappucino maker that I operated with the touch of a button. Perfection.

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Sinasappelsap!

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Snapped a picture of the mermaid for the girls

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and headed out to the electronics store across the water, so I could buy a USB port european charger. My stupid charger wasn’t working again. We got to the store, but it wasn’t open yet, so just started walking. We happened upon the public library which was open, and stepped in to check it out. Beautiful. Crisp and clean, and then a chartreuse wall of wool

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We checked out the kids section, which had a really nice set up. Places to read and explore, a large doll house and a loft for kids to read in.

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Still having time to kill, we decide to go up all the way to the top on the escalators (why not) and check out the view. On the 8th floor, we looked out over the inner harbor just in time to see our boat, the Vita Nova, sailing away from the dock to our meeting spot. Amazing! Geert was beside himself.

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When it was out of site, we returned to the Dutch version of Best Buy and got a really cheap and really good iPhone USB charger. I still feel dumb for not thinking of this last year. Outside, we took a picture of our hotel, as we walked back to check out and start for the embarkment spot.

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We began the walk to the docks, what was supposed to be about 10 minutes but it seemed to drag on longer than that. A picture of the canals and our first windmill siting.

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We got to the area on the map called Veemkade, but didn’t see our boat. We walked in the direction that the map said it continued and still didn’t see our boat. Once we got to the cruise ship terminal, we went inside the SwissHotel to ask directions. The very tall and handsome concierge treated us like we were stupid and said that we’d already passed it. But I didn’t see any boats! Ultimately, he finally explained that the dock went in the opposite direction too and maybe we just didn’t go far enough. Thanks, pal. We walked back the way we had come as I explained our likelihood of getting constantly lost to Geert and he nodded in understanding. Leva must have told him.

Finally, we found the boat and were shown to our teensy tiny room with our teensy tiny bunkbeds. I got the top, worried that if Geert fell out, he’d hit his head on the sink.

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We put the blankets in the duvet covers, left our things and went up to check out the boat.

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Not long after, the boat set sail, headed for our first stop of Vianen. We met our co-passengers and were delighted that most of the spoke English. The Fuschiardi’s from Ireland, the Boer’s from Vancouver, BC, and “The Germans” from Hamburg. And us, the Americans. We sat down to lunch, and afterwards Geert immediately started playing with Malachi (pronounced Mala-KEE), since he’d brought lego cars, and the girls hung out and colored. The steps on the boat to get up to the deck or down to the cabins were crazy steep and it took us a while to get used to them, but the kids would go up to the deck, and down into the dining room to play. They honestly settled in as though they all knew each other before the trip. It was amazing. We learned that Aine (pronounced OHN-yah) was 10, Aisling (OH-shling) was 11, Thomas was 12, and the Germans, the children who didn’t speak any English, Hans was 8 and Josef, 10. They played Jenga, Uno and cars for a few hours.

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The boys talked to Rein, the first mate

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and were impressed as we went through a big lock

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we arrived a few hours later at Vianen, where we just pulled up to a dock for the night. This struck me as a bit odd – you can really just pull up to a dock for the night? I guess you can!

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The boys played tag to get the lead out, and then we headed out on our first bike ride to try out the wheels.

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Geert’s bike was big for him. I was surprised, since we’d sent in his age and height, but not only did he get a pretty big bike, he got a GIRL’S bike. Green with flowers on it. Rita, the tour guide, brushed it off with “a bike is a bike” (oh, the Dutch), but he was upset. I have to hand it to him, though, he didn’t throw a fit. Or complain. He just took it. Over the week, he would really grow to like his bike, and I was so proud of him. We passed some beautiful scenery and hot air balloons. Geert was kind of slow, but I chalked it up to jetlag and a gigantic bike, and we rode for about an hour before settling in for the night.

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Geert slept well, but I didn’t. The boats next to us were roped to each other and then to the dock, lengthwise to each other, and every breeze and every small wave made them hit into each other. At first I thought it was hammering (who would DO that at night??), but soon figured it out. I really really hoped this wouldn’t be how we would sleep the whole trip. Oh dear.

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