Our plan had been to spend a couple of days in Amsterdam eating cheese, taking in a few museums and going to a western style doctor before moving on for some extended time in Greece. After all, the only reason Amsterdam was on our itinerary -- at least when it was -- is that our 'Round the World air tickets required it. (We have to visit the hub of each carrier--Hong Kong for Cathay Pacific, Amsterdam for KLM, Detroit for Northwest--as we switch airlines.)

We reached Amsterdam in a state of shock. We felt like whipped dogs. We were without funds, ill, tired and confused. And we fell in love with this place.

It was clean--the toilets in the airport even had little disinfectant sprays for the seat! Everything worked, from plumbing to computers. It was quiet, no horns honking no wandering cows or donkeys or camels, few people on the street (our first thought was that a plague had wiped out most of the population!). And the people we saw were happy, healthy, courteous people-- from the

One rainy night Cassidy became fixated on the many joys within this Dutch sweet shop.

immigration official who welcomed us and wished Samantha a happy birthday, to the hotel clerk who took one look at us and let us check in without a credit card or cash. It was charming, with more bicycles and pedestrians than cars on its narrow cobbled streets, canals, centuries-old architecture and history. It was cosmopolitan, with shops and restaurants with goods and foods from around the world, galleries, museums, concerts and movies. And it had tastes of the familiar (but not too) when it came to food.

We started off like a whirlwind, seeing a doctor, visiting museums finding our way around. And then we got a houseboat and the focus changed. We were in to gluttony, pure and simple. Not just with food--although we did a fair amount of eating--but with everything.

Our first day in Amsterdam set the pace--we ate fruit and cheese and bread and sausage and drank wine, we each took hot showers AND baths, and then slept in clean, crisp sheets on good beds for hours.

As the days on the houseboat progressed, we got into a pattern of checking and writing e-mail to friends and family several times a day, taking long walks and window shopping, feeding the ducks, geese and swans that came to our windows, shopping for good food, stopping for coffee, cooking, writing, watching British comedy and world news on TV, re-provisioning medicines and toiletries, reading, resting, washing clothes, making friends. We all got haircuts. Occasionally, we'd plan an activity, like going to the Palace, a museum, or "the Queen's Stables." But for the most part we simply indulged in all of the things we missed and longed for and needed. Things that made us feel like we had a home again.

By the time we left, we were well, feeling connected with the world again , but still wanting more. We regret the things we missed, but not enough to have changed what we did. Besides, it leaves us something for next time.

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