How can this be day five? That means we’re packing up and getting ready to say goodbye to Amsterdam (sad face) but it also means that we’re headed to Dublin to see Grainne’s brother Donal and sister-in-law Siobhan (happy face).
We take a look around our hotel room at the Ambassde Hotel and just soak it all in. What a great experience.
We show up at breakfast at our hotel and find that our favorite waitress Claudia has saved us the best table in the house, overlooking the canal. The fresh bread and fruit are already waiting for us. She’s spoiled us rotten all week and goes the extra mile to make sure our last morning is special.
I’m going to miss the Ambassade Hotel and its remarkable staff. When we come back to Amsterdam (and we will), there’s no other place I would consider staying.
We’ve got a few hours left to enjoy Amsterdam before we head to the airport. Our luck with the weather finally runs out and a soft rain starts falling. We decide to head back to Dam Square where indoor shopping sounds like a solid option.
We arrive at De Bijenkorf (literally The Beehive) department store, which is filled with the biggest names in fashion. I guess you could call it the Harrod’s of Amsterdam.
Upon arriving, we walk up to the door where a very nice lady asks if we have an appointment to enter. We tell her no.
“That’s OK,” she says with a smile. “The queue for walk-ups is right here.” She points to another lady two feet to our left. We thank her, move two feet to our left and present ourselves to the second lady.
“The queue for walk-up guests starts back there,” she says, pointing to a roped-off, winding entry that is completely empty of guests. We think she’s kidding. She looks at us again and points to the back of the non-existent line.
We walk to the back and wind our way to the front in about five seconds.
The very same lady looks at us as if she has never seen us before in her life.
“Welcome to De Bijenkorf. Please come in!”
It’s what some are calling COVID Theater: Some businesses are putting on a show - acting like they are taking measures that will keep you safe from the coronavirus. But at the end of the day, it’s just theater. There’s no practical reason for the measures.
But it’s fine. We enjoy looking at fashions that we can’t afford and really don’t want. But the department store is beautiful - and more importantly - dry on this wet Amsterdam day.
Before you know it, it’s time to grab some lunch before heading to the airport. We return to the Cafe Luxembourg, the site of our first meal in town. The rain has eased off, so we sit outside under cover and order our lunch. Grainne has smoked salmon and I opt for “The Classic,” which includes a veal croquette, a bowl of tomato soup along with fresh bread and cheese. It’s a perfect little lunch to end our time in Amsterdam.
We head back to the hotel, say our goodbyes to the staff and catch an Uber to the airport. All goes surprisingly well at both Schiphol and Dublin airports as we navigate the coronavirus protocols and show the immigation officials our negative COVID test results - along with our passports, of course.
One sweet note. As we are making our descent into Dublin, I’m totally engrossed in a book. Grainne punches me in the arm and tells me to look out the window to see the amazingly green landscape of Ireland. Her face is beaming (underneath her mask, of course) as she prepares to return to Dublin to see her family. There really is no place like home.
Grainne and I get a taxi to Gleeson’s Townhouse in Booterstown, south of Dublin. We’ll be staying there for a couple of nights since Donal and Siobhan have just moved to a new place, as they’ve decided to downsize in retirement. As we pull up to Gleeson’s, Donal and Siobhan are there waiting for us.
It’s the first time we’ve seen each other in three years. It’s a special moment.
We’re landing on our hosts in week two of their move. Fortunately - because Donal was a career Irish diplomat - the two of them are experts in moving. They are highly organized and have the flat looking fantastic. Siobhan cooks a delicious roasted chicken, which we devour quickly.
We catch each other up on the adventures of our respective children. (They are always children, even if they are grown up). Their kids are in England and Australia. Ours are spread from Boston to South Carolina to Texas. Thank goodness for Facetime and WhatsApp.
We say our goodnights and walk back to Gleeson’s, where we fire up Facetime and check on those far-flung children of ours. Everyone is well. With our minds at ease, bellies full and bodies tired, sleep comes quickly.