After a wonderful day in Leiden, today was not a very good one. It was embarkation day for our 2nd cruise and lots went wrong.

It was not our fault for the problems but that of the Viking Head Office in Los Angeles, so we were told when we finally arrived on board. We checked out of the hotel and took the bus and tram to the Central Station as we had 2 days before when we had checked on how to get to the new docking, Zaandam, for our boat. We had been told to go to the original dock, the Passenger Terminal dock, and we would be transported to Zaandam, 8 miles south of Amsterdam.

Passenger Terminal Building near the dock

There was a ship from Emerald Lines there signing in new passengers and, when we spoke with the representative, she told us that Viking was at the other end of the docks. This surprised us as, when we had walked there previously, we were told that Viking ships did not dock there as they were too large and, the email we had received from the LA Head Office had said that it was in Zaandam. To make sure that it was not there we walked all the way to the far end, a good couple of kms and with our luggage. Exhausting and infuriating as there was no Viking ship there.

We decided to walk back to the station and get a taxi. By now, we had spent an hour dragging our luggage around and walked miles. We were tired and really frustrated so, when a gentleman in a black vehicle which looked like a taxi asked if we needed one we foolishly said yes. As we drove along I thought that the vehicle was rather dirty for an Amsterdam taxi and he was driving rather slowly. When we got to Zaandam, he started going down residential streets which was unexpected. Eventually, when I said something like, ‘Do you know where the dock is?” he replied that he would ask a gentleman walking along the road. It turned out that it was just to the left at the next stop street which brought us back to the main road in which we had originally been. On arrival at the boat, he told Trevor how much it was, more than any other taxi, even though we had noticed that he didn’t have a meter. He said that it was broken but he worked on kms travelled. He was very upset that Trevor paid by card, he didn’t have a regular card machine and couldn’t give a receipt. He then had the cheek to ask for a tip!! That was then we were certain we had been scammed! Warning don’t make quick decisions when you are tired and/or angry.

When we checked in, we asked the Manager about transport from the Passenger Terminal dock as we had been told there would be. We discovered that he too was very angry with the LA Office as they had never informed him of what they had told passengers. Unlike the Manager of the first cruise boat we had boarded in Basel, who said that we would have to contact the LA Office for a refund on our unexpected taxi fare, this gentleman immediately said to sign 2 forms, 1 for each taxi, and withing 2 days we had our money back. From then on, we had a wonderful 10-day cruise to Antwerp, Belgium.

After a delicious on-board lunch, we went for a walk around the local area of Zaandam. We walked along the bank of the canal and came across 2 bridges which would be raised for tall boats to pass through. Traffic is stopped a good 2 minutes before the bridge begins to lift and we discovered why. Some of those on bicycles, particularly young men, liked to race across. A couple of them just made it while others were more sensible.

Raised bridge

Further along was a busy road which had a central pole mechanism which could drop into the ground which, from what we could see, it did only for buses. All other traffic had to turn around on either side of this pole and use another route. At the bottom of the street was another beautiful church with a very high spire.

Church & spire from the side

We crossed the canal and arrived at a very strange looking metal sculpture. It turned out to be connected to the control room for the lock on the canal. There were 2 gentlemen in the control room told us that the ‘pictures’ on the sculpture showed various buildings which had been on the banks of the canal when the lock was built as well as a few modern ones. It was built around the control building.

Metal sculpture and entrance to the control building
The stairs we climbed to the control office were also decorated with carvings.

From this side we could now see the buildings we had walked passed earlier and some of them had the most beautiful friezes and carvings.

Historic building beautifully decorated
Church tower seen through the trees











There was a family boat waiting to go through the lock and we had a bit of a chat with them. It is always interesting and fun to chat with local people. They told us there are times that they wait nearly an hour for a turn to go through the lock, especially on a holiday.

After a couple of hours as happy wanderers, we returned to the ship to change for dinner.  A day that had started with such frustration turned out to be very pleasant.