I woke up sad. This day was my last day in Europe. Also the last day I get to spend with my lovely daughter. The last 31 days had gone just too fast. I've seen much, laughed, been overwhelmed at where I was, eaten wonderful food, tried beautiful wines and spent the most amazing month in my daughters company - something that is so special and I shall treasure it for the rest of my life. What huge memories I have.
I have 24 hours before I fly back to New Zealand so we had to pack as much as we could into that. So the first thing we did was walk to the supermarket by Anne's apartment. There were two actually so we went to both. We picked up breakfast, as well as ingredients for the Dutch dinner that we were having that night at the apartment with Anne's lovely flatmates.
I was amazed at how cheap things were compared to New Zealand. I compared prices. Dairy products were extremely cheap in comparison. 1 euro for butter, which is the equivalence of $2 NZD and we're paying nearly $6 for the same thing. Cheese. Dutch cheese is incredible and half the price. Fresh fruit and veges - also incredibly cheap. Wholegrain bread - of which we pay $5 here for was only 89c. That's it - I don't want to come home!
Even non food stuffs were cheap. Moisturising facewipes - 99c. $10.29 here in NZ. I bought some to bring back with me. I'm using them sparingly. We picked up some bread rolls, smoked salmon, yoghurt for breakfast, and the ingredients for our dinner that night, then headed back to the flat. Unpacked then headed out the door - destination Leiden. Our plan was for an hour or two in Leiden, then head into Amsterdam to the Dam square for a serious shopping spree. I wanted a pair of boots, and Anne needed boots and jeans.
We got the train down and arrived about half an hour later. I was amazed - such a pretty town. The Netherlands knew it was my last day and turned on glorious weather for me, making up for the terrible weather I had the week before....
The canals were gorgeous...
We then found the Citadel of Leiden which was built in 1150. It was erected on an artificial hill by the citizens of Leiden as a defence against the water of the Rhine. The city expanded around the fortress and consequently lost its defensive purpose. The city magistrate bought the citadel in 1651 and made it into the park it is today.
Obscured by the City Hall you see the Pieterskerk. This church, dedicated to St Peter, supplied the keys in the coat of arms of Leiden as St Peter held the keys to Heaven's gate.
We never got there though. Instead we found some shoe shops and jeans shops in the centre of Leiden. Actually it was a really really nice shopping centre. We found some beautiful boots for Anne, then found a Jeans shop and bought some Jeans and a couple of tops for her, and a winter top for me, which was on special. Loaded down with bags, we decided to go back to the apartment, to drop off the bags then head into Amsterdam by tram quickly for Anne to get her hair trimmed. I waited at the tram stop while Anne dropped the bags home - it wasn't far, but it enabled me to rest my foot for 5-10 minutes.
We stopped one stop short of the Dam, and Anne rushed down to get her hair done. I stopped to take some photos so told her I would catch up with her... The sun was beginning to set so it once again was really pretty. This is the Prinsengracht Canal.
We then caught the tram to Anne's work and visited a few more shops, tried some cheese, and bought a lotto ticket. Then caught the tram back to the apartment to get ready for my first dinner comprising of Dutch food.
The next morning, as Anne had to go to work, even though my flight wasn't til midday, it was decided she would drop me off at the airport at around 8.00 then head to work. I would wander round the duty free and use my computer in the airport lounge while waiting for the plane. It was really really hard saying goodbye, even though I knew I would see Anne in six weeks in NZ for xmas. I simply wasn't really ready to go home.
My plane ended up being delayed for 5 hours so instead of sitting around in the airport for 2-3 hours, it was more like 7 hours. Rather annoying. Which meant it as highly possible I had missed my connecting flight in Malaysia. Fortunately (or unfortunately - I haven't decided which yet), they held the plane in Malaysia so it was straight off one plane, and onto the next to fly to NZ. Which meant 22 hours of sitting down straight plus 7 hours of sitting round airports. Instead of getting in at midnight it was 2am!! And yes - I was exhausted. I am still hankering after Europe. It's highly addictive. We HAVE to win lotto so I can visit again!