The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris

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Lelystad, The Netherlands
July 2008
"de Arc van Noach"

Work has really been encroaching on BJ's travel time recently, so when it looked like she would not be working on Independence Day we decided to try to catch up. With only one day off plus the weekend, it would have to be a quick trip. BJ did her research and found several European destinations that looked like they might have availability for a couple of non-revs. We chose Amsterdam so that we could find that elusive ark that we had looked for back in November. We even booked a hotel room, something we almost never do. We made an exception because it would be such short trip and the cancellation policy was pretty liberal.

According to the website (we checked both the English and the Dutch side this time) the Ark would be in Lelystad from June until August. We booked the very reasonable "Summer Special" at the Apollo hotel in Lelystad City Center for €119 (~$190) for 2 nights. We could only get this deal through one of the consolidator sites - The hotel's web site did not offer it.

Surprisingly, the availability for the flight held up as our departure date approached so we didn't have to stress over whether we would get on. There were a lot of other standby passengers but plenty of seats to accommodate them.

We arrived at the airport with more than 2 hours to spare before the flight. We breezed through security and headed for the E-Concourse Crown Room. Delta had recently eliminated the Business Class lounge, electing to combine it with the Crown Room. This meant that they upped the snack offerings in the Crown Room. In addition to the snack mix and Biscoff cookies that we were accustomed to, we chose between chicken and tuna salads, cheese cubes, canapés, and a pastry tray. The lounge was a bit crowded, but we found 2 seats together. Tony brought up the new travel computer (Suseee), so that we could monitor the flight. Suseee is an ASUS EEE PC that weighs only 2 pounds and is 9" x 6" x 1"! She is perfect for taking on our trips.

About an hour before flight time, Susie told us they had started clearing the standby passengers on our flight. We went to the gate and collected our boarding cards and then went back to the Crown Room to wait until it was time to board.

When we boarded the plane, we noticed that the business class blankets and pillows had been upgraded from our previous trips. Instead of the blue plaid woven blanket and small pillow, this time there was a soft comfy brown quilt and full sized pillow waiting for us in our seat. Very nice. The food selections looked very similar except for the salad and appetizer courses. Instead of an appetizer followed by a choice of soup or salad, this time the salad was standard and we could choose two of three other items to accompany it.

Shortly before takeoff, the flight attendant came to take our order. By the time she got to us, they were out of the Surf and Turf so Tony ordered the pasta and BJ, the chicken. BJ chose the crab cake and asparagus soup, but Tony just ordered the salad.

Delta has a new line of square china that is very pretty.  The food was particularly good.  The chicken was moist and the pasta was flavorful.


BJ tried a couple of Delta's signature drinks.  The Herradura Silver Margarita was tasty but the Copenhagen Colada was a bit too sweet.


We ended the meal with a delicious selection of fruits and cheeses.

BJ finished watching the movie "27 Dresses" which we had started on our last trip. It was a very cute movie. Tony watched "Smart People" but wasn't too impressed. 

BJ started "Mad Money" but fell asleep before it was over. When we landed, the flight attendants commented on how well we had slept!


As we were making our approach, BJ struck up a conversation with the man next to her. He was traveling with his family to see his son compete in the triple jump in the IAAF World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland. It turned out that he had also worked at Worldspan before so they knew many of the same people. 

We got through passport control with a warning about the lack of empty pages in BJ's passport.  We made a mental note to try to find a time when we could mail it off to get more pages added.  We quickly found a train schedule and determined that the next train to Lelystad was at 8:55AM. We remembered our last experience in Amsterdam with the ticket machines so we used our debit card to buy the tickets. We couldn't find an ATM machine in the airport near the trains, but we had enough Euros to get by until we could find one in Lelystad.

On the train, BJ got out Jill, our trusty Garmin Nuvi GPS. She typed in Lelystad and discovered that we had neglected to load the Amsterdam maps. Not to worry though, Tony remembered that we had loaded the maps onto Susie so he quickly created a map set and we downloaded it to Jill on the train. The download finished just in time for the GPS to acquire and tell us that we were arriving in Lelystad. We found this very helpful since all of the announcements on the train were in Dutch.

Just outside of the train station, we spotted the ING bank and used the ATM. We withdrew €200 (~$320).  Jill took us to the hotel where we were pleased to find that our room was ready. The hotel was very hot and we lamented that we had not brought our fans. BJ would have to add this to our packing list for anytime we travel to Europe in the summer.  The room was typically European with two twin beds equipped with a bottom sheet and a
duvet.  We opened the window to let the fresh air cool the room.


We dropped our bags and headed for the Ark. The pier was about 2 miles out of town. Jill's route took us along a major highway but there was a grassy area where we could walk safely. 


When we got close to the pier, we stopped to ask for directions to Noah's ark. We were surprised that the girl we asked spoke very little English. In Amsterdam everyone had spoken perfect English.  Here, less than an hour away, we found very few people who spoke fluently. She wrinkled her brow for a moment when we said, "Do you know where Noah's Ark is?" After a moment of thinking, she said, "Ah, de Ark van Noach?" She pointed just over the hill but wasn't sure if we could get there walking straight or would have to take a circuitous route. We took the straight route and were able to get to it.

We could see it in the distance with the big giraffe on the top deck.

It was very impressive. We walked around and admired it from the outside before going in. 


We hoofed up the gangway with its brightly painted sign like the animals must have done so many years ago.

We thought the entry fee was very reasonable at €5 (~$8) each. There was a pamphlet written in Dutch so we asked about an English translation and they gave us a typed sheet.

It told how this Ark's builder, Johan had started building his ark after a dream about about a flood in Holland. Painted elephant footprints lead us on the tour of the ark. First there was a short film about the Bible story. I was quite surprised to find that it was a cartoon featuring Donald Duck.  I had hoped it would be more informative about the building of the Ark.

Next we passed some paintings by a Dutch Painter (Peter Spier) depicting the flood.

Other Bible stories were also represented on the lower deck of the Ark. We first passed through the tent of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

Next was a scene depicting Joseph's pit and his coat of many colors.

The Ark of the Covenant was on a cart in the middle of the room.

Jesus' grave actually contained a representation of the birth of Christ and the cross.


The tax collector's house had a TV in it. You know how those tax collectors are!

There were jugs that represented the water that Jesus turned into wine. 

And then the scarlet rope and basket that had been used for a couple of biblical escapes.


The boat was covered in replicas of the many animals that were aboard the ark. BJ was surprised to see most of them in cages. This is not how she had imagined them to be housed.




There was a scene depicting Noah in his cabin aboard the Ark. Tony commented that Noah was not a pretty man, but we surmised that he looked pretty good for his age (~600 years old).

We basked in the sunlight on the upper deck along with the dove with her olive branch.


We watched some teen-age boys trying to fish their soccer ball out of the water below the ark with a bucket on a rope.

We said goodbye to the animals and made our way to the exit.


After buying a few post cards, we exited the ark and walked along the pier to look at the other boats with their complicated maze of ropes and sails.


We decided that it was time for lunch. We were going to head back into Lelystad when we noticed some flags not far from where we were. We walked toward them and found the cute little town of Batavia Stad. It was an outlet village with cobblestone streets and lots of American shops.


We stopped at a little brewery just outside of town called the Koekoek bierbrouwerij. We decided to split a broodje which is a Dutch sandwich. It turned out to be a lot smaller than we had anticipated but it was enough to satisfy our hunger.

We noticed a lot of people riding scooters that are used in the United States for the elderly. Here, it seemed like anyone over 65 used a scooter and anyone under 65 rode a bike.

On the walk back we decided to get off of the main road so we found a quiet little walking path along the canal.

Just when we were ready for a break, we popped out in a little area surrounded by bars and restaurants. We stopped at the Eet Cafe Misto and ordered a couple of small biers. The waiter spoke very little English but was very interested to know where we were from. After we finished our biers and paid, he insisted on buying us more biers.


We took a short break back at hour hotel before heading out for dinner.

We found a grocery store where Tony could buy his diet cokes and then wandered around town looking at menus. We decided to go back to the area where we had stopped for biers in the afternoon.

We went to the lovely little Italian restaurant Sorrento where we split a trio of pastas and a tomato mozzarella salad.


We made it an early night and headed back to our room which had cooled off nicely. Still, we elected to sleep with the window open. The temperature was pleasant enough, but it was a bit loud for sleeping.

We awoke the next morning around 7AM. The breakfast buffet (included in our room rate) was more elaborate than we had anticipated, with cold cuts, cereal, bacon and eggs. We chose a table that overlooked the open market that was being set up. We marveled over the effort that people went to to drag their wares to the tables every Saturday. It must be a lucrative business.

After breakfast, we went to the Tourist Information office to see if they had a map of the walking trails around town. There was one on the wall, but they were out of them. They gave us a small free map but it didn't go far enough to show the area where the windmills were. We took a photo of the map on the wall. 

Tony had spotted some windmills to the north of town. He had heard that people complain about the sound so we wanted to get close enough to hear. 

We immediately started off in the wrong direction with Tony following the map and BJ using the GPS. After a bit of arguing, we finally headed in the right direction. The map that we had photographed had a small lake with a picture of an umbrella next to it. We targeted that as a place to stop for a break and some refreshments.

We followed biking paths that took us through some neighborhoods and eventually to walking trail that led through the woods.


A sign warned that we might see some deer and told us that "De Toegang is Verboden"  We didn't know what toeganging was, but we knew that Verboden meant forbidden. We made a note to look it up. Turns out it means "The admission is prohibited" and it pertained to a list of things below, like after dark, with a dog, off of the path, with a music player, with a tent or windshield or on a motorcycle or horse.

After about an hour, we made it to the lake, but we were on the wrong side so we had to detour around the bottom to get to where the picture of the umbrella was. We passed a number of people fishing with extra long poles. We passed the spot where the umbrella should have been but there was no place to stop for a break. 


We pressed on until we came to a major road. We looked to the right and we could see a windmill! But better than the windmill, we saw a sign for a marina across the road with a restaurant!


We trudged up the driveway and over the hill to the cute little marina. The Scheepsrecht restaurant had outdoor seating so we found a spot in the shade and enjoyed a tosti, some frites and a couple of biers. 

We watched the boats tooling around the marina. One motorboat pulled up with a father and son in it. They must have dropped the keys to the boat in the water because they spent almost an hour trying to fish them out. Someone finally brought them a stronger magnet and they got them.

Refreshed, we started in the direction of the windmill. On the way there, BJ got a call that one of her employees had collapsed during the Peachtree Road Race the day before and was in ICU. We felt bad that we were so far away and could only promise to check on him when we got home the next day.

When we got even with the windmill, we were disappointed to find that it was behind a fence and we couldn't get close enough to hear it.

We kept walking and started back toward town. We passed a driveway that we thought might lead to the windmill so we walked toward it. When we got to the windmill, we could hear the swooshing of the blades in the wind.

The owner and his dog came out to see what we were up to. Tony told him that he wanted to see a windmill up close and hear the sound. The owner said that it sounded like 5 cents to him every time it went around. He had built the windmill himself. It was 55 meters high and the blades were 22 meters long. It provided enough energy for 60 families (which he charged them for).

We bid him goodbye and walked the 3 miles back to town. We stopped in the same neighborhood as yesterday, but at a different place this time. We sat for a couple of glasses of wine at La Plaza to let our aching feet rest.

We took a short break in our room before heading out for dinner at the Eethuisje De Gordiaan. The menu was completely in Dutch but the waiter spoke perfect English.  BJ had Chicken Sate and Tony had Medallions of Beef Tenderloin in a pastry shell.


We had a lovely meal and even got to watch the couple at the next table get engaged (or maybe they got married - they exchanged rings, spoke Dutch and smiled a lot).

We had a little trouble sleeping.  With the window open it was too loud and with it closed, it was too hot.  Mix that with worry about our friend in ICU and it was a rather fitful night.  The next morning, we left the hotel before breakfast was served and caught an earlier train than we had planned.  On the train ride, we saw quite a few deer in a scrubby area next to the tracks.

We had read the train schedule to say that our train would go to the airport, but apparently it was indicating that there are connections to the airport.  We couldn't understand the Dutch announcements.  We should have gotten off when we saw other people with luggage got off.  When we got to the Amsterdam Centraal station, we noticed that the sign on our train changed to Lelystad so we decided to get off.  We quickly found another train to the airport and made it in plenty of time for a couple of hands of Casino before our flight.

The flight home was uneventful.  We watched movies, slept and ate.

Another good trip!

BJ and Tony