First day went to Auschwitz. Although it is a 1/2 day tour you are in fact out for about 8 hours, only 3 1/2 at Auschwitz the rest picking up and dropping off at hotels and1 hr 15 mins each way once you get going. Very well organised once there. You follow the tour leader and everyone has head sets so you can hear the leader even if you cannot see here. You have a short break between Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz 2 although not long enough for lunch and a toilet break. There is a lot of walking on this tour. Tour leader was very informative but did not really welcome questions. The next day we were once again picked up from our hotel however much quicker as salt mines only 15 mins away. Today was from 10am - 2.30pm. Once we got to the salt mines chaos happened. It was so disorganised just trying to be put into groups. Again we wore headsets. Our guide (Karol), a young lad was very pleasant and knowledgeable. Can I say if you do not liking walking and going down steps do not do this. we had several people on this tour that did nothing but moan. There is an option to take a lift down the first 350 odd steps. However there are another 400 steps over the 2 hour tour. You are advised on the coach and once you are in the caves that for the half of the tour you can take photos however just before the entrance to the cathedral you need to buy a photo pass for 10 PZL. However out of 38 people on my tour my daughter was the only one who purchased one and that was because she was at the front of the queue. The guide did not bother stopping people walk straight past and when you are in the cave it is not policed in any way at all, which I think is unfair, if you are going to impose such a rule -police it !! If I had a choice I probably would not have done the salt mines. There was no "wow" factor about it. The journey up from inside the cave was as disorganised as the way in. The queues for the lifts were so long and the lifts so cramped.
Met the tour at the tour office. Left right on time on a double decker coach. Our guide (Diana?) was very informative both historically and geographically. First we drove over a dijk to Marken. Here we walked around houses in the small village, I did feel a bit uncomfortable as we were almost in their gardens. Then we went to the Clog factory and watched Bart make a clog. He too was very informative and funny. We spent time at the gift shop before walking down to the waterfront to catch the boat to Volendam. We were the last boat of the season to leave and this was an extra surprise as when booking the tour it said the day before was the last boat trip. The boat trip was quick, there are toilet and refreshment facilities on board. Volendam was beautiful I so wish we went in the summer and not on a windy, rainy November day. We went to the cheese factory and heard how cheese is made, I say heard as the lady just described the process however the woman in the room (behind glass) behind us was actually making cheese. We had about 3/4 hour free time hear to get lunch, there are numerous bars, restaurants and stalls selling food. We then walked to the coach and continued to Zaanse Schans. The first impression you get when you leave the coach is an overwhelming smell of chocolate !! There is a chocolate factory here. The first windmill is free to enter however you cannot climb up. There is a windmill that costs 3 eu and you can go to the top and outside. I will warn the steps are very steep. Here we had free time to walk around. There were plenty of photo opportunities. We then returned to Amsterdam. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip.
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