Amsterdam, Netherlands: Day 1

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bruges to Amsterdam

We started off the morning in our Bruges hotel with a delicious breakfast of pastries and cheese.  Unfortunately, I missed seeing the soft-boiled eggs until we were leaving.  Since breakfast didn’t start until 8am, our train was scheduled to depart at 9am, and we weren’t sure about our odds of getting a cab to show up, we decided to walk to the train station.  The distance wasn’t far, but it is annoying to drag suitcases over cobblestone.

Despite this, we made it to the train station on time and took the train to Amsterdam.  After a few changes, we made it to the hotel in the early afternoon, stopping at the Rotterdam train station for a lunch that we could eat on the next train.  My eggplant and hummus sandwich was delicious!

Amsterdam Arrival

To our great relief on arrival in Amsterdam we immediately noticed that the air was significantly cooler than the heat wave that we faced in Paris and Bruges.  The kids were delighted by the sea of bicycles!  They had no idea that so many bicycles could be in one place.  Even along the bridges, it was common to see overflow parking.

Last time we were in Amsterdam, I was obsessed with Febo.  It is a “fast food” restaurant that places the food in cubby holes with clear glass so you can see the contents.  You insert coins, the door opens, and you get your food.  I loved the “cheese soufflé,” that tasted a bit like a cross between a grilled cheese sandwich, a cheese pie, and a cheese fondue.  Yum!  We enjoyed wandering through the city, grazing on Febo and other street food that caught our eyes.

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Vondelpark

Eventually, wandering from the center along the main drags, we made it to Vondelpark.

As we walked through, the boys enjoyed some play-time.

Canals

There were lots of canals on the way and the bikes were still everywhere.

The Van Gogh Museum

As we got closer to the Van Gogh Museum.  The clouds moved in.  This was a nice looking church on the way.

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A few blocks before arrival, the downpour started.  It didn’t matter that we had umbrellas.  We got drenched!  The kids thought it was great.

The museum was quite nice.  One exhibit was on Van Gogh’s history.  We knew that he had a short life, but we were surprised to find that it was much shorter than either of us had imagined.  John wanted to know what disease he died of, but fortunately, we were able to hand-wave it a bit.  He was satisfied, and we didn’t have to go into the details.

The kids weren’t quite sure what to make of a lot of his artwork. Some of it is trippy!

Evening Stroll

After leaving the Museum, we spent more time in Vondelpark.  A quick dinner followed.  Jeremy and the boys got McDonalds, and I got a mocha.  Then we stopped by Febo again and I got another delicious cheese soufflé!  Yum!  Everyone was happy!

We walked by the canals, including Prinsengracht. As we wandered, we passed by the Anne Frank house, where we peeked at the building. We had wanted to visit this place, and actually had read the Diary of Anne Frank to our kids. Additionally, we knew it was wise to reserve tickets in advance, and actually had tried to 6 weeks prior to the visit to get tickets. But alas, it’s effectively necessary to reserve 2 months in advance! So, we didn’t get to go this trip. When Jeremy first went to Amsterdam years ago, one could just visit the Anne Frank House without a real wait like any other museum, but unfortunately, it has become too popular. Maybe next time!

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We did a brief foray along the outskirts of the Red Light District, but decided it wasn’t a good place for the boys.  The significance of the windows was lost on them, but James eyes lit up when he saw the sign, “Magic Mushrooms!”  Umm.  Not what you think, kid.  Then John asked, “Why are those two women laughing like that?…Mom, that smoke smells funny.”  A little later when it became legal in California and we ventured into San Francisco, one of them made the comment, “Mom, it smells like Amsterdam!”  I guess I’m glad they remember things from all of our travels, but not sure that is high on my list of preferences for things remembered…

At this point, we decided we were done for the evening.  On the way to the train station we picked up some food for breakfast. For this visit, given the hotel availability and pricing, we stayed a 5-10 minute train ride away from Centraal station in the suburban (and very different feeling) Sloterdijk station. This was fine, but part of me wished that for this short of a stay, we could have stayed a bit more central.

The boys were delighted by the bunk beds, which were actually a convertible couch.  If you are having trouble envisioning it, it looked something like this. Next up: biking around Amsterdam.

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