Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A quick trip to Amsterdam

It takes me forever to get around to blogging about travel. Maybe because I have too much to say. Oh well. Here's the long post... :)

We recently took a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam.  We had a few days free with Matthew home, so we jumped on a train and were in Amsterdam a little over 3 hours later!

We booked 2nd class tickets, but reserved seats in the Parent/Child cabin, which turned out to be fabulous and well worth the additional 18 EUR round trip.

We took advantage of the canals by booking a houseboat instead of a hotel.  The boys LOVED this and both said it was their favorite part of the trip! They waved to the tour boats that would float by and talked to the ducks & swans who swam up to the windows.
View of "our" boat from across the canal.

The boys looking down at the boat in the daylight

The swan right outside the living room window

Matthew & I enjoyed the view from the large windows in the living room after the kids went to bed. This is why I love VRBO & AirBnB so much - we can book a 1 bedroom apartment that either has an outdoor space or a view so that we can still enjoy our surroundings after the kids go to sleep in another room.
Our view from the living room in the boat

We only spent 1 day in the city and didn't want to plan too much.  We purchased tickets in advance for the Van Gogh museum and that was a FABULOUS experience.  They have great handheld multimedia devices that have kids programs.  The boys had a great time & were so engaged in the art.  In addition to listening about the paintings, the devices also had games & activities so that they could participate in things that taught them how Van Gogh mixed colors, etc. We didn't expect the kids to last more than an hour in an art museum but they were so engaged that we stayed 2.5 hours!

After this, we wandered through the streets of the city toward Anne Frank's house.  I tried to book tickets the night before, but they were sold out for all of the prior-purchase time slots.  I hoped we could get in during the non-prior purchase time during the afternoon, but no luck.

Instead we ate Dutch pancakes!  Like Prague, Amsterdam was a Gluten Free heaven for us.  I found a plethora of restaurants that offered GF options and plotted them on a map prior to our arrival.  One was the restaurant Pancakes! Amsterdam, which has a new location right next to the Anne Frank house.
Matthew got bacon & chili powder in his. Mine was ham, camembert & a savory raspberry sauce. Both boys got apple & cheese.  B's was GF but the rest of us ordered glutenful options. :) 

We then continued to wander, following canals at leisure.  We stopped by the Cheese Museum and the floating flower market (I had to see tulips, despite it being winter, and the flower market was one of the only places with them right now).  We discovered some great shopping: trendy clothes stores, art galleries, and antique shops.  I want to return with more time during the spring when the tulips are truly in bloom and the weather is warmer.

This was in a store we walked into, and we laughed out loud.  This is so opposite from Germany where most places take cash and not credit cards. I had to take a picture. (By the way, Pancakes! Amsterdam also only takes cards.)

I really wanted to try the restaurant Haesje Claes which has traditional Dutch food & GF options, but the kids were too worn out by the end of Saturday so we headed to the boat & picked up ramen from Wagamama (a chain, but very tasty & has GF options).

For breakfast, we ate at Bagels & Beans. A local chain that offers all sorts of bagel sandwiches or schmears. You can customize any of their bagel combinations with a GF bagel, so nearly the entire menu was available to Brandtley.  He was so excited! Also, when we ordered, the waiter asked if his gf order was due to an allergy & noted it so that his food would be prepared separately.

We didn't order the Weed burger but opted for more breakfasty options. (It's seaweed not pot. Though there is plenty of real "weed" in Amsterdam!)

We swung by Rembrandt's house on our way back to the train station, but didn't have time to go in.
Rembrandt's house

When traveling on foot with the kids, we build in extra time if we have scheduled tickets, which resulted in arriving at the train station 20 minutes early. Long enough for a coffee at one of the prettiest Starbucks I've seen. 

Then we boarded our train, listened to podcasts, music, colored, read books, and arrived two blocks from our house just a few hours later.

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