Dutch Treat

Back in February, on a dark and stormy night, Rebecca and I sat around discussing where we could go for our May break holiday. Planning ahead means that everything is cheaper and more options are available, so we threw out ideas on places to visit.  We decided to look at airplane costs to various destinations.  Our closest airport is East Midlands, about a 40 minute drive (20 miles) away, and one can fly to all over the continent from there.  We saw that flights to Amsterdam were incredibly cheap, so we decided that would be the place to go in late May.

Now, we are not thick.  We know all about Amsterdam and their lax drug and prostitution laws.  In fact, when we told people where we were going we got a few raised eyebrows.  Yes we did not choose a real “holiday” kind of destination (no pools or beaches), but the culture and art history there drew us in and we figured that the kids would go along with the ride.  Plus we expected that it would be Spring weather.  And we were correct!  We visited for a week and had mostly sunny and clear skies the whole time.  We toured five different museums, ate pancakes for dinner on a boat, rode bicycles through town on the hottest day of the year (we were told), and took a train out of town to visit museums and eat Italian food in Den Haag.

Below is a photo journal of our week in Holland:

129

Stuart, our trusty bike tour guide.  We whizzed through the city and I was surprised no one in our group crashed.  I thought Portland had a lot of cyclists, but Amsterdam had much, much more bike riders.

Stuart, our trusty bike tour guide. We whizzed through the city and I was surprised no one in our group crashed. I thought Portland had a lot of cyclists, but Amsterdam had much, much more bike riders.

Pancake boat for dinner.

Pancake boat for dinner.

200

080

Van Gogh Museum

517

180

169

525

MC Escher Museum, Den Haag

564

566

555

Gemeentmuseum, Den Haag  (largest collection of Piet Mondrian in Europe)

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"Victory Boogie Woogie". Mondrian's last painting, which was never finished.

“Victory Boogie Woogie”. Mondrian’s last painting, which was never finished.

605

Kandinsky

Kandinsky

Rembrandt

Rembrandt

We visited the Ann Frank museum.  A more somber experience.  Rebecca, Annika and I all had either read her book or did a report on her, so we knew what to expect.  Zachary was in a little over his head, but the exposure was what was most important for him.  It had rained cats and dogs the evening we went, and we caught a window where there was no rain, so there was no queue for entry!  Photos were not allowed inside, but I would recommend reading her diary to anyone interested in either WWII, or what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl.

Riijksmuseum

Amsterdam’s most famous museum had gone under a 10 year makeover, and it was reopened only a few weeks before we arrived, so we absolutely lucked out.  The weather was gorgeous this day, which led to the museum itself to be not that crowded.  A huge place where we zipped along in some places, and stayed for a while in others. I was emotionally taken seeing paintings in person that I have seen in books my whole life.

Rembrandts

631

625

626

Vermeer

Vermeer

332

356

303

376

325

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On this day, our bike riding day, the Dutch we met said it was by far the hottest day of the year for them, close to 80 degrees.

On this day, our bike riding day, the Dutch we met said it was by far the hottest day of the year for them, close to 80 degrees.

293

The Dutch put their trash out on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, on the corner, for morning pickup.

The Dutch put their trash out on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, on the corner, for morning pickup.

Our apartment is the building with the black door, second floor.  We were in the De Pijp neighborhood, south of the city centre, but right on the tram line.

Our apartment is the building with the black door (Madison), second floor. We were in the De Pijp neighborhood, south of the city centre, but right on the tram line.

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Sea of bicycles, Den Haag.

Sea of bicycles, Den Haag.

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It is very light out here at night, meaning it is hard to put the kids to bed at a reasonable hour.  Plus our clocks were moved an hour up, so bedtime tended to be around 11pm, much to our disappointment.

We took hundreds of photos, but I hope what I posted was enough to get an idea.  The kids had a lot of fun because we balanced the cultural side with kid-friendly things, such as visiting the parks and playing in playgrounds.  The city is very family friendly, as we were treated well.  Staying just out of the city centre meant that the people we interacted with were locals.  We saw and heard lots of Americans, who obviously come for the party atmosphere that the city does offer.  But we also saw a lot of tourists from all over the world, as the city (and country) has a lot more to offer.

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