Before making our way to our newest housesitting assignment in France we spent a few days exploring Amsterdam with our children. With its’ reputation for all things naughty, Amsterdam may seem an unlikely place to visit with the children, but we learnt that it’s also a very family friendly destination for a whirlwind trip with the kids.
OK, so we didn’t just wake up one day with a burning desire to visit Amsterdam with our children, but we are ever so pleased that we did get to experience this delightful little European city. It all came about when we were contacted by a dear friend from Australia who was touring Europe, and hoped to catch up with us either in Ireland or England as part of her trip. We were super excited about the possibility of catching up with Claire, but disappointed to find that she would be in the UK, the week that we had planned our move to France. However, upon learning that she would be in Amsterdam for a few days before we were due to be in France, we decided that was close enough, we’d just meet her there!
None of us really had any expectations of Amsterdam. Of course everyone knows about it’s red light district and leniency on cannabis use, but these are more like reasons not to take the kids. This is the first time that we’d taken a trip to a new city solely to see a person rather than the sites, and so we found ourselves curiously without knowledge of things to do and see. Usually I’ve already well-thumbed and highlighted a local guide from Lonely Planet and at least learnt a few greetings. This time we decided to just wing it for the couple of days that we would be in Amsterdam, and we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to fill two full days in this pretty capital city of The Netherlands.
Given that we only had two full days in Amsterdam we decided not to overcomplicate things with a busy itinerary, so we only planned to do one ‘touristy’ thing each day. On the first day we visited the Anne Frank museum. Lucy recently read The Diary of Anne Frank in preparation for our visit, so this was probably the only thing that we really wanted to do in Amsterdam. The line is long to visit this museum where the Frank Family’s hideout was in ‘the secret annex’, especially in the summer. We visited in the evening, and stood in the rain for over an hour to get in, but the wait was well worth it. The Anne Frank Museum was moving, poignant and educational, we are glad we visited it.
On the second day we visited the Nemo Science Museum. It was really busy as it was still school summer break when we visited, but our children enjoyed it very much. The Nemo allows children to have a hands-on approach to science, and our kids enjoyed playing with giant bubbles, experimenting with water flow and making lightening!
The rest of our time in Amsterdam was spent wandering aimlessly around the gorgeous canalled streets, people watching in Dam Square, eating waffles, crepes, cheese and salty Dutch liquorice and drinking fabulous coffee. All achieved whilst carefully avoiding the red light district, because that’s a conversation that I’m just not ready to have with my eight year old son! We especially loved all of the ‘wonky’ buildings, leaning up against one another as their footings move in the swampy soil.
We all really enjoyed Amsterdam! It is a pretty city with a lot of character. The metro system is easy to navigate, (we recommend getting a two day pass from the ticket office for use on metro, trams and buses) and just about everybody spoke English, which was very lucky for us, as we’d neglected to learn any Dutch, and it was a really hard language to get our tongue around! Our trip was only a quick visit, but we achieved a lot, and I think we’d even go so far as to recommend it to other family travellers, don’t let Amsterdam’s naughty reputation put you off!