We had heard so many mixed reports about Amsterdam from lots of different people that we did think about giving it a miss but we like to make our own mind up about places. After all, one persons perception of a place can be very different to another person's...
We ended up driving into the city, Hubby has gotten very brave at driving into capital cities especially considering he only passed his driving test a year and a half ago. The streets were quite narrow and it was busy with lots of construction work but we managed to find a parking spot only 5 minutes walk from the centre.
One of the first buildings we spotted was the clock tower from the BBC's Anne Frank series we watched a few years ago. Bailey and the girls did quite a bit of work on WW2 and in particular the Holocaust and Anne Frank, we even visited an exhibition in Chester Cathedral all about Anne's diary, which was incredibly sad but opened up a lot of different things such as prejudice, hatred and human rights from countries around the world. Ruben has asked lots of questions about it and I think it might be a good time when we get home to rewatch the BBC series as he was too young the first time to understand.
There were so many beautiful buildings in Amsterdam, I think this was the prettiest toy shop building I've ever seen. Sadly it was hard to get a good picture with all the construction and city centre traffic!
We loved walking in and out of all the canals, they were so pretty and Ruben got to wave at all the boats again so he was happy.
Trying to find toilets in Amsterdam was a bit tricky but we headed toward the Museum of Amsterdam and found some toilets to use that were only 50 cents each (half the price of the earlier shopping centre toilets we'd used !). We would have loved to go into the museum itself but for 6 of us it was quite pricey, it makes you realise why so many tourists visit the London museums, such amazing museums and all for free or donations. We could visit one part of the museum for free though and they had this amazingly huge statue of David & Goliath:
We had a walk around the quieter streets and even found a playground for Ruben, which was located right next to a supermarket so we stocked up on snacks and iced coffees. Its amazing how much food four children can consume when you are sightseeing. We loved walking around the quieter streets and looking at the building shapes and sizes, I love how the end buildings are slightly leaning:
And the bicycles are just everywhere! I think I could pass a day with a nice coffee just watching all the cyclists as some of them are properly bonkers! We saw an elderly lady cycling with a new garden chair strapped to her handlebars and a man cycling whilst holding a new boxed printer to the back of his bike with one hand!! Crazy but fascinating.
More leaning buildings..
A rare shot of Cordelia as she is usually on the other side of the camera...
We had plans to go to the Anne Frank house/museum but when we actually got there the queue was huge and as we only had a short time in Amsterdam we decided to leave it. The girls had already said they didn't want to go in as they thought it would just be too sad, which is completely understandable, Ruben said he would go in with me as I really would have liked to see it but I am going to put it on my list of places to visit in the future. To be honest it felt sad enough just seeing her statue outside with flowers laid beneath..
And the outside of the house:
It has made me think about doing some more work with the children about the Holocaust, I think there is a museum close to home that I might look at, Ruben is now the same age the girls were when we first read Anne's book so it might be a good time. This year is also the centenary of WW1 so it might be the right time to get back into it. Its also made me think about visiting some of the trenches and memorial's in Northern France, Hubby has a great grandfather buried in one of them. We would liked to have visited some on this trip but the weather has just been too bad. Maybe next time?
Amsterdam was incredibly busy whilst we were there but we really enjoyed it, the are lots of wonderful shops, the girls found a brilliant clothing shop that was full of fairy statues and some really cool dresses. We found some great geeky shops that sold Superhero t-shirts and Adventure Time bags, hats and t-shirts. We had lots of conversations with the children about the cannabis coffee shops and even the red light area-although we didn't visit there. I think its important to be honest with them and answer their questions, its all part of experiencing different cultures in different cities. I like bringing the children to different places because I think it all helps widen their knowledge and understanding of the world and also helps them appreciate different cultures. We are lucky that Europe is easily accessible from where we live and we hope to be able to have lots more European adventures to come...