My mother came to London to visit for the Christmas holiday and we decided to make the most of her 10 day trip by hopping over to Amsterdam for a few days. Many people that I speak to don’t tend to think of Amsterdam as a place to visit with their parents and children but Amsterdam is quite a family friendly city (ex the Red Light district and coffee shops that we easily avoided). I had been to Amsterdam 20 years ago but this was my family’s first time.
We caught a Monday morning flight and headed straight to our hotel with my usual agenda to drop the bags and hit the streets but my mom was still jet lagged from her flight from New York to London the day before so I had slow things down…a little. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Mercure Sloterdijk Station located about 15 minutes from the city center. The area had great transport links to the center of Amsterdam as well as the airport. This was my first time at a Mercure hotel and I was impressed with the spacious rooms outfitted in a wonderfully modern and simplistic decor.
After checking in and purchasing a 3 day transportation pass I was ready to go but I had to pump the brakes a little to give my mom a chance to rest before we headed into the city center. Before long it was dinner time and we debated which restaurant to go to while we wandered aimlessly in the rain that none of us were dressed for and hastily settled on the ever neutral Italian restaurant. The food was unimpressive and I can’t even remember the name of the restaurant; fortunately that experience didn’t set the tone for the remainder of the trip.
My mom succumbed to jetlag and spent most of Tuesday sleeping while we headed out for a mild and rainy day of sightseeing. With no clear agenda, we enjoyed walking around the city stopping in a few art galleries; we especially liked the anti-gallery vibe of The Public House of Art. Their art for everyone approach helped us to appreciate the work of talented artists such as Barbara van den Berg, Jenny Boot, Deji & Valay Shende in a fun, relaxed and unpretentious way. We browsed the flower market and local shops before heading back to the hotel to get my mother for dinner. We hit the gastronomic jackpot when we randomly selected Happy Happy Joy Joy for dinner. Unbeknownst to us this new restaurant has quite a following and we happily found out why…the food was simply delicious. The menu is tapas style Asian street food and we ordered half of the menu. I absolutely recommend this restaurant if you’re in Amsterdam.
The lines at the Van Gogh Museum were relatively short on the clear and mild Wednesday and we were able to enjoy the Van Gogh/Munch exhibit with minimal wait. I was excited to see iconic works such as Sunflowers and The Scream up close and learn about how the artists’ lives paralleled each other. Prior to going to the museum I showed my kids a video about how the painting Starry Night depicts turbulence which is an advanced concept for them but piqued their interest to see the painting in person. We were disappointed after a quick google search revealed that the noticeably absent painting is currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, so we will have to wait until our next trip home to see it. We retraced some of our steps from the prior day to take my mom to the flower market and The Public House of Art before finding a small Christmas market and taking photos of the city in its Christmas regalia. Indian food was the choice for dinner before calling it a night and catching the tram back to our hotel.
Thursday was short and sweet as we enjoyed our final breakfast from the top floor restaurant before packing our bags and taking the train back to the airport. We overestimated how quickly we would arrive at the airport and had lots of time to kill browsing through the duty free shops, fulfilling our flights of fancy and chopping it up with Santa. In hindsight I might’ve tried to squeeze in a quick tour of the Anne Frank House but overall I was satisfied with what we saw and did in Amsterdam.
If you’ve spent the last 153 seconds waiting to read the part where I sneak off to a coffee shop and the subsequent shenanigans that ensue then I’m sorry I disappointed you…I’m a pot virgin…*gasp!*.