After our 30 days in Rome, the four of us hopped a plane and headed north for a few days of family time in the Netherlands! (Ok, it wasn’t really that easy, and involved a super early morning, lots of lugging of bags, more waiting in airports, more navigating of public transit systems, and even more lugging of bags – but we made it!)
The main reason for our trip to Amsterdam was for Raymond to investigate starting at study abroad program there in the near future, so while we only had a few days we packed in as much as we could. On our first day we spent an incredible 6 hours in the Rijksmuseum, during which our incredible children lead the charge, armed with an iPhone scavenger hunt game and an insistence that we see everything in the museum. I’m glad they did, because Raymond and I would never have gone downstairs on our own to see the model ships, the weapons, the collection of intricate locks and all the other treasures housed in the museum, which would have been a shame. And at the end of all that art viewing, they wanted more! Who are these children? Not to argue, we headed over to the Van Gogh Museum and spent the last few hours before closing. Then drinks and snacks in an actual windmill (and one of Raymond’s favorite breweries) before heading home to dinner on the deck of our houseboat. In the summer, the sun doesn’t set in the Netherlands until well past 10pm (a far cry from the 3pm sunsets Raymond and I experienced on our honeymoon there years ago!) and the canals were full of locals and tourists alike, cruising on boats of all shapes and sizes. It was like a parade right past our door! Nope. Not a bad day at all.
With our remaining days in Amsterdam, we waited in an insanely long line for the Anne Frank House (which was totally worth the wait, and which I cried all the way through again, just like I did when I visited years ago), and visited the Rembrandt House where we not only learned about how Rembrandt lived but also saw a printmaking demonstration and spent time drawing in Rembrandt’s apprentice workspace. We also ate at our favorite restaurant, The Pancake Bakery, not once but twice, tried quite a few stroopwaffles, wandered through the Vondlepark, visited the floating flower market and spent a lovely evening drinking beer outside the Rijksmuseum while the kids played in the fountains and Lola made a new friend. We visited the Amsterdam Cheese Museum (which was really more of a shop than a museum.) We laughed a lot at how everyone assumed Raymond was Dutch. And then there was out visit to Zaanse Schans, but that deserves it’s own post.
Not everything went exactly according to plan though. We had hoped Amsterdam would be a nice respite from the heat of Rome, but of course we were there during a heat wave. We could have handled the daytime temperatures, but our lovely little houseboat had no air conditioning and tiny little portal windows that didn’t really help much. So we didn’t sleep much. That was unfortunate. And then there was the fact that on our last day Fletcher came down with a high fever. Things could have gone more smoothly . . . but all in all it was a lovely visit to the Netherlands and we all hope to be back there again (for longer!) very soon.