The weather gave thunderstorms and Irish temperatures for the rest of the week so I was unbelievably thankful to wake up and see the sun shining (thank you God). We got out of our room quicker than you can say 'Reuben you aren't dragging that 2 ft dinosaur the whole way around the city'.
I decided to ditch the pram and let Reubs roam freely. When I think about this in hindsight, I wonder if it's possible to get high just by being near smokers. Could I have been passively high? Is that a thing? Lets be honest, I'd have to be a whole new level of chill before I'd consider ditching the pram. When in Amsterdam, guess.
We jumped on the first tram we saw (FYI, buy a 48 hr pass) and headed towards the Jordaan neighborhood where the Anne Frank house is. I took one look at the queues and then one look at Reuben banging on the door of some random house, and I decided to go to the cheese museum instead. We sampled our way around all the fantastically coloured cheeses until Reuben needed a nappy change (obviously) and we headed to find a coffee shop with a bathroom.
N.B. 'Coffee shops' donot sell coffee. They sell marijuana. 'Cafes' sell coffee. I learnt this the hard way.
We headed to museum square/museumplein, getting a few wrong trams in the process, much to Reuben's delight. With three of the best museums, I realised that this square must be the cultured person's dream. But for Reuben it was the opportunity to chase pigeons and get in other people's tourist photos.
|This photo is basically the reason I went to Amsterdam|
We walked from Museum Square to the Vondel Park, stopping for a quick toilet break in the Van Gogh Museum and a short grocery shop. We didn't actually need groceries but the trolleys were cool so we got deoderant, cheese, crisps, olives, and pineapple juice. Exotic, I know.
After ANOTHER walk through the Vondel Park we stumbled across what might have been my favourite part of Amsterdam - the Oud-West. It doesn't have anything big and touristy, but it has lots of small hidden gems. The first being Koffie Acadmie where I had some of the best coffee I've ever tasted.
|It was so cute and rustic with the friendliest staff, none of which had beards.|
It was so interesting to find good coffee that wasn't served by hipsters.
|This was one of my favourite moments of the whole trip.|
We just sat and read books and watched the Amsterdam world go by. His
fascination with anything new, gets me every time.
Other great kids shops for both toys and clothes in Amsterdam were Big and Belg, GOED, and De Kinderfeestwinkel (google it, I promise it's a place). These were in the De Pijp area but weren't too far on the tram. I got Reubs a really cute pair of tracksuit bottoms and he got a really big and not-so-cute tractor.
On the tram back to the hotel Reubs fell asleep so I stayed on until he woke up... approximately an hour later. But it was a great way to see more of the city in the peace and quiet, without having to actually move. Not moving is such a valued concept when you own a 2 year old.
When he woke up we went for a quick outfit change and then had dinner (chicken nuggets & chips again) and cocktails at the Hard Rock Cafe.
|For anyone worried about Reubs, it was my cocktail. And for anyone|
worried about me (i.e. my dad), it was non alcoholic.
|Reubs once again ended the day in a perfect way - by attempting to|
jump into a canal <3
Okay, we didn't waste it per say, but we really didn't make the most of our time. Here's a summary of the day;
We climbed up the steps of every house on every canal. We climbed on every bike. And we visited every park. Even the terrible ones, with little weed dens.
And by 'we', I mean 'Reuben'. I merely chased after him, doing what he told me to do. If that meant talking to the rock he pretended was a dog, then I talked to the rock. If that meant knocking on the door of a strangers house because that's where we were going to catch the 'bad guy', then I knocked on the door (thankfully they weren't home). And if that meant sitting on a motorbike and setting off the alarm, then I sat on the motorbike... and ran away pretty swiftly. Parents talk about 'baby-lead weaning' when they let the child decide when it wants to eat as it progresses off milk. So I call this 'toddler-lead travel' where I let Reuben decide when we progress. Not because I'm a really creative earth-mother, but mostly because I stupidly left the pram in the hotel and I can't be bothered fighting with that strong will of his when we're on holiday.
We had breakfast at the 'Carousel Pancake House' opposite the Heineken Experience, and I can't tell you a whole lot about what I've learnt in Theology this year, but I can tell you one thing; dutch pancakes will be in heaven.
The restaurant is made out of an old carousel and there's a little mini carousel in the middle of the room. It's perfect for kids to play on whilst parents finish both theirs and the kids pancakes.
Not only did we have my favourite pancakes of the whole trip, but we also found my favourite park of the whole trip right beside it (who cares about Reuben's favourite park). The whole park was built on a gigantic sandpit with trampolines in the ground, which were very convenient for Reuben when he stole another child's ball and then just proceeded to bounce away with a smug grin. I think most of my dutch friendships stemmed from me having to apologise for my toddler falling out with their toddler/harassing their toddler.
In the midst of our explorations, we did manage to check out 'The Nine Streets', with lots of quirky vintage shops. It broke my heart to walk past all the boutiques but I tried on and purchased one top whilst Reuben sat in the shop owner's kitchen eating sweets. Once again, in hindsight I've a feeling I was a little too chilled out on this trip. Reuben made a friend for life though, and we've been invited back whenever Reubs fancies it.
We also accidentally wandered into the Red Light District and did a little U-turn once I caught on where we were. Its one thing I wish I could have seen but I think I'll leave that for a time when Reuben isn't with me. i.e. probably never.
Later that evening, before heading back to cry over the amount of packing I had to do, we headed to the Artis Zoo... but didn't go in (another unfulfilled Pinterest idea), ended up renting a bike, nearly died, returned the bike, and got churros instead. After fighting over the last nutella-smothered churro, I realised we were both pretty hungry. So we got two Happy Meals to go and dangled our legs over the canal, and watched the sun set. Well, I watched the sun set. Reuben basically face planted his nuggets.
The next morning we both absolutely konked out on our very early flight home, after a pretty traumatic airport wait. And by that, I mean it, was traumatic for fellow travellers. For me, it was just embarrassing. As we were waiting to board in that gate area with the seats that make you think you're nearly there but in reality they make you wait another 45 mins, Reuben was a little bit disorientated with his lack of sleep. Actually, I'm not even going to defend him... He was a little bit of a brat. And he was throwing tantrums because he didn't want to wait in line. Just as this was happening, one of the staff decided to ask me to fill out a questionnaire (why would you choose that moment?) And as I took my eyes off Reuben, he bolted under the retractable belt barrier and ran outside. Just as I was filling in the question 'Are you travelling for business or pleasure?', someone shouted 'That kid is on the runway', and I thought to myself, 'Most certainly not pleasure, that's for sure'. One of the guys in a reflective jacket grabbed Reubs and brought him inside. Although, I would like to point out to the panicked stranger that a runway is where the planes take off - Reubs was merely heading for the wee 'parked up' bit where we board the plane. No biggy.
Okay, kind of a biggy. But as soon as we boarded our butts onto our seats and got a swig of milk and calpol, we were out like a light. And for once I wished that we'd had a longer flight.
Amsterdam - you were great... Until next time. Kidding, I'll probably never be back because there's so much more I want to show Reubs. But I look forward to some Dutch pancakes at the Christmas market.