Sunday, July 16, 2017

BONUS DAY IN AMSTERDAM

Through some bizarro booking error (I think it was mine 😬), we were scheduled to connect on a different flight out of Amsterdam than the Heads were.  Our flight out of Rwanda was delayed, and as we neared Amsterdam, it became clear to John and I that we were going to miss our connection.  The Heads were not at all worried, and that is the moment we realized we were on different flights.  They made their connection, and we did not.  After calling Delta and rebooking through a different city, we realized we would get home much much later than the original schedule.

As we stood in the airport considering our options, I began googling how far from the city center that we were.  On the fly, we made the decision to stay the night in Amsterdam, rebook our flights to go the next day and try to see a little of the city.  We had an extra outfit and toiletries for everyone in our carry-on, so we left our luggage in a locker at the airport and struck out for an unexpected adventure!

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As extreme travel junkies, John and I were so excited to see a new European city and country.  And, we are so very glad that we did.  Amsterdam, in a nutshell, is gorgeous and charming.  Our experience in Amsterdam with four young children after spending the night on a plane and a week in Rwanda had some intense highs and lows.  I'm gonna bring you my list of Amster-dos and Amster-don'ts.

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Amster-do: Do take in the flowers that seem to grow everywhere.  So beautiful - I was slightly obsessed.

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Amster-do: Do stop at a delightful cafe for a delicious lunch of crepes, sandwiches and a most delectable dessert line-up.

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Amster-don't:  Don't be surprised when your daughter who loves to see new toilets needs to go to the bathroom everywhere, and you get pointed to crazy bathrooms around corners and up neon-lit tiny, steep staircases with no railings.  Apparently, this is pretty normal.  Also, don't think that you can use a bathroom without paying a Euro.

Amster-do: Do stroll through the city marveling at the adorable boutiques and amazing architecture and the quaintness of it all.

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Amster-don't: Don't be surprised when you see a lot of cows and one of your 4 year olds wants to shout, "EAT MORE CHICKEN!" all the time.  😂 To be fair, this happened a lot in Rwanda as well.  We just like to share the CFA love everywhere we go. 🐄

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Amster-do: Do appreciate how Amsterdam is one of the most bike-friendly cities imaginable.

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Amster-don't: Don't expect to be able to navigate easily through the bikes and people and cars.  Especially if you have some straggly children. 😬😝 This proved increasingly stressful as the day went on, and we were more and more tired, and the bikes seemed to multiply and come whizzing out of nowhere.

Amster-do: Do go inside an old church to get a sense of truly stunning architecture and history.

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Amster-don't: Don't let you children touch anything.  Especially the giant model of the church tower that is much more wobbly than you thought it would be. 😳🤦🏻‍♀️ Thankfully, it did not come crashing down, but we quickly made our exit after that.

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Amster-do: Do take a canal cruise.  It is a fantastic way to see the city.

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Amster-don't: Don't expect to enjoy your canal cruise if you take extremely tired children with you.  This was one of the low-points of our day, because the twins were especially done, and we were trapped in a boat with a bunch of strangers.  It was pretty bad.

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Amster-do: Do see the Anne Frank House.  How amazing!  Do get reservations.  We obviously didn't have those, and we decided not to wait in the 3 hour long line to get in. 😱 That would be another Amster-don't.

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Amster-don't: Don't let your son leave his cherished puppy inside a random store.  This will cause a lot of stress and extra walking.  We did find him, and I did sit with Violet who was asleep while the others hunted down Puppy.

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Amster-do: Do check out Vondelpark, the Central Park of Amsterdam.  It is gorgeous and boasts many restaurants and playgrounds, as well as some of the city's more famous museums.

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Amster-don't: Don't wait until after six to eat at the beautiful restaurant with a playground.  It closes at six. 😒 Cold hot dogs by the water are not as good, but they do fill the hungry bellies. I ate a Larabar.

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Amster-do: Do congratulate yourself on making it through a day like this and getting to have an incredible experience, even if there were extreme low-points.

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Amsterdam was indeed gorgeous, and I want to go back and see the million and one things that we missed.  And, I want to go to all the other European cities that I haven't visited.  Basically, I super love traveling.  But, we did find the limits of our family, and we should have stopped our touring earlier in the day.  By late afternoon, we were beyond fried and done and over everything.  We pushed our children far past where we could reasonably expect to have good experiences.  It's a tough balance, and sometimes, we get it wrong.  But, we did get to see Amsterdam, and we are so grateful to have gotten that unexpected opportunity!

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