Our trip to Amsterdam | Days 1 & 2

We celebrated the last day of school a little differently this year… by hopping on a plane to Amsterdam. (Technically it was two planes and we had to sprint, not hop, to catch the second one, but details shmetails.) We’d always talked about traveling abroad with the kids, and this year finally felt like the right time to start our international adventures. So with their shiny new passports in tow, we set off for the land of tulips, canals, bikes, and pancakes.

We had no idea how the time difference would impact the kids, so we had very little planned ahead of time. Don’t get me wrong, we did our research prior to leaving, pored over the recommendations from our AirBnB hosts, and watched a bunch of videos on YouTube from other families who’d visited Amsterdam with young children. But we had exactly two things booked before we left: a private canal cruise, and a countryside bike tour. The rest we decided as we went, taking each day as it came. Jared and I have always traveled that way, and it was particularly liberating with the kids. Lax schedule = less stress.

Here’s a rundown of our first day…

Day 1 Highlights:

  • Settled into our 2-story apartment in the Oud-West neighborhood of Amsterdam, our home away from home for the next 7 days.

  • Walked to Foodhallen for dinner. So good. The kids had Mexican, I had Vietnamese, and Jared had Spanish. All were happy.

  • Played on the first of many awesome playgrounds we discovered around the city.

  • Stopped at Marqt to do a bit of grocery shopping. Discovered the deliciousness that is Tony’s Chocolonely.

We ventured out of our neighborhood early the 2nd day to check out the Van Gogh Museum. He’s long been my favorite painter and to see so much of his work in one place was overwhelming. Each new room brought a wave of gratitude, humbled by the opportunity to stand in front of paintings I’d only ever seen in books. We all felt it was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

Speaking of highlights, I’m so glad we opted for a private canal cruise through With Locals rather than booking with a larger commercial boat. We wanted something more personal given that it was meant to serve as an intro to the city, and our guide, Carl, didn’t disappoint. We truly got a local’s perspective, and his love for his city was infectious. We weren't sure what to expect in terms of the kids, as most of the reviews seemed to be from adults-only groups, but Carl kept both kids interested the entire time, asking them questions and making them laugh. It was the perfect way to see the city.

Day 2 Highlights:

  • Accidentally slept until 9am. Felt glorious. Pretended it wasn’t due to the time difference.

  • Toured the Van Gogh Museum. Lucked out that it was the first day of the new Sunflower exhibit.

  • Walked over to Vondelpark. The kids could have spent the rest of the vacation playing on the jungle playground, but thankfully agreed to let us tear them away for lunch at Groot Melkhuis.

  • After a brief rest at home, we headed toward Central Station to meet Carl for our canal cruise.

  • Popped into our neighborhood Albert Heijn to pick up dinner ingredients. (Also purchased Cherry Cola Haribos, which did NOT disappoint. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Regret not buying them out of their entire stock.)

Check back tomorrow for Days 3 & 4…