Amsterdam is one of my favorite European cites for it’s unique layout with streets crisscrossing canals and the eponymous Amstel river. As one of the transit hub cities between Seattle and Europe we’ve visited Amsterdam with kids frequently in short 1-2 day stops on our way to or from visiting family in the British Isles.
Schiphol, Amsterdam’s international airport, is one of the main reasons why I enjoy such brief visits to Amsterdam with my children. The airport is situated a brief 20-minute train ride from the city center. This means that even if you are only on the ground in the Netherlands for 12 hours – as we just were – you can still easily make the most of your time in Amsterdam.
The airport train station is just outside the arrivals hall. Hop on the train and whether your hotel is right in Amsterdam center or in one of the outer suburbs, the efficient Dutch public transit system makes it easy to get where you need to go with tram and bus connections from train stations.
It was 8:30pm by the time we checked into our hotel (the Wyndham Apollo). We dumped our bags and headed out in search of dinner.
A 30-minute walk along the canals brought us to the Rijksmuseum and then on to the Leidseplein area where we found the Arabic Lounge. Looking inviting with a reasonably priced menu we decided we’d walked far enough and maneuvered our way up the narrow, curved stairs into the restaurant. As my boys inhaled the tagine-style Moroccan stews and couscous we talked about our walk.
“Shall we walk on the other side of the canal on the way back?”, Murph asked innocently knowing full well that to do so would mean walking in front of girls posing in windows since our walk took us along the side of Amsterdam’s famous red light district.
“No! You can take a photo if you want”, I retorted.
“Mom! You can’t take pictures” BigB (who’s 11) chimed in.
Not to be left out of the discussion CAM added: “Sex is their business Mom”.
“Yeah, Mom, that would be like taking a video camera into a movie theater” added BigB.
Wow. Chastised, I had to suppress a grin. This was definitely a conversation for the family travel memories book.
On our way back to the hotel we retraced our steps from earlier in the evening.
A young man passed us walking quickly leaving a telltale waft in his wake.
“Ah, weed”, says Murph.
Our boys know that we support the Dutch drug regulation model, although I will admit that it’s easy for us to support since we don’t live there.
BigB took hold of my hand and snuggled in close.
“When I come back to Amsterdam when I’m older Mom…”
I patted his head, thinking happy thoughts of his future independent travels…
“I promise I’ll bring my own super-clean, sanitized bong.”
He grinned up at me.
My husband laughed out loud.
I stared at my giggling child in horror.
“I was only kidding Mom. I swear.”
Right. There really are some things your child will only say in Amsterdam.