On an ordinary day with beautiful weather forecasted, Marlee and I headed out early with the kids for a big day of exploring the city’s best sights.
A brisk walk through little parks and over canals had us arriving at our first stop, the newly renovated Riksmuseum (National Museum). No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a visit here. Huge windows, smooth concrete floors and an abundance of natural light evoke such a calm and welcoming tone.
With so many pieces to gaze over, my favourite 3 artworks were:
Self-portrait, Vincent van Gogh, 1887
The Milkmaid, Johannes Vermeer, 1660
Portrait of a girl dressed in blue, Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck, 1641
The children were so well behaved as Marlee and I walked the aisles, appreciating the talent. We stopped for a snack in the gallery cafe and Harriet demolished her brownie within seconds!
After what felt like forever, we headed outside and walked over to Museumplein which is a collection of 3 museums and park space. The 3 museums are Riksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. We posed for photos as best we could, but we had many people in every single frame. Tourists come from afar to stand in front of the infamous red and white “I AMSTERDAM” sign.
Our Air BnB hosts had informed us of a cute little Malaysian restaurant only a block or 2 away so we headed here. It was a pub with a table section and served malaysian cuisine on hot plates. The kids loved it, tiny chicken skewers with “peanut butter” sauce while Marlee and I tackled some rather unusual delicacies with laughter.
After lunch we continue walking over to PC Hooftstraat, the high street shopping strip home to the most exclusive shops in Amsterdam. Again, Marlee and I gazed through the windows of Prada, Chloe, Isabel Marant, Acne, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Zoe Karssen, Balmain.
We took a turn and walked right into the Van Gogh Museum. Abi was so excited, Van Gogh is her favourite artist and she knows most of his paintings by name. Harriet slept as we wandered the halls appreciating Van Gogh and his wonderful, distinctive works of art. I couldn’t pick a favourite but my 2 most loved pieces are :
Almond Blossom, 1890
Bedroom in Arles, 1888
After Van Gogh with very tired little legs, we started the trek home but via a huge park the kids had eyed off earlier on our walk that morning. Marlee visited a health store across the road as I settled onto the grass with Harriet. Within 2 blinks of any eye, Abi and Ted had disappeared with local children, covered in dirt and smiles as big as the sky. The local kids were so friendly and even though they could not speak English, they all seemed to play in unison with no arguments. Marlee, Harriet and I sat on soft grass, watching the kids play for nearly an hour. We could not tear them off the flying fox, climbing frames and slides. I guess you have to keep things balanced when you are travelling with little ones. A museum here, a playground there. A nice cafe here, a happy meal there.
Finally the sun was setting and we untangled the kids from the playground and continued home. As we spilled into the door, the kids jumped all over James with stories of our day, the people we had met, the funny food we had devoured.
I won’t forget this day anytime soon. It probably sounds like a regular day for any tourist, but it was really special for me. I was able to share art, history, ethnic food, parks, smiles and sunshine with the people I love. Marlee and I chatted like sisters and for those few hours, I felt completely high on life. I hope for more days like this on the trip.