Sunday, September 01, 2019

Amsterdam once more

The first day of the new month. In my youth, I always thought of September 1st as the first day of school and, too, the day Poland was attacked by the Nazis in 1939. It's the 80th anniversary today of the start of that horribly cruel war.

I think about this because we do walk near Anne Frank's house. Too, some of the city's bulletin boards occasionally flash a reminder of what happened 80 years ago, when slogans of hate turned into a tragedy so huge that it still defies comprehension.

Outside, the air has definitely cooled down. We're reaching a high of 68F (20C) and the skies have any number of gray clouds moving briskly along, though never quite threatening rain. (We are nearing the end of our summer travels. It truly amazes me that in all our ramblings through Ireland, the UK, Brittany and now Amsterdam, we've never once needed an umbrella, to say nothing of the panchos I so carefully selected for the trip!)

Inside -- we begin our day with play. Snowdrop, my roommate in Amsterdam, has boarded a train. We are about to take off. ("Just dont say chug-a-choo, Gogs, because this train doesn't make that noise." The girl's too used to high speed trains!)


Breakfast, downstairs, en famille.



And now for a Sunday walk, with the new stroller (gratis airline's breaking of the old one) -- so much more sensible for travel!


We visit the Royal Palace Amsterdam, the official reception palace of the Netherlands' King Willem-Alexander. Snowdrop has a mild fascination with royalty, so perhaps it's appropriate that she see some of the trappings -- none too comfortable, if you ask me.

The tour is a self-guided one and there is a child-friendly text for young visitors (though perhaps not quite for 4-year olds).


Sparrow gets a little restless. Royal furniture and elaborate chandeliers make no impression on him. He wants something more... his speed. So I give him my listening device.


There is a child's "scavenger hunt" that Snowdrop does with the help of her parents. All this does keep her interest going, though honestly, I've always thought that once you see two or three rooms of this sort, you're satiated (unless you have a particular interest in antiques, or have special pride in the royals in your land).


Outside again, we are on the Dam Square. There is a man blowing bubbles (obviously wanting to entice you into buying your own bubble blowing equipment). The kids go wild chasing the big fat soapy bubbles. Snowdrop tries to join in, but the kids are big...


... and the bubbles float high...


It's a while before she lands one and by then, the thrill is gone.


The afternoon was to be set aside for a Snowdrop and mommy date. Of all the combinations of family members, this is the one that is most difficult to give time to. And so this afternoon was to be theirs. And it was, to an extent.

Initially, we all joined in on the tram ride. Heading in the same direction.


Then, they chose a traditional Dutch pancake house for lunch. Daddy and Sparrow and I were about to go off, but then Snowdrop was sorry to see her brother go. So brother and daddy stayed. I was invited to join in, but it seemed to me that this wonderfully inclusive family should have at least one meal by themselves.


Me, I meandered along canals, stopping at a Swedish shop with adorable kids' clothing and very good sandwiches in their cafe. With an apple spritz, overlooking the canal. Sort of.


A walk along the stately Herengracht Canal (home to our hotel)...




And I'm home, catching up on computer work, while to my knowledge, daddy and son are hitting a modern art museum and mommy and daughter are visiting a tinkerbell toy store and blowing their own bubbles on Rembrandt Square.

In the evening, we take a long walk through the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam, and past houseboats, and even the old windmill...


... to our dinner place, the Cafe Restaurant Amsterdam. It's a big walk: 40 minutes from city center. The restaurant itself is housed in an industrial building -- a nineteenth century water pumping station. The tables are set in the old engine room.


Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about this restaurant is that it bills itself as having high quality food, at the same time that it is extremely child friendly. Not surprisingly, maybe half the tables have kids of varying ages.

(Snowdrop, learning the art of eating an artichoke...)


(Sparrow, liking his first escargot...)


As for the rest of the food -- well, my son-in-law and I could not resist the seafood platter. I missed having it in Brittany but we surely made up for it here: snails, clams, crabs, langoustines, shrimp, oysters and a half a lobster. It was exquisite!


We are too full to do the long hike back to our hotel, so we hop on the tram and get off just in front of an ice cream store. Intentionally. For dessert.



Walking the last few blocks to our hotel, I have to think how beautiful an evening can be, when you're well fed, cared for, loved. When the world appears to you as a warm and exciting place, where people are not hostile, but friendly, eager to have you succeed.

Oh, but if that were so for all the little ones on this planet -- wouldn't that be just grand...