We recently drove to Amsterdam for a few days. It’s a cool city, but we ended up deciding it was a bit much for our kids (2 and 6). They’re usually pretty good about street safety, but for whatever reason they kept nearly hopping in front of oncoming buses and trams and giving us a fright. Also, we couldn’t really go to any museums. We tried Anne Frank’s house, but the line was so long we knew the kids would melt down before we could get to the front. At least we got to see the street where she lived.
The trip wasn’t a loss, though. We did the total tourist thing at Zaanse Schans, an area near Amsterdam with historic windmills, wooden-shoe workshop, and other attractions. It was a good speed for the kids. Some friends also recommended some nearby towns on the coast to explore, and they were absolutely lovely. At Medemblik there is a castle/ museum that was having a historic re-enactment festival complete with all kinds of crafts. I also loved driving across the dykes—-makes you feel like you’re driving across the open ocean on a never-ending bridge. Kind of creepy and exhilirating all at once.
And of course, we had to eat pancakes (more like what I would call crepes). It seems the obligatory thing for American tourists in Amsterdam, and sure enough the whole pancake restaurant was filled with Americans. I felt sure I would get, in addition to my own cheese and mushroom pancake, at least half of our two-year-old’s enormous blueberry pancake, but he polished off the whole thing himself!
Neither my husband nor I know a word of Dutch, but literally everyone we met spoke perfect English. I’m told this is partly because American television shows are not dubbed in the Netherlands, and people learn a lot of English by watching the shows with subtitles. Interesting, eh?