Do as the Dutch do, bike on a bakfiets

bakfiets

Thanks to its flat (meaning not hilly) landscape, the Netherlands is the perfect place for getting around on bike. It’s also quite safe: bike lanes are virtually everywhere, and drivers are so used to the many bikes around that they take them in careful consideration. So the ‘fiets’ is the preferred means of transportation for most, if not all Dutchmen. We cycle to work, we cycle to school, we cycle to the shops and we also grab the bike if we go out at night (this will also conveniently save us the money for a parking ticket or a taxi).
Kids? No problem. We just take them in front with us when they are little, in a special seat hanging from the steer. When they grow bigger, they get a seat on the back of the bike, if necessary combined with the pre-mentioned seat on the front for a little sibling.
If you have three or more children though, it’s probably time to get a bakfiets. A bakfiets is kind of a cross between a bike and a beach wagon, and you can conveniently fit in as many as 4 children (although I’ve seen people squeeze in even more!). If you’ve ever been in Amsterdam, chances are high that you’ve noticed them around. (more…)

Getting Around

1) Rent a Bakfiets
A great and very Dutch way to get around Amsterdam is on a bakfiets. They can be rented in numerous places around the city, and your kids will love this way of transportation. There are bike lanes everywhere, and cars are very much accustomed to all the bikes around, so it’s all as safe as can be. You can just leave them in a corner on the sidewalk if you’re going inside somewhere, but make sure to lock them well… Read more here.

2) Boat Tour
The best way to experience the wonders of the canals of Amsterdam is by a boat tour (found in front of the Central Station). The beautiful and unique canal houses can be best admired from the water and the great part is that you won’t wear out your little one’s feet. The guides will give you and the kids interesting background information in a number of languages. And there’s a toilet on board, just in case.

3) Tram
A very pleasant way to get around town is on the tram. They allow a few buggies inside (take the bigger entrance in the middle of the tram), and kids will love seeing the city pass in front of the windows and the ‘train-like’ feeling of it all. If you find the maps in the tram-stops confusing just ask the people around for help. Virtually everybody speaks English fluently in Amsterdam, and knows the tram system by heart.

De Parade

Parade2

Once a year, a magical event hits the city of Amsterdam… De Parade!
Although ‘De Parade’ does translate into ‘The Parade’, it is nothing like a parade – it is in fact a theater festival, disguised in an old-fashioned looking fair ground!
‘De Parade’ offers a mix of art, theater, film, magic, comedy and music, together with a good supply of food and drinks. The atmosphere is arty, bohemian, easygoing and trendy – every single hip person in Amsterdam seemed to be at the opening night last Friday! It’s a great place for people-watching and having drinks by itself, but the shows are really worth paying a visit. The theater makers now have an outlet for ideas that are hard to find an audience for the rest of the year, so you can see some really special performances here!
One ‘idea’ I saw and thought to be supercool, was a silent disco. About fifty people in an open air disco, all wearing headphones and dancing the stars of the sky, and occasionally all singing along with the lyrics. Such fun! I will definitely go next time! (more…)

ALSO IN THE AREA:

Restaurant As — pure food

Airport fun…

rijksmuseum expoFlying with children is always a challenge. But it helps if the airport you’re flying from has really good facilities around — you want to keep the kids entertained, as you want them to sleep ON the flight, not beforehand!

Did you know that ‘Schiphol‘, Amsterdam’s airport, is the first airport in the world to have a museum in its terminal? And not any museum — it is an annexe of the famous Rijksmuseum! So while waiting for your flight, you can show your kids ten works by famous Dutch masters (like Jan Steen, or Rembrandt)!

Or, visit the ‘Babycare Lounge’, where parents can take care of their babies in private — bathe them, feed them and/or let them sleep in one of the seven bed cabins, which include comfortable seats for the parents. Sounds good, no? (Well, I guess they could have thought of a bed for parents too)! (more…)

Clogs!

Wooden clogsHa ha… as a true Dutch girl, I had to discuss this topic at some point: Wooden shoes!

First of all, I have to put something straight: contrary to popular belief elsewhere in the world, NOBODY in the Netherlands wears wooden shoes on the streets anymore. Okay, what they say about tulips and soft drugs is true. But seriously, we ALL wear leather shoes, or even sneakers! (more…)

Queen’s Day

Queen’s Day

Today is Queen’s Day in the Netherlands! It’s a national holiday, and probably the most fun one of the year.
We are celebrating the queen’s birthday, and we do that by taking the day off, dressing up in orange (the name of the Dutch royal family is ‘The House of Orange’) and going out on the streets. The evening before Queen’s Day is called Queen’s Night, and special events are organized around all the Dutch towns. It’s a good night to go out (if you can find a sitter). The real Queen’s Day, however, is fun for the entire family.

The Dutch government allows tax-free sales on this specific day, so the streets in the Netherlands transform into one big flee-market. (We call it ‘free-market’). Prices are super-low, because most people regard it as a chance to have fun, chat with complete strangers and get rid of some rubbish as a bonus! Children love having their own ’stall’ (blanket on the pavement with merchandise) – and in fact here in Amsterdam, the famous Vondelpark is reserved just for children.
There are loads of other activities: there’s theater, music, and EVERYBODY who has a boat takes it out on the canals (we say that on Queen’s Day you can walk over the water — the canals are simply covered with boats)!

It’s a crazy, fun day and it’s 100% Dutch. Happy Queen’s Day!!!

xxx Esther

————————————————————————-

Queen’s Day
April 30th

————————————————————————-

Sinterklaas — A Dutch Tradition

St. Nicholas

Here in the low-lands, we have a funny holiday called Sinterklaas. If you’re in the Netherlands now, or planning to visit around the 5th of December, you most propably will be seeing some strangely dressed up people on the streets…

St. Nicholas was the bishop of Myra (Turkey) in the third century. He was known for his goodness and generosity: he was quite rich but used his entire fortune to assist the poor. Furthermore he was known for his love for children and as such he became their patron saint. Apparently he was also very concerned about the welfare of sailors and ships but that has nothing to do with this. He died December 6 AD 343, and the anniversary of his death has (weirdly enough) been celebrated ever since. In Holland, we like to be different and celebrate St. Nicholas day (‘Sinterklaas’) on December 5th. But for weeks leading up to that, Sinterklaas keeps everybody busy!

(more…)