Jewish Historical Museum

Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum consists of four important Amsterdam synagogues, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, which were connected with the use of glass, concrete and steel. The large, ancient spaces of the four former synagogues together with the light and modern additions make this museum a wonderfully fresh and pleasurable place to be!
The collection of the museum focuses on Jewish religion, art and history and is laid out in a way so that it can be browsed quickly or studied more in depth, depending on the age and interest of your children. A large part of the museum, in fact one of the four original buildings, houses the JHM Children’s Museum, where everyday subjects and key elements in Jewish tradition are explored in a really fun way. It’s a very welcoming and friendly place, whatever your background, and baking the kosher hallahs (plaided bread) is our kid’s favourite activity.
If the smell of freshly baked bread makes you hungry: the museum cafe has some wonderful (kosher) dishes.



Such fun at TunFunHEMAPancakes!

The Hortus

Amsterdam’s botanical garden, the Hortus Botanicus, was established in 1638 as a medical garden, and is now one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. It’s a fairly small botanical garden, but it still houses over 4,000 plant species (about 2% of all plant species growing on Earth), amongst which a good selection of carnivorous plants (that my kids find absolutely fascinating), cycads or ‘dinosaur plants’ and a giant water lily.
Children can see how rice grows, learn where cinnamon comes from, and study the transition from caterpillar to butterfly in the butterfly greenhouse. The old orangerie has been renovated and now houses a restaurant with purely organic dishes (high chairs present), and there’s a small gift shop with a cute selection of toys and books.
All in all, a lovely and educational escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and, thanks to the greenhouses, a chance to enjoy nature even when it’s raining cats and dogs.



Not a fish!RijksmuseumRe-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s House


After taking the children to the Rembrandt House a while ago, we thought it would be a good idea to now take them to the Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt’s most famous painting, the Nachtwacht (Night Watch). The Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s Arts, Craft and History museum and houses a large and important collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age (think Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals).
The fact that the museum is currently being renovated, and has only the ‘best of” on display, makes it a more manageable size for children. There are some lovely publications for sale in the bookshop that will help you make the visit as interesting for your children as for you. And the doll’s house is seriously amazing, I still remember that from my childhood, and I’m pretty sure it made an equally big impression on my kids. Don’t miss it!


Pancakes!Artis, an old and beautiful ZooSuch fun at TunFun

Artis, an old and beautiful Zoo

One of the oldest zoos in Europe, Artis was opened in 1835 and has a very beautiful old setting with terrific gardens and monumental buildings. Most of the animal lodgings have thankfully been modernised since! There are some fantastic playgrounds, and there’s a good restaurant, with plenty of high chairs and facilities to heat up milk or baby food. Also, another good thing to know is that cute pushchairs can be rented for the day for a small deposit. This zoo is not too big but has truly a lot to offer, with plenty of interior fun for rainy days as well. Good for a lovely day out with the family!


Such fun at TunFunUtrechtsestraatRe-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s House


Even though they don’t serve French Fries at Burgermeester (Dutch for mayor), they do serve the most delicious burgers! Think burgers with Blonde d’Aquitaine beef and truffle, lamb with red onion compote, wild duck with Chinese cabbage, salmon with grilled asparagus and lemon mayonnaise… Or the vegetarian burger with falafel and grilled vegetables — all of them super tasty, and accompanied by potatoes, corn on the cob or salad, fresh fruit juices or milkshakes.
Even though the food is upscale, the setting is definitely super relaxed, like a fast food joint ought to be. Meaning food is served quickly, and kids crawling over benches won’t be a bother!
Best of all? All the deli burgers come in mini varieties — perfect for little tummies (or big tummies that like to try them all)!



The HortusRe-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s HouseDe Bakkerswinkel

Re-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s House

Rembrandthuis - atelierLast weekend we did something unexpectedly fabulous: we took the children to Rembrandt’s House. Rembrandt, as you might know, was a very famous Dutch painter who lived from 1607 till 1669. From 1625 onwards he lived in Amsterdam. For a big part of his live he was very rich, already well known in his time, and he lived in a beautiful house that is amazingly well conserved and restored and can be visited today.
I didn’t really know what to expect with two little children, but they were SO impressed. Our daughter (4 yrs) listened to her own audio tour, aimed especially at kids, and I can say that at the end of our visit she could give me specific information that I didn’t pick up myself.

If you’re in Amsterdam and want to combine some culture with history and a fun family activity, the Rembrandthuis comes recommended. There’s no restaurant, but walking down to the Staalstraat takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll find Pucinni, with great coffee, good sandwiches and amazing cakes. In the same street you’ll find cute kids gift shop Beestenwinkel, my favourite grown-up gift shop Klevering (that happens to stock some really lovely kids items as well), and a bit up the road there’s Droog Design, a showcase of the famous Dutch design group.



Such fun at TunFunJewish Historical MuseumBurgermeester



If you happen to be in Amsterdam and have a few hours to spare for some coffee and shopping, Utrechtsestraat is a good place to go.
The Koffiesalon, a lovely coffee-shop (in the true meaning of the word), has good seating, great espresso, yummy cakes and sandwiches and you can help yourself to as much water as you like. I brought my daughter here for some mummy and daughter time before and we both greatly enjoyed it. It’s also a good place to meet friends or even have an informal meeting.
Not far up the road, at number 74, you’ll find one of my favourite shops in Amsterdam, Jan. The shop owner, Janna, who obviously has great taste, has gathered a fantastic selection of products. Lamps, cushions, dinnerware and cutlery are amongst the stock, but the shop also features fashion accessories such as bags, belts, jewelery and watches, and some lovely toys and kiddie books. If you need a present or want to treat your own family (= yourself), don’t miss it.
Next door you’ll find Bellerose (they have good kids’ clothes). Funky ladies fashion can be found at Jan Lensen, beautiful French and Italian ceramics at Kom, great interior pieces at Mobilia, and there are many, many more great shops and restaurants. Maybe you’ll need more than a few hours!



Jewish Historical MuseumThe HortusNot a fish!


hema collage

HEMA is one of those shops (or concepts really), that is almost impossible to describe. If you’ve ever set foot in a HEMA, you understand. In fact, you get the concept immediately, and you’re a fan instantly – no denial possible! And you just understand why we, Dutchmen, are all raving about it, and why this chain of shops is what we miss most when we move abroad…
So, what is HEMA?
HEMA is a Dutch chain of shops that only sells HEMA-brand products. No luxury products, but products that are meant for daily use and that are functional yet fun. The assortment is wide and prices are low (we like that in the Netherlands), designs are trendy and fresh, simple and colourful. The quality is good, and overall the products are seriously so much fun that you can’t help bringing home yet another cool tea-towel, notebook or cute cookie-cutter set for the kids! (more…)


De BakkerswinkelRe-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s HouseThe Hortus

La Savonnerie


I love soap. And, much to my husband’s chagrin, I love soap shops! A beautiful soap shop here in Amsterdam is La Savonnerie, where soap is being made by hand, the traditional way — all with natural ingredients and all hand-stamped!

Many, many, many beautiful bars of soap can be found here, in the most gorgeous shapes, colours and scents. And, if you are you looking for a cute give-away for a birthday or other festive occasion — La Savonnerie can stamp any soap with your own special text!

A visit to this lovely shop is totally worth it (and it is very close to one of my favourite shopping areas in Amsterdam, the Nine Streets). Next to the soaps they also carry a nice selection of lovely bathroom articles and… they have a small collection of the cutest toys imaginable!

xxx Esther (more…)


The HortusRijksmuseumNot a fish!

De Bakkerswinkel


These days we just love meeting friends for breakfast or brunch on a weekend morning. Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day to start with, but besides that, early in the day my kids are still well rested and thus more enjoyable (as opposed to overall crankiness at dinner time)! Also, like every other parent with little children, we’re awake early anyways, so we might as well start our social schedule before noon! (Of course the friends we are meeting have kids too – the friends without kids would be crazy to leave their beds before noon on a weekend morning! In fact, it should be forbidden – what a waste!)

My favourite breakfast place is ‘De Bakkerswinkel’ (The Bakers’ Shop). Not only can you buy yummy breads, cakes and scones at the counter of ‘The Bakkerswinkel’, they also serve a wonderful (Dutch style) breakfast, lunch or tea in the restaurant area, which always has a very cozy and homey feel to it! Think jars of honey and home-made jams on the table, big cups of cappuccinos (small cups of babyccinos for the little ones of course), baskets filled with delicious breads, scones, etc. The menu is big enough to have something yummy for everyone’s taste! (more…)


Not a fish!HEMARaining? Go tropical!

Raining? Go tropical!

Tropenmuseum ticket

The Tropenmuseum (Tropical Institute) of Amsterdam is one of those museums where you walk in and feel the grandeur of what once was… I have that same feeling in similar beautiful buildings, like the Natural History Museum in London, or the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Brussels…
It’s about anthropology, discovery, history, about dangerous expeditions and great adventures… Dr. Livingstone, I presume???
The original name of the Tropical Institute was Colonial Museum and it was first opened in Haarlem in 1871 (the current building in Amsterdam was inaugurated in 1926). The initial aim of the museum was to exhibit products and crafts from the Dutch overseas territories. There are however not many Dutch colonies left and the building is huge, so nowadays the exhibitions display art, objects, photographs, music and film from non-western cultures in general, giving an insight into the daily lives of the people of the tropics and subtropics.

It’s really a fantastic museum to visit, and also great for children. We went last weekend (it was raining), and our 3-year-old LOVED it! (more…)


Re-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s HouseJewish Historical MuseumPancakes!

Such fun at TunFun


In an old tunnel and pedestrian passageway, under a busy square in the center of Amsterdam, a kids paradise is created: TunFun. This indoor playground is the ideal place to bring your overactive kids on a cold or rainy day. There are playzones for different age groups, with trampolines, jump cushion, ball pools, slides, and much much more: plenty of opportunity for your kids to climb/kreep/crawl…
The venue looks odd but at the same time very cool – you actually do have the feeling you’re in a tunnel (a very spacious one, don’t worry); the tram can be seen passing by over your head! There’s a lot of scaffolding, graffiti and traffic lights going on, adding to the feeling of cool urbanity. Toddlers and pre-schoolers will love the challenges this place offers, but older kids (up to 12) will still love this place, because it’s so cool.

Plenty of benches and couches are provided for the parents to sit down have a cup of coffee and read one of the magazines or newspapers around.
Well, idealy. (more…)


UtrechtsestraatLa SavonnerieHEMA

Not a fish!


But a Science Centre!
NEMO is a fantastic building in the heart of Amsterdam designed by the world famous Italian architect Renzo Piano. It resembles a big ship heading for the ocean and it houses a great place to entertain your children. Their cute motto is: forbidden NOT to touch!
I read on the NEMO website that the primary target group is children aged between 6 and 16, but we brought our 2 1/2-year-old daughter together with her 64-year-old grandfather and both of them enjoyed themselves immensely! There are soap bubbles so big you can stand in them, life size kaleidoscopes, a DNA exhibit, and they show you how to provide a house from energy, etc. etc. Everything is set-up in a playful, interactive matter. We were there on a Saturday, so not the quietest of days you can imagine, but still there were no lines and we were able to do every experiment we were interested in.


HEMALa SavonnerieBurgermeester



What exactly are pancakes? In America they are thick and small and eaten for breakfast in stacks – the higher the stack the cooler the cowboy! In France they are called crêpes and are very large, thin and delicate and eaten for lunch or a snack from one of the little street stands.

In Holland, ‘pannekoeken’ are the size of an average frying pan, and are a bit thicker than a crêpe but thinner than American pancakes. Traditionally they are eaten for dinner, usually after the traditional Dutch pea soup called ‘snert’, with a variety of savoury (bacon&syrup, cheese&paprika) or sweet (apple, banana, icing sugar, sugar syrup, confiture) toppings. It’s a children’s favourite.

We just discovered a restaurant called Pancakes!, which serves, well, pancakes (in all different varieties) and is conveniently located in the center of the ‘nine streets’ in Amsterdam (a little shopping delight for the ones who don’t know it yet)! They have highchairs (I counted at least three) and a children’s menu that comes with a little surprise. Might your little one get bored after all, a toy-box filled with books, toys and games is present, or the staff can provide crayons and paper. There’s a microwave for warming up milk, and a baby changing table in the basement. Eet smakelijk!

xxx Esther (more…)


Raining? Go tropical!Such fun at TunFunNot a fish!