We found out four days before Labour Day weekend back home, that John had the Monday off. What to do on our first long weekend? We were going to be stuck in the hotel, so we looked around, and decided Amsterdam was our first “bigger” outing. Hotel was expensive as we were so last minute, but we were so excited we didn’t care. Hotel was center of town, so we could experience everything by walking – even better! I read many many reviews about people going back and forth on whether to take the train to Amsterdam to not deal with the driving, or take your car to the outskirts and walk to Central Station / Downtown. Still not knowing the train system, and liking having my car, we took the car. Found a parking lot called Oosterdok which is 12euro for 24hrs – great price! Excellent location also. It is at Central Station, so you can walk everywhere.
After a lot of research on the worth of the Amsterdam Pass, we decide to buy it at the Tourist Office. It is 65euro for a 48hr pass. The pass includes a lot of free admissions to museums, and all public transport if needed. The kids did not get a pass as they were free for MOST places anyways. First we went to the NEMO Science Museum. What a cool place! It’s all about experiments, and how things work. The top floor is a little bit “sexually oriented”, but the boys were too young to understand it anyways. The view from the top of the center is amazing! There is a little eatery, and a small river of water flowing. It was a very hot day and we even saw kids with their feet in it walking and splashing.
Next we decided just to walk around. We passed by a gift shop, so we went in. The boys asked for a lollipop, so John got them one. All of a sudden he sees the saleswoman come running over and grabbing the lollipops. She explained to John that they were Cannibis lollipops – definitely not good for the kids! She found them normal ones and gave them those instead. As you walk, every store has CoffeeShops – not for coffee, for marijuana! Yes, as you see in movies and on TV, smoking marijuana in Amsterdam is legal! Next was the Rijksmuseum for the IAMSTERDAM sign. There were a lot of people so it was hard to get many pictures of it, or even with it. We decided to go back the next day. Next was the long walk back to central station for our Canal Cruise ride – free with our pass. We probably should have organized better as we went right back to where we started our day… The cruise was actually a lot of fun. Seeing the canals from a different view than on top of them was cool! Seeing the crookedness of all the buildings is weird – we kept saying they must have been stoned when they were being built 😉 A walk down Red Light District ended our night (where Tyler waved to everyone…), and we headed to our hotel for a much needed rest!
We started our morning by walking to the IAMSTERDAM sign. Very few people this time. We got close, and got our pictures. The boys loved climbing in the letters and just “chillaxing’”. Our pass also included free entrance to the Diamond Museum. We weren’t quite sure about it, but once you’re in there, the place is amazing! Diamond tiaras, diamond swords, diamond tennis racket – best of all the diamond skull! They even have diamond benches on the outside. Definitely worth it! Next was the Heineken Beer Garden. This ended up being our favorite part of the trip. Even the kids had a great time – plus they were free (John and I got a discount as we had the pass, but still had to pay some). A lot of interaction for the kids – soccer games, etc.. When you go inside you get a bracelet with chips on it. You find out at the end that the chips are for two glasses of Heineken, or one glass and you learn to pour your own. John and I both chose to learn about pouring our own. Not as easy as it looks! The lady was nice and patient – and we even got a certificate at the end saying you passed! The beer you learned to pour tasted delicious!! We walked the very long walk to the zoo since it was included in our pass also. When we got there, John and I were free, but the three kids would have been 16.50euro each. Way too expensive! By this point we were all exhausted again, and it was time to head back to our hotel.
All in all, Amsterdam was fun. Things closed early on Sundays so we didn’t get as much out of the pass as we could have, but we still got our money’s worth from what we paid for the pass. You NEED excellent walking shoes as you walk a ton! If you go when there is a celebration, the entire city will be extremely dirty – worse than I have ever seen! There is a lot of sex, lots of marijuana…. All in all, I am extremely happy to have made this trip to say we’ve been!!!!