Amsterdam: Finishing with a Birthday and a Mothers Day

Wednesday 6 May to Monday 11 May 2015

travellingross rating = 7/10

Following our short stopover in Antwerp, we returned the rental car to Amsterdam airport and then taxi’d the 25 mins or so to our vacation rental apartment. The location was out of the main part of town, but a 2 min walk to a tram stop that was easy enough to navigate wherever you wanted to go. The accommodation was welcoming and modern. Mum would have her birthday on 7 May and then it was Mothers Day on 10 May.

I have never had an interest in visiting Amsterdam. Amsterdam to me is about pot, prostitution, canals and bicycles (who do not obey any traffic rules). Not exactly the key drivers for choosing my travel destinations. This city is busy with tourists and the layout of the streets around the canals made me annoyed for reasons I still don’t know – maybe because you are constantly on the lookout for something that might run you over. It was nice to spend 6 nights in one location and relax a little and of course spend a couple of my Mother’s special days together. Here are the highlights and some observations:

  • Rembrandt House: I like his paintings and works. The house was sold by his bank to re-pay the mortgage and he died in debt. Interesting how this tends to happen to artists.
  • Keukonhof Gardens: for Mum’s birthday we spent the day at the largest tulip flower festival. Picturesque place with many colours and settings to explore. An hour or so to get there by bus, but with my great navigational skills (as opposed to Mum’s) I got us there and back with time to freshen up and go out for a delicious meal overlooking the canals in a fancy hotel.
  • Anne Frank House: We took turns lining up for 2.5 hours to get into a museum where all the furniture is removed and you are ushered around looking at wallpaper and floorboards. The interesting part was seeing her diary and papers. Anne comes across as a typical teenage girl spoiled brat and maybe that is what makes her story connect with so many young people – that she was normal. The Dutch Resistance Museum resonated with me more.
  • Heineken Experience: I had very low expectations of the brewery tour but Mum and I were both surprised at how good and creative it was. More than just a brewery tour, but an explanation on marketing, branding and how their history has evolved over the years. The tour finishes with a few beers and let’s just say that Mum was merry.
  • Zaanse Schans Windmill Park: For Mothers Day we trained here to explore some of the few remaining windmills in the Netherlands. Educational and scenic. Not many eateries though and could be more orientated to making a full tourist experience. This was our last full day in Amsterdam and for the trip and we concluded with a tasty dinner at the Lebanese Restaurant down the road from our apartment. One observation is that most restaurants seat you without a menu and you sit waiting 5 mins until they bring you the menu.

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