For the first stop of our 2 weekend European vacation for our 5 year anniversary we decided to head to Amsterdam first. One big thing we always look at when we travel is direct flight locations from Houston. Through trial and error we have come to realize its easier and more relaxing than doing two stops with a toddler because they get so tired and what toddler wants to be stuck to a chair for more than 10+ hours anyways.
So here is a little bit about where we stayed, what we did and ate, some things to be advised about and our day tour trip to Geithoorn.
WHERE TO STAY
The Toren located one block away from the Anne Frank Museum and as well from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Even with that being said it is a quick 10-15 minute walk through really nice homes, restaurants, shops and of course the infamous canals.
We chose this location due to the space, location and proximity to all the spots we wanted to visit while also be in a quitter part of town with Sofia. During the stay we picked the Executive Suite which was located right down the road in a separate part of the hotel as it is in 2 sections. This one included a large king size bed, a couch, a large armoire to house or clothes and a large bathroom that was located downstairs. Sofia loved the stair but mind you that the stairs are quite step and not preferable if you are wanting something easier to get to especially in the middle of the night or with a baby.
PLACES TO EAT
Mind you we don’t have a lot here, but I will share what we did eat.
The Pancake Bakery-Since we arrived by 12pm at the hotel we were unable to check in until 3pm so we decided to get some brunch and do a little bit of touring. Our first top was The Pancake Bakery that was located right behind our hotel on the parallel street. I had read about it on a blog on Pinterest and when I saw it was a 5 min walk I knew we needed to go.
When we arrived it was packed and we only had a few people in front of us, but after 5 mins there was a good 20 people behind us waiting for a table. Once we finally got in it took us a while to get a waiter and our food.
Hotel Room Service– For the first night with the time change and long travel day these are my favorite because its relaxing and helps to get you back into a routine and fresh for the next day.
Stroopwafeel– These are known in Amsterdam and you MUST grab a few and take some to go. These are one of my favorite snacks and they are even better here!
WHAT TO SEE/ DO
Anne Frank Museum- This was on the top of my list when we found out we were going to Amsterdam, but sadly we did not book our tickets in time to actually be able to go. Since it was around the corner from our hotel we were at least able to see the outside and take it all in.
Note: BOOK TICKETS 1 MONTH PRIOR..or even earlier. They sell out fast.
Cheese Museum- This was also right around the corner from our hotel and we never got to go in, but you will find cheese shops everywhere in the city so definitely make sure to get your fix.
Amsterdam Duck Store-Great for gifts and Sofia brought one home
Van Gogh Museum– This was one I was excited to see. Van Gogh’s paintings are quite impressive and it was amazing to see them all as well as the story of his life, his old writing, and how he got inspiration to complete drawings…especially towards the end of his life.
Rijksmuseum– We didn’t go inside the museum but after the Van Gogh Museum we visited the grounds and enjoyed the gorgeousness of it all. I
Heineken Museum– This was honestly our most fun and actually really interactive and fun for Sofia. You could through a mini tour (like 10 mins) and then you get to go though interactive sections like a virtual version at the end which ends in beer, plus you can see where the beer is being made and they give you Barley and sugar shots which Sofia loved!! At the end you can enjoy 2 glasses that come from the bracelets you get when you enter, but if your not a beer drinker like myself you can get Coca Cola or a lemon drink. Also, at the end of your trip you can also customize writings on your own Heineken bottle. We ended up putting “Rojas Family Trip 2019”. 🙂
Note: For parents you can go the park right across of the canal from the entrance before hand to burn off some more energy if you would like.
I AM AMSTERDAM Sign– This used to be located right in front of the Rijk Museum but we moved across the large canal from the train station.
Note: If you do the Geithroon tour I will talk about below they will drop you off at the train station at the end. Use this time to take the free ferry that comes every 5-10 mins and go see it.
A’DAM 360 Lookout Swing– Located in the large building in front you can go to the lookout swing where you can actually swing off the building with the city of Amsterdam right behind you. I am too much of a woosy and the heights so Diego did it while Sofia and I danced and waited for him.
Pirate Canal Ride– There are multiple ones to do but I decided to do this kid friendly one focused on a Pirate theme. Anyone can go on this boat but the kids have a separate station that they can listen too and it comes with a coloring book and pencils plus a pair of binoculars
Walk Around– Around every corner there is something cute and the canals are gorgeous. Get lost and enjoy it..those are some of our favorite memories.
Parks– Remember that in Europe there are tons of cute and little parks in lots of places. For the kids try to make stops every 1-2 hours or after a long tour so that way thy get some fun and you can enjoy a little break as they run around.
Day Trip to Geithroon
I originally saw this online and Pinterest and thought it would be a cute day trip to get out of the city since we had 3 nights planned on the trip. We normally do the day trips on the last full day so we can truly explore the city beforehand and then get a little break from the somewhat repetitiveness of certain spots and things we see and do.
You can buy a tour on Viator which is Trip Advisors company HERE, so I knew it was one that I could trust. We had a small group of only 8 including the tour guide. If takes about an hour to go to the town by car and you get a 20 minute break on the way their to grab drinks, go to the bathroom or buy some trinkets.
Once you arrive your tour guide and your group head onto a long boat with about 40 of so people and take the tour of Geithoorn known as the “Venice of the North”. You go through the little passageways, the gorgeous homes and then off on the large body of water by it where tons of kids and families where boating too because in the center was a large island of land to sunbath. I thought it was pretty fun and which I had something like this back home.
After the tour we asked the tour guide to just do our thing and we just walked around, grabbed linch and then walked back to meet with the group to head back into town.
So, now onto my honest thoughts on Geithoorn.
Was it cute? Absolulety. I am glad I went? Sort of Would I go again? Never. How so? I thought it was a much larger town with so many things to do to entertain our time and it is not. With the amount of people that were there you loose the vision of it all. You end up pushing and moving around so many people trying to get the perfect picture, see the homes and the walk ways are manly on one side because bridges to the other side are from the owners of the home.
I think I would have much rather taken a train to one of the towns with the windmills so we could be on our own schedule and mode of transportation.
THINGS WE DIDN’T LIKE/THINGS TO KNOW
Marijuana– Be aware that this city is know for its marijuana and you will smell a lot of it. We honestly would have enjoyed the city so much more if we didn’t have to worry about it and Sofia.
Restaurants– Prepare for long wait times and minimal wait staff. If you sit outside you might have 2 waiters for 15-20 tables so it takes A LONG TIME. We don’t normally mind it but when it takes around 1-15 minutes to even get a drink or order it becomes ridiculous…especially if you have a child.
Bicycles– I knew they were going to be everywhere but man you must be careful. With a stroller it makes getting around difficult because not only do you have to wait for the bikers to pass but the cars and as well..plus the bikers usually aren’t cordial and let people pass so you better run.
Thanks so much for reading everyone and if you have any questions about our trip or things related to traveling with a toddler please let me know. 😉