Sunday, May 20, 2012

Easter in the Netherlands

We went to the Netherlands for three nights during Easter. We had a great time, but we realized, once again (like we do every trip!), how stressful it is to travel with young children! Thankfully, it was probably worse on me, worrying about Georgia's missed naps than it actually was on Georgia. She was definitely tired, but was a trooper and didn't seem to mind doing some sightseeing and lots of sitting in her stroller.

The start to our trip was rough. I had planned on Georgia taking a nap in the AM and our flight was in the afternoon. Of course she didn't want to stick to the plan and refused her morning nap, and I left the house very frustrated with her, knowing it was going to be a good 4-5 hours until she would have another chance to nap. She did great on the flight there, and once we were on the ground in Holland she fell asleep in our rental car.
We stayed in the town of Haarlem. It is about a 15 minute train ride outside of Amsterdam, and is a little bit less touristy (and busy)! The city itself was picturesque, with cobbled streets, many bikes and few cars. There were canals and boats and little alleyways. After checking into our hotel, we spent the evening walking around the city trying to find someplace to eat, and finally settled on McDonalds. Whoops. We were hungry and tired and argumentative and had a cranky baby that wouldn't have sat still in a cafe or restaurant for long.
The next morning, I was up early and excited to walk around. I left G and Dave, both still sleeping, for a walk around the city. The sun was rising and the city was still. It was absolutely beautiful! I got some Dutch breakfast - fresh squeezed orange juice and some croissants and ham and cheese. I found a little farmers market and bought some of the best cheese I had ever tasted and I explored a supermarket, trying to find some gluten-free food for G and Dave to eat for breakfast.
Keukenhof Gardens
 
One of the things I loved about the country were how friendly people were! I called it a mini-America and it was so refreshing. People drove on the right side of the street, the food was good (and more American tasting than British food), and people were friendly! They smiled when they talked to you, helped you if you needed help (and even when you didn't...haha). I honestly think that coming to the Netherlands would be an easier 1st international trip than coming to Britain, even with the language barriers.

After Georgia and Dave had woken up and eaten breakfast, we headed to Keukenhof, the great Dutch gardens. They are known for their tulip displays, but sadly we were a bit early to see the tulips in the field. We were in time for the hyacinths, though! They were in bloom in the fields, and the great gardeners had brought in blooming tulips and the grounds (both indoor and outdoor) were beautiful! They had a mini-farm for the kids, some playgrounds and we got a huge bag of cotton candy. This is probably the highlight of our trip.

Not many pictures of G and me.... here we are in the middle of some almost-blooming tulips
We went back to the hotel for Georgia's naptime, and Dave let me go walk around the town again. Can I just tell you that I was exhausted that night? haha... walking around for 2 hours in the AM before we left, walking around Keukenhof, walking around the city again, and then after all of that, we went into Amsterdam in the evening. I probably walked 8+ miles. I. was. tired.
The hyacinths at Keukenhof - beautiful, right?!
Amsterdam that evening was nothing special. It rained on us. There were tourists everywhere. The city was dirty. There was traffic. I was tired. It was not very fun. I don't even have any pictures worth sharing.
The train station, on the way to Amsterdam
We got some Italian food to-go since Georgia was beyond tired and was having trouble sitting, standing and walking. We ate in our hotel room and called it an evening. We planned out a little bit what we wanted to see and do the next day.

The next morning, we headed out to a little place north of Amsterdam. One of the major bridges was under construction and we had to take a few detours, but our trusty GPS got us there in the end. It was the place pictured up above. There were 5 or 6 working windmills. One of them was a cheese shop (not sure what the windmill had to do with that!), and another one ground spices. It was a very cold and windy day, so we made this stop as quick as possible.
There were also some friendly goats ;) Again, we didn't quite know what to do for lunch, so stopped at a McDonalds. Georgia's only nap of the day was a 10-15 minute cat nap in the car as we were driving around. Again, a stressful, not-fun day with a tired kid and grumpy wife. Poor Dave.
There were lots of these flower fields as we drove around. I really wish we could've stopped and gotten closer! For dinner that night, we went to a cafe in Haarlem. It was a delicious dinner, and the people there couldn't have been more friendly. Poor Georgia was exhausted (On day 3 of very little sleep) and the ladies at the table next to us were entertaining her ;) The food was delicious and it was really the only Dutch food we had the entire weekend.
St. Bavo's
That night, I went to 10pm Mass at St. Bavochurch. I really wanted to go inside the church and I figured a service was the best way to do that. Most cathedrals look very similar to me, and this one was no exception. It was almost even plainer than some of the others I've seen. This cathedral, though, was built in 1559, and Mendelssohn, Mozart and Handel have played its organ. I honestly don't know what the service was for. I thought it would be a Easter service (seeing as it was Saturday night), but none of the passages they read from the Bible were from the gospels. They had a choir, and the church was lit by candlelight. It was beautiful, but I snuck out around 10:45, utterly exhausted and judging by the program, the service was about halfway over.

Easter Sunday was an odd morning, seeing as there were no church services we knew about. Haarlem was completely deserted, and we went once more to Amsterdam on our way back to the airport. We did not see a single person dressed in "Easter" clothes, and that was very weird.
We completed a walking-tour in one of the guide books that we had. We walked along several of the canals, past some coffee shops (and some marijuana ones, too), cafes and homes. It was a much nicer experience than the first day we had come. The sun was out, but the air was cold. Slowly the town came to life, and people were out enjoying the weather.
The airport in Amsterdam is amazing! They had a playground for the kids, a "library", lots of shops and a grocery store. Then, we found the baby-room. It was perfect for us because Georgia had not yet taken a nap that day. This is an article I found about it. Basically, it was a room with lots of round couches and cribs. Each of the couches was enclosed in something similar to a mosquito net. I was able to sit in an enclosed area with Georgia, nurse her, and she fell asleep almost instantly. It was the most perfect thing! This is actually one airport I look forward to flying through again just because of the baby room.

1 comment:

Andrea, said...

That baby area at the airport looks awesome. I would be so stressed traveling to different countries. We have a 6 hour car trip coming and I am not looking forward to the drive :-/.