About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Amsterdam

This morning we woke up at 5:45am. Katrina actually woke up a bit earlier. She was having trouble sleeping. We got ready and went downstairs to wait for the shuttle. We caught the 5:30am shuttle to the Malpensa airport. We cruised through security and are currently waiting for our flight.

Brandon waiting for our flight at the Malpensa airport.

Our flight to Amsterdam was fairly uneventful. I think we slept for most of the trip. There was a person a few rows behind us who passed out during the flight. The crew pulled out the oxygen tank and had him lay down for awhile.

We landed in Amsterdam by 9am and found our way through the airport. Katrina was very excited at spotting a Starbuck’s. We had to stop and get a chai for her and some blueberry muffins, since we hadn’t eaten any breakfast yet.

Katrina enjoying her chai.

The Amsterdam airport is very nice, very modern and very clean. They also have a nice selection of shops and restaurants. Katrina realized she needed some socks, since it was chilly and rainy in Amsterdam and she didn’t pack any. She found some in an airport store.

We found the train station and caught the next train to Amsterdam Central. Once there, we stopped in the transportation office to buy 72 hour passes for the streetcars and buses. We caught streetcar #1 to our hotel, the Wildervanck B&B, run by Helene and Sjoerd Wildervanck. They live in a 17th century canal house and offer two rooms on the lower floors for visitors.

The entrance to our ground level room.

Brandon on the steps inside our room.

Our room.

The Keizengraht canal outside our room.

Katrina ripping the Amsterdam section out of our Rick Steve's book.

After getting our bearings, we headed out, walking back towards the Amsterdam Central train station. We wandered through the world famous flower market and found a little restaurant for lunch. The specialty of the restaurant was pancakes of many different varieties. Brandon had a plain one with butter. Katrina had some vegetable soup and bread. I had a cheeseburger and coke.

Brandon and his giant pancake.

We continued to walk the streets of Amsterdam. I am impressed. It’s a fairly clean city. Lots and lots and lots of bicycles. Lots of pedestrian areas and they seem to have a great transportation system. Did I mention there are lots of bikes?!

The busy streets of Amsterdam.

Rembrandt was a resident of Amsterdam.

We walked along the canals and made our way slowly towards Central Station. It was pretty windy and raining off and on as we neared the station. Our goal was the NEMO museum.

Brandon crossing the bridge to NEMO.

NEMO (National Center for Science and Technology) is a kid friendly science museum. It’s distinctive copper green building, jutting up from the water like a sinking ship, has prompted critics to nickname it the Titanic. It was designed by architect Renzo Piano. It’s shape reflects its nautical surroundings as well as the curve of the underwater tunnel it straddles.

Brandon making big bubbles.

Playing with light and color.

Playing with magnets.

Katrina spinning with the laws of physics.

Sorting orders of yellow, red and blue balls.

We had fun doing all sorts of activities: bubbles, magnets, sight, robotics, physics, magnetic, and a fun activity of sorting. Brandon and Katrina had a great time with the sorting activity. People could sit at one of three stations and place orders for colored balls. At another location were four stations in which kids could sit and fill the orders. Plastic balls of yellow, red, and blue would randomly come down each stations shoot. The balls came in large and small, light and heavy. A computer screen would tell the sorter what was needed and what order it was needed. Sorters had to differentiate between large and small, light and heavy using scales, tubes and air funnels. Once a correct sequence of balls was found, they were put in an order tube and checked for accuracy. It taught the kids about systems , planning and ordering. We also had fun in the puzzle section and at the bridge section. They had examples of different types of bridges that kids could actually walk across.

After NEMO, in the early evening, we caught a tram back to our room for a break. Katrina and Brandon were really tired. Brandon layed down on the bed and fell asleep pretty quickly. Katrina tried to sleep, but had a hard time. I went for a walk, following random streets and looking at the sights.

I returned to the room to wake them up around 7pm. Brandon had a tough time waking up. We were hungry and decided to go looking for dinner. We ended up strolling along some canals until we were very hungry. Brandon wanted Chinese food. We said we wanted something else. After wandering for quite awhile and not finding anything that sounded good, we ended up at the Asian Garden. Brandon got his wish and it was a good one. That was the best Chinese I have had in a long time. Very fresh and very tasty.

We came back to the room and went to bed. We were tired after a late night last night, and early morning today and lots of walking around.

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