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The next morning we walked to the Anne Frank
house for which I had ordered tickets to visit at 10:30 AM. We found out
everyone already in the long lineup had early time slots than we did. We
were early, so we walked around the area ensuring that we arrived back
no earlier than 15 minutes before our designated time. There was still a
long lineup but it moved efficiently and we made our way inside. It was
a bit crowded at first but we weren’t rushed, so we all had time to see
as much as we wanted. They seemed to understand well and were not
frightened about the story. The exhibit is in the exact rooms used by
the family and included additional videos and displays promoting
acceptance of people with different religions and ideas.
Roman had requested that we go biking in
Amsterdam. It was a nice day to go cycling as it was rapidly warming up
in the afternoon after a cool start. Ray was concerned that the boys
were not experienced enough to handle the bike traffic on the streets.
He suggested we go to Vondelpark where there were lots of roads to ride
safely. We headed to a bike rental shop right next to the park, stopping
for lunch at an Italian restaurant on the way. It was still early and
the restaurant looked somewhat upscale but they had pizza to satisfy the
boys and pasta for Ray and me. The pizza was on a very thin crust and
was proclaimed to be the best they had ever eaten. Our pasta was good
The bike shop had bikes for each of us
although the regular size was too big for Roman and the smaller one was
a bit small. Regardless, he rode it well and everyone had a great time
in the park. The park had three children’s play areas that were
challenging enough to suit both of them.
Our first stop was at the southern end
of the park, where the boys spied wooden structures with two long tubes
protruding from one side. The boys parked the bikes and ran over to
climb inside one wooden tower to get to the slide entrance. The first
slide was taken a bit gingerly but they quickly adapted. Back on the
bikes we approached a large open area with a water play area that was
closed for the season, but had a collection of swings to try out. There
were single swings, a double one and a big rubber ring with a net
seating area that one or more could share. They did it all. As we were
getting ready to leave on the bikes again, a local woman recommended
another play area. We followed her instructions past a dog obedience
class area and found several raised wooden structures, each connected by
netted walkways or wooden ladders, in a wooded area. It was another hit.
The excursion was such a hit that we went back for a second trip two
days later, with equal success.
The next day we walked to the Dam, where the
Royal Palace, large churches, Madam Tussauds and other tourist delights
were located. Roman was invited to a sleep-over on Halloween evening,
the day we were to return to Paris and he wanted to get a mask for his
costume. Halloween is not very popular in Holland and we didn’t pass any
stores advertising costumes. Finally, I saw a toy store where we were
directed to one area that still had a few masks. Roman had the choice of
a monster mask or The Scream, from the painting by Edvard Munch. He
chose the Scream and was thrilled.
We were on our way to lunch on the
Pannenkoekenboot. It was a tour boat that travels around the harbour,
not the canals, and offers a buffet meal of all you can eat pancakes,
just up the boys’ alley. We took a free ferry from behind the train
station to the mooring place on the other side of the harbour. On board
we were directed to a table for four next to the window. The boys didn’t
pay much attention to the scenery, they concentrated on the pancakes.
There was a choice of pancakes with bacon, or apples or plain. The
toppings and syrups were mostly super sweet but I managed to eat 2. The
boys were on their third pancake when it was announced that the ballroom
(similar to IKEA) was open below deck. They had a grand time jumping
into the pile and tossing balls at each other.
When the tour was over, we took the ferry back to
the train station and persuaded the boys to walk over NEMO, the science
museum aimed at kids. It didn’t take much to get them involved. We made
our way to the top floor and sampled as many of the interactive displays
as possible. It was after 2 PM when we arrived and the museum closed at
5:30 PM. That seemed like plenty of time but we were almost the last to
leave and we still hadn’t seen everything. We walked back to the
station, missing the first bus stop but finally getting the right number
to ride back to the boat. It did save another 1.5 km of walking.
Our last day started a bit late so we got to the
Van Gogh museum right when everyone else did. We had to line up for more
than 20 minutes just to buy tickets, then line up again to go in, but
there were no complaints from the boys. It was free admission for the
boys and we intended to get kid-oriented audio guides for them. They had
a family rate so we all got the guides. That was a good move. We all
enjoyed the exhibits, especially with the extra commentary.
I could have stayed even longer than the others
but the boys were ready to go. They persuaded us it was time to rent
bikes again and return to Vondelpark, which we did. They had an equally
good time in the park but Atticus declared he was ready to try biking on
the street bike paths next time.
Read Bruges Oct 2016
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