Amsterdam at night is known for its seedier side. Americans immediately conjure up images of ladies of the night hawking their bodies in the windows of the red light district as tourists gape open mouthed at their gestures and nakedness. The smell of pot smoke fills the air as drunken stag parties stumble about from pub to pub. While some of this might be true, much of it is the stuff of imagination as this “darker” side of Amsterdam wasn’t really visible to us during our sojourn to the city. Yes, we toured the red light district and came upon coffeeshops from time to time, but none of it seemed illicit. All of it seemed totally normal and even “respectable” (also we attempted to get to bed by 9:30PM so we probably missed all the fun anyway). On the other hand, our nights in Amsterdam were consumed by another nefarious agent.
Did you hear that sound? Oh no? You are lucky then because each night if we attempted to put Henry to bed in his travel crib an exorcism of the most horrific order unfolded! That first night was the stuff of parenting nightmares and I was convinced that Henry’s screams could be heard back in beantown. For hours, he was completely inconsolable and wanted nothing to do with David. I was left pacing the floor of our tiny Amsterdam apartment with Henry strapped to me in the Ergobaby. If my paced changed, he shrieked. In those early morning hours, I broke down and begged David to get us back home to the States. I had had enough 24 hours in to our week long vacation. I threw in the towel. David however filled my cup with coffee and assured me that despite my zombie state and utter fear of a nightly repeat that it would get better. And it did. Well it did because we just gave in to the little tyrant. Instead of trying to get him to sleep in his crib (which he does beautifully every night at home), we let him sleep in bed with us. We also just went with his flow. Instead of bedtime at 7PM, he went to bed at 9:30PM. Instead of sleeping through the night, he woke up from 1-3AM for a play time session everyday. It was a crazy schedule, but we made it work. In the end, we all got enough sleep to make it through each day feeling rested and excited to explore. But, I will not lie, I am really happy to be back home if only for the return of our sleep schedule!
On top of our random and at times horrifying nights, we jotted down some funny or random items from our trip that either made us smile, laugh, or scratch our heads:
- Selfie sticks: everywhere we turned photos were taken using selfie sticks. From teens to geriatrics, the selfie stick was by far the device of choice among the tourist circle. We saw them so often that we even thought to ourselves, “hmm maybe we should get one?”
- Grandparents: when you take a bus tour you will inevitably be among the grandparent tourist circle. And there is nothing wrong with this. It is just a fact. The convenience of these types of tours make it incredibly welcoming to this demographic and it was also ideal for our little family. As such, we learned so much about all of the grandchildren of these delightful tourists. Each Oma and Opa would pet Henry’s hand or head and tell us how sweet he was and how cute he was and how much they missed their own little grand-babies.
- Dutch Girlfriend: Everywhere Henry went, he was a flirt. He would cast his “come hither” eyes to the crowd hoping to catch a young lady. Henry melted many a hearts in Amsterdam but no one fell harder than this little girl we met while eating dinner at the Golden Temple. She could not stop coming over to our table, holding Henry’s hand, and staring at him. It was an instant connection and I cannot wait for their paths to cross again.
- Day of Details: One morning David declared it the “day of details.” While I sort of laughed at this idea, it was actually really fun. David went about the city with a keen eye hoping to capture the smaller points of Amsterdam. He ended up taking some great shots!
- Love Boat: When we got aboard the ferry to Marken the theme to the Love Boat played on repeat for the 30 minute trip. Ha, it was amazing!
- Bjorns & Bikes: Did you know that you can just strap your newborn to you in a Bjorn and bike around the city? Every country is different and we should not jump to immediate judgements but this was one practice that surprised me every time I saw it. Dads glided by with their little fresh babies in Bjorns as they biked here and there. Amsterdam bike culture is VERY different from Boston. In Boston, a cyclist runs the risk of losing life or limb to a disgruntled driver which is not at all what it is like biking in the very, very cyclist friendly city of Amsterdam. Nonetheless, this practice was super curious, but I am sure those little babies napped really well while their parents biked them about strapped to their chests!
- Robin & Heather: It is sometimes hard to realize how much you miss someone until you see them again and are directly reminded of how awesome they are! I miss Robin and Heather terribly. They are truly good friends, good people, and good souls. Their visit to Amsterdam for the weekend of our stay was by far my trip highlight.