I'll be direct. I didn't like Amsterdam that much. Not even close to wanting to go back again. Maybe it was the bad timing. Or maybe it was just the personality of the city (too hip, perhaps?). The fact that getting there and getting back home took 4-5 hours more than we expected didn't help either. To top it all, we were jinxed on our way home. ( Somebody threw himself on the rail track in front of a train we were suppose to be on. gyaaaaaaaah the goose bumps!)
But I did enjoy the TRIP. To start with it marked a first for me and my family- first time to go on a trip here in Europe with no one else but us. This meant I had no geeky sister to rely on for her booking skills, and no ever-graciously endowing mother to finance half of our expenses. :) Since I was the one who wanted an escape from Leuven so badly, I took the liberty to put everything in my hands. I studied this trip well, so much that Lakay was, hands down, impressed. I planned the itinerary, tried to make it all fit in on our super minimal budget, and made sure that all places we'd visit had something of interest with the brainy kid we had. I even tried to understand maps (nosebleed!).
Yet, I think I studied it too much, hence the high expectations that weren't met. Amsterdam was just too crowded for me. There were too many constructions and repairs going on and it was just unforgivably hot! Lakay also didn't find much scenic areas to photograph. A lot of the people we encountered were tired and not so kind (could it be the canabis?hihihi). Most of the food we ate was crappy (sorry, I very rarely say this!)
One redeeming point was the hotel. I booked Hotel Casa 400 at about 64 Euros per night. But we got service and accommodation that would equal the expensive ones we've experienced in the Philippines. Though it was a bit hard to find, they did make a conscious effort to make us feel welcome (a welcome note on the flat screen tv in our room; calling me by my first name when they answer my service calls). :) I'd give the hotel my two thumbs up.
Another redeeming point was the Sale (sandals and sneakers for the little one, shirts for Lakay, and a Desigual skirt for me :)
Then the visit to the museums. I liked Van Gogh Museum the most, but we were slightly disappointed not to find his "Rest from Work" and his "Starry Night."
What truly saved those three days from going down the annals of disappointment was the fun we shared as a bonding happy trio. The little one stayed charming and witty all throughout those long hot walks and train delays. I especially loved teamwork with Lakay. I enjoyed the way we were all so game about this sort of "boy scout camping" we did in this expensive city (someday I will write about the creative ways on how we tried to make ends meet).
L-R: the little one's shot of mum and dad, outside the Nemo Science Center, the welcome note from the hotel with my name on the screen, Lakay in Museumplein, the two boys near the central station, mummy and daddy in the little one's eyes, two boys enjoying the boat ride, wading at the rooftop of Nemo science center, at the train station again
I remember one of the lessons taught by my friend N whom I wrote about earlier here. N says: When going to trips, it's the company, not the place, that matters more.
With this in mind, I'd say that the trip to Amsterdam still gave me the break that I've longed for. My expectations built up by those travel websites may not have been met. But now I'm just so glad that those sites cannot write about everything you can expect. For if they do, then you might miss out on the most surprising part of the travel you'll one day treasure most -- the hands you held as you strolled along.
I, the little one, Lakay and a hundred reflections of us
taken in the Kaleidoscope, Nemo Science Center