Five things I learned while in Amsterdam

We recently returned from our fourth trip to Europe. Did you know that early September is generally a great month weather-wise to visit Europe? We started traveling to Europe in 2008. We’ve been to Italy twice and then Paris for our 40th anniversary in 2012. Every two years we head for parts unknown … at least to us! We can’t let our “world traveler” kids have all the fun.

This year we went to Holland, with a little side trip to Bruges, Belgium. My mom was born in Holland and I really wanted to experience the country. Holland did not disappoint … amazing cheeses, museums, canals, bikes and interesting architecture! Our son, Ricky, and lovely daughter-in-law, Kate, also joined us for the Holland part of our trip.

Amsterdam was totally not what I expected. The guide books never really prepare you for when your boots actually hit the ground. The airport is nuts. But people are friendly and most speak English! I now know how it feels to, as the famous playwright Tennessee Williams wrote, “… to rely on the kindness of strangers!”

Although Kate and Ricky landed 15 minutes later than we did … different flights, different terminals … we never could seem to tag up with them at the airport. It didn’t help that our cell phone programmed for international travel failed us. As Plan B was always to meet at the apartment I had rented in the Joordan area of Amsterdam, no big tragedy.

So here is my list of five things we learned while in Amsterdam:

We never met a piece of cheese we didn’t like! The weight of hubby’s carry-on backpack when we left for home can attest to that.

We learned that the wide bike paths found everywhere in Amsterdam are for bikes and you could get run over if not extremely careful!

A tulip museum, like a cheese museum, is not really a museum. It’s a shop that sells tulip bulbs.

Public transportation is your friend! Learn how to use it! Purchase a day pass (or multi-day pass) good for trams and buses. Very reasonably priced. Swipe your card when you get on … and off public transportation! It’s a two-step process. I have no idea why.

Purchase your tickets for the Anne Frank House and busy art museums before you leave on your trip! There is no way I would have stood in the long line outside the Anne Frank House. And let’s face it … if you go to Amsterdam you must pay the house a visit!

Next time I’ll share how to be flexible on your European vacation … especially when things go wrong!

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