Escape to Amsterdam

What to do if the workers in your home need to close off water supply, gas supply and all heating options? What to do if they must do so on a holiday when school and day care and work is closed?
And what if Jan has some meetings in Amsterdam that he couldn't escape since it's not a holiday over there?
Then you can pack up a suitcase and the double stroller and both kids and drive to Amsterdam :). And so I gave the workers a key and left with their promise we'd return to a heated home.

North of Antwerp all roads seemed to have accidents, but Waze helped me to avoid all the stand-stills in Belgium and Netherlands, which is a true blessing if you have small children on the backseat.  The drive took longer than anticipated but we kept moving and the kids had both very good naps, after I had to stop on the first 2 parking lots to pick up fallen toy cars and a pacifier. Thanks to the Waze ETA updates sent to Jan, he was right at the road outside the hotel upon our arrival, guiding us to a good parking spot. All Kabouter wanted to know was when we were going to take the tram, as that's the only important thing to do when you are a toddler in Amsterdam.

Tough luck for him: we first went for a stroll through the Vondelpark right behind our hotel. Funny enough I've spent so much time in Amsterdam already and I've walked by the entrance of the park a 100 times but I had never walked through the park before. The big blue jacket with a red pompon toque above and 2 little legs under, enjoyed himself running around.

After an intentionally stereotype Dutch lunch (uitsmijters, pancakes, ...) near the Leidseplein we took the boat for a little cruise trip on the famous Amsterdamse grachten. A boat trip is almost as good as a tram ride for a toddler, especially if you get to listen to your own kid's audio (which was still too difficult to follow but ...the point was that he had his own headset to listen) and if you pass a true pirate ship. Wow! Personally I missed a lot of the tour as I was busy holding the forever escaping recently mobile Beertje.  I think you probably still see Amsterdam better by foot than from the low boat...but we saved us a day's worth of walking around.
It felt quite odd to float by my former office but I realised that there wasn't really many colleagues inside anymore that I knew: most have left following a restructuring after my departure and there aren't many remaining with whom I'm still in touch and whom I expected to be enthousiastic if I were to walk in for an unannounced coffee.  It'll remain a bittersweet memory.

Our planning wasn't very optimal as we wanted to take the tram back to the hotel right in the midst of the evening rush resulting in overly crowded trams that didn't even bother to stop and open their doors. After waiting for a long time in the city center, there seemed to be a service disruption so we started walking back to our hotel after all, along the tram tracks. Fortunately we were right at a tram stop when our tram passed after all and Kabouter could finally ride along :).

In the evening we had a very pleasant tapas dinner in a bar VIDA in the quiet residential area of the hotel, far from all the tourist traps.   The kids of the neighbourhood were celebrating Sint-Maarten and entered all the time in the bar with lampoons, singing songs to the bar staff in exchange for candy.  Very nice.


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