back to previous week


Trip Blip Amsterdam Week 2 and a bit


July 31st, 2008 THURSDAY>>>

Thursday today..somewhere along the way we lost a day and we don't know where! We went to the seaside today. The boys were in need of an ocean fix. As we got close Gabriel started to shout, "I smell the ocean, I SMELL the OCEAN!" I think my Island boys needed a beach fix. We stayed a couple of hours. It was interesting. Way more crowded then beaches at home. We are actually into week three here which is hard to believe. I will start a new page tomorrow. John and I sat down today and tried to work out what will still wanted to do. We will go to Anna Frank Haus tomorrow morning, have the family picnic on Sunday, probably take the train to Haarlem on Saturday. I think Monday will be a day off of car/train travel. John may go in to do some things that interest him in Amsterdam. Then we want to go still to Gronigen and Meppel passing through Driesum on one of those trips and we would like to get to the Tropenheim Museum too. It is forecasted to rain for several days so that may bend some of our plans. Check out more pictures on my Facebook profile or check in tomorrow for a new page. Have a nice day!!

Musings- my children can deal with the other woman on the beach being topless but the thought of their mother going topless at the beach horrifies them..

..............small speedos, big bellies...........hmmmmm

Word/Phrase of the day -slagroom-whipped cream

July 30th,


Sorry for the big picture to load up but if I did it true websize you wouldn't be able to find the boys in the letters. The last two days we have got of quite late on our tours. Yesterday I hit a bit of a mini wall in terms of Amsterdam lifestyle!! Up to now I had really enjoyed biking everywhere to get around but yesterday the shine had come off a bit and I just wanted someone to drive me somewhere. However a little push and I was happy once I was out the door and going. I have been doubling Jonah to the Ferry so we don't have to worry about him on the busier roads and to leave fewer bikes locked up. I swear he is getting heavier every day from all the high fat icecream, porkchops potatoes and Sinas (a little like Orangina). Sander has just moved out of the age where toys are of interest and he really wanted to shop for clothes. He likes the edgier fashion here in Amsterdam and wants to bring a bit of it home with him. A little shopping was more then the other two boys could take so it was a pretty short day focused more on wandering then any other activity!!

The treat for the end of the day was a stop at Smullers to get vlaams frites puntzak (french fries in a cone holder). The boys are not totally trained as the didn't partake of any of the toppings on offer and went with plain!!

Today was a slow start too!! Late nights lead to late starts I guess. I think much like my cycling experience the boys had really stopped noticing we were on a houseboat. They were brought back to the fact when the mother and child swan arrived at the back door this morning looking for some treats. They really enjoyed that. Once we headed out we went to the Rijksmuseum for awhile. The museum is under renovation so only one wing is open with and exhibit called the masterpieces. This really was plenty of art for a 4,10 and 11 year old. I really enjoyed the museum and especially the Rembrandts but it did highlight the usefullness of the audio tours particularly for children. John and I had to guide them through and explain the pieces to them. I also think that some of these older seventeenth century works are less approachable for the children. Van Gogh's pieces seem easier for them to relate too. Of course my boys liked what best??? The guns of course...which they found within a few seconds of entering the museum...and swords too..lots of swords:)

After the Rijks we popped over to Vondelpark for a brief look. It was less impressive then I expected. I felt it didn't really measure up to Beacon Hill Park at home and certainly not to Stanley Park in Vancouver. But that was OK. I think it was the first thing on the trip that we did not find special so that is pretty good!! Oh but the ice cream from the vendors in the park was terrific!! No low fat here. From there we hopped back on the tram or as Sander refers to them "the stealth trains of death" (they are so quiet and you may not notice you have walked right into the path of one before it is too late) . The littlest two and John stayed on to go to Central Station and head back to the house. Sander and I got off at Ledersplein and shopped our way back to Central Station. Sander saw lots of clothes he likes but is waiting until next week to make a decision about them. I wanted to find some women's clothes but found the selection on Kalverstraat to be somewhat disappointing in its quality and creativity. I think I will have to look again in the Jordan on Friday.

We did find the flower market Bloemenmarket on the barges of the Singel Canal. I enjoyed strolling there and we selected some bulbs to bring home. Our choice was more limited and might not be different to what is available at home as for US and Canada import you have to have a farm certificate and they don't certify all the varieties:) Oh well they are from Holland so that is special. The boys have headed back to the adventure park and left me to the dishes , laundry and my glass of wine!! Thanks for reading. I am not going to proof read anymore I will just wait for the spelling corrections to come in from home and fix them next time :) See which of you is faster Carlene and Mom....ready...Set...EDIT!!!!!


They say sorry here the same as home except the emphasis is different making it sound like they don't really mean it...and maybe they don't!

I have noticed lots of the children here have blonde blonde hair but there are actually very few adults with blonde hair.

I have also noticed that as I learn some Dutch and try to use it in stores it makes them giggle.......oh well at least I am trying!! Sometimes I get so confused and come out with something that has English, Dutch, Spanish and French all in one horrendous sentence. Maybe I will go back to Village Idiot smiling and nodding...

It is very difficult to capture in either photos or words how different it is here from what you see in front of you, to what you hear and smell!!

WORD/PHRASE OF THE DAY (This is new!!) zachtgekookte eieren it? boiled eggs

Dank U wel for reading,









July 28th

A quick update today!! We started with our bike ride to the ferry again. Different captain this morning and he didn't wait for us as we locked up our bikes. That was k OK,as we took the opportunity to walk the pier a bit and look at the Greenpeace boat , Sirius and some other ships docked here. From there to Central Station as usual. We are starting to really fit in as we push our way onto the ferry before everyone has unloaded so that we can get one of the few seats.

We walked over towards the Jordan district were many of the markets are held. Today was a market focusing on vintage clothes and a lot of fabric as well as an assortment of other designer and off sell products. Not too fun for Gabe as it was humid and he is squeezed in looking at everyone's butts. Sander really liked it and is now fixated on finding some cool shoes and a leather jacket. I missed out on a great pair of shoes as a Spanish woman got there before me...darn it I wanted those shoes.

Madame Tussaud's was our next stop for the day.Once again the online ticket sales served us well as we breezed past the line at Madame Tussaud's. They stagger the entries so if you are buying tickets at the door it can be a heck of a long time before you get in!! The boys really enjoyed it but didn't recognize many of the Dutch celebrities. They also enjoyed some time in the Dam. The square where the original dam was built. Lots of good street performers.

It was humid so we called it a day early and caught the ferry back to our side of Amsterdam. After a brief stop in we cycled off again to an adventure park John and Gabe found the night before. The playgrounds here really put all our playgrounds at home to shame. I think there may be more thunder and rain again tonight.

Sander really wants to go clothes shopping so depending on the weather tomorrow we may head back to town to go to the Rijks and then John and the younger two will head back and fashion boy and I will stay and shop.

I also want to get the Flower Markets. I need to find tulips with a health certificate so I can bring some back to Canada.


Ok this wasn't as short as originally planned!!




It is a very surreal experience to walk through Central Station everyday and hear the automated voice in seven languages announcing trains leaving for Moscow, Paris, Frankfurt and beyond.

Why are children obese in Canada. Cause our playgrounds suck!! The kids here have the most amazing outdoor activities and of course they are all accesible by clearly marked bike paths.

My mother reads this blog and corrects the spelling so I need to put in lots of mistakes so she keeps feeling useful:) Right Mom?


All the best to everyone. I hope your day was/is wonderful wherever you are ,




July 27th,

Hello Everyone,

Today has been a catch up and rest day. Doing all the things that you have to do at home but manage to ignore when on holidays. I did all our laundry, washed the sheets, cleaned the floors and bathroom etc. The boys needed a rest day anyway, so just like at home they watched me clean around them:)

Yesterday was lovely!! We drove to the town of Ede to meet with Alette and Dorothe again. Yeah! for Map Quest! You can go to mapquest .com and choose Europe and then get driving directions directly from the door of one place to the door of another. We would have got lost without them!!!

Alette and Dorothe kindly fed us apple pie and coffee and planned a day of activities to do with us that would interest the children. The car at the exchange house works very nicely although John's knees are up under his arms:) The highway system is good here and the road is flat so the trip was easy. We saw the moorlands which were interesting and had to stop for a tall ship to cross the canal.

Alette's house is very pretty. She also has a wonderful pond and a couple of nice chickens. After our morning break we drove off to the Openluchtmuseum. Which means open air museum. It is a large piece of property where they have reconstructed historical dwellings from Holland's history. There were windmills and old stores, a working bakery, houses and more. There are people in costume doing a variety of activities and providing information too. There was also a wonderful modern playground that John and the boys enjoyed while the woman of our group hid from the sun and enjoyed a drink!! Very civilized as always. We were there for a few hours and really enjoyed it. We are grateful to A and D as we would never have gone there on our own.

On the way back we stopped at the War Cemetery. Still in Holland you get some instant respect if you are Canadian. They remember and have taught their children who came to help them. It is not unappreciated. The Cemetery we went to honoured a group of soldiers that were killed in a disasterous mission to secure a bridge. They were dropped too far and many never made it. They were mainly English, Polish and Canadian troops. Both the older boys appreciated this stop but it was particularly powerful for Sander. After reading the headstones and seeing how young most of these men were and seeing the headstones for the many unidentified soldiers he was brought to tears. The sad face in the picture was a real one. It brings a piece of reality to the video games they play.


Our next stop was back at Alette's for some more time in the garden and a nice supper. The children were impressed that they had noticed what they ate and drank when they had visited us. The relative that produces the smartie ice cream, Fanta and Coca Cola is the favourite relative for a long while. Thouroughly tired but content we headed back to our Amsterdam home. Easy rest was not to be had as just at bedtime a gigantic thunderstorm rolled in. Lightening struck several times right behind the house. (20 feet away?)

This is what Jonah wrote about it

"Last night there was a lot of lightening and thunder in the area where we are staying. The lightening looked like gold and was very loud. As for the thunder it was more quiet. At first I thought it was fire crackers but I knew it was too loud so it had to be lightening. Gabe got scared so all of us huddled down stairs for a few minutes and it took hours to get to sleep but now it has passed"

Today the boys read, wrote postcards, went for a kayak ride and are now off to pick blackberries nearby.

Tomorrow we had planned to go to the Anna Frank Haus but the reserved tickets are sold out. We will go Friday instead as we have learned the value of the prepurchased ticket.


-They don't like to waste space in Holland. If a description can be tacked onto a noun they will do it so you get words like Openluchtmuseum.

-Boys are unique. While I saw the cafe they saw the target shooting gun tucked behind a hedge in an out of the way corner. Can they smell weapons?

It is easy for kids to find the Dutch alternatives to treats at home..We now add Disco Lollies to the Super Cono as an icecream treat away from home and Sinas is the Dutch version of Fanta!

Have a good day back in Victoria...almost bedtime here.

Liz n boys


July 25th, 2008

Welcome to the second week of our Amsterdam and the Netherlands trip!! A third of our trip is already gone which is hard to believe. We have had a couple of long days and I have not had the energy to upload pictures or blog but I have received so many e-mails asking my why I thought despite my fatigue I should make an effort tonight.

Yesterday we cycled once again and caught a canal ferry to take us to the van Gogh Museum. A couple of hints if you come here yourself

1-book your tickets online and print them-it was so nice when we arrived to breeze past the line and go straight in.

2-get the audio tour either child or adult. They were excellent and really improved the experience. The boys loved the van Gogh collection and Jonah is very excited to go back to art school and tell them he has seen the originals!!! Gabriel wanted to see the Sunflowers and the self-portraits the most. He was very excited. I think Gabriel was the youngest child there. It was very cute to watch Jonah and Gabe listening to the audio tour and backing up from the art work or jumping on their toes to see something mentioned in the tour.

After the museum we stopped for a play and to cool our feet in the fresh water wading pond in the square. These wading ponds are everywhere and are a delight for tired and hot feet.

We strolled back to the canal boat and ended the day. Today we took our usual route(the ferry master now waits for us as we race to lock our bikes up and make it on the ferry). We used our canal boat tickets and took a trip to the Artis Zoo. What an amazing place. In the center of town surrounded by historic buildings with a beautiful collection of animals.

John and I agreed they were the healthiest zoo animals we had ever seen. Glossy bright fur, feathers, scales and skin. I would swear a fleet of hairdressers arrive nightly to groom the primates. Also one of the only unstinky zoos I have ever been in . A country of obsessive-compulsives has its advantages. Gabriel says when he grows up and has children he is moving to Amsterdam so he can bring them there every day. We had planned to go to the Dutch Resistance Museum too but were too tired. I think we will have a few days near the end of our trip where we will be racing to do some missed activities!!


Musings for two days-

-They flush the canals 5 times a day exchanging 80% of the water with lake water and pushing the other water out to the North Sea. Remember a country of obsessive compulsives.

-They have hooks at the tops of most buildings to pull supplies furniture up that won't fit up the stairs. Do they not have boys in Holland? I can just imagine what my boys would do with that system.

- All that cycling and walking must be good for you. In a country were they eat deep fried gouda balls dipped in mustard, apple tart, and french fries coated in cheese, mayonnaise and more , you rarely see a truly overweight person.

Ok my eyes are to bed.