Sunday, June 14, 2015

Netherlands, part 1

Three random facts about our latest trip.  Netherlands is the official name of the country; however, Holland is considered more tourist-friendly and also 2 provinces that make up Netherlands are North and South Holland.  Second fact - spoken Dutch and spoken German have NOTHING in common!  I was always under the impression that the languages are kind of close and when you see it written, you can kind of guess what it says in Dutch if you know German and English.  Spoken Dutch, however, complete different story!  Random fact #3 - Dutch are pretty well known for their love of bikes; however, on this trip we noticed that very few people (including kids) wear helmets.  It was a bit odd since Germany is extremely bike-happy as well but usually at least kids wear helmets.

Because Belgium had horrible traffic, we decided to leave Wednesday night and drive about 3 out of the 4 hours and spend the night in Arnhem.  Arnhem is a really small city but famous for the Battle of Arnhem where a small group British soldiers tried to secure the bridge but failed after about 4 days of fighting.  After a quick tour of Arnhem,we headed out to Keukenhof.  Keukenhof is a massive tulip park, it's only open for 2 months between mid-March and mid-May and is over 79 acres which makes it one of the world's largest flower parks.  While some flowers are clearly past their prime, the park trims them really nice so the fields look green instead of dead.We have gotten used to having many playgrounds pretty much anywhere we go and this park did not disappoint. The funny thing about the playgrounds is that most of them would not be allowed to exist in the US because they would deem to be unsafe.  And some of them completely petrify me because Anton is fearless ...

The following day we went to Amsterdam.  Parking in Amsterdam is a whole new story by itself - can't explain it other than to say see pictures.  Our first stop was to buy boys hats because I didn't pack any hats since it's mid-May but that was a mistake so we remedied with some "I love Amsterdam" hats.  After that we started wondering the streets going to Dam Square and Nieuwmarkt.  It fascinating how much history there is all around us.  Nieuwmarkt doesn't seem very interesting, but yet it still has part of the gate that protected Medieval Amsterdam and during WWII it was also the collection point for Jews before being shipped off to camps.  We eventually made our way to Hermitage Amsterdam.  The museum is a a branch of the Russian Hermitage so I was hoping for the best but also a bit worried how the kids would handle a large art museum.  Thankfully, Andrei and Ilya did great.  The museum itself was not very big.  We went to see special exhibition "Napoleon, Josephine and Alexander."  It was done really well with a decent amount of explanations of how the war started and how Frenchmen were not prepared for Russian winters.Short version of the events :)

While in Amsterdam, we also walked on the outskirts of the red light district.  We opted not to go through the actual streets with windows since neither one of us were ready to answer those kind of questions!  Our last stop in Amsterdam was going to be the canal tour while the boys had snack.  Great plans always fail when not enough research is done in advance!  You are not allowed to bring food into the boats so Anton did not exactly make it easy on other passengers or us with his rather loud protests of being stuck in a seat with nowhere to go and nothing to eat.  


Keukenhof, it's nice to have another photographer in a family :)

Playground in Keukenhof

That's canal to the left of the tires with very dirty water
"I love Amsterdam" hats

Starbucks run

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