Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Amsterdam - A Bit of Culture & A Lot of Paddling

We rather dragged out leaving Haarlem; we enjoyed it so much we were looking for excuses to stay on, but the time had come to move on. So, on to Amsterdam for a couple of days.

Amsterdam docks are big and busy; I hasn't realised it was also a cruise ship terminal - below is Stephen looking a bit worried as we passed a huge liner which was right outside the marina we went into.

The marina was in north Amsterdam, which is on the opposite side of the canal to the main part of the city. Getting into the city is really easy as there are fast, free ferry services laid on which take foot passengers, bikes (obviously - this is The Netherlands!), mopeds and even tiny two-seater electric cars. I imagine they are provided free to discourage people driving into the city. They reminded me a lot of the Star Ferries in Hong Kong.

Cycling around Amsterdam wasn't so much fun, as the city is, understandably, much busier than anywhere else we have been. It was the first time we were really cycling with delivery vans and a lot of cars - the roads alongside the canals simply aren't wide enough in a lot of places for separate cycle lanes, which other places have.

That said, vehicle drivers are very respectful of cyclists and don't automatically expect to just zoom through, as seems to be the norm in the UK, so it was actually all very safe and well organised - Emma actually fell asleep on the back of my bike at one point, so the journey must have felt fairly pleasant from her point of view!

Our main outing was to the Rijksmuseum, to tick off another Vermeer. The museum is undergoing a major renovation, so not everything was on show, but what was there was fantastic and I saw "The Little Street" which is one of my favourites

We didn't take Emma into the museum, having found in the past that if we do we don't actually get to look at much, as too much time is spent trying to keep hold of her and stop her from getting in other people's way. So, we went in shifts, which worked much better for all three of us.

Just outside the museum is a huge paddling pool. It's about 30 - 40 cm deep and absolutely massive. I sat with my feet in it, cooling down and Emma spent over an hour splashing around with other toddlers.

She was very worried about her clothes getting wet and was not happy that I had only taken her trousers off, leaving her top on knickers on. She got increasing vocal on the point, then paddled over to the other side of the pool, took off her remaining clothes, dumped them on the side and jumped up and down, waving at me, much to the amusment of the others around the pool. She then paddled back towards me, refusing to bring the clothes with her.

Emma  in the pool - before the clothes showdown

I did finally manage to get the clothes back, by which time she had totally charmed the Indonesian girls we were sitting beside, and was helping herself to their "Hot and Spicy" Pringles. I guess I should just be glad she's willing to eat a lot of different foods!

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