This trip is a little different for us (and for travel blogging!) in that we aren't doing very much at the moment.  Usually we are moving around or visiting places we've never been before, but this year we are staying for 2 whole weeks in Amsterdam to maximize our family visiting.  We hope to sneak a few day trips in here and there but mainly we will be eating a lot of meals with family and sitting around in backyards chatting and drinking Heineken.

We are staying on the very edge of Amsterdam so that we are close to the rest of the family, and today we thought we'd head into central Amsterdam to reacquaint ourselves with the city and eat some lunch.  We caught the tram just down the street from us and it helpfully deposited us at Central Station - the best place for a 'tourist' to arrive into the city in my opinion.  Chaos, but a whack in the face of AMSTERDAM.  It's impossible to think that you're anywhere else when you look around at the canals, the tall pointy brick buildings and the biggest bicycle parking lot you've ever seen.  People and trams and buses all compete for space but in a non-threatening way and you just need to jump right in and experience it all.


There is a discount department store here called HEMA and for whatever reason the kids love it.  In the past we have bought party supplies there (very cute and different from at home) as well as tights and paper and regular household goods.  It's sort of a Dutch version of Target and the kids can't get enough of it - we went into two different ones today and I'm sure we'll enter many more of them as the next week and a half unfolds.  Today's purchase was eclectic - a bar of soap, a package of pipe cleaners, and an eyeshadow brush.  Our other main goal for the day was to visit one of the many English bookstores because we both needed some new reading material and we easily accomplished that; happily the book choices were plentiful and the prices were pretty much exactly what they are at home.  Nice!

We had a traditional pannekoeken lunch and strolled for a few hours before catching a tram back to our apartment just as the rain started falling.  The morning was hot and muggy and we had no idea that rain was in the forecast.  Julia had checked the weather on her iPod before we left and she said there was a high of 25C today.  That sounded great so off we went, and when the rain started I said, "That's weird, I had no idea it would rain today!"  Julia said, "Well I did - but you only asked me about the temperature."  Ahhh, children - so literal.

bowling_shoeWe completed our day with a fun evening at the De Zoete Inval which is a recreation complex with a restaurant and bowling lanes.  We had a great time with a variety of family members and the only downside was that I had to wear some strange plastic socks that resembled shower caps.  Note to self - take my own socks next time!

All in all it was a very nice day, and now the adults are relaxing with a glass of wine while the kids have taken their weary bodies to bed.  The sweet, sweet sound of silence...


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