There are many wonderful ways to wake up in a hotel room. Be awoken by a crying toddler at least two hours before you wanted to open your eyes is not one of them. Resigning myself to my fate, the little one and I dressed, enjoyed the continental breakfast provided by the hotel, then set out on a walk while waiting for my friends (who DIDN’T have an early-rising alarm clock in their room) to get up.
It was a beautiful morning, the kind that makes a new city seem just that extra bit more magical. Not having a destination in mind, but not wanting to wander too far from the hotel lest the Intrepid Traveling Twins awoke earlier than expected, we crossed the street and found a walking path.
Being Amsterdam, we quickly found water. Looping along the path, which led through a business district, we saw some pretty cool architecture.
I love that this city was built around (and over!) the canals and waterways.
By the time we returned to the hotel, the Travel Twins were ready for the day. We had big plans! We took the metro to the city center, then got a tram, both of which were easily done with the pram. Then we took a ferry to the A’DAM lookout tower. The ferry takes about four minutes and was packed with people on foot, bicycles, and mopeds.
Our whole reason for visiting the A’DAM lookout, aside from the amazing views of the city, was the swing! If you look closely, you can see four angled bars atop the tower on the right-hand side. That’s the Over the Edge swing, sitting at 100 meters above ground. Oh yeah. We did that. Upon entering, we paid the 17.50€ for entrance to the observation deck (12.50€) and the swing (5€). The staff were all incredibly accommodating of the pram and, after asking, we were escorted to an elevator that took us to the 2nd floor, where they took a fun picture. Little Man, amazingly, slept through this part.
Up to the 22nd floor, where you get a 360° view of Amsterdam, and can even get your first taste of going over the edge.
I’m not gonna lie, this got my heart pumping a bit. Luckily, another lady freaked out when her friend walked her toward this floor window without her knowledge.
We hung out here for a short while until Little Man finished his nap. There’s a cafe/restaurant, so we sipped coffee, took in the views, and tried to calm one of our friends nerves about the swing. Once again, we asked a staff member who escorted us to the elevator (they have to punch in an access code), which took us to the roof. By this time, the sun was out in full force and it was HOT. The line wasn’t too long, and before we knew it, we were up! There are two swings, each of them holding two people at a time. Since there were three of us (Little Man happily sat this one out to munch some raisins), one friend went with another solo rider, then took over the video, and baby watching, duties.
The swing lasts one minute, thirty seconds, and even though you don’t *actually* go over the edge, it sure seems like you do! It was terrifying!! My eyes stayed open the entire time and I clenched the bars for dear life.
Once our feet were firmly back on the ground, we apparently felt the need for height, as you couldn’t keep us off this giant red horse on the other side of the roof.
Having gotten our fill of pictures, we rode the elevator back to the ground floor, where we checked out the gift shop, then went in search of lunch. As we were walking, we came across a yarn bombing. I’ve never seen one in real life, and was super excited. (For those of you who don’t know, I’m an avid knitter.)
Lunch at a nearby cafe was the Travel Twins’ first experience with European dining. The slow-paced style can be irritating for us busy, high-speed Americans. Used to being rushed out of restaurants by pushy wait staff, having to flag someone down seems rude to us. Having successfully navigated this obstacle, rather graciously, in my opinion, we hopped back on the ferry and went to the city center. Playing tourist, we stopped at the sex museum. There was a 3€ entrance fee, but they don’t allow prams, and offer no place to park them. I wasn’t about to leave my empty pram on the sidewalk (as I would do in a heartbeat in Helsinki), so I waited outside with the little one as the Travel Twins went through. People watching on the sidewalk in Amsterdam was definitely entertaining.
We swung by a souvenir shop as I was in need of a sweatshirt (although not at the moment as it was still sweltering), and we all wanted a little momento. I loved seeing all the Dutch souvenirs. The tulips were my favorite.
They’re just happy! Packing my new sweatshirt under the pram, we continued down the road toward the Red Light District. My friends refused to go with Little Man, so we wove our way through the streets, enjoying the atmosphere, architecture, and canals. It was beautiful. We grabbed food on the way back to the hotel, and my friends fondness of the train saved us from having to deal with a cancelled metro.
Little Man fell asleep at a more reasonable, although still late for him, hour, thanks to the white noise I played on my phone. I managed to get mostly packed before he went down, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning. The one day he slept in was the one day I needed to get up early so I could say goodbye to the awesome ladies who flew halfway around the world to spend the weekend with me. We managed to have breakfast together before they went to catch an early flight back to the US.
Little Man decided to take a nap (what?!?) before we went to the airport, so it was a good thing I’d decided to hang out at the hotel. After checking out, I found to my surprise that it was raining. That sweatshirt came in handy after all! We made it to Schiphol without incident, although navigating was a whole new game. After walking back and forth a few times, I finally decided to brave following the signs (what a concept!) to where the check in counter may, or may not, be. Schiphol is a bizarre airport; I highly recommend asking for help if you need it. I found the counter, checked the stroller, then made my way through security and to the gate, stopping for a bite to eat. Our flight was at 14.00 so lunch was necessary.
Oh, Schiphol. As any experienced parental traveler will tell you, change the diaper BEFORE boarding the plane. I can’t even begin to describe the water closet situation as it’s just to complicated, so suffice it to say that it took me a few tries to find a WC with a changing table. Once I did, I became the entertainment for the ten or so women waiting in line. The changing table was just inside the door, so Little Man was on display for all to see. (Sorry, kid.) Everyone was really nice, offering to help hold my bag, retrieve a dropped pacifier, or hold the toddler. All in various languages. I was a little overwhelmed at their kindness, and also incredibly grateful. The bond of mothers knows no language barrier.
This flight was much better than the one to Amsterdam. First, the back half of the plane was mostly empty. I’m always happy to have an empty seat next to me when flying with the little one. If nothing else, it gives me a spot to put all the little things I magically accumulate. Second, the fewer people on the plane, the more attention the flight attendants have for each person. Again with holding the toddler as I got settled, helping buckle his little seat belt (on KLM, babies get a seat belt that attaches to yours), and offering a travel kit for kids.
Little Man nibbled on the provided snack, a hot noodle dish, then peacefully fell asleep until I was informed that he needed to face forward for landing. Spinning him around woke him up, but at that point, I was okay with it. Upon deplaning, I was shocked to find the pram waiting for me on the jet way. I’d never actually navigated the Helsinki airport by elevator before, so that was exciting. That done, I located the Finnair bus to Rautatientori. Husband had booked me a ticket the night before because there was a train conductor strike that day and no trains were running. A metro ride to our neighborhood, then a ten minute walk, and we were home!
It was a whirlwind trip with two lovely ladies, and it was worth every minute.
A few more pictures from atop the A’DAM Lookout: