I have been saving visiting the Netherlands for when the tulips at Keukenhof were in full bloom. After pricing out our trip we realized it was going to be a very expensive weekend. Since my husband wasn’t all that excited to go see a bunch of flowers, I decided to take my oldest boy on a special trip- just the two of us!
We flew to Schiphol on a Friday night and took a shuttle to an airport hotel ten minutes away. The airport is a great base location between the gardens and the city. From there you can take a train or bus anywhere you need to go. The Steigenberger Airport Hotel was a great choice. Good food, amenities and most importantly for me – comfortable beds. By the time we checked in and got into our room it was 1 a.m. with the time change so we got a late start the next day.
We took a train from the airport into Amsterdam central. I didn’t really have much of an agenda aside from walking around and seeing where the day led us. One thing I knew I wanted to do was spoil Kellan. We never get quality one on one time these days. So of course the first toy store we saw I let him pick out a couple hot wheels and a superman backpack to carry his new treasures from the trip.
We walked around the canals, did some window shopping and came upon a carnival with a ferris wheel. I hate ferris wheels but my kiddo wanted to go so I couldn’t say no. I am fine on them when we are moving but the stopping and swaying is what scares me. At a couple points I was in full blown panic mode and this sweet kid was right there by my side telling me that everything was ok and that he would be brave for me. My 3 year old rocks, y’all.
After a couple rides and games we made our way down to nine streets for some lunch. This is an area of the city with great shopping, food and scenery. This is where you will get all the pretty canal shots atop bridges. There are bicycles everywhere houseboats all over the canals. Fun fact: in Amsterdam they don’t use curtains or shut their blinds. This would imply you have something to hide. So even at night you can look into a street level home and see everything! I have American neighbors that don’t even open their blinds during the daytime.
For lunch we found a cute place that served Dutch pancakes. They were amazing. I would describe them as a cross between an American pancake and a crepe. Ham and cheese. Delish.
Being a very busy weekend in Holland due to the flower parade, I had tried for weeks to get tickets to the Anne Frank House. It was my one must do for the city. Sadly, we couldn’t get tickets. However, at 3:30 you can queue outside and they will allow non tickets holders to enter for the last hour they are open. When we got to the museum I was shocked to see that the line was so long it wrapped around the block and I never did find the end of the line. There was no way we were getting in.
It was a little upsetting to not get to see the Anne Frank House but I decided to let Kellan decide what we would do instead. He picked the zoo so we took off in a taxi to spend an hour there before it closed. Kellan was happy so that made mama happy! It was a nice little zoo just outside the city center. It deserved a couple more hours but I asked Kellan what animals he wanted to see the most so we headed straight to those.
Our next activity was a pizza canal cruise we had pre booked. It was a 90 minute cruise that served us pizza, ice cream, soda and beer. Apparently the boat did not want to waste an entire booth on just me and my son so they awkwardly sat us with a Canadian man that was in Amsterdam on business. Here I was trying to have a special dinner with Kellan and instead I had to sit directly across and eat dinner with a strange man. It looked like we were a family and it was weird. I felt it, I know he felt it- but who didn’t feel it? Kellan. My little social butterfly. Whom proceeded to talk this guys ear off for 90 whole minutes. Weeks later and Kellan can still tell you this guys name, where he was from and the ages of his children.
Aside from that…I would still recommend the cruise to others. The pizza was amazing. They stop on the canal about 30 minutes in to pick it up fresh from a pizza place. Mama got to have a couple beers and the scenery was great. We left happy.
On day 2 of our trip the plan was to check out of our hotel, rent a locker at the airport to store my luggage, take a bus to Keukenhof and then return to the aiport and fly home. That’s what was supposed to happen.
The first thing that went wrong was we overslept. I’ve never been in a quieter hotel with more comfortable beds. I’m not used to just sleeping until I want. So as soon as I realized the time I had to rush Kellan awake and run out the door as quickly as possible. We took exactly 5 minutes to eat at the hotel while waiting for the shuttle to arrive. Once at the aiport all of the lockers where already full. Great. So now I have to take the suitcase to Keukenhof. We head out to the bus for the gardens and discover the line was a mile long. My heart sunk because I knew if we waited in the line we wouldn’t make it back in time to catch our flight. Keukenhof was the entire basis of our trip. It was why we came. I had to make a choice. One that put me straight on Santa’s naughty list. I created a diversion and I cut the line.
Even though I was now much further ahead than I would have been, the line was still moving slowly. They were asking for people willing to forego a seat and stand the 25 minute ride to the gardens so I decided we had no other choice. So instead of looking out the window and viewing the beautiful countryside, we were crammed like sardines against the other people standing.
Once we arrived at the gardens I knew we have about 60-90 minutes before we had to head back to the airport. Most people go for around 5-6 hours so I already knew we were going to miss out on a lot. It was very crowded. If I had the chance to go again I would not go on the weekend of the flower parade. You could barely walk there were so many people. Nevertheless, we enjoyed what we did get to see and it was absolutely beautiful. We walked around, snapped pictures and stopped to get some cotton candy for Kellan (where we ran into none other than Canada man).
Kellan was about two bites into his treat when all the sudden out of nowhere it started to hail. Large, fierce, pelt-you-in-the-face hail. It was complete chaos. Thousands of people running to take cover. I am carrying a backpack and a rolling suitcase and trying to run with my toddler. He falls and is instantly soaked. He is screaming in misery because his cotton candy is destroyed. It was a scene. You would have thought his leg was broken. By the time we reached an overhang it was so crowded and we couldn’t get any more wet so I just decided to keep running and get to the bus.
On the bus I had to strip Kellan out of his wet clothes and put on his dirty clothes from the day before. Unfortunately that didn’t help the fact that his shoes were soaked through. I felt so bad for him knowing he was going to have to wear those the rest of the day. At least on the drive back to the airport we were in good spirits and able to laugh about our misfortune. He still talks about that lost cotton candy though.
Once we got to the airport I discovered I had booked the wrong return flight. We ended up not leaving until the next day. So all of that panicking and rushing ended up being for nothing! This will definitely go down as one of my biggest travel blunders of all time. Thankfully, I have a really understanding husband. He was actually back home in the emergency room because our friends boy he was watching fell and broke his arm. It was quite the eventful weekend. But I got to have a little bit more quality time with my handsome kiddo. We spent our last day at the hotel. Eating, playing in the arcade and just cuddling and watching movies.