We were both excited about our accommodation in Amsterdam, the Hotel-Boot Angeline, a big barge docked right by the Nemo Science museum, and 10 minutes’ walk from the train station.
On exiting the train station we faced a vast expanse of water, with all sorts of boats from workaday barges to tourist sightseeing boats to free public ferries linking one side of the river to the other. The sun was out, and despite the chill factor, it was a glorious day.
As we gazed at the view and tried to get our bearings, we accidentally strayed into the cycle lane – definitely not done in Holland and we got roundly admonished by a woman with pink hair, tattoos, huge biker boots and artificial flowers wound round her handlebars.
Once we got our bearings we headed off to drop our bags at the boat, which was just as much fun as expected. They let us check in right away and after a restorative cup of tea for me and the first of many hot water and honey drinks for Lauren (whose throat continued to bother her), we headed off to explore.
I wanted to just wander, and given the weather we set a vague course towards the Van Gogh museum, across the other side of town, and meandered through the streets and along the canals, stopping of for a pic nic lunch on a bench along the way. While we were eating our lunch of humus and falafel and bread sticks, an old man came down to the canal to feed the birds. A fight ensued between the seagulls (who could snatch the food from the air) and the ducks who could be fairly aggressive on the water. The old man beckoned Lauren over, and they happily threw bread for a while. Yes, I know current thinking is that bread is bad for the birds, but he was going to give it to them anyway, and it was a nice moment.
While we wandered, there was at times a strong smell of cannabis, and I had to explain to Lauren that some of the brownies and lollies (seriously people, hash lollies?) were for adults only, and she had a good giggle at some fairly hardcore underwear, but I had learned my lesson from Brussels and scoped out the area to avoid beforehand, and I can definitely attest to that side of Amsterdam being just one facet of a beautiful, edgy and cool European city. It very high on our list for a return visit.
The Van Gogh museum was good, but to be honest it also served to show just how different a lot of his work was from those paintings that rightly made him famous. We spent a pleasant hour there, saw the sunflowers etc, but I was somewhat underwhelmed. Lauren was more fascinated by the life story of someone so troubled who cut off his ear, produced such manic work, and shot himself, all before the age of 30. There were also some cool interactive displays that allowed us to see how he worked the paint and layered it on to create different effects, which Lauren particularly enjoyed.
After the museum we were fairly wrecked, so headed home for dinner and an early night, jumping on a tram that took us right through the centre.
The next day we were due to catch a lunchtime train for Hamburg, en route to Copenhagen, and so we just had time for a couple of hours at the incredible kids science museum. It was expensive to get in, but totally worth it – Lauren could have spent a whole day there. Spread over a number of floors, very hands on and instructive, she first had a go at simulating all aspects of a global supply chain, learning about just in time delivery, environmental impact of different ways of transporting goods, and navigating a ship around the world. We moved on to physics and did an experiment about how water doesn’t conduct electricity unless it had salt in it, and then she spent a happy half hour learning about water systems. Other interesting exhibits had her exploring the universe, creating a vortex, lifting her body using pullies and rope, and learning about technical drawing with perspective. Thoroughly recommend this place to anyone with kids visiting Amsterdam.
After this we jumped on a train and headed to Hamburg, where we met a lovely Ghanaian taxi driver who took us to our hotel. Hamburg unfortunately doesn’t get its own entry because all we saw was the train station and the Ibis. Just a stopover on our way to Copenhagen.