This weekend getaway was *so* touch and go, we were inquiring with the travel insurers about what they’d need from us if we cancelled the day before.
O had been sick all week and gave us a scare on the Wednesday night with a nosebleed. We wrestled with the thought of chucking the towel in (Amsterdam with a sick child? Why?) but in the end we decided to risk it.
I’m glad we did. Mostly.
Flying from Gatwick
My husband flies quite a bit for work, so he’s earned the nickname Packing Nazi from me, on account of how frugally he travels. I’m hardly a heavy packer but I do like to take such decadent items as a change of shoes and an evening bag. Neither of those make it past mein Führer and I find myself bargaining with him to let us take one (one!) spare pair of leggings for O, should we use up the three designated outfits that are meant to last her the weekend. The frugality pays off though, when we circumvent bag drop and head to the Gatwick family security area.
Inexplicably, there seems to be quite a lot of people there without a young family, so this leg of the journey took ages. O screamed and writhed around on the floor like a child possessed, which upped the stress levels considerably. People seemed pretty grumpy that day so by the time we’d made it past the all-new (and insanely annoying) snaking duty free corridor to the other side, we just about had time to queue for and grab a Pret bacon butty on the way to departures.
The plane departure was delayed and we were grounded for a while, which added to O’s temper. Originally, I was going to fly out alone and meet D there as he was due out there for a work trip, but I am so relieved he was with me on the day in the end.
O was really unhappy on the flight out and my tips – such as they are: –
- Bring a spare pair of hands
- Snacks (loads of bananas)
- Entertainment (phone and kids programmes)
- Comforters (toys, dummies)
If you forget everything else please, for the love of God, don’t forget the Calpol.
Arrival and accommodation
Check-in was quite slow but the staff were lovely and friendly, and very kind with O.
The room itself was really spacious and had a great view over the park.
A member of staff came by and set up a cot for us (the first cot wouldn’t stay up so he disappeared off and came back with another, and made it all up for us). The staff really are to be commended here, they were fantastic.
We got an early flight (8.50am) so, bearing in mind the one-hour time difference, we were ready to head out by 1pm.
Our first stop was the little playground across the road from the hotel, which was next to a (mostly shut) petting zoo.
This was more than enough to cheer up O a bit and gave her a boost. The playground had loads of abandoned toy trikes, bikes, scooters and wotnot, which really made her day.
Once she’d had a good run out we headed for the very nearby tram stop and ventured towards Vondelpark to meet up with some friends who’d had the same idea about extending a business trip for a weekend family break.
Where to eat?
I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times over the last 20 years, but taking a toddler was a first.
All my usual frames of reference for where to go were off the cards.
Thankfully, the internet has moved on substantially since my last trip and we were able to earmark lots of nice-sounding places to hang out on Google Maps.
Our first port of call was Groot Melkhuis, a lovely-looking cafe overlooking the playground in Vondelpark. Unfortunately, by the time we met our friends there the cafe staff wouldn’t serve us as they were “closing in half an hour”.
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we instead trooped over to Foodhallen with, in my case, absolutely no expectations.
This place is awesome.
It’s one of these trendy pop-up halls that features loads of different types of street food and booze.
I was absolutely starving after the early flight and had missed lunch, so this place was absolute manna from heaven. I ate tacos, dim sum and chocolate tart, pretty much all at once, only pausing very briefly between mouthfuls to swig a very welcome IPA.
The kids ate chips and tore around the place whenever they managed to free themselves from our grasp. It was fun!
It was also exhausting.
We headed into the night to grab some bits from Amsterdam’s curiously named supermarket Albert Heijn, and headed back to our room.
If you’ve got little’uns in tow, Artis is a fantastic way to spend a day.
More to follow…