We moved to London, and wasted no time planning our first trip.
Or… holiday, as its called here in England.
They big boys automatically called it holiday because they are morphing into Brits.
“Are you going to call my teacher and tell her I’m on holiday?” verbatim from Harry.
“Yes, I will Harry. Don’t worry. I’ll let her know you’re on HOLIDAY.” Insert head turn with a giggle, in conjunction with an eye roll.
First on the books this year was my sister, her husband, and their two boys. So that’s Erika, Jake, Lincoln (almost 5), and Graham (freshly 3). Our dates between all the kids school schedules were slightly constraining so we found ourselves traveling over Easter. And we couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
On THE DAY they arrived we hilariously crammed in a visit to Rich’s office, the Easter bunny, and Theo’s birthday. The kids took it pretty well though.
This is where Rich works. The view is incredible. It’s no big deal.
And check all the positivity Theo’s throwing down.
This gave us our first taste of moving around as a group with more kids than adults. And when I say moving around with kids, remember that these kids have special powers. The special power to multiply their combined energy when they are together. One of those ‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ type situations.
They love each other – which we love.
We want them to love each other. We want them to have fun together. But when they are together, it quickly gets out of control.
2 plus 2 does not equal 4.
2 plus 2 equals, at least 20.
We also snuck in a date night. Yay us!
We did a thing called an ESCAPE GAME. Look it up. It was amazing, and we were so smart. Only 30% of people make it out, and we did. Because we are sooo smart, and sooo awesome, and have such great communication. We worked together, we all helped. I mean… we went home and congratulated the kids on the excellent genes that we have passed on to them.
I can’t speak for all escape games, but I would highly recommend it to anyone traveling to London or any city that has one.
Here’s a link to the one we did: http://mysterycube.london/home.php
And then we went to Wahaca! YUUUM YUM. yum yum yum.
off to amsterdam
Since Erika and family were visiting in the spring, we decided that going to Amsterdam would be our first destination. We wanted to see the world famous tulip festival, that only goes on from March to May. Plus, I had just read that despite the loosely-moraled reputation it has, that it was actually a wonderful destination for children – with a great zoo, aquariums and museums, an easy going attitude, and beautiful parks and gardens.
We had an evening flight out, and the big boys went to school on the day we left. We were packed and ready, picked them up, changed them, and raced to the airport.
Two trains later we were at the airport and they thankfully pushed us to the “family security” line, which was not very long. We went right through, and made it to our gate.
We then boarded the plane. It backed out… then went right back into stand. There was a technical problem.
We waited on the plane, on the ground, for an hour and a half. We finally took off, landed, stopped for a potty run, and went straight to border patrol for the Netherlands. Our flight that was supposed to be 2 hours turned into 3.5. And now there’s another (kinda unexpected) line before we can pass through. The line at border patrol was long, and we waited another 30m or so. It was getting late and the kids were, understandably, over it (evidenced by these pictures).
Thankfully our pre-booked taxi drivers saw that we were delayed, left, and came back for us. They took us to our rental, where our hosts had also, graciously, waited up for us. Because we rushed to the airport, then were stuck in a plane, then felt rushed to get through the airport to our waiting (and possibly gone) taxi drivers – we didn’t stop for dinner. When we arrived at our rental, everything was closed. We had, thankfully, packed food for the kids and had fed them on the plane. But all the adults went to bed without supper that night.
We woke up the next day, all a little dazed. We took our time getting around, gathered provisions from the nearby store, then ventured out. This day we just walked and ate and explored central Amsterdam. It’s similar, to me, to New Orleans in that it is such a unique place on this earth. There’s no where else like it. The weather was mostly (typical European) grey, and slightly cold. But we could still enjoy ourselves.
In the evening, we settled the kids at the rental with Rica, then went out.
Indonesian food is the big thing in Amsterdam, because of old trade relations. So, we ate Indonesian, and it was outstanding.
This was the tulip festival day! It is held at the Keukenhof (which is a massive garden) in Lisse (which is outside the city).
I still cannot pronounce Keukenhof correctly. Rica, my German au pair, laughs at me.
She can do it perfectly, of course.
- Side note on the Dutch language. aaaaaa, WHAT? Your dealing with street names that look like Langemeetstraat, Dijkgraaf Poschlaan, Jupiterlaan, and Ruige Muts. And bus stops that look like Weteringcircuit, Gravesandestraat, Hoogte Kadjik, and Koningsplein…. just to name a few. Whether you are trying or not, your brain is frantically trying to make sense of what you’re reading. It’s not like Arabic or Chinese. If my brain sees lines and dots, it can give up and shut off. But Dutch? My brain recognizes letters. So it wants to make sense of them. I want to pronounce these words correctly, but I can’t. There’s too many vowels together. And then there’s too many consonants. I can correctly pronounce one of those words, I can. But, just one, and I need three tries and 2 minutes. And I will definitely put the wrong EMHPAsis on the wrong syllABLE. We kind of gave up and just started pronouncing them exactly how they looked to us in English, and of course we had apps on our phones helping us get around. We managed, whatever.
The Keukenhof was amazing. Definitely the manicured and immaculate gardens we had imagined, worthy of it’s world wide fame. We were there on the second day of the festival, and it has been a cold spring. So, we were a little disappointed that most of the tulips outside weren’t really up yet.
Instead of looking like this:
It looked a little more like this:
But we got the idea. It was lush and green, and wonderful. Still though – I think Mommy and Viv will have to come back someday for girl time when the sun is out and the tulips are in full bloom. This was probably the kid’s best outing. There was an live large bird show they loved and several play spots.
Plus, in the massive green house EVERYTHING was blooming – and it was incredible.
Around the grounds:
We were basically only in Amsterdam for two good days, because our other days were half travel days. It was fast and furious, but really really really cool. The kids really enjoyed themselves. They loved walking along the canal and they especially loved running around and exploring the Keukenhof. Harry has been talking about ‘Hamsterdam’ since we got back. I’m so glad we went, and I would love to go back… and stay a little longer.
First stop: Amsterdam
Second stop: Rome…
our rental house:
This place was great for us. But it was outside of the city slightly, and had this treacherous staircase…
best place we ate: Indonesian