Saturday, April 26, 2014

Brussels and Amsterdam: We came for the tulips and beer...

After we left Paris, we took a train straight to Brussels for a two day stop.

I ended up changing the plans for the trip to include Belgium and Amsterdam, which meant I had to steal some days from our London and Dublin part of the trip. I felt it would be worth it so that we can get some real Belgian beer (Chris’s favorite), and see the tulips  in Amsterdam at their best time.
Taxi to the train. Still smiling!

The train only took an hour and a half to get to Brussels, and we checked into our hotel, Les Residence Ecrins. I was amazed! They had placed us ON THE TOP FLOOR (my poor quadriceps!) in a two story apartment.

I don’t know how to verbalize my experience in this bed… It didn’t look too different from many of the beds I have experienced. It was white. It was fluffy… It was… mind-blowing. I crawled in for an innocent nap and suddenly. I COULD NOT GET OUT! I really felt that I was in my most happy place. It was warm, but not over warm. It was soft. It was heaven.

Chris made me get out of bed and go out…


We visited Brussels, including THE ONLY site there, the peeing boy or Mannequin Pis. Isabel was scandalized by this! She REFUSED to have her picture taken with it. LOL.

Turnabout is fair play. There is ALSO a peeing girl. We sought her out too.

Don’t forget about the Belgian Waffles.

And the beer!

They had my favorite cider!

Chris found a new fav!

That is all we did in the two days we had in Belgium, and then it was time to get on the train again and head towards Amsterdam.

We stayed at a new concept hotel, called the Citizen M. When we got into the room, we were fascinated and slightly appalled at the room setup. As you enter the room, you encounter two floor-to-ceiling tubes. One contains the toilet area. The other, the shower. They room is lit by chromatherapy lighting that is controlled by remote. The remote also controls the blinds and TV (which has FREE movies!).

I thought it would be a too exposed for any type of privacy,

but the coolness of the room, coupled with the enormity of the bed, made up for it. They also had a great food/bar area downstairs that they girls ate at two nights.

I wasn’t very impressed with Amsterdam. I have learned not to say that our loud, since apparently EVERYONE loves Amsterdam. In comparison to all of the other cities we had visited, this one wasn’t…beautiful. The canals DO NOT compare to Venice. The buildings are dull. There wasn’t a whole lot to see. Also, the food was… blah.

What we did think was worth it, was THE TULIPS!

We made a trip out to Keukenhof, a fantastic tulip garden about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. We were given the suggestion by our bartender in Brussels, and it was a great idea. What an amazing place! These tulips totally made up for the rest of Amsterdam. I have never seen such beautiful flowers (sorry Disney!). It was a very large park of just horticulture. What was amazing was, these tulips only bloom for 2 MONTHS!!! I don’t know what this park does the rest of the time.

Of course! A Windmill! ( pronounced by Isabel "wind meal")

Finally, the one thing I wanted to see in Amsterdam was the Anne Frank House.  We all read it in school, and Sierra and Isabel will be reading it too. Sierra even has read a teen lit book recently that features the house called The Fault in ourStars.  I knew this would be an important visit.

Our first attempt was on our first day. We took the tram and arrived to a long line. A line that stretched down the street, around the corner, and through a park. We decided to skip it and come back later.

Finally, on our last day, we bit the bullet. We stood in the freezing cold wind for about an hour. The girls whined. The girls huffed. The girls cuddled for warmth. I explained to them “This young girl, Anne, staying silently in a tiny apartment with her family for TWO YEARS. You can be cold for an hour.” They didn’t have a ton of sympathy.

The wait was worth it. The staircase up to the apartment was amazingly steep. The rooms were actually larger than I had imagined. The way they set up the museum was lovely. I really thought it was a great experience for us and the girls.

At least my kids look smart, reading while waiting for Anne Frank House!

That was it. We head to London next. I bet you can’t wait to hear about our transporation woes!!! Thanks for reading! Please share this if you feel so inclined.

Extra pics:

Sierra insists that Isabel looks like a "sad caveman," no matter what face she is making, if she places her thumb between her eyes! LOL!

I love Asian restaurant translations!

We need some Polite Police!

Yes, We went there. For 30 minutes. When the girl puked in front of our table, we moved on...

A delicious brownie dessert!

I love that I can find CROCS anywhere!

You make your hot chocolate, with hot milk and this CHOCOLATE CUBE ON A STICK!!!