> The Beesley Buzz: November 2016

Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 5

Written on Saturday 29th October 2016

I wanted to write up the last couple of days of our Amsterdam trip before the memory starts to fade. Technically the title should now be Utrecht rather than Amsterdam as on Thursday we checked-out of The Fashion Hotel in Amsterdam and caught the tram to Central Station followed by the train to Utrecht.

We had one reason for going to Utrecht. In all honesty it was the core reason for our whole holiday. Miffy!

On our bucket list was seeing the Miffy Museum. So we left our luggage at the Court Hotel reception as it was too early to check-in and then headed straight for the Miffy Museum.

It proved to be the best value place we visited. Our family ticket covering 2 adults and 3 children cost only 18.50Euros and although the museum is not massive, it kept us busy for several hours. Miss T just LOVED it so much and so did I. Even D was inspired by Dick Bruna's artwork and style of art and has been drawing Miffy style pictures since our visit.

The museum has several different 'rooms' and it is very much play based and hands-on for the kids. There are various pieces of information written on the walls about Dick Bruna and some of his early artwork in display cabinets dotted around the museum.

The Miffy Museum is located across the road from the Central Museum where you must first go to purchase the tickets. The shop is also located there and that is a treasure trove in itself with Miffy items galore.

After we'd finished at the Miffy Museum we checked into our accomodation. A luxury apartment right on the edge of the canal. It was a converted cellar and it was a very special place to stay. Being the only one of it's kind on that stretch of canal, it did feel a little strange to be staying there. As much as I like doing things differently, there is something that feels so much safer and more comfortable about staying in the main part of a hotel rather than somewhere like this. Still it was only for one night.

We headed off for a meal at Sirtaki greek restaurant just around the corner. Well this was a great find as it had a bustling lively atmosphere and the food was fantastic. The portions were really generous and as we had skipped lunch, it was a very welcome meal starting with ouzo which set the room spinning for me!

The boys chose the feta in filo warm starter and I had stuffed vine leaves in a lemony sauce. Our main course was massive and included the salad bar.

We ended with the Grand Dessert to share between us - a massive platter of different types of cake, ice-cream and fruit. Delicious!

Back to our apartment for a sleep before our last day in Utrecht on Friday.

Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 4

Written on Thursday 27th October 2016

So Wednesday was day 4 and on our first tram ride earlier in the week one of the locals had recommended visiting Museum Van Loon so we headed there in the morning. 

We generally enjoy doing things slightly differently, places off the beaten track, and as this wasn't one of the big museums here we thought we'd enjoy it. 

To be honest we may as well have given it a miss. Despite what we had been told, it wasn't suitable for kids and certainly not an ASD kid who can't help wanting to leap about the place - not a good idea with all that antique furniture, fragile vases and ornaments on display.

In fact the best bit was seeing the gorgeous cat in the garden. It's fluffy tail reminded us of our dear Bella cat. 

All was not lost as we were vaguely in the right part of town to visit The Pancake Bakery. This place is renowned for its pancakes and how busy they are bears testimony to this. 

Miss T chose a kids princess pancake which came complete with fairy wings much to her delight. 

I would have loved to have visited the Anne Frank house but we had left it too late to book online timed tickets and the kids were feeling too tired to wait for the late afternoon queuing so we headed back to Fashionhotel for a swim and another dinner at the downstairs bar there. 

We opted for our usual favourites and although service was once again very slow (you need to allow 2-3 hours for a meal here) we did get back to our room in time to watch the final of GBBO.


Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 3

Written on Wednesday 26th October 2016

Today was our very unplanned kind of day...we knew we wanted to wander through Vondelpark and see Museumplein and we thought it might be nice to do a canal cruise but nothing was definite. 

Upon reaching museumplein, the museum part of town, the queues for the Van Gogh museum were horrendous and as J can't do very much queue waiting - a symptom of his ASD - we found the I Amsterdam sign and had a climb over that instead. Followed by a game of chess at the rijksmuseum garden whilst D munched on a hot dog. We've discovered that reactive hypoglycaemia becomes a big problem when on holiday and so getting hold of food at short notice is tricky. I know I need to get better at keeping some snacks to hand but we haven't actually come across a grocery store / supermarket as yet.

By this point the others were also getting hungry so we found the nearest canal cruise location to where we were, Booked tickets for later in the afternoon and gave in to the kids pleas for McDonald's for lunch where we witnessed something rather funny and curious. 

I always like to make sure that the kids wash their hands before eating (something especially important with Miss T being immunosuppressed whilst on methotrexate). And we knew we could rely on finding a loo in McDonald's. We found a lady had set up shop charging 50 cents per person to use the McDonald's loos and wouldn't let anyone in unless they paid.  Between people going in she would zoom in with masses of McDonalds loo roll and 'clean' the loo. She kept herself busy mopping the floor of the loo and insisting on everyone using pieces of kitchen roll that she was handing out to dry their hands rather than taking too long with the hand dryer. She also had a bowl of sweets so that you could take a sweet after using the loo.

The whole thing was very weird and we weren't sure if it was a 'thing' in Amsterdam or whether it was unique to this particular McDonald's.  She wasn't Mcdonald's staff as far as we could tell - just an entrepreneurial lady who had decided to do this with or without permission from Mcdonald's. This also wasn't clear.  

Following happy meals and burgers we set off on the cruise.  We had booked a one hour cruise via city sightseeing and it was with lovers cruises. 

We really enjoyed the mix of recorded audio guide mixed in with our actual tour guide providing information.  We got to see the Anne Frank house by canal and learnt an interesting thing or two along the way. 

Before heading back to the hotel, we decided to see if the queue situation had improved at the Van Gogh museum.  By now it was 4pm and sure enough no queues (it closes at 6pm). Children under 18 are free so it was just two adult tickets we needed. 

It was a bit of a race around along with a pitstop for a speedy dinner at the on-site cafe Tambourine. But I'm pleased with how much of it we did manage to enjoy. 

Back to the hotel to get Miss T to bed whilst me and the boys headed to the swimming pool for an evening swim.

We've got a couple of ideas for tomorrow and are excited to see where the day takes us. 


Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 2

Written on Monday 24th October 

I guess this is technically day 1 as yesterday was mainly just travelling to get here but let's just name this day 2 as day 1 already gota blog post of its own. 

Now when I say there is loads to do in Amsterdam I am not kidding.  There must be the most museums in the world here as well as lots of other sights and attractions and things to do. 

One of the things we'd decided to definitely do was the NEMOScience museum. To give an idea of what it's like, think of our own science museum'slaunch pad section (now called Wonderlab) - you know the interactive hands on part of the museum that kids love - well NEMO was ALL like that. A massive hands-on-having-fun-kind-of-museum spread over a whopping 5 floors.

We grabbed some hotdogs when the kids got hungry but then found much more variety in the restaurant on the top floor. This restaurant is also open to the public so have made a mental note to try it out another day if we find ourselves in that area at lunchtime.  

Roof of the NEMO museum
The kids love NEMO but were keen not to miss out on a swim today so it was back to the hotel for a dip in the pool.

For ease, dinner was once again at the fashion hotel restaurant. What creatures of habit we are as I opted for the risotto again, Miss T for fish and J for a burger. 

The dutch apple pie is exceptionally nice here (warm with lots of currants and nuts in) so 3 of us ordered that for dessert this evening.  

Again service was slow so it was past everyone's bedtimes by the time we'd finished eating.  

So far really enjoying Amsterdam and looking forward to what adventures the day will hold for us tomorrow. 

P.S. it is cold here at this time of year so wrap up warm! 


Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 1

Earlier this year we decided we wanted to visit Amsterdam and booked to go in October half-term. Our diary was written at the time but only just getting around to posting them up on the blog now...

Written on Monday 24th October 

We'd quite randomly decided on a trip to Amsterdam earlier in the year, before our trip to Wales, and before our trip of a lifetime to Dubai came about. Having wanted to visit the Miffy museum in nearby Utrecht and finding great value easyjet flights, Amsterdam it was.

I'd booked accommodation rather randomly by finding somewhere online and thinking that'll do. 

So yesterday we headed off from home to Southend airport feeling quite pleased with ourselves. Choosing to fly from Southend meant we'd  cheated the traffic we'd usually face when flying from Gatwick. The park and ride airport parking was also a fraction of the price we normally pay for airport parking. Queues to get through security were non-existent as it is such a small and relatively quiet airport. 

So there we were feeling very pleased that we had found a great airport for short-haul flights, when the smugness quickly got wiped away when the entire airport had completely run out of food! It seemed the most ridiculous situation - were we snowed in? No. Was this some war-torn country where supplies couldn't get through? No. Had there been some other epidemic or crisis affecting this part of the country. No. How and why was there no food available????!!! It was a mystery that we never found the answer to.

So we were left with 3 hungry children and having found both the eateries out of food, we were left with the final tuna and cucumber sandwich left on the (rather empty) shelves of WHSMITH. To share between the 5 of us. 

All wasn't lost, or so we thought, we'd just wait for our flight and buy a sandwich on board. I remember from our flight to Paris last year that there was a selection of sandwiches, baguettes and that sort of thing available - Little did we know... 

Absolutely could not believe our eyes when Easyjet came round with the snacks trolley and they too had run out of food! What was going on!

The flight is really short and we landed to a beautiful sunny October day in Amsterdam. 

We actually experienced a bit of an adventure right there in Schipol airport but I shall keep that as a party piece story to tell of another time.  
Evidence of Miffy all around - spotted this balloon at the airport

We love the challenge of finding our own way around in a new place so train tickets totalling a bargain 17.50 euro got us from the airport to our closest train stop to the hotel.  A short walk later and we found ourselves at the Westcord Fashion Hotel.

At this point I could finally feel smug as the hotel had the wow factor and our rooms were stunning.  Very stylish and contemporary.  We unpacked (didn't take long as we travelled hand luggage only) and then ate our dinner at the bar part of the restaurant downstairs. 

It was quiet and relaxed.  Although the surroundings do lend themselves to special occasions and dressing up, we had checked with reception whether we were OK with jeans and trainers as we hadn't packed any formal clothes at all and that was absolutely fine with them. 
rather strange yet 'arty' fashion decor at Westcord Fashion Hotel
Food was amazing, although rather slow, it was the kind of food worth waiting for.  I had a risotto which looked and tasted beautiful,  the boys had burgers, Miss T a child portion of fish and chips and daddy had a duck dish, again presented beautifully. 

Desserts were just as amazing with J choosing the 'Structure of chocolate',  Daddy having the molten chocolate pudding, D with Dutch apple cake , and Miss T homemade strawberry and vanilla icecream. 

These were the doors of the male and female toilets in the hotel. Strange but true!

We'd hoped to squeeze in a swim in the hotel pool but we were all too tired and it was getting late so it was off to bed.  

Other posts in this series:
Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 1  (this post)
Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 2
Autumn in Amsterdam - Day 3