Arriving in Amsterdam with Aya we immediately set about finding my mother. Unfortunately I gave her bad directions. Meet me at the McDonald's I said, well, there is more than one. So for about two hours we waited outside her gate. Eventually the torrent of passengers coming from the gate turned to a trickle and we knew that we must have missed her so I went to make an announcement with the information desk. Just as I was reaching the desk I heard MY name called over the PA system. So we finally met up with mom and made our way into Amsterdam. Unfortunately Aya had a quick turnaround and so had to head back to the airport after having lunch with us. So began a week in Amsterdam with my mother.
The first night, Friday, we went to see Van Gogh at the museum. On Friday nights there is a special VJ and bar they set up in the main room of the museum. On the way we stopped at a canal side cafe for pofferjes and so started mom's quest for pancakes the rest of the trip. The museum and vj was kind of cool. I think of Van Goghs paintings as some of the most beautiful in the world, so it was really cool to see them. We also listened to a talk about Van Gogh and whether he really meant to cut off his whole ear and if in fact it was his whole ear. Enlightening.
The next day we did a biking tour of Amsterdam with Mike's bikes. It was a great way to get around the city. We saw and heard lots of things about the canals and structures and mom was so pleased with her bike she quickly agreed that we should rent them for a few more days, which we eventually did. On the way we back we stopped at a windmill bar and had some beers before reaching the bike shop and proceeding on foot. It was a great day and super cool way to see the city, but wow the bike traffic in Amsterdam is crazy!
On Sunday we headed to Nordwijik where I ran a 10k along the shore and mom went to check out the local Catholic church. It was a great day along the seaside and we had breakfast beforehand. I ate a bit too much salmon, which I would regret later when I was running. ha! After the race we packed in our rental car and headed to The Hague and Madurodam. I wasn't too sure what to make of this place. My aunt suggested we go there and said she had gone with my grandparents in 1969! It was a cool place, but a pretty hot day. I think mom and I both were pretty impressed with the displays miniatures themselves, but many of the displays did not appear to be working. We left late in the afternoon to drive back to Amsterdam and along the way saw a sailboat crossing the highway in a canal overpass! How weird, but true! Arriving back in the city we figured that since we were returning the car near to the ferries by the main station and so we would use our proximity to cross and have dinner on the other side of the canal. It was quite a nice end to a nice day, sipping beers and eating cheese.
On Monday we started the day late and eventually went to see Body Worlds display. I had seen this display years ago in Japan, but this one had a few new updates that were pretty neat. After we just stuck around the neighborhood and watched Family guy in the evening. It was mostly a day to chill, do laundry, and rest up.
On Tuesday we tried once again to book Upstairs Pancake, but no luck. We had tickets for the Anne Frank House later in the day, but in the morning we rode our bikes north of Amsterdam along the canals. We saw a few windmills and farm fields. It was nice to get out of the city. We took the bikes back to the apartment and went on foot to Anne Frank. Thankfully we had booked in advance and so we didn't have to wait in the large queue forming to get in. The house was really cool and after we had watched the 1956 movie Anne Frank it was also really neat to see the rooms where she had lived. This experience reminded me again of the holocaust and Auschwitz. It also made me think of today's migration problems. Somewhere out there is the modern day Anne Frank, cowering in some small corner of Syria or Nigeria or Ukraine, waiting for the war to be over or for a country to migrate to.
Later on Tuesday we had booked a canal cruise and dinner. We used the company Canal en Holland International Cruises which turned out to be a good decision. We had initially arrived at the wrong port to board the dinner cruise and saw a much more crowded boat. Luckily we were in the wrong spot and found our boat just in time. It was a beautiful night and the canal and food were great, along with the company. It was really nice just to sit with mom and enjoy Amsterdam like that. Plus, it gave us another perspective on Amsterdam after the biking tour and we went places we likely would not have thought of. As we biked home that night through the dark quite back alleys of Amsterdam I couldn't help but take a mental picture of that moment. It was a great day and I hope to hold on to that feeling for a long time.
On Wednesday we finally got to Upstairs Pancake for breakfast, or rather lunch, as they didn't open until noon. It was well worth the wait. The pancakes were great and the place is very unique. After a quick rest at home we headed south to the Rijks Museum, the Diamond museum, and finally on to the Heineken brewery. The Rijks museum was pretty cool. Lots of old Dutch masters and interesting things. I think mom was most impressed with a diorama of the Dutch Indonesia colony that was made with dough figures. ha! After making sure to see Night Watch we headed over to the Diamond Museum. Amsterdam is well known for diamonds and I had seen some things online about the museum, but I would say it wasn't too much to see. The heineken experience was pretty good. There were lots of bits of information and things to do. Taking a ride through Amsterdam on the Heine bikes was pretty cool. At the end we headed up to the roof top for beers and then, realizing we were late getting our bikes back we headed for burgers instead of rushing to the bike shop before heading home.
On Thursday we spent our last day in town doing some shopping and just hanging out. We both had fairly early flights Friday so took the train out of town together. As Amsterdam slipped past the train against a slate grey sky I was feeling pretty low. It was a great week, beautiful weather and pretty much everything went off without a hitch. Spending that time with my mother is something I won't forget and in the weeks since then I have been thinking about it a lot. So much that I am now thinking of when we can do it next. So, mom, want to take a trip after retiring?