“What are you packing in your suitcase for our city trip to Amsterdam?” Dorothy peers over the few items I have placed in the new Delsey suitcase I had ordered from CoolBlue. I had heard their ad on the radio and remembered I did indeed need a new big suitcase. Our previous trip to Sicily had painfully shown the need for a suitcase on wheels that move in all directions and a handle that actually works. When you’re traveling alone with 3 kids, you have to think of ease and comfort. This is one of those times. The ad was really good, I remarked as an online marketeer. Not only was it perfect timing with the summer holidays, but the ad clearly stated that if you order it today, you have it in your home by tomorrow. Now that’s service. I needed a new suitcase and needed it by Friday. Perfectly fit the bill.

“Oh, not much. We’re only going for 3 days. So two sets of clean clothes for everyone. A change of shoes. And toiletries. If we forget anything, it’s not that bad. It’s not like we’re going to a third world country. Whatever we forget that’s really needed, we can always purchase when we get there.” I wisely point out. Remaining calm while packing a suitcase is essential.

“Hmmm, yes but you remember my kids had head lice last week ? I think I’ll take that shampoo along just in case. Would be embarrassing if I had to run out to find some on a Sunday in Amsterdam.” Dorothy starts filling an immensely huge toiletry bag. In fact, she’s just putting every item from her bathroom shelf into the bag.

“Seriously ? And what are you taking that backpack for ? It’s not like we’re going hiking or anything wild like that.” I’m seriously starting to question what she’s filling two suitcases with.

“Come on, we might decide we don’t want to use a handbag and put things in this cool leather rucksack. It makes us look more tourist like.” Dorothy strokes the leather bag lovingly.

“Are those condoms ?” I look at her accusingly. We’ve already had this discussion. It’s to be a long weekend discovering Amsterdam with our kids. It’s a totally different kind of holiday.

“A girl should always be prepared.” Dorothy replies smugly and hastens to close her cases.

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Travelling solo

The next morning we arrive crisp and very excited at Brussels South train station, ready to board our Thalys train. Being a great planner, we are of course early, which gives us the leisure to eat an ice cream of our favourite flavours before boarding our train.

We still have a sea of time in front of us as we casually make our way to the public toilets. These things occur frequently to mothers with 3 kids.

And then all of a sudden we only have 7 more minutes before our train leaves. I urge everyone to step up and hasten their speed. We arrive at platform 6 only to find ourselves staring at two flights of stairs. We just stand there and stare blankly for a moment. Because here we are with pushchair and baby and kids and suitcases… and no man to even attempt the climb.

“An elevator. Quickly find one.” It flashes through my head. And yes, sure enough we do find an elevator neatly hidden without clear notice down the corridor behind the stairs. Thank goodness for intuition.

Our next issue when arriving out of breath in front of our train is how to get kids and baby and pushchair and suitcase on the train, all by my lonesome. Of course it worked, and afterwards I give myself several pats on the back for accomplishing such deeds of great bravery. The buggy was a smart buy. It folds down neatly into a small square which is light and easy to carry. It stored well in the luggage space above our seats. The suitcase however was a complete different story. It’s beautiful blue and huge to fit everything in, so no need for hauling several suitcases. Yet it appears my feminine strength is put to the test when forcefully lifting the damn things and half pulling and sliding, half lifting the heavy weight onto the train. I was grateful to think that there would be so many diapers less and no baby milk cartons left in the suitcase on our way back.

A truly enjoyable train ride of just less than 2 hours from Brussels to Amsterdam. Classy ladies with 3 kids opting for ease and comfort, we had checked into first class. This offered us the luxury of comfort seats, free wifi, free food and drinks.

“Humpf, only wine ? No champagne bubbles ?” Dorothy was not impressed.

Later that day, we checked into the suites we had booked at the DoubleTree Hilton, conveniently located right next to the train station. And a Starbucks cafe at ground floor. What more can a woman ask for ? That spelled for delicious coffees and yummy chocolate cake at all times of the day. It’s vacation time after all.

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What’s the plan ?

“Shall we go for a walk around the town ?” Dorothy inquired after we had made ourselves comfortable in our new lodgings.

“Sounds good. I’d like to take the kids down to Vondelpark.” I reply.

“Vondelpark ? Can’t you think of anything more exciting ?” Dorothy wails.

“Darling, we’ve already gone over this. This is a classic city trip with kids. This is going to be a vacation that will seem to capture the very essence of adventure. Part scholastic, part active, part leisure. The kind of iconic getaway our kids will always remember. I want to take them to see places that highlight the history without compromising on fun, food or comfort.”

It will be fun, I promise. All of the activities I have put down on my list are things I have never done before in Amsterdam. I have travelled to this wonderful city so many times before. Yet I have never taken the time to visit Vondelpark. And other beautiful places and things to do on my bucket list. Trust me.

 

What do you think ? Will Dorothy come around and see the true adventure of discovering Amsterdam through the eyes of her children ? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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