amsWe had previously planned to spend the day in Amsterdam with some friends of ours from back home whose European visit coincided with ours.  This was their first trip to Amsterdam and they had their two kids (aged 8 and 4) with them.  After taking the tram into the city we easily found their place on a quaint, skinny cobble stoned street.  (Their house was built in 1642!  Boggling.)  We walked around for awhile and then headed for Vondel Park - a huge greenspace in downtown Amsterdam filled with nice grass, ponds, ducks, playgrounds and cafés.  We had lunch and then hit the playground.  After the kids had had let off enough steam, we hit the streets and headed for the Albert Cuyp Market - a huge street market that has been around since 1905.  We often visit this market and it's filled with all the traditional things; pickled herring, cheap purses, plastic shoes, stroopwafels, fresh fruit… pretty much anything you could want!  Our friends bought some soft slippers that look like wooden shoes as well as some delicious fresh fruit for their breakfast tomorrow.  We had to introduce them to freshly made stroopwafels which no trip to the market would be complete without experiencing.

After a brief rest in a café (recharging with iced tea and beer), we continued our exploration and eventually ended up back at their rental apartment right in the heart of the city.  We decided on dinner and after making a reservation (for what we thought was an Indonesian restaurant) we took our grumbling stomachs a few blocks down the street.  We sat down and looked at the menu but did not see anything resembling Indonesian food - it was a Chinese restaurant!  We had quite the conundrum as we really wanted Indonesian, but we felt bad leaving because they had set up a special table for us and the kids had already played with the chopsticks and pawed all the glasses and plates.  barSo, we decided to stay.  It turns out that this restaurant actually had a Michelin star a few years ago so we knew it had to be good (or at least used to be good!).  In any case, we ordered a bunch of things and it was a delicious meal.  The staff was very attentive and the scallops in ginger sauce were amazing!  Phew.  We followed the meal with fantastic ice cream from a street kiosk and the night was complete.

Our only challenge in getting home was that we knew that one of our four chipkaarts (what you use to pay for the trams, buses, etc) was empty.  We had tried to fill it earlier but it turns out that you need a Dutch bank card (no cash and no Visa) to do so.  We don't have one, and so we hoped for the best when we boarded the tram for home.  Either the guy didn't notice or he simply pretended not to notice, but the red light and strange beep obviously indicated that we didn't have any money on our card.  We made it home tonight, but how we'll get into town tomorrow for our family group tour of the Anne Frank House will be interesting!  We are planning on playing the dumb tourist card and seeing if it works.

Like a broken record I'll say it was another great day.  Time to rest the feet, minds and stomachs and get ready for tomorrow.  Tot ziens.


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