Teenagers! You’ve got to love ’em!
And when you’re travelling or going abroad, you’ve got to think of things differently, as teenagers are not children per se, but neither are they adults.
They’re gangly young people, looking to explore the world, find their feet, and live life to the full.
And if you’re like me. You’ll let them do it, and give them the gift of travel!
Children are versatile.
And they don’t really need much.
All they need is plenty of food, a safe and clean place to lay their head, wi-fi, a bit of space to lay out all their “stuff”and you!
You don’t have to wait until “they’re old enough to know.”
Believe you me. They know!
You don’t have to wait until “they understand the benefits” of travel.
What are you talking about`?
Any place that is different from home and in which they can learn about other places, other cultures, and other people, is a marvellous thing.
The younger they are, the easier it is, and the better for all!
I started travelling with our son when he was just 5 months old. I put him in a baby carrier, dumped all his toys and baby stuff in the car, and breast-fed him all the way!
I love travelling with our son, and even though he’s 14, it won’t be long until he’ll want to be travelling with his friends.
In that wise, I decided to go to Amsterdam for the weekend, with our teenager in tow!
Interestingly enough, our German friends didn’t blink an eye when I told them. Not so my Anglo-American friends who were visibly shocked and worried.
Not to worry.
This is what happened.
HOW TO VISIT AMSTERDAM IN TWO DAYS. WITH A TEENAGER!
I took my teenager to Amsterdam!
I started my international travel adventure for 2017 a fortnight (two weeks) ago, by taking a weekend trip to Holland.
When people think of Amsterdam, their ears immediately prick up, and their eyes bulge intensely at the exotic-ness of that city of sin….
However, people live in Amsterdam. I mean, people people.
Real people. Ordinary people. People who have to get up in the morning and work in an office, take the train, or in this case, ride their bicycles.
In 2015, I wrote about the other stuff. The stuff that “decent” people whisper over. The naughty stuff….
And here’s the link!
This time around, I’m writing about the family-friendly Amsterdam.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam is a small capital city in Europe. It’s one of those places steeped in history and glory.
Indeed, as a 12th century fishing hamlet, it’s done rather well as a naval trading giant in the 17th century hunting for spoils and riches, before Britain came and took away such treasures as New Amsterdam (from Amsterdam in Holland), that later relegated to New York (from York in England). We also know of the conflicts and tribulations that Amsterdam had to go through in order to keep the water at bay, and the canals safe.
Did you know that:
- Only 834,713 people actually live in Amsterdam and more than 3.6 million tourists visit every year!
- There are 881,000 bicycles
- 213 trams
- 165 canals
- 1,281 bridges
- 2,500 barges or houseboats
- 8,863 historical 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings
- 23 paintings by Rembrandt
- 207 paintings by Van Gogh
- And 8 windmills!
DAY ONE (1) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER
- Put luggage away as quickly as possible:
Checking in for most hotels is usually between 13:00 – 14:00 so if you’re not driving, put your luggage in the train station locker for efficiency and speed! For 24 hours, it costs between €7.00 – €10. We had just arrived by overnight train from Berlin, so it was well worth not lugging things around..!
- Feed your teenager:
Before we were going to do anything at all, I took my son to a restaurant that I knew, that served an English breakfast for under €5.00! He opted for an Italian breakfast instead, and ending up licking his chops at mine!
- It’s always a good thing to get a local viewpoint of a place or city, and the best way to do so is on a walking tour:
Now, I’ve been to been to Amsterdam loads of time, but The Tall Young Gentleman has never been to Holland.
In fact, 2 years ago, I did my own personal walking tour in Amsterdam, as my tour guide decided not to turn up!
There are many tour groups to choose from, but the one I chose was the Sandemans new Amstedam free walking tour.
- Learn about Dutch culture:
Our walking tour was great for learning all about how Dutch people live and the alternative lifestyle in Amsterdam, which even included walking through the red-light district at 12:00 in the afternoon!
Funnily enough it wasn’t this that got my teenager blushing and flustered.
After all, a lot of the red light places in Amsterdam are blended into the community, with one red-light street situation right next to a kindergarten, and opposite a church! And as for Germany, prostitution is legal and well, you know, nude or Freikörperkultur beaches abound throughout Germany. All quite normal and family-friendly!
It was this.
Our walking tour group gathered around to take photographs of various types, sizes and flavours, whilst my teenager and I wandered further away and talked about the weather.
Neither of us quite knew where to look!
- Bump into cheese. And eat it:
You surely can’t be in Holland if you don’t try some of their best famous cheese!
If you love cheese, you can pretty much go into any of the cheese shops and get to know all about the flavours, aroma, and quality of an enormous range of cheese.
We went to a place called the Cheese Inn Museum.
It’s been around since 1967 and specialises in more than 100 different kinds of organic cheese from cheese markets in Northern Holland, as well as other equipment!
That’s right. Amsterdam has a museum. For Cheese!
It’s free to go in, and they give you a little tour and some info so that you can experience the unique flavor of the best cheeses in Holland, and nibble away at many varieties of free cubes of cheese and sauces to taste!
The last time I was there, I was so impressed that I bought some Dutch waffles and biscuits, some very, very, very Old Amsterdam Cheese, for – The Music Producer – who is a connoisseur.
Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle. Mmm.
How can anyone, lest of all teenagers, resist?!
- Take a leisurely stroll, and walk in and out of little back streets, and on the river-side:
Start from Amsterdam Central Station to Dam Square, and then explore. Just remind your teenagers to watch their bags as the area is packed with tourists, as well as pick-pockets. Think Leicester Square (London), Times Square (New York), or Alexanderplatz (Berlin).
Damrak is crowded and there’s loads of weird people and strange shops. You might not like it, but your teenager will! And for obvious reasons, you wouldn’t want them to be there alone. So take a deep breath and go with them…!
The picture above shows the Waag or traditional weighing house and is a 15th-century building on the Nieuwmarkt Square in Amsterdam.
It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam, and also served as a guildhall, a museum, a fire station and anatomical theatre, and now a restaurant!
The Waag is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam and can even be seen in Rembrandt’s 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp!
- Go ice-skating:
Somehow, I always seem to be in Holland in the winter!
One year, we actually walked across part of the Northern Sea, and people’s yachts and boats were frozen!
Thankfully, Amsterdam isn’t that extreme so merely ice-skating will have to do! The ICE*Amsterdam presents a unique ice skating experience on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, with the Rijksmuseum as a phenomenal backdrop, where your teenager can not only do some nifty ice-skating, but curling and ice hockey too!
You can’t do this every year though as the ice rink is only open from 18.11.16 – 05.02.17, and temperatures have to drop to -4°C or below, for four (4) consecutive nights, to produce ice thick enough to skate on. And it did!
In fact, while we were there, Amsterdam was freezing cold!
DAY TWO (2) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER
- Take a cruise:
The waterside tells you such a lot about a place and it’s people. The buildings, the bridges, and the houseboats. The dykes and the street corners where condemned criminals were once hanged for all to see.
The rivers are so exquisite that the canals in Amsterdam have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fancy that!
Or if you’re short on cash, hop on the free public ferry service behind the Centraal train Station and set sail for NDSM-wharf, a derelict shipyard turned avant-garde arts community.
Check out the recycled-junk sculptures, graffiti artists roaming the streets and giant wooden tiki head watching over it all.
It goes to Amsterdam-Noord. There are various routes, but the most common ones are the short ferry to Buiksloterweg (roughly every 10 minutes) and the long ferry (every half hour) to the NDSM Wharf. You can get more information about the destinations, the routes and an interactive map here!
- Cycle through the city:
In Europe, we love our bikes and use them, and you can’t go far wrong if you want to ride your bicycle in Amsterdam! Even Dutch Royalty are known to go about on their very own bicycles as Amsterdam is enormously flat and quite honestly, was designed very much with 17th century horses and carts in mind!
- Visit a museum:
Amsterdam has a variety of really great museums. All which would give your teenager something to do. And if it’s cold, wet and rainy.
All the better.
The best museums / attractions to visit with a teenager are the following:
- The Amsterdam Museum
- The Rijksmuseum
- The Van Gogh Museum
- The Ann Frank House Museum
- The Rembrandt House Museum
- The Joods Historisch Museum or the Jewish Historical Museum
- The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or The Museum of Bags and Purses
- The Museum Willet-Holthuysen
- Het Grachtenhuis or The Museum of the Canals
- The Woonbootmuseum or the Houseboat Museum
- The Heineken Experience
- The Amsterdam Dungeon
- Body Worlds Amsterdam
- And the Amsterdam Light Festival
We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, and only managed to get to the two (2) museums below:
- The Amsterdam Museum:
I was very eager to visit the Amsterdam Museum as it focuses on the story and history of Amsterdam through a large number of masterpieces, such as an aerial map from the Middle Ages, Breitner’s The Dam, and lots of interactive material and images that you could touch, see, listen to, use, read, and experience.
I love museums where you don’t have to treat things like delicate treasures, and can really get to grips with “using” the items!
An audio guide is provided so that you can do your own self-guided tour, in a variety of popular languages. And it’s free of charge, which I greatly appreciated!
Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it.
And if you’re short of time, or don’t feel like doing anything too “heavy” the interactive Amsterdam DNA exhibition, can be “done” in just one (1) hour!
Cost: Adults: €12.50. Students: €10.00. Children 5-18: €6.50. Under 4: Free of charge.
- The Rijksmuseum:
The Rijksmuseum is the iconic museum of the Netherlands.
The Rijksmuseum’s world-famous collection was presented via going on a journey through the ages, and a sense of beauty and of time.
In 80 galleries, 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. And even though The Tall Young Gentleman is just 14 years old, he really enjoyed the Rembrandt art and imaginary mythical creatures, and was upset when after just 2 hours, it was time to leave!
Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it and Night Watch alone was amazing!
Cost: Adults: €17.50. European Youth Card Holders (EYCA) / Students: €8.75. Under 18: Free of charge!
We ran out of time this time around, but if you have longer, check out the others!
p.s. Don’t forget to book or reserve museum tickets online, in order to escape the queues at peak periods!
Sadly, by 17:00, it was time to take our train back to Berlin.
It was clear that we had a most interesting time.
My blog is not about what’s right and what’s wrong. If you look deep enough you’ll see that it’s all about what’s different, the other, the edge. It’s also all rather tongue-in-cheek!
And Amsterdam is a perfect example. It’s a lovely quaint city with an exposed diverse edge. It’s cosmopolitan, and at the same time Dutch in style. It’s romantic and beautiful, but tolerant and diverse. It’s rich and lively, but quiet and authentic. It’s charming and also like any other capital city, beautifully flawed.
Go see for yourself.
HOW TO VISIT AMSTERDAM IN TWO DAYS. WITH A TEENAGER!
This article is not sponsored and even though I received complimentary museum tickets, all opinions and the delightful Dutch cheese that I happily consumed, are my very own!
I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!
The British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin – will take place from 26.01.17 – 28.01.17
If you’re a blogger and you’re in town, then come and meet us at the Berlin Travel Massive February MeetUp on February 9th.
The 67th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, will take place from 09.02.17 – 19.02.17
Strictly Stand Up – The English Comedy Night will take place at the Quatsch comedy Club on 15.02.17. Save the Date!
If you’re not in Berlin in January, what are you waiting for!
January is going to be striking!
Watch this space!
Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Would you take a teenager? Have your say!
See you in Berlin.