We’ve been in Amsterdam for five days now and the jetlag is slowly getting less pronounced. Each day has followed a similar pattern of waking, abruptly, at some point in the wee hours of the morning to convince our little one to at least wait for the sun to get up before getting out of bed. If successful, and we’re able to snag another hour or two of sleep, we then cook a little breakfast and head out to explore the winding streets of Amsterdam. If we’re not so successful one of us inhales coffee and enjoys sunrise over the Amstel River with the little guy. Then, of course, at a more decent hour when normal adults can’t fathom sleeping any more, our kiddo decides to go back to sleep and we lucky, sleep deprived parents, get to enjoy more coffee and wonder when we’ll be able to escape to the outdoors. Days like this led to the wonderful discovery of a little bakery around the corner that serves delicious coffee as well as ½ pound chocolate croissants; all necessities when operating on less than four hours of sleep. Coffee and sleep – two words I have now repeated no less than three times each. Priorities are very clear cut.
It’s been over six years since we were last in Amsterdam. We remembered the canals, the flowers, the bicycle rush hours, the herring. We remembered the museums and the more risque aspects of the Red Light District. We remembered getting lost after midnight and relying on the kindness of strangers to lead the way home. Mostly, though, we remembered wanting more time.
We were fortunate enough to be able to swing a longer term holiday so; time we have. And thank goodness for that as traveling with a toddler has required some extreme flexibility to our plans and a marked slowness to our pace. On top of this, we didn’t have any means of carrying our child around other than our own arms for the first few days. Let me tell you, a quick mile long walk becomes significantly less enjoyable when hauling a 28 lb kiddo who’s gone limp.
The apartment we’ve rented out is right on the Amstel River with huge windows allowing you to enjoy the boat traffic with minimal movement. This has become a godsend on the days when the Tiny Dictator (Zeke, not Trump…sorry…couldn’t resist) refuses to go outside until he’s had four helpings of yogurt, a pound of berries, and two slices of toast. Mind you this is after he’s had a full breakfast. Instead of forcing it and subjecting the people of Amsterdam to Z’s very loud screams, we’ve been able to enjoy the beautiful scenery, even when we’re biting at the bit to get moving. Word of advice to parents: if you’re traveling, make sure you like the room as you may spend a bit more time in it than you think.
When we do finally get out the door and down the very steep steps/ladder holding toddler, stroller, and outing necessities it’s yet another lesson in patience. Whoever named them “toddlers” sure had it right, and in case you weren’t sure toddle is a very slow pace. Learning to slow down is a constant work in progress for me personally and it’s amazing to watch the amazement of a toddler at the most mundane of things. Stopping to admire a tree, a pigeon, every single “Big Boat!” and “choo choo” that rambles by (averaging at least 3/hour); it’s a welcome and refreshing (not to mention cute as hell) reminder to take it all in, channel my inner toddler, and be amazed by the world.
So when I noticed myself getting a little impatient to get to John Adams’ canal house, I repeated what’s become my travel mantra: it’s been standing for a few hundred years, a few more minutes won’t make that big a difference.
Imagine my delight – it was still there.