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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gaman-Bean

The Beans European Vacation, Part 2: a little Belgium and The Netherlands

"A flower blossoms for its own joy." ~ Oscar Wilde

Wix was unhappy with how long my previous post was, so I had to create a part 2 to finish off the trip story. The last few days is below...

Quick link to days:

Quick link to countries:

Quick link to events and locations:

Day 11:

Today was an early wakeup call since we had to leave at 0800 for our train.

First breakfast at the hotel which I loved: fruit, the best yogurt, blue cheese and bread and cappuccino. Kids had pancakes and croissants with Nutella.

Then off the our train the Thalys. We got there way too early because I didn’t know there was no customs or security. Oh well! Better early than late.

The train ride was smooth with a stop in Brussels. It was fun to see Belgium from the train. Beautiful countryside with a pretty typical old city vibe with some beautiful ornate looking buildings and churches.

Loved seeing all these beautiful little countryside towns.

We made it into Amsterdam at about 1400.

And took a taxi to our hotel Mecure Amsterdam City. It’s a beautiful hotel with all the amenities just a short walk from the metro.

After we dropped off our stuff we figured out the metro and headed into town for dinner and to wander around and find treats for the kids.

It was pretty funny figuring out this metro because there was no where to buy paper tickets like the other countries, but Mike was able to quickly figure out there’s an app and from there it was pretty easy. Although there were a couple times we tried to go through the door the wrong way because we can’t read the signs. HAHA!! Pretty funny actually because every time I was like “act natural” as we totally made fools of ourselves.

We wandered around town a little before dinner.

We had dinner at Fat Phills which was a delicious burger and fries spot and then headed to Centraal Station to find some treats. It was insanely busy, but we quickly found a candy store and the kids were in heaven and picked out a bunch of treats.

Then I got pretty overwhelmed and we headed back to the hotel to go to bed early since we were all so tired at this point.

Mike and I headed to the bar for drinks and then to bed at 2100.

Day 12 (Easter):

We slept in today and the kids saw there were some treats that the Easter Bunny left.

Then we headed to brunch at the hotel restaurant which was very impressive with everything you could imagine. The staff were phenomenal and the person greeting us was wearing a bunny costume and handing out kinder joy surprises to all the kids.

Then we headed to town for our boat tour. We were to meet at the Rijkmuseum at 1300, but we got a little confused by the metro and trams and we were about 2 minutes late. Lucky for us they waited.

Captain Jacks tour with Captain Ko was awesome!! We got to see so much from the boat and learned so much about the city. Some of the canals dated back to the 17th century and we learned all about the dancing houses since their foundations in the water were built with logs originally which started rotting. They were then repaired with concrete pillars and are now considered safe again. Amsterdam got the name for the river Amstal which we were on for part of the tour. Most of the houses and buildings are protected so that you can’t change the outside. We went through the red light district where we learned about the legalization of weed and prostitution.

Hidden treats:

Beautiful views of the city:

Dancing Houses:

Red Light District:

After our tour with tried to go to the Rijkmuseum, but it was sold out. We got tickets for Tuesday, however. In the meantime, we decided to go to lunch at The Pancake Club. It was delicious!!

Then we walked around town a little and got Camilla some teriyaki chicken from Sumo and then headed back to the hotel to rest.

This was a huge part of our traveling (the metro), so I had to capture just how it worked.

Day 13:

This was an early day for us as we were headed to Keukenhof, the largest botanical garden in the world to see the beautiful spring flowers.

We had to be at Centraal Station at 0845 and we left right on time on a super comfy double decker bus. We went with Tours and Tickets and had a great experience.

This was the morning I really started to feel sick (symptoms started as flu-like the day we arrived and turned into digestive problems) and I was pretty worried about it. Somehow I toughed it out and actually managed to have a great time. It was mostly overcast and chilly this day. The bus ride was 30ish minutes to the gardens.

Once you get close to the gardens you start to see the flower fields which were stunning and our tour guide had us all say "OOOOOOO" and "AAAAHHHHH" when we saw them, it was pretty funny.

Long line to get in, but it actually moved pretty quickly.

Keukenhof was amazing!

Easter is also celebrated on this day in The Netherlands and the gardens were sold out so it was very busy. However, flowers were so beautiful and the fighting the crowds was definitely worth it! My favorites were the bright purple combinations and the bright orange flowers. It’s crazy to think natures creates such vibrant colors.

The gardens provided an adorable Easter bunny.

Kids also played on the playground for a little bit.

Taking a family photo was challenging to say the least but we made it happen a few times and ended up getting some amazing pics.

The famous windmill.

There were some good food and treat options too.

The tour provided us about 3.5 hours there which is definitely not enough to do everything, but considering it was so cold and I wasn’t feeling well it was actually the perfect amount of time to explore.

We had a smooth ride back and since we didn’t have time to get the kids treats there, we treated them with their favorite candy store near Centraal Station and then headed back to the hotel to rest for the evening.

Day 14:

This day I woke up feeling very unwell and extremely tired. I definitely had acquired what I think was food poisoning from a quiche I ate at the train station in Paris. Bummer!

We had tickets for the Rijkmuseum at 0900. While Mike and the kids were at breakfast I managed to pull myself together and we headed to the museum to see Girl with the Pearl Earring.

The museum is beautiful!

After we made it into the museum, we realized that the painting we wanted to see was in a special Vermeer exhibition that requires an extra ticket so we were able to get those tickets and headed over there.

After searching for the painting we discovered that it had been moved to the Haug temporarily! Ugh!

Needless to say we were disappointed, but we decided to make the most of our time there and explore some more.

We decided to check out the museum’s most famous painting Night Watch by Rembrandt. It was fascinating to see the process of restoration currently taking place so we got to watch a little of how that is done. Something about testing the vibration of the painting.

At this point I was beyond exhausted so we headed back to the hotel so I could nap and then start packing.

It took all afternoon to do that and then we went to bed early since we had a 0300 wake up call the next morning. Phew!

Day 15:

Woke up at 0300 quickly got ready and then our taxi took us to Schipol Airport at 0415.

We checked in and headed to our gate.

We had smooth 0745 flight to Heathrow and then that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

I had arranged a 6 hour layover planned because I wasn’t sure how long customs and all that would take.

It only took us about 1 hour to get through customs and get our bags which was great but then we had 2 hours until we could check into our next flight. So we found a cafe to get breakfast at and relaxed there for 2 hours.

Then we headed to check in and realized they had a special check in for families which was awesome. They even had goodie bags for the kids.

At check in they warned us our flight was 1 hour delayed so we headed to our favorite food spot Giraffes until it was time to board our flight. It was a long walk and tram ride to our flight and once we arrived we realized it was actually delayed until 1700 so we had at least 2 mores hours until boarding. Kids were troopers though!!

The wait also included a gate change which confused everyone and that 2 hours actually turned into more like 4 hours because then they discovered the plane had an engine leak and they had to fix that. This was absolutely torturous and at many points we thought we were going to be staying the night in London which we were not looking forward to.

Finally, they updated us that the engine was fixed and we were good to board!! There were lots of cheers.

We finally boarded and our flight left at about 1845. The flight was as long and painful as you’d expect 10 hours to be. We all slept most of it but I was soooo uncomfortable the entire time. No idea how I survived!

We landed at about 2100 in SFO and it was a very loud and rough landing, but not too surprising considering how large this double decker plane (Airbus 380) was.

But most importantly we made it home safe and sound.

Now through customs which probably took an hour and that sucked even more!!

Next to get our bags which was actually pretty quick and then find my mom and head home on our 2 hour drive.

We made it home after midnight and I headed straight to the ED which was another awful experience!

But my goodness it felt good to be home!!! And what am amazing 15 days we had!!!! Absolutely fantastic trip with the kiddos!!!



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