Day 3 in Amsterdam is all about the kids – or at least, that’s what I tell them but frankly I’m looking forward to not seeing a museum or hearing a heart rending story of the war or bemoaning the loss of mad genius. So it’s time for science and nature therapy!
The Science Museum NEMO is this large building that looks like the hull of an enormous green ship bursting out of the water. In 5 floors and a roof, it houses some wonderful exhibits explaining scientific concepts and principles. Everything is designed to be touched and held and played with and dismantled and remantled (yes, I know that’s not a real world but stay with me)! There are exhibits on magnetism and electricity and sound and water and light. There’s a really cool section on genetics and DNA. You can choose the characteristics of great grandparents and grandparents and parents and see what the kids will end up looking like. On one floor there’s a section for teenagers about their brains and, since this is Amsterdam after all, about sex! There’s a very nice museum person outside that section ensuring that anyone going into the exhibit is appropriately aged – Adam was denied entry twice!
After lunch we regretfully leave the NEMO and walk over to the Artis Zoo. It’s a beautiful sunny day but my kids don’t notice as they view any walk of over 10 minutes without a break for rest and refreshment as some sort of personal affront! A short 20 minute walk later we are at the zoo. The Artis zoo is the oldest zoo in Europe and is an absolutely lovely place. There is a group of buildings that house tropical lizards and bats and monkeys where you walk amongst these animals and they are no cages! So I found myself eye to eye with a rather large iguana – I don’t know who was more surprised. But it was a really cool experience! I was worried about the fruit bats though – not going to lie!
Next we made our way past lions and jaguars. I really actually hate seeing big cats in cages – they pace around with just the most defeated air which is soul crushing. Though RadioLab assures me that zoos are wonderful places that do great things with animal conservation so I shouldn’t worry!! Past the giraffes and elephants and bears and it’s time for the sea lion show! And what a show they put on! It’s amazing what sea lions will do for some fish – and who knew they could understand Dutch! We continue and visit the oldest oak tree in the zoo and all around us are signs of spring with beautiful flowers and gorgeous sunshine.
We make our way back to our bed and breakfast – tired and hungry and both kids inform me that they would like to stay longer in Amsterdam – and I’m so thrilled! One of the things I am really hoping my kids take away from this experience is a love of travel. A real appreciation for the world and people and how lovely people genuinely are. That not knowing a language is not an excuse for not communicating and that every person you meet is someone you can learn something from.
I leave you with a picture of all of us at the iAmsterdam sign. A travel tip for parents – when traveling with children it is best to dress yourself and your children in the brightest, most garish colors – especially in Europe where everyone wears black or gray – and then you can spot each other from a mile away!