Monday, 15 June. This was Kevin’s eleventh birthday. The included breakfast at the hotel was definitely substandard. It was still a Dutch breakfast with cold cuts, sliced cheese and bread, but there was little variety and portions were minimal. Worst of all were the beverages. The proprietor took our orders, then walked over to his coin-operated dispensing machine to get them. The quality was poor, the plastic cups were tiny, and any refills were up to us to buy.
The hotel itself was a disappointment. Darrell had written the Tourist Board (VVV) to make reservations, asking for three rooms in a private home with a Dutch family. (The term B&B was not yet in use.) They referred us to the Hotel Paap, which was family-owned, but was a far cry from what we wanted. The owner was civil, but not really friendly, and there certainly was nothing homemade about the breakfast.
We walked to Anne Frank’s house, only one canal over. The tour was very interesting and probably an eye-opener for the boys, especially since she had been about their age.
Then we walked to the center of town, by the Royal Palace, and on to Rembrandt’s house. On the way back, we passed the oldest tavern in Amsterdam.
We stopped and saw a diamond-cutting demonstration along the way. We passed the old Weigh House (Waag) and the Weeping Tower (Schreierstorn). This tower was built in 1482 as part of the city’s defensive wall and is the only surviving tower. It got its name because the wives of sailors and fisherman would stand by this tower and weep as their husbands went off to sea.
We also passed through Nieuwe Markt on our way to the waterfront. That took us along one side of the red light district. (Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam.) The older boys were quiet, but Randall and Kevin wanted to know why those women were sitting in store windows and why some had so many pillows.
After a stroll along the waterfront, we walked back to the hotel and got the car. We drove to Amsterdam’s excellent zoo where we ate lunch. We left the boys there while we went to see the Rijksmuseum. We spent about three hours looking through the Museum, but it was still a rush to get back to pick up the boys. Then the six of us took a boat tour of the city through the canals. We all enjoyed that, and it gave us a chance to see a lot in a very relaxing way.
By the time the tour ended, it was nearly 18:00. At Kevin’s request, we found a pizzeria for dinner to celebrate his birthday. Then it was back to the hotel and early to bed.