A few days in Amsterdam with teens

Mar 18th, 2010, 08:48 AM
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A few days in Amsterdam with teens


A friend and I are taking a two week "mom" trip with our two sets of teenagers (my boys and her girls) in August 2011. We are all incredibly easy going, adventurous, low maintenance travelers. We're planning on 5 days in London, 5 days in Paris, and a possibly a couple of days in Amsterdam at the end, although it's all up to negotiation at this point. I've heard the people are wonderful, and that it's an amazingly beautiful city--we'd all love to see it--none of us have been there before. I know the kids would love the Anne Frank museum. The kids would all really enjoy the quirky local things vs. just tourist attractions--my kids list wandering around fun neighborhoods in NYC and watching street performers, etc. as one of their favorite trip moments. Any ideas on where to stay and what else to do? We're planning on staying in apartments and/or possibly a college dorm for the London/Paris portion of the trip. We'd need two triples if we go the hotel route--my boys are younger teens, and I'd be very uncomfortable putting them in a room alone unless it adjoined mine (I know--complicates things). Our housing budget isn't fantastic--we're thinking around $200.00 night per family, but if we have to adjust it we will. I don't know what's reasonable for the area. The hotel isn't a huge priority for us--it's a place to sleep--and I'm fine as long as it's very clean, quiet, and in a safe neighborhood close to where we need to be. I'm not cheap, but I'm frugal, especially with the uncertainty of the economy here. Where would you stay, and what would you do under the circumstances? Thanks so much in advance for any advice you might have!
huskermom is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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It will sound strange to recommend a movie, but the Tuschinski movie palace in Amsterdam is an extraordinary Art Deco structure, in an amazing state of preservation, and it can make for a great destination on a rainy evening, or any evening. They show many current American movies in English. There are lots of places to eat nearby. It's not far from the Bloomenmarkt.



zeppole is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 09:31 AM
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I'm sure you will all enjoy Amsterdam. It is a great city to just walk around and enjoy. Yes the museums are great, and Anne Frankhuis a must for your teens but it is also a place to chill out in and explore on foot.
Nearer your trip you should book your tickets for the Anne Frankhuis online to save queuing.

How many days are you thinking of for Amsterdam?

You could also consider a bike trip out of the city. I can give your more suggestions if you like.
I can't help with places to stay, as I never stay in the city, it's too close to home to stay there.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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We're looking at flying in to London, and spending 5 days there. We'd take the Eurostar to Paris overnight, and spend g another 5 days in Paris. Then (not sure how yet) we'd head to Amsterdam for another two, possibly three days, and fly home from there. Is that enough time? Is that an efficient way to do the trip? I'd love more suggestions . The bike trip sounds fun--it would be a great way to get out of the city and see some of the countryside. How rigorous is the biking? The other mom and I are both pretty fit, but we're in our early 50s The kids are all student athletes, and wouldn't have any problem with it.

Thanks to both of you for the advice--the theater is beautiful, and by the end of the trip, relaxing a night and seeing a movie might be a good plan. This has all been really helpful!
huskermom is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 01:27 PM
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You can get the Thalys train from Paris to Amsterdam, no problem. you will need to book in advance.

The Netherlands is perfect cycling country. Bike tracks everywhere and flat!

3 days would be a good amount of time if you have it.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 01:49 PM
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huskermom - For accommodations in London I would recommend you check out the Baden Powell House. It was originally for members of the Scouting movement, but they take non-scouters too. I have taken school groups as well as my family. It is like a hostel, very well-run and ideally located only 1 block from two tube stations and one block from the V & A museum. There are a variety of room sizes. You can easily check out their website. We have stayed there 4 times over the past 10 years and not once had a bad experience.

Good luck on your trip planning.

teacherCanada is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 02:29 PM
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We were in London last June with two teenagers. For the first time ever in Europe, we rented an apartment - it was fantastic, and certainly made things cheaper with respect to the alternative of four of us eating every meal out. I would recommend you look at apartment options. We used an agency called "A Place Like Home", which you can google. We stayed in Mayfair (about $300/night for two bedrooms/two bathrooms), but they had less expensive options. You might also look at apartment options in Amsterdam - I'm sure they exist.

We were in Amsterdam the summer before - all four of absolutely loved it. We took day trips - one to Haarlem and another to The Hague; would recommend both. I agree that you should get advance tickets for the Anne Frank. We walked right in through a special entrance. The line to purchase tickets was more than an hour's wait.

Enjoy your trip - you'll have a blast!
jentrav is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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All of this is great! Thank you! Amsterdam sounds like a great place to end the trip--slower paced and more relaxed. The kids can burn off some energy biking...I think it's going to be really fun! Thanks for the Paris to Amsterdam train info and the London apartment info too--all of this is a huge help!
huskermom is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 06:58 AM
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On the London portion, we were looking at possibly staying at the London School of Economics dorms--they rent them out over the summer to travelers. I looked up Baden Powell house as well--it's great to have lots of options! Thanks again!
huskermom is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 07:42 AM
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Biking in Amsterdam and its surroundings is very easy in terms of physical effort - everything is flat. Going up a few overpasses across rivers is the most strenuous pedaling you'll do. I'm in my 50's and rode my bike everywhere (we didn't have a car there) when we lived in Amsterdam last year (now we're living in San Francisco and its hills are a totally different story - I have to walk my bike up the hill to my house!)

Biking in the city of Amsterdam itself can be a little intimidating, due to traffic etc., but thousands of tourists do it every day, seemingly. Most roads in the city have separate bike lanes and outside the city there are bike paths, completely separate from the roads, all over the place.

One possible ride would be to ride along the Amstel River from the city, south to Ouder Amstel. Ouder Amstel is a small village with nice outdoor riverside cafes. It's maybe a 45 minute ride from downtown Amsterdam. It would be easy to fit in on the late afternoon or evening of a day you're doing other things also (remember it's light quite late there in August). I believe there are even bike tours that go on this ride.

My favorite short ride used to be to the village of Muiden (pronounced mow -as in cow - den, more or less anyway), about an hour ride from downtown. Google Muiderslot - it's an old castle built in 1280 that you can tour there. Muiden is on the River Vecht which Romans and Vikings used to sail up to cause trouble here and there - although not at the same time, if I have my history correct. ;-> It also has nice outdoor riverside cafes. It's more of a whole afternoon trip - not because it takes so long to get there, but because there's more to see once you're there than in Ouder Amstel. So if you're only in the Amsterdam area a few days, you'll have to decide how you want to apportion your time.

Our DD was at school in Paris last year, but came and spent the summer with us in Amsterdam. She liked Amsterdam even better than Paris!
NorCalif is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 08:37 AM
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Our family of four (including one high school age and one college age) loved Amsterdam. Here's my trip report:

"Final stop: Amsterdam. Five nights’ stay, first visit for all of us.

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Amsterdam! You always hear of the Red Light district and the coffee shops and the laissez-faire attitude, but you don’t hear how open and friendly the people are, how lovely the canals and side streets, how wonderfully trendy the restaurants and cafes, how people are out strolling at all hours of the night and you feel safe everywhere. I think I’d expected it to be quaint and charming (which it is), but in a dark wood-paneled cliché way, not in the young and contemporary way it is.

The standard reply we were given in Amsterdam, when we asked for anything, was always “Of course!” How refreshing.

We stayed in a fabulous location, at The Hotel Residence le Coin, which was directly across a small street from the Hotel de l’Europe, down the street from the Hotel Doelan, on Nieuwe Doelenstraat (sp?). A great neighborhood in the heart of old Amsterdam.

The hotel has a lift and A/C, also free use of the hotel’s washing machine and clothes dryer in the basement (which was welcome as we’d been traveling over a week when we arrived there). Each room has a little kitchenette, a nice-sized bath, large rooms with wooden floors and a sitting area. It’s fairly new, so everything sparkles. Very friendly front desk, too.

Two cafes on the same block as the hotel were wonderful: Café Katoen for a university atmosphere, and Café le Jarden, for great table seating on the canal.

Amazing dinners at two restaurants in particular:
“Stout!”, at Haarlemmerstraat 73 (www.restaurantstout.nl). Fabulous ‘foamy asparagus’ soup with shrimp, chateaubriande, fresh fish, dessert course, wine list. Very trendy lighting. Great service. We’d gone to the neighborhood in search of a restaurant called “Lof” which we’d seen written up. We didn’t like its atmosphere, but were lucky that Stout! was just across the street.

Also at “Restaurant Dining Eleven” we had a great dinner. It’s at Reestraat 11. Also trendy and contempory, well-presented and beautifully-served meal.

Another nice dinner at “frenzi”, at Swanenburgwal 232. Very simple and contemporary. We arrived shortly after 10:00p.m., when most restaurants close in Amsterdam, and persuaded the owner to sell us any left-overs they had in the kitchen! They put together a nice Caesar salad with cooked-in-the-shell shrimp and mango. Very nice.

Also a good brunch at a place across the street from frenzi—called “Puccini”. Creative salads and sandwiches. Very nice also.

We took a canal cruise one evening. Toured the Anne Frank Huis and the Van Gogh Museum. Visited the Nieuwe Kerk (sp?) Our teens went to a concert at the Paradiso and loved it.

One afternoon we did the 2:30 “Best of Holland” excursion to Volendam and Marken, with a stop to see wooden clogs made, Gouda cheese created, and to visit windmills. It was by bus, with a boat from Volendam to Marken. A lot of fun. Even our two teens liked it.

Our teens also liked shopping at one street in particular, between our hotel and the museum district. Also a Zara shop there, and many others like it. They thought the selection and prices were better in Amsterdam than what they’d seen in London and Paris even.

A detail about Amsterdam if you go there-- carry enough Euros in cash, because many places won't accept a credit card for a 'small' purchase (i.e. under 25 EU)."
PeaceOut is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 08:40 AM
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NorCalif's suggested ride is an excellent one. You could cycle a little further and visit Naarden too, an old fortified town, with it's wall intact, and a wonderful church with a painted ceiling, and cannon balls in the walls. If you a tired get the train back to Amsterdam - but remember to buy tickets for the bikes too.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 09:31 AM
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Here is our trip report from a few years ago, covering our long weekend in Amsterdam with our teenage daughter:


We had a blast. As others have mentioned, it's an ideal city for walking around and exploring... which is something we really like to do.

Oh, and here are our pix from that trip:

mr_go is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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Maybe your young people are too sophisticated, but mine always loved an hour on the canal pedalos. We've seen tour groups on Segways, it looked fun too. The Hotel Agora is well located near the flower market on the Singel and has some reasonable larger rooms.
tarquin is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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You could do a trip like this by bike rather than bus/boat. Although it would be more expensive than just renting bikes, if you do it one of the first days you are there it's a great way to get a little history, bearings, and used to the city/ biking- take a Mike's Bike's tour. From there you could get some more first-hand advice from the guides on bike paths for the other days of your trip. I've posted this before- but for 20 somethings we love taking Mike's/ Fat Tire/ Quasimundo tours when in different European cities. I'm sure your kids would like it too. There are usually adults that are young at heart on the tours as well- so it isn't just 20 somethings going biking/ drinking.
mdwahoo is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 06:33 PM
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Thank you all so much! These are great ideas--it sounds like Amsterdam is going to be one of the most wonderful parts of the trip!

As far as our children being "too sophisticated" for some of the activities--we're from Nebraska, lol. Although we live in a major university town, our state has more cattle than people. It's a wonderful, quiet, beautiful place to raise a family, but my boys are absolutely thrilled to leave whenever they get the chance. I think they're up for about anything "different than home." They'll just want to explore and have fun...and I'm sure they'll be willing to try just about anything. Thank you again for the great advice! They're going to love it.
huskermom is offline  

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