Postcards to Boston

We are a couple of regular people who love traveling and trying new food and drinks along the way! We had a baby in 2016 and will be traveling as a family of 3 from now on! :)
  • Day10

    Amsterdam - departure home & baby tips

    February 22, 2017 in the Netherlands

    Our goal was to leave the apartment by 6:45 as we had a 10:30 flight out of Amsterdam Schipol for Boston. It didn't work out very well and we were scrambling to finish everything in time and we still didn't leave until 7. It was raining earlier in the morning but stopped by the time we left so we decided to just walk since we had (still) not figured out the tram system in Amsterdam. The city was very walkable so we really never had any need to take the tram anywhere. Anyway, we took the train to the airport and waited in a lot of lines at Schipol. Poor Maggie had a blowout while we were waiting in line for security and we still had to wait in line to go through. Finally we got to the other side and were able to get into a bathroom to change her. We went to the customs booth to get a stamp so we can get a refund on the VAT we paid on our Delftware vase. Then made our way to the gate as quickly as possible and got on the flight with a little time to spare. Maggie didn't do as well on the way home since it was during the day. We were in a cycle of nap, play, eat, but she was fussy from not being able to run around and have some variety. Eventually we landed though and overall it was a good flight. We definitely had a great time traveling and didn't feel that we missed out on anything because we had her with us. If anything, we would've stayed out later at night or maybe visited a coffeeshop, but that didn't detract from our experience at all.

    Here are some notes I made about traveling with a 6.5 month old.
    -Amsterdam was tough with all the stairs but it was manageable. Would be better to have an apt on the ground or first floor, but we made do with our 2nd floor apt.
    -Stroller (folding) and front carrier were a must! Being able to lay her down for naps with the canopy was a lifesaver. We have a Baby Jogger City Mini and it was amazing. She took 30min naps, which is what she does at home generally. We kept her warm with a crochet blanket and she also wore a winter coat and moccasins (after we bought them in Haarlem).
    -Pre-filled bottles with water and formula in a formula dispenser. We had bought a Zero water filter cup on Amazon so we didn't have to buy bottled water the whole time we were there (We use a Pur filter at home for her bottles).
    -Tether toys with a casino slinky (the things that you use at casinos so you don't forget your card), and use a pacifier tether too so it doesn't get dropped everywhere.
    -Folding cloth high chair: another thing we bought on Amazon. It was useful in our apt but didn't fit a lot of the chairs there. When the back of the chair is hard, we found that Maggie hit her head on the chair back a lot.
    -Jarred food from home with extra spoons. We had a lot of pears on hand in case of constipation.
    -Bought Pampers there but they seem less absorbent and she smelled of pee whereas at home this isn't an issue. Just more annoying than anything. Next time I'd rather bring the diapers and have extra luggage room when we go home.
    -Not many places to change her diaper. Restaurants/churches did not tend to have a baby changing space but larger restaurants and museums did have changing pads. We brought the folding pad from our diaper bag which was useful for every purpose. We changed her in the stroller, on bench in a bar, on bathroom counters, pretty much everywhere...
    -Set up the changing station in her bedroom with wipes, diapers, etc. Here we just used a towel as a changing pad. We did this on one of the twin beds that was in the room.
    -We brought an emergency kit with medications we could use in case of emergency. I brought this on the plane with me which was not an issue but did require extra screening. Included Benadryl, Tylenol, Saline/bulb suction, Pedialyte and diaper cream.
    -Time zone change was difficult for the first night. We tried to replicate home bedtime routine. The first night we weren't able to get her down for good until 11pm which was home bedtime (6hr ahead of home time). Knowing that made things less stressful. Future nights were 100% normal and she went down easy. We only shifted her by 3hr instead of 6hr so we could get up a little later than normal and put her to bed later than normal. At home she's awake from 6am to 6pm but on vacation we typically had her awake from 8:30am to 8:30pm or so.
    -Time zone change going east to west (coming home)... the travel day was very long. On the plane she took 2 naps 30min each. Was very overtired and screamed once we landed. Did a crib nap once we got home but we had to wake her up as her body "thought" it was bedtime at 2:30pm. Then the next morning she woke up at 3:30/4 and wouldn't go back to sleep. We got her up at 4:20 finally. Luckily we had the day off from work. By the following day she was back to her normal sleep schedule.
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  • Day9

    Den Haag & Delft

    February 21, 2017 in the Netherlands

    We got a late start to the day. Breakfast at our apt to use up what we had left essentially. We walked to Amsterdam Centraal Station and caught a 9:30 train to Delft. Delft is a small town, famous for Delftware. We walked around the town for about 3 hours, stopping at the old church, new church, central town square, an amazing Lego store, and a Delftware place (de Chandelaar). We ended up buying a gorgeous Delftware vase there, which was expensive but well worth it. We could see the artists in the back of the store making and glazing the pieces. We had lunch at Stads Koffiehuis, a small cafe with artisan sandwiches, coffee, high tea. It was very good!

    After a few hours, we made our way back to the train station and took the train to Den Haag which was only a 10min ride away. At Den Haag we made straight for the Mauritiushuis, a small art museum with a number of works by Rembrandt and other Dutch masters. This was probably our favorite museum of the entire trip!

    After the museum we walked to Impero Romano. We were there a bit early (around 4:30), but wanted to go there per a friend's recommendation, and needed to head back to Amsterdam soon after. So we were the only ones in there and it was very awkward to say the least. They basically opened just for us even though they were still preparing for the dinner crowd. Oh well. The food was good..I got a black papardalle pasta with scallops and M got a gnocchi dish. After dinner we made our way back to the train station to Amsterdam. Since we had eaten so early, we got a few sandwiches from Albert Heijn and had those while we packed that evening.
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  • Day8

    Amsterdam - Rijksmuseum

    February 20, 2017 in the Netherlands

    We woke up and had cereal and yogurt in our apt. We walked over to the Rijksmuseum with some stops for souvenirs, Hard Rock Cafe stuff and to buy some more diapers for Maggie. We spent from 11am to 3:30pm at the museum and only saw about half of the pieces there. The museum is the national museum of the Netherlands so it's huge and comprehensive. There were tons of pieces by Dutch artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer. We had lunch at the cafe there: soup and sandwich with wine and beer. It was tasty but overpriced (as was much of the food in Amsterdam). The audio guides we had downloaded in advance were good. The museum had free Wifi which was required to use the audio guides. The museum was well equipped for the stroller and had lots of elevators. We wish we had pre-booked the highlights tour that they have every day at 11am, but by the time I realized we were supposed to pre-book it, there was only 1 spot left.

    After we finished up there (we were really tired of museum-ing), we walked about 45min to Brouwer'tij, the windmill brewery and had a few drinks and bar snacks. We walked back to the city center as the sun was going down. The RLD was quite lively at night! We weren't really sure what we were going to do for dinner but we walked by the Butcher which is a burger restaurant so we figured we'd just stop there and have a quick dinner before heading home. It was just OK, nothing special. The service was fast and we got back to the apt quickly to call it a night.
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  • Day7

    Amsterdam - city center touring

    February 19, 2017 in the Netherlands

    We made a large breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. We were woken up this morning by Maggie singing in her crib (yes, literally). After sitting around for awhile and playing, she took a nap and when she woke up we headed out for the day. We went on a self-guided tour of the Red Light District and city center.

    First up was the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) which was nice but we felt not worth the cost of admission (however it was free with our MK). El Greco's art was on display which was really the only thing we thought worth seeing there.

    Next was the Royal Palace next door. This was originally the city hall and when the French took over, it was turned into a palace for the royal family. Now it's kind of a mix of both and used for state functions and as a museum. There was a free audio guide and the rooms were laid out over one floor so it was accessible. Very interesting tour. We got lunch next - nothing special - street food pizza and french fries.

    We made our way through the RLD to the Oude Kerk (old church). This was also (thankfully) free with the MK, but again we didn't think it was worth paying to enter. The churches we saw in the Netherlands were all kind of plain compared to the ones we've seen elsewhere in Europe. There was a strange art exhibition inside which was a bunch of broken mirrors all over the ground...? At first we thought it was a mistake but there were a lot of them. Maybe we are just not artsy enough to understand it? However, in the back of the church there was an amazing cafe where we had cappuccino and cake in the tiny garden. It was so peaceful and lovely there. Definitely worth a stop!

    Next up was the Museum of Our Lord in the Attic. Back when being a Catholic was an underground secret affair, people made churches in their houses. This was one of the only remaining examples (not sure if it is the only) and was very cool to see. Lots of stairs but it was laid out well and had a free audio guide. This was definitely a favorite of the day! We learned a a lot there.

    We stopped at Brouwerij de Prael nearby to buy some beers. We didn't understand what we were buying at the time but it turned out to be an anti-hangover beer. We walked towards the pier to catch our canal cruise. We took a 1 hour canal cruise with Greyline, which included a free audioguide (was 16 euro each I believe). It was fun, definitely worth doing but this particular tour was definitely a tourist trap and overpriced. We did some souvenir shopping and walked to dinner.

    We had a 6pm reservation at Kantjil and de Tijger, a popular Indonesian restaurant that had been recommended to us by two tour guides. We got the "rice table" which was the Indonesian's way to introduce all of their best dishes to the Dutch when they immigrated there. There was 15 total dishes, though some of them were palate cleansers and accompaniments. Still - tons of food! Very tasty food and drinks there. To drink we got a Bali iced tea which was basically like a Long Island iced tea, and Kantjil Delight (lime, vodka, mint, ginger). Delicious meal and highly recommend. They were accommodating to the baby and had a high chair at our table when we arrived, and there was also a changing table in the restroom thankfully. Maggie was very tired and had a little meltdown towards the end of the night so we headed back to the apt to put her to bed.
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  • Day6

    Haarlem

    February 18, 2017 in the Netherlands

    We didn't sleep well due to the laundry. We woke up late-ish but made our goal of being out the door by 9am. We got some overpriced pastries and coffees from a bakery. We caught the train to Haarlem (17 euro roundtrip for both, which took only 20min. It was very easy. We walked to Molen de Adriaan, a windmill that I had read about. We took a simple guided tour there for 3.50euro per person. It was a great tour. The people who worked there were just sitting around before we got there, and they were happy to show us around. The tour lasted an hour and involved a lot of climbing but it was really informative and we learned a lot. Unfortunately it wasn't a clear day when we were up top so we couldn't see much of Haarlem but still worth doing. I had no idea windmills were used for so many things. This particular one was used for grinding corn among other things. The windmill burned down and was rebuilt in 1999 so it felt very safe inside. After some selfies with the windmill, we walked through the Grote Markt, a large street market similar to the Albert Cuypmarkt. We bought lunch of a mushroom arrancini, doner kebabs, and a stroopwaffel. We bought Maggie some moccasins because she had only been wearing socks up until this point (doesn't normally wear shoes at home because they fall off), and they were a great investment. We stopped for coffee and sat outside under some heat lamps at the Lima Cafe. Service could've been better for sure!

    Went to the Grote Kerk and did a self-guided tour. We spent about a half hour there. It was interesting but very cold inside. Next, we walked a few blocks to the Jopenkerk, a brewery inside of an old church. Great beer but slow service (apparently a common theme for Haarlem). Inexpensive for what we got though. Maybe we were sitting in a bad spot and the bartenders couldn't see us. We took the train back to Amsterdam at 5:15.

    We got dinner at Fou Fow Ramen in the Jordaan area near our apt. It was so busy every time we walked by but we were lucky to get a table. The food was great and fast. We luckily got there at a good time because as we were leaving, the line was out the door.
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  • Day5

    Amsterdam - Van Gogh museum & market

    February 17, 2017 in the Netherlands

    We woke up later than yesterday and went to breakfast at Pancakes Amsterdam. We had Dutch pancakes which were very similar to Parisian crepes. I had one with apples, calvados and almonds. Myron had one with chili pepper, banana and bacon. Decliious but a little expensive. They were accommodating to Maggie too and were one of the few places in Amsterdam that actually had a high chair for her...they even had a ring stacking toy! We walked around the corner to a small cafe to get coffees "to go". The Canals Museum was nearby and it was interesting but not worth the price of admission at all (12.50 euro each). We spent about 1.5 hours there. We walked down to the Albert Cuypmarkt and got street food as a "light" lunch: poffertjes, stroopwaffel, and fries with curry sauce. We spent about an hour walking through it...it was about 3 blocks long. There were lots of food vendors, souvenirs, antiques, produce and fish mongers, etc. I saw a few baby shirts that would've been really cute, but they were around 15 euro and I thought I'd find more that were cheaper so I waited (spoiler alert: I regretted not buying them then).

    We walked to the Van Gogh museum next. We had made an advance reservation for 3pm but the tickets were free with the MK. The museum was great, and took us on a journey through Van Gogh's life and art. Well worth the visit. We did not plan ahead and download the Van Gogh app, so we got audio guides at 5 euro per person, but it would be useful to just use the app, as we did in other museums. We spent close to 2 hours there. Very accessible with the stroller.

    We walked to Moeders, where we had a 5:30 reservation. The walls are completely covered in photos of mothers of all ages but unfortunately I forgot the photo I wanted to bring :( We had a 3-course meal with pea soup to start (both), sirloin with spinach (Myron), salmon (Sherilyn) and dessert: cheesecake (M), chocolate trio - ice-cream, mousse & bonbon (S). Overall a fantastic 5-star meal. The service was exceptional. Near the end of our meal, another couple with a baby sat near us. Their baby Aidan was born only 3 days before Maggie. It was fun to connect to another traveler. We finished our meal with a cappuccino and walked back to our apartment. We did laundry and organized itinerary for the morning. We loved having laundry in our apartment but it was a little loud and prevented us from sleeping. For some reason the dryer never turned off and just kept spinning even after the clothes were dry. It literally took over an hour for the washer and 2+ hours for the dryer until I shut it off in the middle of the night. So frustrating! Especially when you can't read the dial because it's in another language. These things make travel so much harder.
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  • Day4

    Amsterdam - Jordaan area

    February 16, 2017 in the Netherlands

    Breakfast at apt. Left ~8:30 for 9am entry to Anne Frank House (free with MK but booked in advance for 1 euro). Museum was very moving to see the conditions that the families lived in. Finished at 10:10 and bought a copy of the diary to read. We walked over to Cafe de Prins to meet the group for our Jordaan food walking tour at 10:30. We wanted to change Maggie's diaper and feed her before the tour began. We met Rudolph there and had a coffee while waiting for the rest of the group. It was a brown cafe and we tried poffertjes there (small puffy pancakes with powdered sugar and syrup). Very yummy. From there we walked a few blocks stopping at some widow courts, a sort of public housing. We were given history of what they were, etc. as we went. From there we walked to Vis Plaza, a local fish store. Here we tried the raw salted herring with pickles and onions, some kibbling (fried fish) and some tulip vodka. A short walk up the street to Patisserie Anesta where we tried some profiteroles filled with a Dutch egg yolk liquor. Rudolph stopped at a candy store and bought us some sweet and salty licorice to try. The Dutch prefer the licorice salty (it was double salted and VERY salty!) but we definitely preferred the sweet. Around the corner we went to Cafe de Blaffende Vis, another brown cafe, where we had some beer (Texels Puntel) and bitterballen. Continuing on, a few blocks up where two stops were next to each other. First was butcher Louman, a local family butcher. Here we tried 4 charcuterie: some ossenwurst (cold smoked beef sausage), grill worst (grilled pork sausage), a smoked ham and a 4th I cannot remember. We fed Maggie here since she was upset she wasn't enjoying all the good food. Next door we had cheese at Jwo Lekkennigen. We had a young Gouda (6 months), an aged Gouda (2 years), and a cumin Gouda. The aged gouda was almost crumbly like parmesan. The next stop was Swieti Sranang, a Surinamese/Indoesian restaurant. Here we tried broodje pom, a sandwich of mashed chicken, hot peppers, pickle and baka bann, a battered & deep fried plantain with a peanut satay sauce. The final stop was Cafe Papeneiland, a 17th century brown cafe, one of the oldest in Amsterdam. We had another beer (Brouwer I'TJ Tripel and Double) and some of their famous apple pie. Brown cafes were known for smoking (which is no longer allowed obviously), and jazz music. The tour was well worth the cost (this particular tour was through Eating Amsterdam Food Tours and they have locations in some other cities too). The food alone was worth it and Rudolph was a bonus. After the tour we returned to the apt and had a light dinner of charcuterie and an early night.Read more

  • Day4

    Amsterdam - walking tour & museum

    February 16, 2017 in the Netherlands

    We had cereal and tea in the apt. Met in Dam Square for our free tour with Sandemann's New Europe tour with Paul. We cut through some alleys and the Red Light District. Went to Oude Kerk, Waag (old city gate kept for important events like executions and autopsies), Rembrandt house in Jewish Quarter. Cut back to Old Town and headquarters of East India Company. We walked through an exhibit at the Amsterdam Museum where they had carpet tiles designed by each country in the world and arranged to create a beautiful image, proving that with diversity we create beauty. We saw two courtyards with churches that have had different religions over time. We headed west to the Jordaan area near Westerkerk. Learned about the story of Anne Frank and her family. We also learned a lot about how Amsterdam legalized marijuana so the police would have more time/resources to prosecute heroin dealers and users. The tour lasted from about 10am to 1pm. It was very informative and we had a good time. We had lunch at a restaurant near the endpoint of the tour at a place our guide recommended. We both had stamppot, a Traditional Dutch meal, Myron had it with sausage and I had it with meatball. We also shared bitterballen, which is like a deep fried beef stew ball. And beers of course. Maggie was very tired and had a meltdown. We went to the Amsterdam Museum in the afternoon. We learned about the history of the city, life in the city and an exhibit on a famous photographer. We bought Museumkaart tickets here, which ended up being a tremendous value. We ended up spending 60euro each on these MK tickets and between all the museums and churches we went to, would've spent about 80-90euro without it. Anyways, the Amsterdam Museum was very cool and unique. It was also easy to navigate with the stroller.

    Dinner was at the Burgermeester in the Jordaan area. S had a burger with grilled vegetables and M had a lamb burger with chorizo and jalepeno (it was very spicy). We also had a brownie, half corn on the cob, cole slaw and a shake/lemonade to drink.
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  • Day2

    Amsterdam - arrival day

    February 14, 2017 in the Netherlands

    Arrived at approx. 9am. We got our luggage and took the train to the city center. It was very fast to get to Amsterdam. We walked about 45min to our apt at 391 Keizersgracht. We booked through Cityden apartments. They had told me it was ok to email them from the train station and they would meet us there, but no one arrived for quite awhile. Myron called someone from a museum around the corner but no one picked up. Probably 20 minutes of sitting on the doorstep and Maarten showed up to check us in. That's probably our biggest complaint about booking apartments and not having international cell phone data to call for check-in. The apt is large (even larger than our home). Maggie's bed is a European version of the pack-n-play. The apt is modern, well equipped. We were told it would be a 1st floor apt but it's on the 2nd floor, and is 52 stairs to enter, even up a spiral staircase. The apt also has an open-concept living room/kitchen/dining area, jacuzzi tub and of course the ubiquitous flooding European shower (WHY DO THEY ALL FLOOD?!!) Maarten showed us around. After check-in, we went to the grocery store around the corner, Albert Heijn and bought a few basics. The coffee machine in the apt was a Nespresso machine which we also couldn't figure out the entire time we were there. We bought some cheese from a cheese shop, and wandered around the central area and canal belt. We had lunch at Greenwoods Keizersgracht. I had eggs benedict with spinach and Myron had a chicken club. We've discovered that carrying the stroller up and down all these stairs is going to be very difficult. We put Maggie to bed and had charcuterie for dinner: gouda, salami, prosciutto (why we got Italian meats in the Netherlands is beyond me), gherkins, baguette, spicy mustard. We ate and went to bed early due to jet lag and not sleeping well on the plane. Maggie didn't sleep well because her body clock was off due to jet lag so she kept waking up screaming. Eventually we got her up, fed her and went through the bedtime routine again around 10pm and put her down then (this was closer to the home bedtime). That worked and she slept through the night til the next morning. Normally she's a great sleeper so this was a bit challenging but the remaining nights were ok.Read more

  • Day1

    Amsterdam - departure day

    February 13, 2017 in the Netherlands

    Our scheduled departure was at 7:30pm for our flight to Amsterdam on Delta Airlines. Due to high winds they moved the flight up, but then had delays. Delta Airlines was absolutely fantastic. The flight attendants were great, very accommodating and doted on Maggie. Unfortunately our seats were next to the bathroom and I felt uncomfortable wearing earplugs and not being able to hear if Maggie needed me, so I didn't sleep at all. The flight wasn't full and Myron was able to lay down across 4 seats in the middle of the plane and get a little bit of sleep. Maggie did really well in her plane bed (we bought the JetKids bedbox for her...google it!), and slept for 4 hours. The flight was about 6.5 hours from Boston to Amsterdam nonstop, so she basically slept from the time the lights got shut off til they turned them on again. Unfortunately, Maggie is very long and filled up her plane bed so it won't get a ton of use as a plane bed for her.Read more

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