At last! We escaped the holiday village and headed for Amsterdam today which is a much more convoluted trip that we thought it would be when we booked to stay here. I had wanted to do something yesterday but it was really pouring with rain so we opted for the indoor swimming pool with mega-water slides: Our idea of hell, the kids’ idea of heaven. By the end of the day, I was ready to scream! So despite the rain this morning, we headed out to meet up with a friend of a friend. It was so successful we spent 6 hours together! How cool is that! She hung out with us whilst we wandered around Waterlooplein and Nieuwmarkt markets in Amsterdam. The former is a flea market with everything from ‘antiques’ to army surplus to crafts to secondhand clothes. The latter is, at least on a Saturday, predominantly a food market. At Waterlooplein, we bought the kids’ unusual souvenirs, which for us is something meaningful to remember the trip by, not the typical tourist tat. We got the kids an ‘antique’ brass telescope and compass (and fun, unusual, colourful plastic watches which they’ve enjoyed practicing telling the time from all afternoon). At Nieuwmarkt, we bought fresh raspberries, delicious spelt gingerbread cookies and all had genuine Dutch ice-cream which was very good (although, surprise, surprise given my recent love affair with Paris, not as good as Amorino in Paris!).
We also enjoyed some stimulating intellectual conversation with our new Dutch friend. Not about the Netherlands but about Palestine, and the situation there, which she knew a great deal about. She had a very interesting perspective, although in hindsight, it was odd to sightsee in one place whilst feeling engrossed in conversation about somewhere quite different! I don’t know how much the kids took in about Amsterdam since my attention was a bit distracted, but I did try to point out the obvious about the gabled, narrow houses, canals and bridges, the predominance of bicycles and steer them away from the red light district. Fortunately, they didn’t ask questions about shop upon shop of drug paraphernalia which you can’t avoid! We are pretty liberal but have friends that aren’t, so would rather our kids not be stigmatized for knowing things that our friends would rather, understandably, their kids didn’t find out from ours, such as the size and style of bongs!!
Thinking about the day whilst sitting on the Metro and then on the drive home from the Amsterdam ‘Park and Ride’, I hoped that the kids might have learned that meeting new people is at least as important as visiting new places. Both our new friend and my hubbie and I had preconceptions about the other and it was great fun to have those adjusted! We had spent some time this morning looking for the other whilst standing a couple of feet apart at our designated meeting spot. She was looking for an Arabic wife wearing conservative, shapeless clothing and a headscarf. I was looking for an Arab with kind of scruffy activist clothing! We both ended up being pale and fair and dressed differently to how we’d expected! Only the fact of us repeatedly looking at our phones tipped us off as to who we both were! Hysterical!
I’m mourning the fact that we were in Amsterdam but didn’t see any of the museums or galleries on my list. But part of enjoying a holiday is managing one’s expectations, especially with young kids, so instead I’m sitting back this evening, breathing a sigh of relief that I got out of here at all! And we’ve made a lovely new friend! And the kids have learned the importance of people as well as places.
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IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!
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