My love of travel began when I was 11 and put on a plane from South Africa to visit my grandmother in London. It was a huge adventure and I’m ever grateful to my parents for the sacrifices they made to send me.
Now as a mother, I share that passion for exploring new countries with my daughter to expose her to other cultures, lifestyles and differing approaches which people have. When she was younger, it was more challenging as her patience and attention span was limited, but now as a teenager, it’s much easier and a lot of fun.
Sandra has proven to be a wonderful travel companion and each year, we look forward to planning our trips. This year, we went to the Netherlands and were entranced by the spectacular scenery and canals with the bonus of beautifully cold weather forcing us to buy socks and a jersey!
We both enjoy trying to be as ‘local’ as possible. We hired bicycles and even with cranky knees, managed to cover many kilometers although the longer trips from Amsterdam to The Hague on to Utrecht, we did by bus. (too many hours sitting at the computer and broadcasting)
Amsterdam has a wonderful selection of museums, and so spent many days there. Starting at the NEMO Science Museum, we by-passed the hordes of school children and began on the top floors. The interactive and hands-on approach is of course very effective, coupled with very concise and easy to read explanatory notes in both Dutch and English. Although so busy, because of the numerous floors and good layout, we didn’t have to wait in long queues. It’s also great for parents, who can participate alongside their children. A visit to the coffee house on the top floor is a must if only for the spectacular views over Amsterdam.
After a short walk, we reached the Botanical Gardens – not on a par with some others we have visited in Italy, Spain, Austria or UK as in Amsterdam it was quite small, but interesting and a good opportunity to perfect ones patience levels taking photos in the butterfly section.
Body Worlds in Amsterdam is another ‘must see’ activity with teenagers. Covering 6 floors, it poses and questions about what makes us happy. I won’t give it away, but do leave sufficient time!
I have no difficulties in getting Sandra into art museums and galleries – and we spent another whole day in the Rijksmuseum. The great masters are there but it is busy, not only with tourists but locals too. Make sure to book in advance for the van Gogh Museum, otherwise, you’ll not find tickets. We intentionally left some museums out, so have a good excuse to return!
The Hague captured our hearts. The atmosphere is completely different to Amsterdam where we left behind the pungent smell of weed, sex and the rather seedy Red Light District. I don’t understand why, but teenagers seem to be fascinated by prisons, so we began at the Museum De Gevangenspoort. I thought it rather grisly and graphic but it was deemed to be ‘part of history’ and interesting. It’s easy to travel in Den Haag, so do make the effort and catch the Tram 1 with its 20km tracks and go from Delft to Scheveningen Beach. It was bitterly cold and windy, so needed a quick detour for jerseys and socks. Lots of antique fairs in Delft, food and boutique shops with very reasonably priced clothes!
The last part of our journey was to Utrecht – the university town which has some beautiful lakes. This was to be the relaxing part of our holiday, but thanks to a gym and indoor pool, turned out to be hard work as I was put through my paces by ultra fit Sandra! Again on our hired bikes, we shopped locally and got drenched in showers with our shopping. Where oh where was my little car?!! Laughing though, and relieved not to be experiencing the heat wave of Cyprus, we forged ahead giggling and enjoying ourselves. All too soon, we were on the Transavia flight home. We will be going back though, sooner than later.
Till next time, take care and don’t burn if you’re in the sun!