The day was rather grey and dreary and perhaps that set the mood for us. We had made no specific plans in advance, partly because of our problem with internet access (ie: we couldn’t pre-book tickets to the Anne Frank House) so we just wondered around and tried to enjoy the usual sites. The novelty of beautiful canals and pretty brick buildings with dangerous looking slants to them had worn off based on our experiences in prettier towns such as Utrecht, Leiden, Delft and Gouda, and our attempts to avoid certain ‘adult’ streets made our visit a little challenging. I don’t mind the kids seeing mostly naked women in windows or having to explain prostitution to them (Molly had seen this in Brussels), but it’s the super cheesy sex shops with a host of shocking supplies openly displayed that beg answers to questions that I’ll bet an 11 and 12 year old couldn’t even formulate that kept us away. I think it’s ok to keep them a little naive a year or two more.
So after our dreary day in Amsterdam, we had a super fun day in Madurodam and The Hague.
Madurodam is home to a miniature village that I did not expect to be so impressed with. This football field sized attraction is the Dutch version of it’s own country’s best assets packed into an impressive miniature city. There’s an airport, subway system, trams, moving cars, city hall, parliament, cathedrals, simple towns, farms, windmills, ING headquarters, etc. There’s places to run boats up and down through canals and locks, places to learn how to close the dam to prevent floods in parts of towns, you can see a Klomppiun factory where, if you put a euro in, the factory will ‘go to work’ then deliver by truck a pair of miniature porcelain ‘wooden’ shoes to you. Or you can visit the flower auction, and for a euro, they’ll deliver a tulip pin to you. The kids’ favourite factory may have been the Mars bar factory, where, I’m sure you can guess, the truck will deliver a mini Mars bar for 20 cents. It’s so cute, novel and well done that you don’t even mind giving them extra money. We spent hours walking through the miniature set up and we all loved the attention to detail - under the airport you could even see luggage tracks running with miniature suitcases! We thought it was good that the airport had KLM (Dutch airlines) planes as well as Korean Air. We topped our tour off with a video on the Dutch passion for soccer, we even played a family match afterwards…in their miniature field.
We made a last minute decision when we left Madurodam to drive the 2km into the Hague to visit the Maurithaus Museum. The kids didn’t want to go, but I wanted the see some Vermeers and Rembrandts. Barry had been there years ago with his parents, but I hadn’t and I’ve loved The Girl with the Pearl Earring since I read the book and watched the movie by the same name. I know the story is a fictions account of how Vermeer painted the picture, and I’m sure true art lovers would suggest my passion for the painting is simple and childish but I can live with that criticism, and I’d highly recommend the book or the movie to anyone. It helped bring the painting to life - though after seeing the real one, I realize it didn’t need much help.
We came back ‘home’ to a simple dinner of grilled Gouda cheese sandwiches, some reading, a tv show and a game of Dutch Blitz. George and Barry were the big winners tonight.
Wednesday morning we made a trip to FloraHolland - the huge flower auction in Alsmeer. It was fascinating. 3.5 million flowers and plants are sold there everyday! Now were sitting in Delft enjoying a cold beer in the square in order to use their free WiFi and dodging the rain.