Emma Gibbs visits one of Europe’s best short-break destinations with a toddler in tow. Here's what she learnt about travelling to Amsterdam with kids.
The last time I visited Amsterdam I was eighteen; eschewing the Spanish islands that most of my classmates were heading for, I was after something that was more “cultural”. In reality, of course, we were mainly interested in the city’s infamous coffee shops (though on hindsight I’m impressed that we made it into the Rembrandthuis). So, it goes without saying that my return to the city, with a toddler in tow, was always going to be different. Here’s what I learnt.
You can’t escape the drugs…or the prostitutes
Going to Amsterdam with a child raises a few eyebrows – even today, it seems, a lot of people immediately think of cannabis and the sex trade. Naively, I thought that staying away from coffee shops and out of the Red Light District would be enough to avoid these things. However, I was surprised by just how throat-ticklingly potent the smell of weed was at certain times and there were numerous occasions where we were caught off-guard by a rather underdressed lady in a window. Thankfully, the latter (and hopefully the former) went entirely over our daughter’s head.
It's all about location, location, location
The criteria by which we would normally choose a place to stay (if it was just my husband and I) – proximity to good restaurants, an interesting/lively neighbourhood – more or less went out the window on this trip. We were arriving into the city by train, so the most important factor was proximity to the station. The last thing we wanted to do was traipse across town with a bag and a baby in tow. The area around our hotel, the Renaissance, wasn’t the most thrilling, but we were just a stone’s throw from the canals and being so central meant that we could easily travel anywhere else in the city.