Monthly Archives

February 2016

Travel

Exploring Jordaan with Kids

February 16, 2016

Jordaan cat pic

There are many cute areas in Amsterdam, but Jordaan is probably the cutest. Despite the large amount of tourists in the area it is still a place where real people live, work and do their everyday things. Jordaan is full of nice restaurants and cafes and often the streets resemble a small village with children playing, and people having drinks and eating on the narrow terraces, and chatting with friends, neighbours and fellow shop owners. The Noordermarkt square has an organic farmer’s market on Saturday mornings and a flea market on Monday mornings that you should go and check out. At the Saturday organic market you can have breakfast or lunch or gather ingredients for a nice picnic later on for yourself. On Saturdays there is also another, bigger market on nearby Lindenstraat which is definitely worth a visit. Westerstraat is less cute but has also plenty of shops and restaurants for the hungry ones.

My favourite street in Jordaan is Tweede Tuindwarsstraat. It is squeezed in between two other almost equally lovely streets Tweede Egelantiersdwarsstraat and Tweede Anjeliersdwarsstraat (not to be completely confused check the area from the map: it is one street where every block has their own street name). There is a nice Italian restaurant called La Perla that makes great pizzas, for coffee and/or beer I would stop by at Café de Tuin. Pinxtos restaurant La Oliva has a great selection of pinxtos sandwiches and the Japanese Pancake World a little further down the road is a great place to eat as well. La Oliva is often very busy so make sure to have a reservation (their address is Egelantiersstraat 122-124 as they are in the corner of the two streets) and the Japanese Pancake World is often closed for a longer time in the winter so check that out before getting fixated on a Japanese pancake lunch. For hot days there is a small ice cream shop Monte Pelmo’s IJs. In between the cafes and restaurants there are a lot of small boutiques that sell new and second hand items. If for some mysterious reason I would have to live the rest of my life on one street, I would choose Tweede Tuindwarsstraat.

Tweede Tuindwarsstraat was also on the way from our home to our favourite playground, the Kip and Konintje (Chicken and bunny) in the end of Slootstraat where I have spent countless afternoons playing with my girl and having picnics. First of all the playground is surrounded by houses so there is no traffic anywhere nearby and the chance of escape is zero if you keep an eye on the only gate there is (the handle is also so high that little ones will not reach it). In accordance with the name there is a small house with chickens and bunnies for the kids to look at. There are a lot of small bikes available, swings, sandpit and a small slide. I think it is the best playground for toddlers, but not necessarily so interesting for the bigger kids. For parents there are chairs and a picnic table where you can have a nice lunch together with your family. When the sun starts to shine in the spring you can choose a sunny corner from the playground and enjoy the warmth while your kids play in a safe environment. Because it is in an enclosed inner yard there is also no wind, which makes it the warmest corner of the city basically any time of the year.

Travel

Go West!

February 8, 2016

amsterdam with kids part II

I was claiming that after the move I will rise from the northern piles of powder snow stronger and more productive than even, but no, no, no – it was not me rising but the little devil called influenza. Now that the all family influenza camp is over and before I let all my thoughts go towards our new exotic home city of Helsinki, I will first finish my Amsterdam series for traveling parents. So here goes my main advice: go to Westerpark, you will not be disappointed!

Now Vondelpark is the one Amsterdam park which dominates the tourist guidebooks – it’s beautiful and there are a lot of activities for kids and I highly recommend you go there as well – BUT I dare to claim that for families Westerpark has even more to offer.

In the summer months there is a nice, big paddling pool and it is not quite as busy as the Vondelpark pool. From the kiddie pool you can continue to a playground called SamSam (Gosschalklaan 6-8, there is a daycare that carries the same name), which is just a couple of minutes’ walk away. Samsam has two separate sections: one for bigger kids and another one for toddlers. I used to go a lot to the toddler area as they have tiny swings the kids can try out on their own, as well as a small slide and trampolines (= your toddler won’t need your help all the time, but can explore on his/her own and you can have a coffee… having coffee is so important). The cherry on top are the clear fences around the playground, so a successful escape attempt is highly unlikely.

There are also plenty of restaurants in Westerpark. In the summer Westergasfabriek has an IJscuypje ice cream shop (Gosschalklaan 7), that in my opinion sells the best ice creams in Amsterdam. For food I usually go to Pacific Parc: it is easy to enter with a pram, there is lots of space and interesting deco that your kids can look at, and good music. In the winter they can have a natural fire in a stove inside which feels so sweet and is nice to look at, but you might not want to sit next to it if you have kids that are still in the age when being drawn towards the self-destructive forces of Thanatos is their major daily activity. Pacific Parc also has high chairs and a diaper changing station in the toilet.

Westerpark also offers a De Bakkerswinkel bakery café where I went regularly already before having a kid, but even more after having a child. At least two of their locations (West and Centre) have got a kids’ corner with toys and pens and paper for drawing. It sounds a bit boring, but you should go for their sandwiches where you can pick your spreads and fillings yourself. Actually: in general you should always go for sandwiches when in the Netherlands as the Dutch know how to make them. And never leave a Bakkerswinkel without buying a jar of their passion fruit curd. It is possibly no less than the most delicious jam on Earth.

Westergasfabriek is also home to one of the nicest Sunday markets in the city. They sell different kinds of foods and handicraft and the market is always filled with families and kids running around. And you think this was it? No, no, no. If you continue deeper into Westerpark, you will find a nice petting zoo (Kinderboerderij Westerpark, check opening hours, not necessarily open every day!) with a small playground. Opposite to the petting zoo there is an entry to the Westerpark Natuurtuin where you can take a walk with whole family, see birds and read a little about the nature and animals in the area.

Finally, the last place around Westerpark is such a treat that I recommend you make a separate trip there or at least make sure you have 1-2 hours to play and relax. Buurtboerderij Ons Genogen (Spaarndammerdijk 319, ) is a little piece of heaven just on the other side of the railway track from Westerpark: there is a cafeteria/restaurant, beautiful terrace and garden with tables surrounded by fields where horses and sheep run around. They organize different kinds of events and you can rent the place for parties. We had our daughter’s second birthday there so it goes without saying that I have so many good memories of the place. They also have a small charity shop where you can bring your own stuff and take something with you for free.

These are my favourite activities in Westerpark. Hope you enjoyed. There will be more tips soon on a few new areas – and after that I’ll start focusing my writing on life in Helsinki (and visiting the city with kids of course)!