I desperately wanted to take our kids to both The Netherlands and Poland: I got half of my wish granted as we were able to make it to see Amsterdam one last time. Our main purpose in visiting was to let Parker experience the Anne Frank House and the Corrie ten Boom Hiding Place. We kept our Truckster with us as long as possible, knowing that there was a good chance we wouldn’t get to go anywhere thanks to COVID. (Had we not planned this trip we would have shipped it to NYC much earlier.)
We submitted two leave forms: One for The Netherlands and one for Poland. Poland never opened up so I am sad that I didn’t get to take the bigs to Auschwitz. While I was disappointed about this, we made the best of our trip to Amsterdam.
I picked our hotel because of the prices and it had an open air parking lot (something you need to consider when driving a 12-passenger van in Europe). It was literally across the street from the Amsterdam airport. There was a bus stop just outside our hotel and transit was convenient in where it went, but what we didn’t know was that their system is horribly inconvenient. They have red busses, blue busses, and trams, and something else that we didn’t use. Because of COVID you have to purchase tickets online – you can’t buy from the bus driver when you get on. Twice all seven of us boarded and the tickets we had purchased weren’t for the correct bus. We had no choice but to ride it out! NOT a fun feeling!
Our first stop was to the Hard Rock Cafe… dining was still at 30 people inside, and since our family is about a third of that, we were content to sit outside. The weather was wonderful!
Next up was the Anne Frank House. I was slightly stressed because we had a number of issues getting there:
1. With only four minutes till the bus was to arrive, Hayden realized he didn’t have his mask, and I didn’t have a spare. We missed that bus and had to wait for the next one. (About a 10 minute delay, if I recall.)
2. When we boarded, the machine that validates the digital ticket beeped red for each of our tickets. This was our first experience having the wrong tickets for the bus we NEEDED to be on.
3. The bus pulled into the stop where we needed to get off, honked at the bus that was parked in the spot he needed (and we thought he was waiting for that bus to move before he pulled into the space to let us off). Nope. He just went on around the parked bus… with us still on board! That was a problem!
It all worked out as I used the app to figure out where were going and fortunately we were heading in the direction of the city of Amsterdam. We just transferred onto a correct bus at the next stop.
In the end we got there with 30 minutes to spare.
I buddied up with Parker since he and I had just read The Diary of a Young Girl and his reaction to each room did not disappoint. He soaked it all in and as I watched him experience this place I recalled all the hours we spent together reading that diary. So much of what she wrote gave us perspective on what we were going though at the time (early COVID days during complete lock-down). God really timed her book in our school semester to line up with what we were going through. His reactions and the seriousness with which he took the experience was so rewarding as a teacher. The bigs remembered going through when they were his age so I’m hopeful that this will be part of his life-long memories.
Toward the end of the tour guests get to see the actual diary she was given on her 13th birthday. Parker felt rushed and I could see that he wasn’t done soaking that in, so after the final video he circled back to the diary. This teacher-mama was so glad he was able to grasp the meaning of what he was seeing as much as a 10-year-old can.
Pancake lunch afterwards and, per the Dunkhorst’s suggestions we avoided the Mexican version.
Our third stop was The Hiding Place – the ten Boom home. Parker got to go to both the Anne Frank House and the Hiding Place when he was two but doesn’t remember those experiences. On that visit the bigs got to race from the dining room to the hiding place the way the Jewish people did who were in hiding and we hoped Parker would get that experience this time. We are happy to say that he did! 24 seconds. (The second try he was much quieter.)
Before the race up the stairs we had a private tour and Parker impressed her with his knowledge of Corrie’s story. (One of the soldiers who beat her came to hear her speak years later and she forgave him for what he had done to her.)
I love being able to homeschool my kids and organize their education based on what we can experience in person. Thankful for such freedom and I don’t take that lightly.
Here are the pictures from the first trip back in 2012.
Pictures from this trip: