Amsterdam with kids: Westerpark kinderbadje

You know what’s a godsend for people in Amsterdam with kids? The kinderbadje at Westerpark, that’s what!

Westerpark kinderbadje Amsterdam with kids

Thanks to last weekend’s spectacular sunshine, we’ve practically been living at the Westerpark kinderbadje, or paddling pool, for the last couple of days. It’s a wonder we haven’t grown webbing between our toes. Now that quite a few of my friends and I have little ones, it’s much harder to get together for a picnic on a sunny day. I blame the kiddie pools—it’s next to impossible to tear friends away from their neighborhood kinderbadje.

Amsterdam with kids kinderbadje Westerpark

Naturally, I think the one in our neighborhood is the coolest. A few reasons why:

  • Water is changed daily, and contains no chemicals because it’s recycled to irrigate the greenery in the park. Clean and green!
  • A grassy, sunny slope right next to the pool is perfect for sunbathing and picnics.
  • Right around the corner from a good lunchwood-fired pizzaquality coffee (they have flat whites!), even mussels and gin and tonics. Not that babies should have coffee or gin and tonics, but hey, we parents need to get through the day somehow.
  • Ice cream! How can you not end a summer day at the pool with ice cream? Just a few meters away, Ijscuypje also makes sorbet milkshakes with rum—strictly for Mama and Papa, of course.

It was Tala’s first time at the pool last Friday, and this certified water baby is hooked. She loves crawling on her hands and feet in the shallows…

Tala crawling in the pool Westerpark

then taking great shaky strides with one hand with a death grip on Mama, the other splashing in the water.

Amsterdam with kids Tala at the baby pool Westerpark

Most of all, she’s fascinated by the older kids, squealing in delight (perhaps even envy) when she sees them swim, splash and run. I’m hoping it inspires her to get up on her own two feet and run after them… or am I?

Amsterdam with kids after paddling Westerpark

These pictures of Tala at the kinderbadje were enough to get Papa packing up and leaving the office at 3:30 p.m. on a Friday! Thankfully, this is the Netherlands, where doing so is considered totally normal on a warm day. Marlon wasn’t the only dad in his office clothes at the pool, I can tell you that.

Amsterdam with kids bike ride in Westerpark

Having Tala is making me rediscover my city in a whole new way—call it Amsterdam 2.0, or Amsterdam with kids. With her chubby little hand in mine and the sun on both our faces, I can’t wait to experience more.

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Brunch in Rotterdam: Memory Lane

If you think a good brunch is an essential part of a perfect weekend, then you’re a lot like me. And if you just happen to be in Rotterdam for the weekend, I’ve got a gem of a brunch place for you.

Rotterdam brunch Memory Lane

For a delicious brunch in Rotterdam, look no further than Memory Lane. Situated on Hoogstraat in the city center, this casual, cool restaurant serves both breakfast and a proeverij (tasting) lunch until 5 p.m. from Tuesdays to Sundays.

Marlon and I started our 24-hour date night in Rotterdam with brunch here. I was already charmed by their hilarious Twitter come-ons, but when we walked in we knew we had chosen the right place.

Rotterdam brunch Memory Lane restaurant

It’s homey, cozy, unpretentious, and casually cool without trying too hard. The relaxed combination of recycled wood, old cafeteria-style tables and chairs, and haphazardly piled cookbooks appealed to the deepest recesses of my eclectic granny heart.

Rotterdam brunch Memory Lane cookbooks

And then there was the food.

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Date night: Rotterdam edition

It’s Date Night. And the crowd goes wild!

WWE Live in Rotterdam Randy Orton

With a beer in one hand, a cone of mayo-slathered frites in the other, I navigate the sea of neon-clad 10 year-old boys who are crazed with the first hormonal stirrings, accompanied by gym-ripped dads dressed in the tiny muscle tees and leather chokers they seem to have saved from their gigolo glory days.

I sidestep pimpled teens who are communicating to each other entirely in football jargon and curse words, and push past a handful of (surprisingly large) women sporting big blond hair, fake tans and slick faux-leather leggings.

I hand the beer and frites to my husband, who’s as excited as a puppy, and settle down for the main event. As sweaty brutes in one-shouldered Spandex onesies toss each other into the air and smash metal folding chairs into each other’s ridiculously muscled backs, as a wife, I wonder: “Whose idea was this again?”

Oh yeah. Mine.

WWE Live in Rotterdam

When I first bought tickets to WWE Live in Rotterdam as a Christmas present for Marlon, a lifelong WWE fan, it seemed like a stroke of genius. Hey, I liked Hulk Hogan when I was four, so I totally get it! I boasted, feeling like a cool wife. Let’s go to Rotterdam! We’ll make a weekend of it!

Sitting in that teeming mass of testosterone, I wasn’t so sure. My eyes clung desperately to Randy Orton (above), the wrestler who seemed the least like a caricature and most like a real person. Also, he’s cute. Eye candy makes a world of difference.

Somehow, I made it through the evening without turning into a hormonally crazed tween or an ex-gigolo dad. We left Ahoy Rotterdam with Marlon looking chuffed and acting suitably grateful for my wifely sacrifice.

Rotterdam Erasmus Bridge by night

As for me? I needed a stiff cocktail. Let the real Date Night begin!

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Where to eat in Copenhagen: Hallernes Smørrebrød

Don’t these Danish smørrebrød look absolutely delicious? If you’re wondering where to eat these in Copenhagen, I’ll get to that in a minute.

Torvehallerne smorrebrod Copenhagen

First, I have to say: If there’s one way you don’t want to end a weekend away, it’s spending three hours in a hospital emergency room. But that’s exactly how I spent the hours of 3 to 6 a.m. on my last morning in Copenhagen.

I woke up i gasping from an excruciating pain right below my ribcage, and after an hour in godawful pain (like, vomiting and unable to stand up straight kind of pain), I hopped in a taxi to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. I got asked several times if I might be pregnant, and when the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me they wheeled out an ultrasound machine. You cannot imagine how terrified I was that I might see another Little Mango waving at me! Yeah, yeah, I’m not ready for Baby #2, but that’s another blog post all together.

It turned out to be a teeny tiny gall stone. Whew, yay, it’s not a baby! The doctor gave me extra strong painkillers and sent me home in a taxi. “My Copenhagen weekend cannot end like this,” was my last thought before I passed out in my hotel bed at 6:30 a.m, exhausted and miserable.

All this is why the last thing I did before catching my flight back to Amsterdam was drag myself to the Torvehallerne, the biggest food market in Copenhagen. I had to have something Danish, something delicious, and something good to remember Copenhagen by.

Torvehallerne market smorrebrod Copenhagen

I got all all of that in the fresh, flavorful and artfully stacked little package known as smørrebrød. Hallernes Smorrebrod at Torvehallerne makes these traditional Danish open-faced, brown bread sandwiches from a selection of local ingredients that changes daily.

Hallernes smorrebrod Copenhagen

They all look so appealing that it’s hard to choose! In the end I filled my plate with three, which makes a light and satisfying lunch. I chose juicy roast beef topped with pickles and crispy fried onions…

Hallernes Smorrebrod Torvehallerne Copenhagen

… and leverpostej, or chicken pate with bacon, home-pickled cucumber salad and beets (at the top). It was surprisingly tasty considering I hate chicken liver! My favorite was the laks, or citrus-marinated salmon with fennel cream, lemon and dill.

Now this is the way I like to leave a city: with its flavors on my lips. If you’re wondering where to eat in Copenhagen, look no further than Torvehallerne… and be sure to give Hallernes Smorrebrod a try!

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Copenhagen: first impressions

“Don’t believe it. It’s not always like this!” said the natives of Copenhagen, their expressions lying somewhere between delight and suspicion. They were referring to the brilliant summery weather that welcomed me (and fellow bloggers at The Hive) to Copenhagen last weekend, a perfect invitation to walk around and explore the city.

One free afternoon wasn’t enough, but here are a few things I got to do and see in Copenhagen.

Nyhavn Copenhagen

Probably the most photographed spot in Copenhagen, the 17th-century harbor of Nyhavn is a picturesque heritage area lined with old wooden ships and colorful townhouses. It might be touristy, but it sure is pretty.

For genuinely good dining on the waterfront, the stylish restaurants and jazz bar of The Standard—housed in an Art Deco building of Danish design—are just around the corner from Nyhavn.

Copenhagen The Black Diamond Royal Danish Library

Being a total nerd, the first place I went to see was the Royal Library and its sleek modern extension, The Black Diamond. Covered in black granite from Zimbabwe, this library is a contender for the coolest public library in Europe—a serious challenger for even my beloved Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam.

I would have been all over this place had it not been closed for Great Prayer Day, an actual Danish public holiday. I had to content myself with sprawling out on the waterfront deck beside the Black Diamond and reading a book in the sun. Oh, it’s a tough life.

Copenhagen Holmens Kanal

Perhaps Copenhagen and Amsterdam could be siblings: Copenhagen the prim, buttoned-up, neat freak older brother, and Amsterdam the shaggy-haired, relaxed, slightly wacky younger one. Like Amsterdam, Copenhagen is a waterfront city criss-crossed by canals, although the buildings are older and wonkier here.

Copenhagen bicycle

And like Amsterdam, Copenhagen is crazy about cycling. In fact, Denmark has the second largest number of bicycles per capita, ranking just below the Netherlands.

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