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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The beautiful beaches of Naxos

After pregnancy and childbirth, I was exhausted, yearning for the sun, and wanted to treat myself to something special. So Marlon and I agreed that this year’s Big Trip would be to a place that had long been on both our travel wishlists: Greece.

Since we planned this trip when Tala was barely two months old, we made a lot of newbie parent mistakes (more on those later) and paid for them big time. We barely crawled to our hotel that first day, exhausted after nearly 12 long hours of travel (!!) with a baby.

The only thing that wasn’t a mistake? Choosing to go to Naxos.

Greece has so many stunning islands, that it can be overwhelming to choose one. As the travel planner of the household, I was stumped. We wanted an island that was baby-friendly, with beautiful beaches and great food. Elena of Olive Tomato came to our rescue by suggesting Naxos. Thank you Elena!

Naxos Agios Prokopios beach

The long golden stretch of Agios Prokopios was where Marlon, Tala and I spent most of our time in Naxos. Our hotel was closer to the quiet end of this beach, away from town with its restaurants and bars. Most of the people around us were Greek families, with teenagers taking selfies, babies playing in the sand, and mothers and grandmothers squealing over Tala. And that was just how I liked it.

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Going to Greece!

Most of Europe has already taken their annual summer holidays, but we are just about to embark on ours. This blog will be quiet for the next week or so, because we are going to Greece!

Oia at sunset

Oia at sunset, image by Karol M, via Flickr

Santorini, image by Mysystlav Chernov, via Wikimedia Commons

Beautiful Naxos, image by Web4camguy, via Flickr

Greece has always been one of the big items on my travel wishlist, and I can’t believe that in just a few days, it will finally get crossed off. Marlon and I booked this trip when Tala was barely two months old, and even before our departure, we’ve already discovered some big newbie parent mistakes that we made when we knew nothing about traveling with a baby!

Still, I’ve looked forward to this trip for months, and it comes at a much-needed time. We will split our holiday between the islands of Naxos and Santorini, just two hours apart by ferry. To make up for the blog silence while we’re away, I promise to share lots of Greek gorgeousness with you all upon our return. Of course, there’s always Instagram.

Till then, please help yourselves to the archives. See you soon!

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Out and about in Alicante

This heat wave has really sapped my blogging mojo. I meant to finish my Alicante posts last week, but without the comfort of airconditioning, I just haven’t found the energy to do anything. There are a few more things I want to share from our impromptu weekend escape—proof that there is more to Alicante than just the beach, and proof that we didn’t actually lie around like beached whales the entire time.

I love how European cities and towns always seem to have a main promenade. In Alicante, it’s the Explanada de España, which runs alongside the marina and ends just before Playa Postiguet.

Alicante Explanada de Espana

Alicante Explanada de Espana buildings

Alicante Explanada de Espana mosaic

Lined with palm trees, overlooked by elegant old buildings and laid with an estimated 6.5 million marble tiles, it’s where the locals go for the paseo, (evening stroll), or to occupy the wooden folding chairs scattered around the promenade and gossip with their amigas.

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Heatwave!

The heatwave sweeping Europe has ensured at that long last, the Netherlands is finally being treated to a real summer. By “real summer”, I mean humidity levels of 90+ percent and temperatures of about 28-32 degrees, very close to Manila’s. And we are loving it!

Baby pool bubbles

We set up our balcony this weekend with pillows and a duvet for Tala to wriggle around on, and bought an inflatable baby pool that could easily fit an overheated parent if necessary. We rigged a wine crate up as a table and stocked it with ice cold ginger beer, sangria fresca, spicy mango hummus and vegetable crisps, and whipped up strawberry smoothies and frozen coffee slushies. We slathered on the SPF, watched Tala splash around on her back in the water, and blew bubbles over her as she made the funniest faces.

Post-splash nap

After enjoying the sun, we retreated to the cool shade of the house, switched on the electric fan we brought from Singapore (a rarity in these parts) and passed out multiple times. Family naps are the best!

Cat and baby napping

Tala learned to roll over last week, just a few hours after I published her four-month blog post. Since then she’s been experimenting with different ways to sleep. Most often, she sleeps exactly as I do: sprawled on her stomach, head turned to one side. The first few nights after she learned to roll over, I was compelled to keep checking on her in her sleep. But she’s a strong girl—she’s never face-planted while rolling over and she always manages to put her head to the side, so I guess she’s in the clear.

The heatwave continues throughout the week, so I’m keeping the baby pool permanently filled and stocking the freezer with more frozen coffees. Side note: Dutch cafes do not sell iced coffee, even in the worst heat. I’m amazed the business-savvy Dutch haven’t seized upon the opportunity to charge more for a few cubes of ice.

The heat reminds me of home, but with a more celebratory feel—nobody is inside cowering beside the airconditioner, they’re all out in various states of undress, having the time of their lives. Because we all know this won’t last forever.

How do you plan to keep cool this week?

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