Overland travel to Amsterdam
Amsterdam trams, the Van Gogh museum for kids and the Vondelpark
Amsterdam flea market
Handily close to the market was another feline attraction: the cat boat (or Poezenboot). This is a cat-rescue centre that happens to be housed on a barge: it opens for visitors for a couple of hours on set days.
Item loved going in and stroking all the cats. To be honest, I'm not sure the cats enjoyed her company quite as much, but we tried to limit her boisterousness. To counteract any additional stress she may have caused the poor moggies, we made a donation on our way out, and also purchased a couple of postcards for Item's scrapbook.
Lastly, we made a visit to Hema*: not exactly a tourist attraction, this shop had been described to us as a cross between Woolworth and Ikea, which was fairly accurate. Fortunately, it has Ikea's design style and Woolworth's (ex) range of goods, rather than the other way around. It was a lot of fun to go round and pick out really quite cheap things like wooden toy food, plasters with animals pictures on them, a cat-themed duvet cover and some clothes for Item and me (we vowed that if we return, we won't pack so many clothes for any of us so that we could buy nice ones here).
Think lycra basics in bright colours, luggage, kitchenware, stationary, toys... and even bikes, which we regretfully recognised might not be the most sensible purchase when we had so much luggage to take home.
Actually, it was the visit to Hema that gave Item the idea of our writing this guide: "We should tell other families what a good shop this is". As the breadwinner and chief scrooge in our family, my impulse is that we should also tell other parents how much it's easy to fritter away on all those nice little bits and pieces. We were reasonably restrained... I mean, I could have bought a lurid purple and orange floral suitcase rather than just the matching luggage tag. If the Euro had been weaker, let's just say it could have been an altogether more heady experience, and we would have had even more swear-inducing bags to carry home at the end of our holiday.
I'll tell you something else about that wooden play food: Item played with it for at least an hour a day for the remainder of our holiday. It's remarkable how much value you get out of a toy when there's nothing else around.
*It's that shop with the clever website that did the rounds a couple of years back... you know, where the cup falls over and nudges all sorts of other things into happening - worth a look if you haven't seen it, and the only example of an animated splash page that I wholly approve of.