Overland travel to Amsterdam
Amsterdam trams, the Van Gogh museum for kids and the Vondelpark
Amsterdam flea market
Cat Boat and Hema
Amsterdam science museum and library
Rainy-day activities in Amsterdam
On the Wednesday, it rained. Heavily. In fact, it rained every day we were in Amsterdam. Google weather kept waving a sunny day in front of us, but it was always two days into the future, and continued to move forward at the same rate as time itself, so we stopped holding out hope after a while. I guess it's testament to Amsterdam's many attractions that we still found loads to do every day, with the only real casualty being our planned cycle ride to the Amsterdam Bos to visit the goat farm they apparently have there.
It seemed like a good day to check out the city's swimming pools. There were a couple of contenders: the Zuiderbads were apparently quite near our houseboat, at the museum quarter, and are meant to be within a beautiful building (plus I was secretly intrigued by their nude bathing hours); the day we'd gone to the flea market, we also saw the Marnixbad from the outside, so we knew where that was... but when we worked out what the Mirandabad was near, well, it jumped to the top of the list (and that it had a wave machine, kids' pool, slides, etc, didn't hurt either).
For, by poring over a combination of Google maps, the guide books and the internet, I'd worked out that it was just a 15 minute walk between here and...da da DA... the Miffy shop!
I should probably explain that I have an affection for "Miffy, the cute little bunny", due in part to my name (close friends call me Miff or Miffy). And then in part to the realisation that I could enjoy the work of Dick Bruna, since he's recognised as one of Europe's finest illustrators, without it having to be perceived as too childish. Ahem. So I like to think. Fortunately, once you have a kid, you get a few years' grace with these things. Not sure how I'm going to explain all the Hello Kitty figurines once Item's grown up and left home.
The Miffy shop
Finding the true location of the Miffy shop (Scheldestraat 61) turned out not to be a simple matter of Googling, since, as you may know, Miffy is known as Nijntje in Dutch, and the Miffy shop was accordingly de winkel van Nijntje. But such is my lust for Miffy goods, that I cracked it.
[I should add that our itinerary initially included a stop off at the nearby Beatrix park, apparently the nicest in Amsterdam, but because of the pouring rain we decided against this part - as I'm sure you can imagine].
Neither the swimming pool nor the Miffy shop are in the centre of town - we had to get a couple of trams to what felt like the outskirts. I guess in all it was only about a 15 or 20 minute journey (depending on connections), but we felt pretty adventurous.
Apparently, the whole area around there is full of nice shops - interior design, cafes, clothes, etc - but we didn't stick around to find out, again because of the rain. I can imagine it being a much more attractive day-trip in the sunshine.
Here it is: nirvana. For Item and I, anyway - it is a sign of The Boy's tolerance that he came along too.
The small shop was packed with Miffy goods (of course): I must say that whoever has the Miffy concession has stuck well to the original principles that make Bruna's illustrations so appealing, and many of them really are desirable objects in their own right.
While I slowly looked over the goods, making sure I hadn't missed anything, Item had raced to the other side of the shop where she made a discovery:
Yes, an enormous Miffy that sang the Miffy theme tune (in Dutch) when you pressed its paw. The shop assistant told me she didn't get sick of it at all, but I think she was probably lying.
Also, check out the garden behind!
Things we didn't buy include a giant floorlamp*:
(This photo actually taken in another shop window; we saw them in a few places)
Things we did buy included (deep breath):
Miffy clogs, a Miffy nightdress, two Miffy bicycle bells, a Miffy make-up bag, a Miffy coathanger, two sets of Miffy felt tips (which I'd been lusting after for ages after seeing them online with exorbitant shipping charges),a Miffy t-shirt, a Miffy toothbrush, a Miffy necklace, Miffy plasters, and a Dick Bruna cow lunchbox. Oh yes, and a Poppy Pig figure.
Yeah, ok, I know.
Amsterdam swimming pool
So anyway, then we took the tram a couple of stops further to the swimming pool, which we knew when we were approaching because all the streets are called things like President Kennedylaan, Rooseveltlaan and Churchillaan, and there's a Martin Luther King Park at the end - which is where the pool is. It must be pretty much the end of the line, because the tram turned a corner and shunted onto some tracks completely covered in grass, where it stopped.
I don't have all that much to say about the pool: it was huge, it kept Item happy, the wave machine was perhaps a little too rough for our likings, and we could have done without the loud pop music (I think we'd come during something called a "disco hour"). I did like the look of these little two-person baths you could put money in and then enjoy your own private jacuzzi, but we'd put locked our money away in the lockers (there's also a cafe, so if you are planning on going to the same swimming baths, try to take some cash in your swimming trunk pockets...or down your cleavage, or whatever.
After our swim, we took the trams home and Item, normally one to be a bit suspicious around unfamiliar food, scarfed down an entire cheese and onion pastry thing in seconds flat: the swimming, the rain, and the excitement had seemingly made her ravenous.
*I did actually really want this, but just like the bikes in Hema, it didn't seem like a very sensible thing to lug home. Good call, as it happened - that day, a London friend Twitpicced the same light she'd seen in an Islington shop. I haven't found out how much they are in the UK yet, but they were nudging a breath-swiping 200 Euros in Amsterdam.