Saturday, September 13, 2014

We Bike Amsterdam Bike Tours- Our marvelous Tour of the city!

The girls and I with our wonderful guide - Jasper
A look Back - Our Day (afternoon) in Amsterdam
The Rentree and impending move has been taking up a lot of my time lately.  I really hate moving and doing this on top of the chaos of setting activity schedules, back to school meetings, and working part-time has been a bit nuts. But such is life, we get through it in the end....I just can't wait to be on the other side of moving!!  Really, feeling settled definitely makes for a less stressed household!

I actually have a few minutes this morning and wanted to share about our bike tour in the city of Amsterdam that we did this summer with We Bike Amsterdam - Bike Tours.  This was our first time visiting the city and since I knew that EVERYONE rides bikes in Amsterdam, I thought it would be a great way for the girls and I to see the city.  I have always wanted to do a bike tour.  Reading about them always seemed so cool.
Arriving at the Central Rail Station and looking out toward the city
Church of Saint Nicholas
Our time in Amsterdam was very limited - we were lucky to have a long layover on the way to the States.  Our flight arrived around 12:30 pm and we had the whole afternoon and evening to enjoy the city.  Our flight out of Amsterdam to the States was early the next morning.  Knowing we really only had the afternoon, I looked into bike touring companies that would work for us.  One of my biggest questions was how would they handle a 6.5 year old who could ride a bike, but not necessarily in a city and not necessarily for 2+ hours.  She's too large for a back seat and too small for those distances.

I was really pleased with We Bike Amsterdam Bike Tours.  They got back to me quickly and arranged a convenient time for us to take a tour with them.  They explained that my youngest would probably ride in a Caddie bike which the guide would ride. That's the cool thing about bikes in Amsterdam (and Europe) they have all kind of options for kids and parents. (This didn't exactly make my 6 year old happy - but it was the safest solution.)
Getting our bikes ready and settling in..
We arranged to meet at 2:30 pm at the bike shop/office where they rent bikes for the tours.  Unfortunately, due to a delay with our luggage, waiting for our hotel shuttle and then missing the first train to the city center.  All of this made us a bit late for our tour.  I was able to send a quick email via Wifi from the hotel indicating that we were still arriving but were going to be late. this unfortunately is reality when traveling with kids.  I felt horrible, not a great impression to make but our guide Jasper was extremely accommodating and accepting of our late arrival.  (Thanks Jasper!)

He helped the girls and I pick out the right size bicycles and explained to my youngest about the Caddie bike. Now I'd love to say that all went smoothly, don't let the photos fool you - True to her spirited personality, she was not thrilled about not being able to ride a bike.  We didn't get a full blown fit, but close and after much coaxing by her sisters about how fun the Caddie bike would be and myself bribing her with my phone, so she could take photos and videos - she got in and accepted her position. (What we do as mother's to divert a full blown tantrum!)
Our guide Jasper & my middle daughter
From the beginning, I was impressed - Jasper, was an excellent guide!!  He started us off on some smaller roads, giving us all a chance to get comfortable with the bikes and then we headed off to see highlights of the city.
Heading into the Jordaan neighborhood
Numerous stops along the canals to learn more about the city
The Pulley systems on the houses to bring items in & out of the buildings
We would stop from time to time for Jasper to explain the history of the city, the buildings, unique features & architecture.  It was fun to be taken through time & history, as we looked at the different areas of the city.  We got to appreciate the Dutch culture, understand more of it's history and even learned more about the Dutch colonizing the States and why so many cities around New York have Dutch names!  My girls found that fact alone very fascinating!
Jasper pointing out different buildings - Note my youngest taking a video
The canals were really cool
The narrow streets, the canals, all the's definitely a unique city!
My youngest finally having fun & enjoying the city!
One of the fascinating places that we learned about was the Widows' House.  As so many men worked in the shipping industry, and the Dutch were known to take many risks at sea, many women were left widowed.  This left the country with a dilemma of  how to take care of these women, so the Netherlands was one of the first countries to create welfare/socialized financial support.  In return for their State allowance, these women did laundry and pressing for others and all lived in a large government supported housing complex.
Learning about the Widow's Complex and why it was built
Loved this cat - just basking in the sun at the Widow's Complex
After touring several parts of the city, we head to the largest park in the City - Vondelpark - a place where the people of Amsterdam can enjoy the outdoors.  A little oasis in the city!
Our ride lasted about 2 hours with many stops to hear about the city, it's history and it's culture.  We left the tour with much knowledge and a greater sense of the city.

Traveling solo with 3 kids was not always perfect as the photos can sometimes portray.  The girls were excited to travel and to see Amsterdam, but this extra nervous energy led to some normal sibling teasing from time to time. But overall, they were great and we all had a wonderful time!  

As I said, my youngest was bribed to to sit in the caddie bike by being able to use my phone to take photos and videos.  To be honest, she didn't do too badly. Below is a video montage of some of what she took.  Keep in mind, she was 6.5 years old.  The feature of Awesome photos through Google automatically compiled the video together.  A fun souvenir! It's only about a minute long - i hope you enjoy it!
If you are headed to Amsterdam, and are looking to take a bike tour - either joining a group or a private tour.  I highly recommend We Bike Amsterdam Bike Tours.  Jasper and Thijs were professional from start to finish! Great communication, answered all my questions! They are personable, friendly and very knowledgeable.  I was also extremely impressed with Jasper and how he related to kids!! He really engaged them with questions and some cool information!

Check out their website here - WeBike Amsterdam
or their facebook Page - /We-Bike-Amsterdam &
Twitter - @WeBikeAmsterdam
Bikes, Bikes and more bikes - I don't think I have ever seen so many bikes!
After our wonderful ride, we walked around a bit - bought some souvenirs and headed to dinner. Jasper was nice enough to recommend a wonderful restaurant.  
As we were walking - found these great window art/fashion displays
Loved the Windmill - Classic scene on this one.
We  really enjoyed our short time there and we all look forward to going back.  I think one of our observations that made this city truly unique was the sheer number of bicycles!  Everyone rides, every kind of bike imaginable.  Even by the train station, there was a parking garage FULL of bikes!  

We enjoyed the Chef's Sampler plate - Delicious!
Of course, Dessert was incredible too!
So we left the city with happily-satisfied stomachs and our heads full of some great knowledge and history of Amsterdam.  We also left wanting more... more royal treatment by our wonderful guide & more time there to explore.  This city is a definite must for a return trip!!  My girls are even asking when we are going back!

Thank you We Bike Amsterdam - Bike Tours, especially Jasper for giving us such a wonderful taste of your city and leaving us wanting more!!  We look forward to returning soon!!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, but I have to say this: 20 years ago, I went to Amsterdam for a weekend and walked around the city. At the time I was living in Belgium and was used to this kind of brick, canals, architecture etc; So I found it nice, but that was it. I was nevertheless deeply shocked by all the sex shops (some right near Mc Donalds) with horrible pictures and objects on display. I would NEVER take my children there!
    I guess on bikes you didn't really see anything like that up close...


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