Believe it or not, the
Griswolds (a reference often used in my family, but from a film series I’ve never actually seen) Kozlows spent 10 days here in Amsterdam. And I’m pretty sure they loved it.
Obviously the usual family drama and sibling stand-offs occurred, but what would a family gathering be without any of that BS?
Arriving with a checklist of things they needed to see/do, my mom made sure every one of those items were checked off at some point throughout the week. Although there may not be much photo evidence of this trip (oops?), I’m here to document the experience in my own way.
Watch out, this post could get a little lengthy …
Arriving on a Thursday morning, I didn’t get to meet the sleepy-eyed jet lagged bunch at their apartment until the mid-afternoon, after I finished class.
Having to bike half way around the world (aka, 15 minutes) from my dorm to their apartment got old after just a few trips, so I abused by Ovchipkaart for the rest of the week. Oops.
After a round of hugs and hellos, we all assumed positions lounging around the living room. Typical.
Everyone was too tired to do anything, but eventually mustered up enough energy for me to introduce them to the local grocery store, Albert Heijn, and grab a family dinner at a near by restaurant.
After a confusing and question-filled trip to the store (“Why are the Heineken bottles only 8oz., and more importantly, why are they twist offs?”) we seemed manage to stock up on the basics for the apartment, and could finally start enjoying a little bit of the city.
Only walking about two blocks, we decided to eat at Kaap de Goede Hoop. This cozy little bar/restaurant offered a great menu, and we all ended up ordered either the traditional pork or chicken schnitzel. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who’s in the position to give it a try!
Trying to discuss our plans for week, I began to realize this was going to be a “play it by ear” kind of trip. The only thing we knew for sure was that the following day we had tickets to the Anne Frank House at 3:30 pm.
Spending the first night, and basically every night there after, at the apartment, I had to bike home for class, just to return a few hours later to start our fist adventure.
Not previously having spent much time on that side of the city myself, figuring out that tram line was a group project. Once we decided to just place our trust in Google maps and dealt with buying tickets, it was time for the weary travelers to finally sit back (or keep walking) and enjoy the city of Amsterdam.
After spending about an hour and a half in the Anne Frank House, we wandered around the surrounding area, going in and out of various kinds of shops. Eventually, we made our way to Proeflokaal Aerie, a beer bar that serves only beer from Dutch breweries. A great Yelp find by my mom, we had a chance to sit down and rest.
No one’s ever used to walking around a city the way you do when you travel.
More walking and another family dinner finished off the night, heading back to the apartment reasonably early to succumb to that never ending jet-lag.
The weekend was full of exploring, getting slightly lost, and discovering some really cool parts of the city that I hadn’t even known existed.
We started Saturday afternoon by eating and shopping our way through the Noordermarkt. This market basically takes over a large square at the edge of the Jordaan area, and has everything from fresh produce and fish, to homemade pasta, sweets, etc.
We each tried an extremely fresh, local oyster.
After sampling our way through the entire food section of the market, we decided to go back through and buy some fresh ingredients to make dinner later on.
Some more walking and a tram or two later, we were walking up and down De Negen Straatjess. Also known as, The Nine Streets, this is a trendy area with small boutiques, high-end designers, nice restaurants, cafés, etc.
De Negen Straatjess
Eventually finding ourselves back at the apartment, our family dinner turned into a night of taking turns napping, eating, and just spending time together.
Sunday’s plans were even more unorganized than the day before, so after spending half the morning debating hop-on-hop-off canal passes versus making our way to the Red Light District, we finally decided to explore Dam Square and make our way to my dorm.
Having to go back to my place before heading out for the day, we all rendezvous in Dam Square. Being chilled to the bone rather quickly, we took the tram to the Christmas Market in Rembrandtplein. Filled with sweets, sweets, and more sweets, we again tasted our way through the market before making our way to my dorm.
After a very quick tour of my living quarters, we went to Brouwerij’t IJ, a local brewery and bier garden.
I enjoyed my glass of white wine while the rest of them were adventurous, ordering things off of a Dutch menu.
Since Monday is the only day I don’t have class, we set aside this time to take a day trip to Brussels, Belgium. After hours of research on Sunday night for the places to see and things to do, that I definitely had no part of, my mom found out that Brussels was going to be on strike.
That one day. The one Monday that we wanted to go.
Obviously our plans had to change, and Monday became yet another unorganized series of events. After having to rework our plan, we got a late start and went to Pancakes! for some typical Dutch pancakes.
Once being beyond satisfied and finally understanding what all the pancake hype was about, we hopped back on the tram and headed to the Heineken Experience.
Now, if you know my parents, you know that all they drink is Heineken. So this was a pretty cool part of the trip for them.
We learned about the history of the product, heard about how the beer is made, became part of the bottling experience, even and got to enjoy a few cold ones.
Not ending our ‘experience’ when we left the building, we took the complementary Heineken Experience canal cruise to the Brand Store in Rembrandtplein.
The Heineken employee that was with us on our short trip was very friendly, even offering fun facts about the things we were passing. Now we could cross both the Heineken Experience and a canal cruise off of that original list of things to do.
After spending what seemed like forever in the Heineken Brand Store, we stopped at a random Irish pub before heading home for the night.
Tuesday was my full day of classes, so I didn’t even get to see the family.
Not meeting back up with them until Wednesday evening after my class, again, I’m not really sure what the details of their day were. I think the parentals ventured out on their own and took the train to a neighboring city, while Michael was left to explore Amsterdam on his own …
Doing something out of the ordinary for the Kozlow family that evening (as if being in Amsterdam together wasn’t enough…), we went to a comedy show at the infamous Boom Chicago! Seeing a show titled, “Smart Phones, Dumb People,” we spent about an hour and a half, and a bucket or two of beer later, laughing at the crafty improv the comedians were dishing out.
After the show, we went to Bar-B to grab a burger and beer. Having Heineken taps in the table, it was definitely a fun place that satisfied our craving.
Contrary to how it felt, Thursday was Thanksgiving! Since Thanksgiving isn’t a thing here and classes still exist, I again had to tram back and forth.
Being away from home for four months is hard enough, no need to mention missing the holidays. Thankfully I was fortunate enough to have my family join me for Thanksgiving, but since that wasn’t the case for Katie or Mikey, we invited them to spend the afternoon with us.
Katie, accompanied by her boyfriend who was also visiting from home, and Mikey finally had a chance to meet some of the people I’ve talked about all semester, and my parents were excited to finally put faces to the names they’ve been hearing for the last four months.
The Thanksgiving dinner was untraditional, but still a success. The antipasti, was followed by pasta, and then lamb chops and chicken. As if that wasn’t enough, there were brussel sprouts, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and about 100 other things as sides!
Having to fight the severe food coma that we both fell into, my brother and I went to a Rebelution concert at Melkweg.
Since Friday was the last full day of #FamInTheDam, there were no organized activities, but instead the day was spent seeing last minute things and going back to places to shop or just walk around again.
Having different interests in what to see on the last day, my brother met me at my dorm after I finished class so we could explore together and the parents went off on their own again.
Meeting back at the apartment for the last night, it was sad to watch them start to gather their newly purchased souvenirs and pack to head home.
Not trying to get too emotional on Saturday while they were leaving, I just kept reminding myself (and my teary-eyed mom) that I would be home in
three weeks! (But since it has taken me two weeks to write this post, we’re officially down to one week.)
I am beyond grateful for my entire experience abroad, and it means even more to me now that I had the chance to share it with my family.
I want to insert a typical group photo in front of a canal here, but unfortunately we didn’t take any. Not even one. Go figure.