Happy New Year!!!

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Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, prosperous 2014!

Like most adults we know, NYE stopped being a big deal ages ago. Mr French and I usually celebrate it at home, far from over priced meals and forced enthusiasm. But this year was slightly different. This year we spent Christmas at home taking care of an elderly parent. This year, we needed a holiday!

Like Goldilocks debating the options, a flight to Vienna seemed too far. Having already been this year, the Eurostar to London felt like déjà vu. A 4 hour drive to see the recently renovated Rjksmuseun and enjoy an excellent (spicy!) Indonesian meal sounded just right. It became the perfect fit when E and Em agreed to join us.

They could even take the Thalys home a day early to celebrate New Years with their friends. It sounded like the perfect adventure for our salad bowl of a family. And it was…

Screen shot 2014-01-02 at 11.56.45 AMAs we strolled the streets, I was constantly asking myself why Amsterdam is not a more popular destination. They have as much history as the French, with harmonious 17th century architecture that highlights an illustrious past and plenty of museums to explore. The dramatic skies shift and evolve, creating light infused scenery evoking Vermeer and Rembrandt. The city is small, easy to navigate and couldn’t be more pedestrian friendly. And the place is not a has-been; Holland is a leader in contemporary design and an important influence in the slow food movement. For the sporting, adventurous types, it is a short bike ride from the train station to N Amsterdam where dykes and windmills are still a common part of the cityscape. I really can’t imagine a better destination for a city break.

Screen shot 2014-01-02 at 11.59.38 AMIn the 9 Street district, eccentric merchants share their passions with the world. There is a button store, a tooth brush store and a clothing boutique that sells cupcakes!

That was the only neighborhood we had time to shop on this trip, as we spent our hours lost in museums and savoring food we could never find in Paris. This week I’ll be writing about those museums and those meals, but for now, close your eyes and imagine the bicycles providing a picturesque focal point for photos of bridges that span peaceful canals as swans glide by and ducks roost.

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