We started off with a drive to the chunnel, where we drove our car onto the train for the trip across the English Channel to France. From there we drove to our Airbnb in Knokke-Heist, Belgium. We still had some daylight left so once we had ourselves organized we walked a few blocks to the beach! David fell asleep on the way, so I stayed back and enjoyed the sunset while Aaron, Andrew, and Brandon headed down to the (very cold) water. We did a bit of exploring until they boys were cold and exhausted, and were ready to head back to the apartment for dinner.
The next day we headed into Bruges (or Brugge) for the day. It is such a cute city, and we crammed a lot into our day. We walked to the station in Knokke-Heist and took the train in. The kids are always so excited to ride trains, so this was a hit with them.
We started with a stop at a highly recommended chocolate shop, which is a great start to any day out! We walked around town and stopped in several chocolate shops, wherever we saw or smelled something amazing. We stopped at Markt Square, the Belfry, Burg Square, and the Bonifacius Bridge, and the Church of Our Lady.
We stopped for a snack at I Love Waffles and then decided to go for a boat ride, which was really fun even though we couldn't hear much of what our guide was saying.
This was our day of relaxation. Our Airbnb was a condo that had a heated indoor pool. After a leisurely morning we headed over to the pool and spent a good chunk of the day swimming around. We were lucky to have the pool to ourselves the entire time, and there was even a smaller, shallow pool that the kids loved. We also walked over to a local grocery store and picked up some Belgian goodies as well as some basic groceries. Otherwise we just spent the day hanging out and relaxing.
We checked out of our place in Knokke-Heist and headed to The Netherlands! We spent most of the day (other than driving) at Kinderdijk. We walked along the water and went inside a few of the windmills. These mills were used in the past to pump water, since a lot of Holland is below sea level.
We also got our first taste of poffertjes, which are little puffy pancakes, buttered and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yum!
Our Airbnb was across the river from the main attractions of Amsterdam, so we took the metro in. It was another full day- we went to the Palace/Dam Square, the Anne Frank House, iamsterdam at the Rijkmuseum, Rembrandt Square, and to several markets. We got fresh stroopwafels at one of the markets and they were amazing!
We spent this day outside of the city at Zaanse Schans. This was a neat place with 2 connected museums about chocolate and the history of the area, a bunch of windmills, and a recreated village with restaurants and shops for cheese, wooden clogs, and more. In addition to some souvenirs, we also ended up buying some amazing smoked cheese to bring home with us.
We went back to Amsterdam for another day. Again, we took the metro, which the kids were really excited about. It was a bit of a rainy morning so we started the day with a canal boat ride. The top was clear but enclosed so we stayed nice and dry. Then we went to Vondelpark to have a small lunch (I had bitterbollen- not a fan), play at the playground, and find Picasso's sculpture. We wandered back to a food stall that we had found on day five to get some more oliebollen- we still dream about these, they're so good! We also went back to the market for some browsing and another stroopwafel before finding foodhallen for dinner. It was crowded and we didn't love the food we ended up with, but that's ok. We said goodbye to the city and headed back to the apartment for the night.
The original plan was to get up at a normal-ish time to drive to Calais but we decided to get up extra early to make another stop in Bruges on the way. We had bought a small bag of truffles there that we fell in love with and we wanted more! So we got there right as the shops were opening and used up the rest of our euros before heading back to England, this time via the ferry. It was a bit choppy so I was having some sea sickness but we made it back!
It was the perfect trip for our half-term break!