Family Time: Showing my family Amsterdam

In the US, Christmas time is usually spent with family. Schools and universities take a holiday and many work places give people a bit of time off, so it’s always a good time to spend time with family. My family would usually try to take a trip to see the grandparents somewhere in the US, or at least take a family trip. This year, my family traveled to Amsterdam to see me!

Posted by at Jan 17, 2017 08:50 PM

Haarlem christmas tree
The main square in Haarlem, only 20km from Amsterdam

Luckily, my younger brother and sister had a similar winter holiday to me, and both my parents are retired, so we were able to plan far in advance. We managed to find very cheap tickets by buying in July.

My parents arrived on December 15th and were able to watch me perform in my last concert of the semester. As I still had some school work and classes, they spent some time exploring on their own for the next few days. My little brother came as soon as he was done at his university in Miami, on December 20th.

While my parents and brother were in the Netherlands I wanted to give them an idea of what my daily life was like and also explore many of beautiful buildings, museums, and towns in this small, pretty country.

Amsterdam winter
Amsterdam in the winter is quite pretty!


I can’t talk about this pass enough. If you like museums (or castles, palaces, architecture in general, or windmills!), you need to get this card in the Netherlands. The Mueseumkaart saved my parents, brother and I literally hundreds of euros.

While in the Netherlands, my parents, brother, and I visited:

In Amsterdam:

The Anne Frank House, Rijksmueseum, Scheepvaart Museum, Oude Kerk, the Museum Our Lord in the Attic, the Royal Palace, the Van Gogh museum, the Rembrandt house, the Willet-Holthuysen Museum, the Amsterdam Historical Museum, Van De Lorn mansion, the Portugese Synagouge, and the Stedijk museum.

Fam Canal
My parents in front of one of my favorite canals in Amsterdam

In Leiden:

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, the Hortus Botanicus, and Molenmuseum de Valk

Fort in Leiden
Me and my parents also explored the fort in the center of the city. The view from the top is great!

In Harlem:

The Teylers Museum and the Haarlem History Museum

In Utrecht:

De Haar Castle (near Utrecht) and the Pianola Museum

Castel de Haar
My family in front of beautiful Castle de Haar. It's one of the most beautiful buildings i've ever seen!

ALL FOR 60 EUROS! You just can’t beat that price anywhere!

I also made sure to show them what my daily life was like too. My family stayed in an AirBnb near my house. I showed them the grocery stores I shop at and my bike route to school. I showed them how to cross the streets without getting hit by bikes (which they never quite managed) and how to take the amazing public transit.

My parents trying to figure out their stop on the tram

It was a lot of fun to be a tourist myself in the city I’ve called home for 3 months. I visited some new museums, ate out and tried new foods, and meandered through the Christmas markets while snacking on oliebollen (a yummy dutch Christmas pastry) and stroopwaffels.

Amsterdam christmas market
Winter brings the chance for ice skating!

Leiden Christmas market
Leiden also had a nice Christmas market

Sometimes when you live and study in a town, you let yourself get very focused on the day to day. You forget to take a couple minutes a day to remind yourself that there are always new places and experiences to discover. Having my family visit was great for that.

Besides seeing just Amsterdam, we took a couple days to explore Utrecht, Leiden, and Haarlem. All are beautiful Dutch towns, with the classic brick architecture and canals that Amsterdam has, but with less crowds and tourists. My mom especially loved these towns. Utrecht and Leiden are both home to universities too!

Utrecht canals
Utrecht has its own collection of beautiful canals

We also wanted to explore some other spots in Europe, so we decided to spend some time in Italy. On December 26th my little sister joined us there. The super cheap flights that are available in Europe are one of the great benefits to studying in Holland I wrote about in an earlier blog post.
The Roman forum early in the morning

After having my family see the Netherlands, it was great to go to Italy so they could see Southern Europe and get a feel for the different culture and architecture. As we were five people sharing Airbnbs and flying with budget airlines, the trip was very affordable.

Sis in Florence
My sister joined us in Italy! The grand dome of the Duomo in Florence is in the background

This trip was a once in a lifetime trip for my family. We had been dreaming about being able to afford a family trip to Europe, and with good planning and low flight prices we managed to pull it off!

I’d love to hear about what you would want to see with your family in the Netherlands! If you have any questions about logistics or where we went, let me know below.

Posted by at Jan 17, 2017 08:50 PM