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My granddaughter approved these 14 activities as teenage-friendly ...

Take a canal boat tour...

Take a canal boat tour

Explore old Amsterdam from the water. It's a great way to sit back, relax and learn about the city. Tours are usually one hour long and there are audio guides onboard. Boats are heated when necessary and panoramic roofs protect you from the elements when the weather isn't perfect. Fun facts: (1) In 2010 Amsterdam's canal ring was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. (2) The canal bus allows you to hop on and off at the sites that interest you. (3) I don't know one visitor to Amsterdam who hasn't been on a canal cruise at least once.

Visit the Rijks Museum...

Rijks Museum

The Rijks Museum is Holland's national museum of art and culture. It opened its doors in its present location in 1885 and recently underwent a 10 year renovation. Architecturally it is a wonderful blend of old and new, each part of the building filled with wonderful treasures beautifully displayed. Amongst the many things that would interest a teenager are paintings by Dutch Masters with recognizable names (i.e. Van Gogh), collections of Delft China, antique furniture, and under the heading of hobbies for women are three wonderful doll houses that show the visitor how rich Dutch people lived in the past. You can see examples of those doll houses by clicking here. Fun fact: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is an interesting novel inspired by one of these miniature houses. It's a great read for when you are in The Netherlands.

Learn more about Van Gogh...

Van Gough Museum

By the time a teenager is 14 or 15 she has learned about Van Gogh, the famous and troubled Dutch painter. She has seen countless images of his famous 'Sunflowers' and knows that he mutilated himself by cutting off one of his ears. The Van Gogh Museum houses an incredible collection of both his paintings and memorabilia from his life. When we were there we were able to see, amongst many objects the actual black-bordered announcements his family sent out at the time of his death. Helpful Tips: Start your visit before lunch. When interest and spirits start to lag head to the museum cafeteria for a soup and sandwich lunch break. It's a calming spot, the food is good and pacing yourself that way will allow you to see more of the museum without becoming exhausted.

Meander and Discover...

Stay flexible. Be sure to leave time to fit spur of the moment stuff into your travel itinerary. It was on one of our Amsterdam walks that we discovered an exhibit about the Art of Banksy, that mysterious street artist that has everybody talking about who he actually is. It was my granddaughter who insisted that we include this stop in our schedule. It was a treasure trove of 80 of his best pieces. We also popped into the Magna Plaza to browse and ended up in an Elephant Parade Painting workshop where we produced two sweet souvenirs of our visit.

Take a day trip by train...

visiting Haarlem

Train travel in The Netherlands is a breeze. After a short ride a Dutch friend met us in the small city of Haarlem where we visited one of the many markets that take place all around the country. We chose a monthly outdoor antique market where my granddaughter bargained for old Dutch books she wanted to gift her dad with. The Haarlem merchants were very kind to her and she came away with quite a few treasures.

Taste Dutch specialities...

Eat like a local was my battle cry in Amsterdam and my granddaughter took up the cry as well. We snacked on delicious, mayonnaise-dipped french fries as we meandered. We stacked our breakfast plates with pottertjes, tiny pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar. Lotus refused the herring tidbits so we skipped those but her enormous Dutch pancake got two thumbs up. It arrived at the table smothered in stroopwafel chunks "traditional Dutch cookies", cinnamon ice cream, chocolate flakes and lots and lots of whipped cream.

Find out about Rijsttafel...

It's a Dutch word for an Indonesian food specialty that means rice table. The connection to Holland? Between 1800 and 1949, Indonesia was a colony of The Netherlands and this kind of meal is a connection to that past. It consists of white rice plus many, many small servings of traditional foods designed to be shared. Each time I'm in Holland I have this meal at least once. Some of my favorite tastes are the grilled satays (chicken, beef or pork) served on skewers and gado gado, a mix of veggies served in peanut sauce. This is definitely a test tasting treat which invariably inspires conversation around other 'foods of the world'. Recommended choices are Sama Sebo , one of the oldest restaurants in Amsterdam and Puri Mas Budget Tip: Sama Sebo offers a set lunch menu that is less expensive than its dinner counterpart.

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