Aviva Stadium: Ireland vs. Uraguay

Yesterday we took the kids to see the friendly fixture against Uraguay as part of the 2018 World Cup series the the Aviva Stadium.   Luis Suarez played for like 10 minutes – probably part of his “contract fulfillment”.

We all first met up at the Bloody Stream for a couple pints then headed in on the DART – Howth to Landsdown Road (super easy!). Funniest thing is Soren was at a playdate earlier so he didn’t join us until the Sutton stop.

I have never been there before so was happy that we all went together.   We will do a stadium tour another time.  The stadium is beautiful, new, loads of bars, food stands.  Speaking of stands and bars – there was a rule you could not bring your beer to the stands!  They loosened up the rule in the second half.  But as I am a self-professed​ beer snob, I would not waste my money. Plus, I had two Hoegardens already at The Bloody Stream.

In order to sit together, we swapped our tickets with another coach, so our tickets were in premium section 324 which was great but the rest if the group was up in 511, we moved 1/2 way thru. There the kids would be with their pals and it made going home a lot easier.

On the DART on the way home, some of the boys were cracking us up climbing the poles and trying to do chin ups, etc. A little brother was the best!!

Great night and all was safe – there was a no bags policy in place but it was outside in the crowds which was my most uneasy period.  I did not see one armed Garda – yes, I still have strange feeling about the fact that most of our police do NOT carry guns!!  A few issues with drunk losers but thankfully that didn’t  escalate.  Anyway on the DART, no worries only laughs at the climbing monkies.

Fun time with a great group of kids and parents and awesome that we won!

Charity shop score: Cath Kidson All Day Clock Bag

Yesterday we were walking around Phibsboro before heading to TK Maxx (same as TJ Maxx back home) and I found this Cath Kidson bag for €3.   What a bargain as new it is €56.   And in great condition!!  
I always love her shop and want to replace my kitchen table spotted oil cloth with a new one soon but it’s so expensive, I can’t justify the cost.   HomeSense (Home Goods back in Boston) is opening this week in Dublin so I hope to get a new tablecloth there in time.    Thank God I don’t like near it!!

Rock of Cashel

Our friends from The Netherlands came to Dublin or a few a days, so we headed down to the Rock of Cashel on Friday with them.

The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most spectacular archaeological sites, a prominent green hill, banded with limestone outcrops, rising from a grassy plain and bristling with ancient fortifications.

After a picnic lunch and a walk around we drove over to Kilkenny before heading home to Dublin.

The day before we had drinks and dinner in Howth.


I will upload a few more photo but for now I wanted to get a few photos up.


Schipol Airport Adventure

While our original plans of ending our two week trip to The Netherlands over Easter in Amsterdam for two nights changed 😦 we still are flying out from Amsterdam on the 9:45 pm flight to Dublin.  Therefore we will have some time to kill at the airport. Thankfully Schipol is a very child-friendly place.

They happily got to take their train ride on the top deck while Nils sat down with the bags.  It was only an hour so he probably enjoyed the quiet time with his book.  The kids liked spotting good graffiti, bardges on the waterways and by the Ajax stadium where Soren gave a thumbs down.  I hoped to see tulip fields but no such luck!

Once we put Nils in the bar area, we set off to find The Planes @Plaza where the kids can design and print a 3D paper airplane for FREE! And sit inside an old cockpit and press all the buttons he/she wants. 

After we checked our bags, we set out for Nils’ spot, Murphy’s Irish Pub for more beer, bitterballen and nachos (this was dinner!). After a bit I had to leave the bar – absolutely boring and the kids and I walked into the shops.   They got Pringles for the plane and wyer but I could have bought so much stuff. I want a nice cheese assortment and Maebh wants soft wooden shoe slippers.

They do some plane watching – it’s a very big airport, so watching some huge planes could be a possibility but turned out we,’d have to go down a different area to see the really big ones.  Panorama Terrace is a cool spot.  All the planes in our section we’re for UK and Ireland.

We were going to look for the Kids Forest play area on Level 1 in the Holland Boulevard between Piers E & F.  It’s says it’s for kids 3-9 so our 9 year old might be a bit but we never made it there.

While we didn’t do it there is a Schipol Scavenger Hunt.

Think you know all of Schiphol’s secrets? Think again! If you’re a budding detective, visit the information desk in Schiphol Plaza to ask for a scavenger kit. It will help you learn all about Schiphol with thrilling tasks, trivia and more.

But I felt like most of the searching was before sending security, I thought it would be ‘safer’ to do it after, so steered the kids away from it.  At times I am paranoid about a possible attack in a crowded place and just a bit extra vigilant as an airport this big and crowded could be just that place.  I did see a few security guards but nothing like Antwerp Christmas market.  

They do Behind The Scenes Tours which looks great but the last tour is at 2:30 pm so it won’t work out this time.

Overall it is a very large, family friendly airport including baby areas to let them rest, and a yotel to rent a room for  both few hours, but do prepared for longer lines in security and passport control.  Oh there is a casino with blackjack and roulette tables but I kept far away! 

I am going to do searching for our next trip to Amsterdam and will hopefully update with photos from the Behind The Scenes Tour.

Walk around Boxtel & Liempde, The Netherlands

Today we took a walk along the old abandoned train line from the house to the a small pub we visited at Christmas.  There are many walks in Brabant region posted online.

To make it more interesting, Maebh created a list of items we all had to search for during the walk.  It included things like a bee, trash, horse, butterfly, animal footprints, grafitti, and even a BMW.

Under a bridge was a lot of grafitti and it was actually nice work but still difficult to ‘read it’!

Of course, upon arrival it was CLOSED for another 50 minutes so we decided to walk the road back to Liempde where we got caught in a hailstorm so took cover under the bridge but the walk back was three times as long as the walk there but it was still fun and we all got some excercise.  

The kids came across and old cycle used on the tracks and a chanook helicopter flew over so those were the highlights.

Next time we are in The Netherlands, we’ll try again.

Visit to Oma Cora

We had a cozy visit with Oma Cora and Luc in Vlissening on Friday.  First yummy cake, drawing under a projector (really want one) and a game of Wildlife Quartette (it was Cora who taught them it first). 

After we took a small ride to visit a small beach area called Zouterlande.  Naturally Sorer ran down to the beach with a football.  I have a video when I better wifi, I can upload. Cora, Maebh and I visited a couple shops.  I let the kids pick out a small present and she chose a cryptic glow invisible pen which writes invisible and shows up under intra violet light.  Soren already has one, so  he chose the Dinosaur Quartette game.

We all met up on the terrace for a drink. While not too cold, the wind was chilly so under a heat lamp with blankets.

When we popped out to Lidl for a quick few things we came back to the kids and Cora playing Rubicup.  I am now on the look out for that game for the kids at a Kringloopwinklel.

Oh and we viewed some old photo albums and I just gave to share photos of Nils’ similarities​ to Soren.

Very nice day for all.  Hopefully we can repeat in August.

Top 8 things for families to do in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

When I thought of Rotterdam, I associated it with a very modern American city along with Nils and Soren’s favorites soccer team Feyernoord, which we have visited before.

It was not until now doing my tourism research, I see the city has a lot more to offer than Feyernoord fan shops ;). I knew they had a tram system but no idea an underground Metro.

World War 2, left a terrible scar on the city of Rotterdam. Being severely bombed by the Germans, the war left the city in total devastation that is why it has so many new buildings. A couple of buildings like city hall and a few small spots were not hit and they show how Rotterdam used to be. Delftshaven, Oudehaven or Veerhaven. 

Part of my attraction to Amsterdam and Netherlanda in general, is the buildings.  This is probably why I ignored Rotterdam for so long.

It is also surprisingly a very family-friendly city with loads to do for children. I have complied a “top 8 things to do with children when visiting Rotterdam” list.  But we need more than one day to get through the list.

#1 – MARITIEM MUSEUM

We absolutely loved this museum. Even if you are not a water person, you’ll still find it interesting. I did a separate post on it here.  

#2 – SIGHTSEE THE CITY BY WATER 

There are a few options available for you to visit and sightsee by water including hop on and off boats and water taxis.

First is Spido tours. Among the busy traffic of sea-going and inland ships, this trip is a special journey through one of the largest harbours in the world. You can see Rotterdam’s impressive skyline with its imposing buildings glide by, and then get a unique view of the harbours shipyards, docks and the hypermodern transshipping of thousands of containers. Last but not least the tour will end with a view of the steamship ‘Rotterdam’, the former cruise flagship of shipping company Holland America Line. An exciting 75 minutes with clear descriptions of everything you see.

Second is Splashtours which is similar to the Ducktours in Boston but instead of a WW2 style vehicle it’s an anphibious​ bus!  You have the option of first taking a tour where you drive through the city before ‘splashing’ into the river Maas.

But unlike the humourous Boston drivers who give live commentary, here your tour was TV footage and audio.

#3 – PANNENKOEKEN BOAT

If the idea of eating UNLIMITED Dutch pancakes with a variety of toppings while seeing Rotterdam by boat seems like your type of fun, you won’t want to miss this place.  They offers variety of sailings from 75-minute to 2.5 hours!   They even have a ball pit area to keep the younger kids entertained.

Tip: As with many other local attractions, when booking online, you can combine visits and save a few Euros!

#4 – PLASJWIJCK PARK

This place is so unique and a place the kids would love to visit and never get bored!  It’s called an amusement park but it’s more of a indoor and outdoor playspace with a petting zoo and water playground. The parks website is only in Dutch but this review is in English and is very thorough and shows how fun this place can be for kids.

#5 – ROTTERDAM ZOO 

Also known as Dierengaard Blijdorp, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful zoos in Europe, it is home to giraffes, tigers, seals, gorillas, polar bears all having their own unique habits.  Other highlights include the award-winning butterfly garden area, Amazonica and an aquarium area Oceanium.  

Tips: Buy tickets online and save €2.00 each and pack a picnic, food and drinks can be expensive.

 #6 – EUROMAST

The Euromast is Rotterdam’s iconic observation tower. It was built in 1960 to mark the occasion Floriade, an international flower and garden exhibition. Its height at 101 meters was the tallest building back in the days. Unfortunately, Euromast quickly lost its title due to the ever changing Rotterdam’s skyline. In 1970, Euromast retaliated with additional 85 meters by adding a rotating elevator – ‘Space Tower’.

Once you buy your entrance tickets, you embark on the super fast elevator ride to go up almost 100 meters in just 30 seconds. First stop, a restaurant Brasserie at 92 meters high which serves high-tea, luxurious menu and the view of Rotterdam on the side. The panorama platform is one level up at 96 meters. It has spectacular views of the ports, the city skyline, famous structures and of course the nearby Erasmus Bridge. 

On the same level, there are two hotel suites available for a premium price. 

From the panorama platform, it is another flight of stairs up to reach the Euroscope. It is basically a giant rotating panoramic elevator with sit down capacity of approximately 25 people. Euroscope starts at 112 meters and rises slowly in a circle to 185 meters for a spectacular 360° view of Rotterdam. The duration of the ride is about 7-8 minutes.

There are other things that you can do at Euromast. You can join the challenge of climbing 589 steps and try to break the record of 1 minute 47 seconds or zipline (yuck!). There is a kids club and a trail for the kids- even birthday party options. I we have not yet done this but I can see for some kids it might not be so exciting.

It is a gorgeous view on a clear day at Rotterdam’s tallest tower. But there is always a queue throughout this attraction whether it isfor ticketing, elevator ride, at the restaurant and certainly for Euroscope.

Tip: the city of Rotterdam practices no cash policy, so get this ONLY credit and debit cards accepted. Euromast adopts this policy and the nearby parking facilities too. Note for the tourists – cash is not acceptable! What!?

#7 – SS ROTTERDAM CRUISE SHIP

This Trans-Atlantic liner has been transformed into a restaurant/bar and 254 room hotel.

The ss Rotterdam is the largest passenger ship ever built in The Netherlands: 228 meters long, 28 meters wide and 61 meters in height. It was inaugurated by Dutch Queen Juliana in 1958. Until 1971 it ran scheduled services to New York City, but turned more towards cruises when air traffic became more popular. You can read more about the history and things onboard on their site.  

#8 – MORE MUSEUMS

There are several other museums to visit where the children will be entertained and at the same time learn something.

Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam features skeletons, stuffed animals, fossils, butterflies.

Museum Rotterdam ’40 – ’45  features all things pertaining to the War and the resistance. Its a reminder of how people lived and what they did during the war. It is a treasure trove of information and stuf like cigar boxes, Jewish stars, etc 

While I know there are more things to do, these are some top choices of things to do with kids in Rotterdam.  When we do them all, I will add more details and photos.