Amsterdam Canals

A Visit to Amsterdam (The Motherland) with Dad

In Europe by Mallory13 Comments

I just finished a week in Amsterdam with my dad. After two months of traveling solo it was great to see a familiar face, especially the face of a man I love to pieces! My dad was born in Eindhoven and still has a lot of family and friends in Amsterdam that I got the chance to meet. It made Amsterdam feel a little bit more like home. πŸ™‚

Amsterdam Love Locks

Love locks on a bridge in Amsterdam

From the moment I stepped out of the train station, I loved Amsterdam. It was 70 and sunny and the city was alive with people. The sun glistened on the water of the canals where families and friends crowded together on boats to enjoy the beautiful day.

So great to see this guy!!

So great to see this guy!!


My dad’s friends Rita, Hans, and Leandra had planned a day in the city for us. We took a boat tour of the canals, visited the Rembrandt house and toured The Canal House museum, where we learned about one of the world’s greatest urban development projects: the 17th century Amsterdam canal district. The Dutch really are brilliant planners… a trait that must have left my dad when he came to the US. πŸ™‚

The Rijks Museum, Amsterdam

Headed to the Rijks Museum

Our favorite museum was the newly renovated Rijks Museum. With four floors and nearly 20 rooms on each floor, you could spend a week in the Rijks Museum and still not see it all.Β In addition to it’s brilliant collection, the Rijks museum takes a unique approach to the presentation.Β At the entrance of the museum is a large sign that reads “Art is Therapy,” which has become the theme. Scattered throughout the museum, you can find short descriptions of how art cures the many diseases of our world. Some of them were tongue-in-cheek and not meant to be taken too seriously, but many were actually quite insightful.

Interior of Sint-Odulphuskerk

Interior of Sint-Odulphuskerk by Pieter Jansz

In his painting, Interior of the Church Sint-Odulphuskerk in Assendelft, Pieter Jansz didn’t just paint a church, he painted an attitude to life. His focus on the simple and peaceful of the interior of the church is actually instruction on how to life a healthful life. Here’s the “Art is Therapy” translation:

SICKNESS: My life revolves around business, distraction, chaos, Twitter.

TRANSLATION: The architects of the building depicted here, and the artist himself, were convinced about a challenging idea: if you want to get close to the important things, you will need a lot of calm, of whiteness, of emptiness, of peace. Serenity, concentration and order aren’t luxuries, they aren’t a superficial concern for a particular style of interior decoration; they are preconditions for a thoughtful, balanced life. The picture sends a slightly stern, but welcome message: you have to fight off distraction, it can ruin your life. You have to prioritize ruthlessly, simplify, get rid of what you don’t really need, don’t check your email all the time, focus is an achievement.

This message struck a chord with me. I left home with the idea that context and environment has a profound on the life you live. It’s been easier for me to focus, to simplify, and to be balanced on the road than it is at home, simply because there are fewer distractions. But, how will I design the same life for myself back home? A question yet to be answered…

Insights like these are what make me love museums. The main point of museums should not be to teach us to love art, but to inspire us to love and understand what artists have loved and sought to teach.

Amsterdam Canals

Goodbye Amsterdam!

When all was said and done, I bid goodbye to my dad as he headed to Romania, and I to the island Crete. I’m already looking forward to reconnecting with him in Athens in a week!

P.S. Amsterdam is home to the best ice cream shop in the whole world. And I do mean the whole world. I’ve indulged in ice cream (and gelato) in every city and country I’ve been to, which makes me somewhat of an ice cream expert. In case you want to visit yourself, here’s a picture of the ice cream shop, since there’s no way I can spell this name.

My search for the world's best ice cream is over

My search for the world’s best ice cream is over



  1. Calm, whiteness, emptiness, peace, serenity, concentration and order…. I love how you conveyed this concept of life by the influence of architecture! It’s indeed what I pursue after! Love your writing! Thank you so much for taking me on your trip!

  2. I loved the time as well Mal,

    Although, what was that about the planning comment – it left me where?

    And you are right about the ice cream shop, but might want to alert you audience to leave 10 minutes earlier than they might otherwise, because there is always a line…

    1. Author

      Planning is not a Dutch trait you inherited. πŸ˜‰ Neither is organization. Do you still have your passport, camera, and paperwork intact?

  3. Thank you for describing your impressions of Amsterdam so well. It is the favorite city of so many! I love traveling with you through your blog. I love your spirit and sense of adventure and wanting to know about other cultures. It will serve you well. See you soon at the reunion!!!

    1. Author

      Can’t wait to see you at the reunion! Can’t we schedule a 1:1 coffee date?

  4. Museums are not meant to teach us to love art, but to inspire us to love and understand what artists have loved and sought to teach.

    I love this statement – profound! Love your perspective Mallory and can’t wait to see your beautiful face and hear more face to face.

    Great blog!!

    1. Author

      Thanks Aunt Elsa! πŸ™‚ Glad you are enjoying. Looking forward to seeing you in two short weeks!

  5. Mallory,
    Its been fun watching your journey from afar. Your conversations with us are real and informational. The gift of perspective you share with you pop is also rare. Run with it… Have a great week in Crete (rhyming ha). ’til next time :”)

    1. Author

      Hi Amy! Glad you like, how is your food blog coming?! Greek food is AMAZING – you would love it here!!

  6. 1) Loved the “Art Therapy” blurbs in the Rijksmuseum, they’re brilliant!

    2) The best ice cream in the world? I’ll take your word for it! In case you didn’t know, ice cream and gelato are not the same thing, so when you go to Rome find a place called Gelateria del Teatro. The good news is that it will take you momentarily to heaven. The bad news is that it sets the bar ridiculously high!

    1. Author

      Tiff and I did our research on the differences between gelato and ice cream (mostly because we hoped that gelato was healthier and we wanted to justify our indulgence). That being said, this ice cream store tops all gelato AND ice cream shops I’ve visited.

      Gelateria del Teatro is officially on my list to visit in Rome. Unfortunately, the island Crete has limited [quality] options, so I’m looking forward to some more gelato/ice cream-filled cities in the near future. Have I convinced you to join in Italy yet?

      1. There is no need to justify your indulgence, other than the ice cream itself πŸ™‚ I guess I’ll need to go back to Amsterdam and try it out!

        I would LOVE to see you in Rome but I’m reuniting with some Portuguese friends in Denmark this week and I have a hostel review in Copenhagen next week; if I recall correctly you’re flying off to South America soon?

        1. Author

          Correct! Only 10 days left in Europe, but I’m really looking forward to Peru. πŸ™‚

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