Amsterdam: Paradise For Solo Traveling Moms
I've been a mom for twenty-three years...most of them 'single' due to unfortunate circumstances. No "shaking of the head" please. I've made the best of 'the good, the bad, and the ugly' and, in that, have lived a very happy and fulfilled life, up-to-this point.
Being blessed with the gift of gab has helped me along the way as has my obvious love for people, which comes out in my demeanor (or so I've been told). People warm up to me as readily as I do them. It is the reason my grandmother use to say, "Just drop that child anywhere in the world and she will make friends and set up house by the end of the day." It's true. I do that -- a skill that suits me well considering how much I love to travel.
Undoubtedly, my five kids and I have been more places together than many families, but now that most of my children are relatively grown, I've begun to travel by myself, more and more, and I have to tell you that the value that I have found in doing so is immeasurable. These breaks offer the ultimate in rejuvination and adventure while allowing me to re-discover and re-connect with "Laura", the one person who easily becomes lost in the shuffle of responsibility and daily life.
It is for this reason that I, recently, spent a week in Amsterdam all by myself (except for a Nook, a raincoat, and a half-filled suitcase). My first time visiting, I can easily say that it won't be my last.
Amsterdam is one of the most friendly, upbeat, and charming cities I've ever had the pleasure of spending time in. Between the incredible museums, the inviting cafes, the warm people, the enchanting canals, and the easy, active lifestyle, Amsterdam spoke to me in ways that made me almost
forget that I wasn't a native. Had I not been staying at a fabulous hotel,
Hotel Okura Amsterdam, or run, unexpectedly, into the the manager
of the group En Vogue, while he was accompanying this extremely talented
group of ladies on their European tour, I would have convinced myself of
my permanent residency. The only piece missing was my children.
I even happened upon new friends while on my way to Keukenhof -- exploring the many tulips while learning about each other and the lives we had, temporarily, left behind. Amsterdam is full of wonderful opportunities like these...opportunities to connect with the culture, the people, and the places that make this city a 'little piece of paradise' for all to explore, especially for women (and mothers) like me who are in desperate need of a vacation as well as an adventure and are traveling solo, whether it be for the first time or one of many times. Amsterdam offers a safe, satisfying and superb experience, leaving you wishing you had booked your trip for longer than you originally intended.
You know, I have often wondered why one of the U.S. broadcast networks hasn't yet realized the need for a travel series specific to women like me -- grown up, going it alone (or needing to be 'alone', temporarily), and gifted with time and enough money to get around. The biggest impetus to taking a vacation in this case is simply not knowing where to go, how to go or what to do when you get there so as to neither feel foolish, overwhelmed, incompetant or just plain 'lost'. This isn't the type of information Andrew Zimmern can deliver even if he put on a skirt and wore lipstick. You need to be "us" to know what we need in travel and there's a ton of money in it for everyone -- the network, the traveler, and the travel-tourism industry. Simply put, there are lots of women looking for this type of direction and show. Maybe, oneday, one of these networks will 'get it'.
In the meantime, take it from me. Amsterdam is a winner! Put it on your list of the "Top Ten Places To Visit" when you are looking for some down time or yourself, for that matter. You will find both in Amsterdam....well that and seven billion tulips. It's a sight you have to see to believe, I assure you.