In April 2011 my son Matt and I headed off to Europe for our first trip together. At the time he was 18 yrs old.

His choice to visit was Prague, CZ and mine was Amsterdam, NL. We flew into Schiphol, stayed a week in Amsterdam and then took the train to Prague for a week. Returning back on the train to fly out again from the Netherlands.

We picked up some phones to keep in touch and took off to explore, mostly separately, but we did have some days where we picked a destination to visit together. Regular check-ins by phone kept us connected.

This first trip to Amsterdam underwhelmed me somewhat. It was a dreary time of the year to visit, with lots of rain and I came away with an image of the whole place being brown and grey. On later visits, the sun was out and it changed my impression greatly.


I did love the museums, the slender buildings, bicycles everywhere and the canals. I spent most of my days wandering and window shopping. Matt and I met up to take a canal cruise and to visit Madam Tussauds.

We stayed in a lovely flat that was easy walking distance to most of the canal area of the city, which was very convenient and allowed for breaks during the day from our wanderings. Having our own kitchen made for inexpensive eating and shopping for groceries in the city was fun.

Our phones were in Dutch and it wasn't until the second to last day in the city that we found a kind person to switch them over to read English, which made phone calls a bit of a lark.

Matt's destination ended up being the favourite stop for both of us. We had a top floor flat right in the middle of Old Town and had every direction in which to explore. A few minutes' walking took us to Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square. A half-hour walk took us up to Prague Castle where we spent the day exploring together.

One day we grabbed a tour that took us out of the Old Town and into other areas of the city, where we saw buildings from the Soviet occupation. It was a stark reminder that the tourist areas are only a small part of what should be seen when travelling and made a strong contrast to the cobblestone streets and stone buildings in the area we had been exploring.

Food and drink were found everywhere. Inexpensive and hearty meals meant we didn't bother shopping and cooking in our flat. It was cheaper and easier to eat out. We found that in most places beer was less pricey than a bottle of water. Matt, being of drinking age there, and very responsible for an 18-year-old, still found it a bit of a thrill to have the odd beer legally.

Me, being a little less responsible, took myself off to find the well-known Hemingway Bar one night and U Fleků dining hall another.

At the end of our time in Prague, we both agreed that we would visit again. Just this year I did go back, this time with my husband and enjoyed it every bit as much. More on that trip later...