Excited pupils and staff left CMP in the early hours of Thursday 4 April on the first leg of the Amsterdam Tour. Having seen the pupil numbers swell to 50, expectations were high and the mood was incredibly buoyant given the unsociable hour of departure. Sensibly, many of the party managed to snatch a nap on the way to Gatwick and arrived at the airport ready to check in and fly to Amsterdam.
The outward journey was uneventful, with staff keeping a watchful eye on their group and reaching the accommodation with only 1 piece of luggage left behind! There was hardly time to draw breath, as the party embarked on their first two activities. It was great fun to travel via the metro to the FOAM Museum where half the party took part in a photographic workshop whilst the rest enjoyed a guided walk of the city. The children had a fantastic time producing some amazing photographs. They used props, and light and shade techniques to take portrait photos of each other. The standard of the photos was impressive, especially as the children had been ‘on the go’ for about 11 hours!
Janet, the guide, gave a detailed insight into the layout, architecture and history of this grand city and the pupils certainly boosted their ‘step’ total as they negotiated cobbled streets, cyclists and trams during the informative walking tour.
On arrival back at the hotel, rooms were allocated, and after a welcome meal and debrief, everyone sank into bed in readiness for the busiest day of the trip. Luckily, the weather was perfect for the marathon exploration that lay ahead. A visit to the Albert Cuyp Market (the largest day market in Europe) presented the children with an ideal opportunity to try out some basic Dutch taught by Mr G. Judging by their purchases, either the market traders spoke excellent English, or the children are quick learners……my Euros are on the traders! A large number of consumed street waffles and tied head bandanas later, everyone gathered to split into two groups for the morning.
The Van Gogh Museum is incredibly popular and pupils and staff alike were in awe of the stunning paintings on display. The knowledgeable guides explained how Van Gogh became a devotee of the French Impressionist style following his move to France. The children were asked to comment on the use of colour of his face from distance in his self-portrait and were amazed to see how many colours were actually used when they were close up! They were asked to pick paintings that made them feel ‘peaceful’ or ‘happy’ and Olivia gave an impressive insight into her choice.
The Floating Flower Market is a colourful and unique experience and typifies the importance of market trading that remains in modern Amsterdam; of course, the city’s 17 Century wealth and prominence in Europe was based on its thriving trade links. Although this part of the itinerary may not have provided the most memorable memories, it remains a ‘must’ for visitors to Amsterdam.
The afternoon was spent sketching in the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) where several paintings, from the aforesaid Netherlands’ 17 Century Golden Age, by Rembrandt, Vermeels, Hals and Steen are housed. The pupils’ behaviour was exemplary and several museum goers commented on the quiet focus adopted by them as they selected paintings to sketch. After maintaining such high levels of concentration, a run round the park was well received, as was the refreshing ice lolly!
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a canal cruise and the party boarded a boat to take a relaxing look at the city’s layout and characteristic architecture from the water. Dinner at the Hard Rock Café ended an unbelievably full and varied day and everyone looked forward to a night’s rest before the excursions of the next day.
Pupils had been looking forward to the NEMO Science Museum and the opportunity to explore the ‘hands on’ activities on several floors. They were not disappointed and enjoyed trying out their strength on pulleys, seeing static electricity from their hands light up and a fantastic demonstration of how potential energy can be produced. Alana, in a jaunty yellow hard hat, was selected to push the domino that set the energy display in motion and fortunately the rocket took off! CMP fulfilling its potential again. Well done Mrs H! A roof top lunch gave everyone a fantastic vista of the city and some welcome fresh air.
The pupils were in receptive mood as Angelique, our guide during the Anne Frank House visit, gave an impromptu and valuable background talk before we entered. Audio guides were extremely helpful as the group learnt so much about the Anne Frank story whilst looking at the haunting images of the famous young girl and the two families in hiding. As pupils and staff climbed the stairs into the annex behind the bookcase, the reality of the cramped confines the Franks and their friends endured for over 2 years was evident in in their hushed and reflective mood.
The final night of any trip is a time for celebration; a meal at the De Kroopins Restaurant in a lively part of the city was the prequel to the awarding of individualised certificates. ‘In jokes’, moments of madness, kind deeds and special achievements were recognised and each recipient received cheers and applause.
Sunday 7 April arrived all too soon. Cases were packed, rooms were checked and the group moved on to the final part of the tour itinerary. The sport lovers had waited patiently – even James – at last it was time for the Ajax Stadium Tour. Our guide took us into the press room, the away and home dressing rooms (quite a difference in facilities!) and out onto the pitch. The virtual glasses gave an impression of actually walking out and playing with the team and it was tricky not to become disorientated.
Everyone was in a good spirits as the coach was boarded for the short drive to the airport. A smooth flight to Heathrow (thanks to Capt N!) and journey back to school signalled the end of a fabulous, busy and cross-curricular tour. Thanks to Mrs B for her superb organisation and the staff and children who ensured that the Amsterdam trip will live long in the memory.