Amsterdam canals

An alternative way to explore Amsterdam

I used to think that the best way to explore Amsterdam was on foot. In my opinion, it’s definitely not by bike! But since taking two boat trips in Amsterdam last year, my mind has been firmly changed!

My first proper boat trip in Amsterdam (excluding the drunken times late on Queen’s / Kingsday when it was dark and blurry) was in August last year when my English friend came to stay. One of the Dutchie’s best friends has a boat, so he offered to take us out for the day. Literally the best day I’ve ever had in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam by boat

Amsterdam by boat

Our friend is a born and bred Amsterdammer, so he navigated the canals with ease while we sat back and relaxed, enjoying the views and drinking chilled white wine! Absolute bliss!

Amsterdam by boat

So when the lovely Marcel from Mokumboot contacted me out of the blue shortly afterwards, asking if I’d like to use one of their boats for me and up to 7 friends, I jumped at the chance!

It was tough deciding who to take, but my parents came over in November with two of their friends, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to show them a different side to Amsterdam. They had all visited the city before, but none of them had been on a boat trip – so we set sail with Captain Dutchie at the wheel! (I was much too much of a wuss to drive the boat myself!)

Mokumboot

Mokumboot

We picked the boat up from Mokumboot Oost which is conveniently located just a 5 minute walk from Brouwerij ‘t IJ. (A brewery next to a windmill – an Amsterdam institution! I highly recommend that you visit! Maybe after the boat trip though, eh?)

It was a slightly different kettle of fish to our adventure in August… in that it was freeeeeeezing! So much so that my iPhone actually died halfway through the trip and we had to go to a pub to warm up!! But at least it mean the canals were empty! We only saw a couple of other boats during our 2-hour cruise.

Mokumboot

Mokumboot Amsterdam

The best thing about seeing Amsterdam by boat is that you get a totally different perspective! You can take photos that you just wouldn’t be able to on foot.

Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

At the end of our trip, we were treated to a spectacular sunset (*pats herself on the back for exceptional planning*)! The perfect way to end the day!

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Mokumboot Amsterdam

Would you be brave enough to drive a boat around the Amsterdam canals? Or have you already done so?

Hayley x

 

Total blogger transparency: I was given complimentary boat hire without pressure to write a post. I am writing this post because I LOVED it. All opinions and witterings are entirely my own. 

 

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Eating Amsterdam Food Tour

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited along on an Eating Amsterdam Tour. They lured me with bitterballen, obviously.

I’ve never done a food / tasting tour anywhere before, so it was an exciting first!

Before I start: A few days ago, one of my fellow expat bloggers posted about her experience of the same tour… and while I enjoyed her post, she went into huge amounts of detail about every aspect of the tour along with pictures of every single food they tried. I’m NOT going to do that.

If I tell you everything that happens and everything you eat – there will be no surprises if you want to do the tour yourself!

So, here in Bitterballenbruid fashion, is a higgledy piggledy series of events that may have happened on the Amsterdam food tour – in no particular order. SPOILER: There were bitterballen.

Bitterballen on the Amsterdam Food Tour

Because I’ve already ruined that part: let’s start with it.

We went on the Jordaan Food & Canals Tour – so yep, you go on a canal boat! Woop woop!

Definitely one of the highlights of the tour. The captain is awesome, friendly and funny and you get to drink prosecco and eat cheese and bitterballen whilst cruising around the Amsterdam canals. Sweeeeeeeeeet!

Oh, speak of the devil! Here he is:

Hotel Pulitzer

Hotel Pulitzer

So yeah, you get on a boat and are greeted with this happy sight!

Amsterdam Food Tour Cheese

Amsterdam Food Tour

Eating Amsterdam Food Tour

And then, around half way into the one hour boat trip… this happens…

Bitterballen Delivery

Only in Holland, right? BITTERBALLEN DELIVERY!

Bitterballen

They get one of the best scores yet… a 9/10. Bravo Holtkamp bakery! Absolutely delicious! They’re definitely in my top two ever (the others were at the SkyLounge) but I always score including presentation, so they have to get a minus point for that. Foil tray indeed!

And you clearly can’t have bitterballen without yet more alcohol! YAY!

Brouwerij t IJ Beer

Amsterdam Food Tour

Hungry yet? So, boat tour over – let’s go to my least favourite part… LIQUORICE!

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje is owned by Mariska, who is very Dutch (I mean, very direct). I was a bit scared of her, especially when she told an American lady off for taking photos and not listening… but I’m a blogger, so I’m allowed to take photos? Right? Pleeeeeeease?

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje

I hate drop… and (sadly) nothing changed. I tried it. I still hate it. The Dutchie tried it. He still loves it. We got a bag each to take away, so he was super happy as he got two bags!

Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje

I then tried to take some establishing shots, but people kept getting in my way… I like the way this one came out though. “Oh, do get out of the way with that silly camera, dear!”

Amsterdam Food Tour

Dude, please!

Amsterdam Food Tour

People, just a sec?

Amsterdam Food Tour

Nailed it! Grrrr, dammit… there’s still someone lurking on the right…

Amsterdam Food Tour

As you can see, it was a pretty dreary day in Amsterdam – but our tour leader Annamaria kept our spirits up!

Raw herring, anyone?

Amsterdam Food Tour

There was also kibbeling… Mmmmmmmm…

Kibbeling

In addition to all the delicious food, I also used the walking part of the tour to get some random Amsterdam shots… and of course, I had to stop every time I saw any street art!

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

Street Art Amsterdam

I’m not even sure why I wanted to take a photo of this blue wall… but people just wouldn’t let me…

Amsterdam Food Tour

Amsterdam Food Tour

Amsterdam Food Tour

Amsterdam Food Tour

Thank you, thank you very much.

Amsterdam Food Tour

Oh yeah, where was I…? Food.

Two words for you: APPLE PIE. But not like apple pie you’ve ever had before – this is Dutch Appeltaart. I am totally not a sweet person, but this appeltart was something else!

Amsterdam Food Tour

And… more food… remember that this tour is 4 hours long!! (And this part definitely isn’t in the right order…)

Then, the icing on the cake.

My first ever taste of poffertjes! I can confirm they are as good as they look – if not better!

Poffertjes

Poffertjes

Poffertjes on the Eating Amsterdam Tour

So, there you have it. Edited highlights of the Eating Amsterdam Food Tour. It is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done in Amsterdam!

The full tour is 4 hours long with 7 stops and 12 tastings. It starts at 11am and finishes at 3pm, so take my advice and skip breakfast! Or if you can’t… have a VERY light breakfast.

You and your bellies will thank me later!

Hayley x

Note: I was hosted on the tour by Eating Amsterdam but all views and opinions – as always – remain my own.

(Dutch-related) stuff that happened in April 2015

I was just about to write a post about my “Eating Amsterdam” trip – but then I realised I only posted 3 times in April – and sooooo much happened last month! So that one will have to wait for now… and in the meantime you get a kinda summary post about April, you lovely springy sunny month, you! (Well, mostly.)

Not sure if I’m going to make this a regular thing, but it’ll do for now as I have a few things I want to write about but they don’t necessarily need individual posts.

So, roughly in chronological order (I totally just went downstairs to get my calendar – goldfish brain!!) here’s the Dutch-related stuff that happened to me in April 2015:

1. I ate Amsterdam.

As in, I went on a food tour of Amsterdam and ate EVERYTHING. Even drop (liquorice)… my nemesis. Are you proud?

I will write a whole post about this (promise) because it was amazing. But in the meantime, here’s a picture of some bitterballen. Because, duh.

Bitterballen on the Amsterdam Food Tour

Bitterballen on the Amsterdam Food Tour

2. My 1 year Expat Anniversary

I was just about to post this and then I realised I totally forgot to even mention the fact that I have lived in the Netherlands for a year! What did I do to celebrate? I went to Germany on a business trip… ha ha. Oh well, there’s always next year…

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the fact it’s been a whole year… in some ways it’s gone by in a flash and in other ways… I can watch Dutch films and TV and listen to Dutch radio… and TALK DUTCH TO DUTCH PEOPLE. So that’s still mind-blowing to me.

I read an article today about “Being stuck in the middle of two worlds” by Amanda (of Expat Life with a Double Buggy fame) and I totally relate. She says “I’ll never be mistaken for being Dutch, yet I don’t feel that England is my home anymore.” TOTALLY, TOTALLY get it.

Also love that she compares expat life to Tom Branson moving into Downton Abbey. This makes me laugh, nod along and feel like something is missing at the same time. (And if you don’t watch Downtown Abbey… YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE – LIKE – NOW.)

3. My sister came to visit – so we went to Utrecht

Not really news in itself… except that we properly did Utrecht: A guided walking tour, a canal tour AND we walked all 465 steps to the top of the Dom tower! Oh, and my sister is 5 and a half months pregnant… so there’s that too.

Utrecht gearing up for the Tour de France in July

Utrecht gearing up for the Tour de France in July

And now from the top! For reference… look for the red bike…

View from the top of the Dom Tower, Utrecht

View from the top of the Dom Tower, Utrecht

As with #1, this trip will also get a full blog post shortly… I took a bazillion photos despite it being a dreary old day.

4. Visited Keukenhof

I totally get it. This is one of those touristy things you have to do, once. And once was enough!

We went on a Friday, a very sunny Friday and it was ram-packed. I’m not going to do a blog post about this, because Jennifer over at Expat Lingo has already summed the experience up perfectly!! Here’s her step-by-step virtual tour: Tramped under the tulips at the Keukenhof

Instead… here are a few snaps I manged to take without 20 people getting in the way:

Tulips at the Keukenhof

Keukenhof

Keukenhof

Flower fields near the Keukenhof

Pretty, huh?

And to give you a small glimpse into the volume of tourists…

Windmill carnage

Windmill carnage

5. Blogger meet-up

By far one of my highlights in April was meeting up with some fellow bloggers. In addition to Jennifer from Expat Lingo, who I’ve just mentioned above, I also met up with Sophie from Sophie in Clogs, Aislinn from Ace the Adventure and Alison of A Flamingo in Utrecht. We met at Alison’s gorgeous Italian wine bar, Vino Veritas which is co-owned with her Italian partner Giovanni.

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

Vino Veritas, Utrecht

It was a fantastic evening and we have already set a date to meet up again in June! Fascinating to meet other expat bloggers and share our stories. With wine, of course!

6. King’s Day

Last, but by no means least, were the birthday celebrations of King Willem-Alexander on 27th April. Once again, the weather did not disappoint, despite the forecasts consistently predicting rain until the day itself! Phew!

King's Day in Amsterdam

(We definitely have a problem. We have so much orange crap it’s hard to know what to wear!!)

Orange clothing for King's Day

In the end I plumped for a tiara with orange fluff (classy), Dutch flags painted on my face (standard) plus the following ensemble…

IMG_3766

King’s Day afternoon was spent strolling around the canals, meeting up with friends and listening to live music. The evening was a haze of wine, beer, new Dutch “friends” and more beer. How about you?

Thanks April. You were awesome.

Hayley x

Having visitors means… Going to Amsterdam!

When you have visitors to The Netherlands, you have to go to Amsterdam… right? I love it! The perfect excuse to visit this beautiful city again and again! My best friend came to stay at the weekend and it was wonderful to be able to give her a guided tour.

Like any tourist, top of her list was a visit to Anne Frank’s House. I had warned her that the queue may take a couple of hours – as we hadn’t been organised enough to book (months) in advance – but when we arrived there around 11am it was even a surprise for me! RIDICULOUS!! The queue was so long we couldn’t even see the end of it!! Must have been at least a 4-5 hour wait… so thankfully, it was off the cards. Instead, we did what I love to do best: rondlopen.

I’m a total street art geek, so it’s my idea of heaven…

Street Art vlakbij Anne Frank's Huis (Street Art near Anne Franks House)

Street Art vlakbij Anne Frank’s Huis (Street Art near Anne Frank’s House)

If, like us, you get caught out by the queues at AFH… worry not, there’s plenty in the area to keep you entertained! Her house is located on the famous Prinsengracht (Prince canal!) which has tons of cafes, bars and shops… as if the beautiful canal itself wasn’t enough! 😉

Cheese Museum, Amsterdam

Cheese “Museum” – it’s basically a shop, but I’m not complaining! It’s a good shop!  And next door is the Tulip “Museum”…

Tulip Museum

Tulip Museum

Did I mention it’s a great street for tourists? 😉

When in Rome...

When in Rome…

Tourist shop

Tourist shop

A great little shop for souvenirs (opposite Anne Frank’s House) and not too over-priced. They have everything from magnets and mugs, to stroopwafels and clogs!

And did I tell you about the Street Art in Amsterdam…? Keep your eyes peeled, it’s lurking around every corner!

Street Art, Prinsengracht

Street Art, Prinsengracht

Penguins, Amsterdam

Penguins on Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

Ok, not technically street art… this is actually the window of a Nursery, but still kinda cool…

Nursery window

Nursery window

More Street Art Amssterdam

Once we’d done Prinsengracht to death, we pretty much did a full lap of central Amsterdam. I’ve been to the city 15+ times, but I’ve never seen as much as I did on this particular trip!! Props to my best friend, she was the perfect partner to explore with – enthusiastic, full of energy and despite only being 5′ 2″ she kept up with my long legs all day.

Canals, canals and more canals… aren’t they beautiful?

Canals, Amsterdam

Oudkerksbrug

Oudkerksbrug, Amsterdam

I found out after taking the picture that the first boat on the right actually belongs to a friend of ours! Where was he when we needed a canal tour, huh?? 😉

Oudkerksbrug, Amsterdam

#nofilter

#nofilter

We also had to visit Museumplein, of course…

Van Gogh Museum

Outside the Van Gogh Museum, with bikes in shot… naturally!

And the famous I amsterdam letters!

iamsterdam

Iamsterdam letters, located on Museumplein

And what outing would be complete without the best Dutch delicacy known to (wo)man???

Bitterballen at Cafe del Mondo, Amsterdam

Bitterballen at Cafe del Mondo, Amsterdam

My friend loved them (I’m yet to find a meat-eater who doesn’t, actually!)… and I’d give Cafe del Mondo (Nieuwmarkt) a very respectable 9/10 for their near-perfect plate of bitterballen. A minus point because they weren’t perfectly round and the rocket on the side was slightly sad looking 😉

Amsterdam… ik hou van jou. (Amsterdam… I love you.)

Hayley x

 

Een middag in Amsterdam

Following a glorious New Year’s Eve on a rooftop in Amsterdam and a well-needed hangover day on the 1st January (zzzzz until the afternoon, short walk, pizza, darts on TV and early to bed) … on the 2nd it was time to embrace the world again and step out into the city! The Dutchie and I first headed to Waterlooplein to check out the market stalls and see if we could grab ourselves a bargain. If you’ve read about me you’ll know I’m we’re getting married in August, so we’re currently on the hunt for wedding paraphernalia! After that was a general wander around the area: soaking up the atmosphere, taking a photo or two and street-art spotting!

Street Art near Waterlooplein, Amsterdam

Street Art near Waterlooplein, Amsterdam

Alas, not much weddingy stuff to be found – but we did buy a Delfts Blauw (Delft blue) style souvenir… a Dutch boy and girl kissing. The ultimate, naff, cheese-with-extra-mature-cheddar-on-top… but it had to be done!

"Delfts Blauw" style souvenirs, Waterlooplein, Amsterdam

“Delfts Blauw” style souvenirs, Waterlooplein, Amsterdam

Next was a quick stop at Café de Sluyswacht which according to their website is “one of the cutest spots on the famous canals of Amsterdam”. I can’t help but agree!  This historical little building used to be a lock-house (Sluyswachterhuisje) and was built in 1695. It is located in Amsterdam’s former Jewish Quarter and was one of the (lucky) few buildings in the area to survive WW2. Wonky, wonderful… and well worth a visit!

Café de Sluyswacht

Café de Sluyswacht

The Amsterdam canals are simply stunning. I could walk around them all day. Dubbed “Venice of the North”, they’re a must-see for tourists. *Sigh* If only I could have taken a better photo…

Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam canals

Before heading back I managed to snap a quick shot of the spire of Zuiderkerk (Southern Church). It was built between 1603 and 1611, with the spire being finished in 1614. The outstanding architecture in Amsterdam Renaissance style is by Hendrick de Keyser, who was also buried in the church in 1621.

Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam

Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam

A tiny, tiny glimpse of Amsterdam – and that’s the great thing about this city – it just makes you want to come back again and again!

Hayley x