Amsterdam

Can everyone please stop telling tourists to hire bikes in Amsterdam

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

© niputaidea / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0 (Take note: this woman is clearly Dutch.)

I’ve had this as a draft post since 24/05/2016… I checked. So when I saw a post on Facebook this morning “Geef toeristen geen fiets meer” (Don’t give tourists bikes anymore) I was like… damn, Gina! Someone got in my head!!

I agree with Sarah Ouwerkerk, the author who wrote the post, completely. But also “Damn, Gina! Why have you written it in Dutch? How are tourists ever supposed to read it??”

So here’s my post, from 3 months ago, which offers some of the same points as the article above, but with a little more ranting! 😉

I’ll say it again: can everyone please stop telling tourists to hire bikes in Amsterdam!!!

It annoys the living shit out of me.

I work for a travel publisher, and mentioning no names, in our Amsterdam guide on page 6 the first thing it says to do… and I quote: “Cycle through the city on a fiets. Rent a bicycle and peddle through the Grachtenring, the narrow streets in the Jordaan district, across the Dam or along the banks of the IJ at your own pace. Do as the locals: cyclists are allowed to ride side by side and the wrong way down one way streets here.”

No, no, no, no, NOOOOOO!!

I love the company I work for and I love our guides, but this is the most idiotic tourist advice I’ve ever heard. I was so infuriated, I emailed our editorial department immediately and asked them to remove it from the next edition of the guide.

It’s not just us though, I’ve seen the same advice offered in other guidebooks, on countless blogs and even on the official Iamsterdam website.

Seriously people!! What is wrong with you?

The average tourist probably hasn’t ridden a bike since they were 15, they also don’t know their way round Amsterdam (because, duh… they’re tourists) they probably want to take photos and they might also like to drink some Heineken (other beers brands are available) or maybe even smoke some weed.

I know what! Let’s give them a bike!

Why, why, why?

Quite simply: it’s dangerous, and above all: stupid.

So, they’re riding along on bright red (or yellow) pristine bikes, at a snails pace, with a map in hand or perhaps a selfie stick (personally, I prefer to call them wanker sticks) with no idea where they’re going… and they’re probably also tipsy and / or stoned.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of accidents and near accidents I’ve seen, and I only visit Amsterdam about once a month! I cannot begin to imagine the amount of carnage that tourists cause on a daily basis. I’ve seen them holding up traffic, just because they’re cycling so damn slowly… or because they’re fussing with a map or phone, holding up other cyclists and just generally being a nuisance to other road users (and pedestrians for that matter!!) I see this as a visitor myself, so the locals must be tearing their hair out!

Who thought this was a good idea again?

 

So, here is my plea to tourists visiting Amsterdam:

Unless you are a highly competent cyclist and you are with someone who knows Amsterdam well – PLEASE do not hire a bike in Amsterdam.

You are a liability!

Amsterdam isn’t that big, but you’re gonna get lost. You know why? Because a lot of places look kinda the same… even if you’re sober. And if you’re drunk, or stoned, or both? Much, much worse.

Do yourself and everyone else a favour and walk. Please. Pretty please… with a cherry on top!

Walking is so much more fun! You’ll be going at a slower pace, so you’ll see more, it’ll be easier to take pictures and selfies – if that’s your thang. It will also be SO much easier to navigate because you can hold your map or phone in your hand and not have to worry about wobbling, crashing or falling off your bike.

For your own personal safety and for others around you, it’s just not a good idea.

And d’you know what else happens when you don’t hire a bike? Happy Amsterdammers. It’s a beautiful city, Amsterdammers are proud of their city… but do you know what they’d like even more?

If you get the fuck out of their way while they’re trying to get to work, pick up their kids, or are running late to meet a friend.

Make Amsterdam happy. Stay on two feet.

Hayley x


		
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Rain rain go away… no, seriously, f*ck off… it’s King’s Day!

It’s raining today in some parts of the Netherlands. Not that weird. April showers and all that. But in other parts… it’s SNOWING.

Tulips in the spring snow.

Tulips in the spring snow. Photo: @VeningaHijken via Twitter

Snow in April!?! FFS.

Reports are saying “King’s Day itself will be cold, wet and windy, with the possibility of sleet and hail. Although it will be around 8 degrees, it will feel much colder, and could be the coldest King or Queen’s Day on record, weather forecasters say.” (Dutchnews.nl)

This cannot happen!!

No. Absolutely not. I will not accept it. This is King’s Day!

Well, actually, this is Queen’s Day in Amsterdam 2010…

Queen's Day 2010

Queen’s Day, Vondelpark, Amsterdam, 2011

Queens Day Fun

Hmmm. Not really sure what happened in 2012. It must’ve been sunny.

The last ever Queen’s Day in 2013 (we were in England at the time… but still… SUNNY!!)

Queens' Day 2013

First ever King’s Day, Amsterdam, 2014: shorts weather!!

King's Day 2014

King’s Day, Amsterdam, 2015

King's Day 2015

Kings Day 2015

So you see… bad weather is a big problem. It just won’t do.

Dear Willem-Alexander, be a dear and sort it out, will you? Otherwise you’re gonna get soooooo much shit when it’s beautiful and sunny on the 30th April…

Hayley x

Where to eat the best Bitterballen in Amsterdam

For obvious reasons, I’ve been wanting to write this post since FOREVER… But I’ve been putting it off because I hadn’t yet had the chance to visit the Ballenbar. And y’know… they call themselves ‘de Ballenbar’ so either they know their shizz about bitterballen or they’re big fat liars and have built a brand based on selling rubbish bitterballen… Thankfully, it’s the former!! So much so, that they go straight to #1 on the list.

So here you go folks, here are my top 5 places to eat bitterballen in Amsterdam:

1. BallenBar

Inside the Foodhallen, Bellamyplein 51, Amsterdam | deballenbar.com

BallenBar, Foodhallen, Amsterdam

Let’s get straight to the point. All of the bitterballen here are good… but head and shoulders above the rest are the bouillabaisse ballen. OH MY OH MY OH MY! It’s no wonder really – as the filling was created by Michelin star chef Peter Gast. They’re fishy but not too fishy with a nice hit of prawn flavour; so good you don’t even need a dipping sauce! Forget what you think about bouillabaisse and try them – you won’t be disappointed!

Simply divine. De beste bitterballen ooit! (The best bitterballen ever!)

Price: Proeverij €6.50 for 5 bitterballen (Tasting board with 5 different types of bitterballen: beef, chorizo, bouillabaisse, goats cheese and Tom Kha Kai).

BallenBar, Foodhallen, Amsterdam

Proeverij plank

BallenBar, Foodhallen, Amsterdam

Bouillabaisse bitterballen

 

2. SkyLounge

Top floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam Centraal Station, Oosterdoksstraat 4, 1011 DK Amsterdam | skyloungeamsterdam.com

Previously my number one place in Amsterdam to feast on tiny deep fried balls of heaven… Seriously posh bitterballen!

Good size, decent chunks of meat inside and tangy mustard mayonnaise as an accompaniment. Oh and the view is alright too! 😉

Price: €8.50 for 6 bitterballen.

Bitterballen SkyLounge Amsterdam

 

3. Cafe Loetje

Loetje have 9 branches in the Netherlands, most of them are located in Amsterdam. The one I’ve visited is: Johannes Vermeerstraat 52, 1071 DT Amsterdam. | loetje.com

The two types of bitterballen look the same in the picture below, but in fact: the bitterballen on the left are kalfs bitterballen (veal bitterballen) and the ones on the right are garnalen bitterballen (prawns). Both delicious but the prawn ones definitely have the edge!

Price: Kalfsbitterballen (veal) €5.25 for 6 and Garnalen (prawn) €5.50 for 6.

Cafe Loetje Amsterdam

 

4. Eating Amsterdam Tours / Cafe Luxembourg 

Eating Amsterdam: Herengracht 124, 1015 BT Amsterdam | eatingamsterdamtours.com

Cafe Luxembourg: Spui 24, 1012 XA Amsterdam | luxembourg.nl

These guys are sharing position 4 simply because they serve the same bitterballen! They come from the famous Holtkamp bakery. In 2012 their kalfsvlees (veal) bitterballen were awarded the title of ‘best bitterballen in Amsterdam’ out of the 140 cafes, bars and restaurants tested!

Price: Eating Amsterdam Tours start from €70pp for a 4 hour tour. Cafe Luxembourg: €6.50 for 6 bitterballen.

Bitterballen at Cafe Luxembourg, Amsterdam

Cafe Luxembourg

Amsterdam Food Tour

Arrival of the bitterballen on the Eating Amsterdam Boat Tour

Holtkamp bitterballen

Bitterballen on deck!

 

5. Gewaeght Cafe 

Nieuwmarkt 16, 1012 CR Amsterdam | gewaeght.nl

Picking number 5 was a hard choice as there as so many contenders on Nieuwmarkt (it’s a popular square in Amsterdam, close to the red light district). However the ‘gezellig‘ atmosphere swayed it for me. Gewaeght Café is an old-fashioned pub, jam packed with paintings, records and memorabilia relating to 50’s, 60’s and 70’s music. The fact that they serve great bitterballen is just one more reason to go there!

Price: €5 for 6 bitterballen.

Also recommended in Nieuwmarkt: Cafe del MondoCafé In de Waag and Cafe Stevens.

Amsterdam Bitterballen

Eet smakelijk!!!

Hayley x

I have this thing with windmills

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have already noticed my ‘thing’ with churches (not for religious reasons, I might add) street art, bitterballen (obviously…) and most recently: windmills.

Yep, I’m in the land of windmills, so they’re kinda hard to avoid… but in the past few months I’ve been going out of my way to visit them. Last weekend we legit took a trip to Kinderdijk for the sole purpose of looking at molens.

Here are my favourites so far!

1. Kinderdijk

As I’ve already mentioned it, let’s start with Kinderdijk, Dutch for “children dike”. (WTF!?)

Situated close to Dordrecht and Rotterdam, there are 19 windmills here! They don’t just look pretty – they have a purpose – draining the polder on which Kinderdijk is situated. Don’t know what a polder is?

Kinderdijk

I say it’s situated close to Rotterdam and Dordrecht… but it is and it isn’t. (Look at this map.) Due to its slightly offbeat location, you’re better off travelling to Kinderdijk by car as it’s a pain in the arse to get there by public transport. Parking is €5 and you could spend 1-3 hours here depending on how much walking you want to do. There’s also a little cafe and gift shop, should you wish to partake in such activities.

Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk

Oh and if you fancy staying in the area, we spotted this ridiculously cute B&B called De Noord. I can’t vouch for it, but if you make this much effort outside it’s probably alright inside too 😉

B&B Kinderdijk

2. Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is my go-to tourist paradise for anyone visiting The Netherlands. Its close proximity to Amsterdam and Schiphol airport is also pretty ideal. We often take visitors here before dropping them off at the airport – a lovely way to round off a trip to Holland!

IMG_5431

Dutch windmills

Zaanse Schans

View from De Vijf Broers, which sadly, is now closed 😦

Unless you want to visit the Zaanse Schans Museum, it doesn’t take all that long to walk around, so it’s perfectly combined with a trip to nearby Zaandam to see this bad boy…

Inntel Hotel, Zaandam

Inntel Hotel, Zaandam

If you want more info, I have already written a post dedicated to Zaanse Schans, just to prove how much I love it!

Speaking of… we also bought a picture last time we were there:

Zaanse Schans

Which was marvellous until we got home and realised the black building is the toilet block! FAIL! You get one guess where we’ve hung it!!

3. Brouwerij ‘t IJ

A modern brewery, set next to a windmill in Amsterdam… what more could you ask for?

Brouwerij 't IJ

Well, to be honest, it is a bit of a hag to get to – although totally worth it! Either get a train to Muiderpoort and it’s a 10 minute walk, or get a bus/tram. No advice on that… I’m not a bus wanker! (If you get that joke, you must be English and have excellent taste in comedy! FRIEND!!!!!)

Brouwerij 't IJ

Brouwerij 't IJ

The beer is delicious, as are the snacks. There are (very) limited food choices… (NO BITTERBALLEN!!) but if you like cheese and Dutch sausage as much as I do, you’ll be well catered for.

4. De Molen, Ankeveen

This windmill is the closest one to Hilversum I know, so worth a mention.

De Molen, Ankeveen

We’ve eaten here a couple of times – the food is ok, simple, nothing to write home about (bar the French Onion soup which was really good!) It’s a cafe/bar though so you can just visit for a hot drink or a borrel, complete with bitterballen natuurlijk! 

5. Molen de Ster, Utrecht

(The Star Windmill.) Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know there was a windmill in Utrecht! It turns out there are two! The other is on Adelaarstraat, named Rijn en Zon – Rhine and Sun.

Molen de Ster, Utrecht

Molen de Ster, Utrecht

Molen de Ster is an 18th-century saw mill. It’s open on Saturdays for guided tours and the rest of time there’s a cafe and other cultural activities going on. A very cute place to visit; near central station, set alongside a canal and it’s also close to Lombok if you fancy stocking up on some fresh produce while you’re there. Ideal!

Next on my windmill-spotting list is Schiedam!

Where’s your favourite windmill?

Hayley x

 

I am no longer the headless woman!

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably already seen my new profile picture! If you don’t… here it is!!

*Drum roll please*

Bitterballenbruid

You might recognise the style… yes, it’s Blond Amsterdam!!

I have been a massive fan ever since I first visited the Netherlands and I have a huuuuuuge collection of their stuff.

When I found out that they did personalised items, they were my number 1 choice for a new blog logo. Unfortunately, when I contacted them months and months ago… their customer service team were decidedly unhelpful and unfriendly: No, we can’t do logos – you have to buy a piece of pottery – and no you can’t come to the store in Amsterdam to watch while it is being painted. The typical “dat kan niet” bullshit. Miserable gits.

I initially thought screw you – I was about to give you a load of free publicity – so I contacted some other illustrators. I got a couple of quotes but my heart just wasn’t in it so I let a few months go by.

I knew I wanted Blond Amsterdam to do it but their customer service had been rubbish. I thought about it again. The talent – the real illustrator(s) – do not have time to deal with customers (or bloggers). I had spoken to some jobsworth. I knew that the real Blond Amsterdam would deliver the goods!

So, I ordered online. I had wanted a logo, but no, they couldn’t do that. So I ordered a bloody plate instead. 12 and a half weeks ago. (Their website states the waiting time for personalised items is around 9 weeks.)

I waited patiently for 9 weeks… and then for another week whilst we were on holiday (hoping there would be a lovely package for me on my return). Nope. I emailed them last week as my expected delivery time had clearly passed – only to be disappointed by their customer service yet again: It’ll be with you next week (with no apology about it already being so late!) and no we can’t take a photo of it and send to you. Of course you CAN take a photo of it. You just don’t want to/can’t be arsed/have a “dat kan niet” attitude. 

But today, I finally got my delivery! It was worth the wait, it’s friggin’ awesome, I love Blond Amsterdam and I love my bloody plate! (And truth be told… I’m actually quite pleased they didn’t send me a photo as opening it was a brilliant moment!)

Blond Amsterdam – your customer service department sucks the big one!! But I still love you.

What do you think of the new “logo”?

Hayley x

You know you’re definitely Dutch when…

1. You think it’s perfectly normal to transport another human being on a bike with you.

2. Your calves resemble Popeye’s biceps.

3. You get annoyed when people think the Netherlands is all about Amsterdam.

4. You get annoyed when people think Amsterdam is all about weed and prostitutes.

5. You own one of these:

Masher

6. On special occasions and at Christmas time, you dust off your gourmetten set and let everyone cook their own food on the dinner table.

7. You eat (and enjoy) frikandellen.

8. You manage to say hoor 10 times a day without so much as a stifled giggle.

9. You roll your eyes when someone refers to your country as Holland, then take a deep breath and prepare yourself to deliver your rehearsed speech about the difference between Holland and The Netherlands.

10. You fly a Dutch flag when camping so that people don’t mistake you for Germans.

100_Dutch

11. You’ve stepped in dog poo and then walked into your house with your shoes still on.

12. You will not allow people to say that oliebollen are doughnuts. EVER.

13. (Women) You think that white leggings are a fashionable option for summer.

14. (Men) You think that coloured jeans are a fashionable option, period.

15. You don’t know what the Dutch two-tone sigh is, because you don’t even realise you’re doing it.

Hayley x

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

20 Reasons why King’s Day in Amsterdam is the worst street party in Europe

Koningsdag or King’s Day (27th April) in the Netherlands is such a boring day. Especially if you go to Amsterdam – then it’s particularly awful. I wouldn’t recommend you go, definitely not. You’ll have a rubbish time. Honest.

1. Everyone wears sensible, somber clothing. Mostly black or grey.

Kings Day

By DirkvdM (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

2. No one drinks. At all.

Beers

3. Especially not on the street. There is a high level of class and decorum at all times.

Drinking cider on Queens Day

4. No fun is allowed. And especially no dancing!

Dancing at Kings Day

5. And strictly no Dad Dancing.

Dancing on Queens Day

6. The canals are really empty and boring too. Nothing going on there.

Amsterdam Canals

By Carmelrmd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

7. The streets are deserted. Nothing to see here!

Jordaan on Kings Day

8. There’s nothing to do. You can’t get funny caricatures of yourself drawn on the street by Stan Heinze, Dutch caricaturist and comic artist.

Getting caricature drawn on Kings Day

8. Or throw wet sponges at your mates for shits and giggles.

Wet sponge throwing

9. You definitely can’t do that. I told you – no fun allowed.

Queens Day Sponge Throwing

10. There’s no messing around or being silly. Or you’ll get arrested by the fun police.

Queens Day Fun

11. The parks are completely desolate on King’s Day. Especially Vondelpark. Completely empty.

Vondelpark Queens Day

12. There’s no one taking advantage of the vrijmarkt (free market) and selling their old tat.

Vondelpark Queens Day

13. Or asking you to pay 50 cents to look in a box.

Queens Day 2011

14. And did I mention… NO DRINKING!

Drinking on Kings Day

15. And under no circumstances can roads be closed or traffic stopped for revellers.

Queens Day 2011

16. Later on in the evening, everyone is completely sober. No parties, no staying up late. Everyone just has an early night.

Kings Day Holland tshirt

17. Completely, 100% sober. I told you, right?

Queens Day drunk people

18. It definitely doesn’t get blurry. And people definitely don’t crash their boats whilst drunk.

Queens Day Late

19. You see, King Willem-Alexander is a very sober man. Never had a drink in his life… and his nickname definitely wasn’t Prins Pils (Lager Prince) in his student days, before be became King.

Koningsdag

By Erikt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

20. Happy King’s Day everyone. I hope you have a really ongezellig time. Better to just stay at home that day really.

Queens Day

Hayley x

Cat Café in Amsterdam

I cannot believe I have only just found out about this… but this morning whilst reading tweets in bed (don’t judge me – it’s my day off – we all do it) I found out that THERE IS A CAT CAFÉ OPENING IN AMSTERDAM THIS MONTH!

Kopjes Amsterdam

Photo credit: Kattencafé Kopjes Facebook Page

Sorry for shouting. I am soooooo excited!!

I’ve seen cats in bars here in the Netherlands, well – I should say “a cat in a bar”, several times. But a whole café full of feline friends?? No siree!

It feels like an #onlyinHolland or should I say #onlyinAmsterdam kind of story, only it isn’t. After extensive research (Googling ‘cat cafe’) it turns out that these things already exist! Who knew?

There’s Café Miao in Copenhagen, Cat Town Cafe’s in Oakland, USA and others in Melbourne, Paris, Japan, NYC (of course) Seattle and San Diego. Ok, so I’m totally not with the programme…

BUT, this is the first in the Netherlands.

Crazy cat ladies rejoice!

If it wasn’t enough news that there’s a cat café opening in Amsterdam this month… even more exciting is the news that it was crowdfunded. Woah.

975 people joined the campaign raising a staggering €32.715!! (Source.)

Paris the Cat

Image credit: My Cat

So, what else do you need to know?

It’s called Kattencafé Kopjes and it opens its doors on 22nd April 2015 at 211 Marco Polostraat in Amsterdam.

You have to book in advance via their website.

There will be 8 cats in the café and only 20 visitors are allowed at a time.

Entry is €3 for a two hour slot.

The cats come from animal shelters Stichting Dierenleed and Dierenopvangcentrum Amsterdam. They cannot be adopted as it could be stressful for the animals to have a constant rotation of different cats.

More info on their Facebook & Twitter pages | Cat pictures: Instagram

Dus, ga je mee? 

So, are you coming?

Hayley x