LOVE TO WANDER
We could have chosen to visit the Rijksmuseum today and maybe we should have, but we would have needed to get there for opening time 9am to avoid long queues and we opted instead for a visit to the Canal House - Het Grachtenhuis.
This beautiful house gives you a really good feel for how the houses of wealthy merchants in Amsterdam's heyday would have been decorated and furnished. It also house an excellent series of cleverly designed and entertaining sound and light exhibits that explain carefully how Amsterdam was planned and built though the years as it's population grew. There is a beautiful doll's house inside which comes to life with audio visual techniques you can control through your audio guide. All the canal houses in Amsterdam have beautiful gardens behind them that you can't see from the road, so it was lovely to be able to take a walk around the beautifully designed garden in this house which was created to look like a collection of townhouses and gardens in the city. NB - Shut on Mondays.
We had walked a long way over the last couple of days and so opted for a ride on the metro to our next stop which would otherwise have taken around an hour and a half to walk to. Albert Cuypmarkt is a busy street market that sells a wide variety of things you need and things you don't and also has THE best place to buy Stroopwafels, which was the main reason for our visit. The return metro ticket whisked us effortlessly back towards the Canal Ring in good time for a 5pm canal tour with "Those Dam Boat Guys" starting from Cafe Wester. If you only have time to take one canal tour, then this small group (8) is the tour you should pick. Read more for the link to their website ...
A 90 minute tour with "Captain Julian" showed us part of the canal network that other tours just don't reach and taught us all sorts of things we didn't already know about Amsterdam in a really fun way. Yes, it is a little more expensive than the large boat companies, but you have a guide that makes you laugh and can answer all the questions you have about Amsterdam too. You can take your own refreshments on board if you want to. We also sailed close by some of the many houseboats and got a good feel for what it would really be like to live in one of them. We also saw the newer parts of Amsterdam beyond Central Station and got a good idea of how the city is continuing to expand in modern times.
Stroopwafels - You would find it really hard not to like these yummy delicacies - crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside and smothered in a sweet sauce of your choosing. If you have them though, be sure to sample them freshly baked from the street market - it really is the only way.
Westmalle Tripel Beer - Described as "Clear trappist, creamy, bittersweet and bitter aftertaste". At 9.5% proof, it can go to your head a bit - but it certainly seemed to help make the boat tour a fun experience.
Photo I wished I had taken:
The laughing couple dressed from head to toe in psychedelic outfits sitting on the canal side with their legs dangling over the side. Of course - YES - I am still curious ...!
Bistro Bij Ons www.bistrobijons.nl. This was our favourite meal of the trip! You can sample Dutch classics like hutspot (three dishes of mashed potato with different ingredients and flavours) in a cosy atmosphere with very friendly service. We were treated to a complimentary home-made Jordaan likeur at the end of our meal.
Learning the Lingo:
Gezellig - Snug, friendly, cosy, informal, companionable and convivial - easier to experience than to define and definitely provided in spades by the Bistro Bij Ons!