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Friday, 18 March 2016

Weekend in The Netherlands



As I had no plans for valentine’s weekend, I decided to treat myself to a city break. One of my German friends has now moved to the Netherlands and so it was perfect timing to pay her a visit.

Especially appropriate as she was also my valentine’s ‘date’ in Munich the year before.

We started off the weekend with a home-cooking curry in her gorgeous loft apartment in The Hague.



Seriously gorgeous apartment! 

It’s two former houses knocked together with stunning exposed wooden frames and great views over the city.


Check out the sunrise on Saturday morning (yes we were up before the sun for an outdoor boot camp session in 1’c - such dedication!)


Back from boot camp, we warmed ourselves with tasty coffees, courtesy of her Nespresso machine…I’m so going to have to get a milk frothing machine now!


Then we drove into Amsterdam city centre, the capital of the Netherlands. We’ve both been tourists before in the city and so had a more leisurely approach to our visit. We wrapped up against the freeing cold and ambled down the lovely canals criss-crossing the Old Centre, earning it’s nickname as “Venice of the North”.

Full of traditional 17th century architecture (there’s approx 7,000 registered historic buildings)…



house and non-house boats

   


more than 1,500 bridges


and who knows how many bikes!



Our wandering neighbourhood is known locally as “De Negev Straatjes” (‘The Nine Streets’) - the quaint bustling cobbled streets that are some of the city’s most photographed as they connect the main canals and are full of unique stores and cosy cafes.


For lunch, we popped into a cute place called Ree7. It’s very representative of the casual restaurants in the area - lots of homemade foods and welcoming atmosphere.

We started with some fresh mint tea.  Which came with a traditional Dutch cookie - a ‘stroopwafel’ - first made in the city of Gouda. If you’re not familiar with it, I’d liken it to the Starbucks caramel waffle biscuits.

Traditional Dutch cuisine is simple - breakfast and lunch are normally bread, with dinner being meat, veggies and potatoes.


Bread, however, is accompanied by a wide variety of toppings - some of which I’ve never seen outside of the Netherlands! Such as a chocolate sprinkles with butter (‘hagelslag’), chocolate flakes (‘Vlokken’), treacle (‘stroop’) and sugar-covered anise seed sprinkles aka ‘little mice’ (‘Muisjes’). And of course they have lots of cheeses - most famously Gouda, Edam and Leyden.


But for our lunch we decided to follow the other traditional route - cold meats!

I opted for a wholegrain sandwich with roast beef, tomato, hummus and a poached egg. My friend went for the beef carpaccio sandwich with pesto and Parmesan cheese.


Very yummy!

When we paid we were also given some sweets appropriate for the day! Which we munched on as we headed back out into the outdoors.


There’s plenty to see and amuse yourself with when wandering through the streets and shops…



Who knew there were so many bike accessories?!




A ‘coffee shop’…we popped in to see, but didn’t stick around.



Instead spending our time in interior and independent stores…

…some with some seriously random but entertaining offerings.


 


Approaching tea time we popped into a pancake house on Prince’s canal, near Anne Frank’s House, to refuel.


It was very busy and commercial but boasted the best tasting pancakes in town so we settled down to review their extensive menu.


…with some warming drinks. Mulled wine for me, rum and hot chocolate for my friend.


And then it was pancake time!


I chose Poffertjes - traditional dutch pancakes which are light and spongy mini-pancakes, accompanied with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce.



Saturday evening rolled in and we celebrated Valentine’s Day with some pink bubbles! Before heading out to a house party.



For Sunday brunch we headed to a local neighbourhood cafe ‘Brood & Koffie bij Clarence

It’s a lovely cosy cafe with a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. There were a number of people just sitting and reading the papers over a cup of good coffee.


We started with cappuccinos… 

…complete with Valentine’s Day heart!


Tasty food came next - my friend went for the traditional ‘boterham met oude kaas’ (sandwich with old cheese) whilst I opted for an omelet.



I would definitely go back there again.

Final stop of the weekend was back into Amsterdam.  Wet snow surrounded us so we didn’t stay out long.


We checked out the flower market briefly…


…before heading into the cinema. We were seeing (along with a cinema-full of other single women!) ‘How to be Single’.


A very entertaining movie - the whole room was laughing out loud at times.

After the movie, we were handing roses in the foyer!


And then I boarded my plane back to Munich - where I was then given another rose in the car park.

Feel the love in Europe for Valentines!

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