I bet you’re all dying to find out how I got on in Amsterdam? The city of debauchery, sin and general devilment. But this time, it was a much more clean experience I was seeking! First of all, it was my first trip away with Himself, (you remember himself from Riga yeah?). But not only that, I absolutely did not want to undo all of the hard work I had been doing lately in the gym and I knew it was going to be hard. The food in The Netherlands is incredible. I know it is not generally recognised for its culinary expertise, but I have to say it is right up my street. In fact every weakness I have can be found in The Netherlands….. Cheese, pastry, Belgian fries, chocolate, pancakes, waffles….. I could go on! Then there is the dilemma that they also serve bread with everything and don’t even get me started on the beer! So how does a girl on a diet survive in Amsterdam? Here’s how!
Walk the legs off yourself
We must have walked the whole length of the city and back and to be fair, what a city to walk around! We stayed a little outside the city centre in the Hotel Vondel, a quirky boutique hotel in the trendy museum district.
|The Trendy Hotel Vondel
As soon as we checked in, I stepped into my walking shoes and we went off exploring. We walked all along the famous canals and over the pretty bridges unwittingly decorated with quirky bicycles.
All along the streets of tall, thin, traditional Dutch architecture and were amused by the un-even, “wonky” walls and windows.
We took a stroll through the famous Bloemenmarkt with every colour tulip imaginable for sale. We also walked through the Albert Cuyp Market a famous street market selling everything from clothes and shoes, to fruit and veg. We bought some fresh strawberries (bonus point) and some freshly squeeze orange juice to keep us going.
But for lunch time I have to be honest, diet or no diet, I was not leaving without my Belgian fries. I had been dreaming about them since my last trip to The Netherlands almost 4 years ago! So for my weekend cheat meal, I had a big ‘ol cone of delicious Belgian fries with mayonnaise. Yum! I did have to walk it off though so we marched on the famous Rijksmuseum.
|I’m not even sorry!
I AM a Photo Hacker
The museum is surrounded by beautiful gardens and the huge I Amsterdam sign. I wanted to get the required selfie in front of the sign, but the problem was, so did 50 other tourists! So we didn’t have a hope.
After trying a few different angles I put my thinking cap on….. Why don’t I stand at the back of the sign and simply flip the picture with photo editor? Boom! There we have it, who is the greatest tourist of them all eh???
The Ice Bar – Xtra Cold
It was time for some evening entertainment so we returned to the hotel to change and headed out to the Amsterdam ice bar. I was really excited about this as I’d never been to an ice bar before. We were given a thermal jacket and gloves and led into, well, exactly what it says on the tin, a bar made of ice! It was -9.4C and I can only say the obvious, it was freezing! We were served two free drinks served in glasses, also made of ice and of course I opted for straight vodka, you know, for counting calories! It was whipped cream flavoured vodka and it was possibly the nicest and sweetest vodka I have ever tasted. Thankfully, I was only allowed two of them!
Healthier Dinner Choices
So by now it was dinner time and I was so hungry! But we didn’t stop until we had a stroll around the red light district. Whether you agree with the Dutch laws or not, you have to visit the red light district. I was both curious and amused by the various transactions I saw on the streets. I was also surprised that the whole area seemed safe and clean and not the seedy back alleys I had imagined. After absorbing all of the chaos around me it was time for a sensible meal, so we found an Argentinian steak house (they are everywhere!). Needing an extra feed after all of our walking I order a steak AND a chicken fillet and polished it off.
Day two was a terrible rainy day. There was still a lot of walking to be done so the umbrella came out and off we went. Our first stop was to visit Anne Frank’s House, but the queue was so long that it weaved around the corner. Not wanting to spend an hour queuing in the rain we popped across the canal to the Amsterdam Tulip museum instead. Now I forgot to mention that tulips are my favourite flowers so this was something I was looking forward to. I loved this small stylish museum where I learnt that the flower is not actually Dutch, it comes from Asia and is common in places like Kazakhstan. (Every day’s a school day!). We also learned about the first ever economic bubble caused by tulip bulbs, called tulip mania.
It all goes downhill from here…….
So just next door to the tulip museum, lays the Amsterdam Cheese museum. Not much of a museum, but rather an epic cheese tasting session. Even though each cheese was cut into tiny cubes, I must have eaten a whole wheel of cheese here. Traditional Gouda, Goats cheese, smoked cheese, smooth, creamy, nutty, spicy cheeses, cheeses coloured blue and green and red….. You get the picture.
|A new take on “Blue Cheese”
So we purchased a small amount of cheese and a little jar of mustard, then we moved downstairs to a little room outlining the history or cheese and how it’s made and I couldn’t resist an opportunity to dress up in some very “cheesy” (quote intended) outfits including clogs for a photo op!
|Just trying to fit in!
Nerdy Fun for Big Kids
It was still raining so we decided to head to the NEMO Science Museum, a huge building filled with the wonders of Science. While this is Amsterdam’s number one destination for children, we Big kids had a lot of fun in there too. As a self-confessed nerd, I particularly enjoyed the Psychology section, where we could take part in interactive personality tests and face recognition technology! It was also a nice little refresher for various scientific principles and of course I did spend some time just being silly in general.
An Authentic Dutch Experience
So after the Science museum, just a short hop down the road we reached the “Brouwerij ‘T ij” a super-cool microbrewery with a windmill attached! You can’t get much more Dutch than that! The bar attached was jam-packed full of young people tasting the on-site produce and it was a very welcome place to shelter from the rain for a bit. It was also a great place to take a selfie! By then it was time for dinner so I opted for a healthy portion of salmon to allow for a few drinks later.
Just say No…. To Coffee Shops
I made an executive decision not to visit a coffee shop, even though they were very inviting in the rain! I decided that the last thing I needed was a a dose of the munchies!
The Irish Bar
OK. So I am not the type of person to go abroad and go to an Irish bar usually, but we were meeting a friend who was celebrating her birthday, so we headed to Molly Malone’s Bar for an Irish party with a twist! The bar, unlike many plastic-paddy type bars is run by a genuine Irish man and looks as you would expect an Irish bar to look. The party however was fairly different with a charismatic singer blasting out cheesy Dutch tunes and a platter of local Amsterdam delicacies including cheese, sausage and something like steak tare tare. We both joined in the fun taking part in a dutch dance or a “Polonaise Hollandaise” if you will… see, I’m even picking up the lingo at this stage!
The Heineken Experience
On the final Day we opted to go to the Heineken Experience and I must say it was among the highlights of the trip for me. I was expecting an informative tour of the brewery’s history, but I got so much more than that! We spent two hours in the museum, with floor upon floor of interactive fun. From karaoke and photo booths, to rugby scrum simulators this certainly wasn’t about standing and looking at things. We tasted the beer, became the beer and then pulled the beer ourselves. I would go into more detail, but I don’t want to ruin it on you! Staying true to my diet, I only took a small 15cl glass and gave my other drink away to a lovely Irish couple, who were only delighted! After all of this excitement and armed with my new qualification (Certified Heineken Pourer) it was time to make our way back to airport and flyaway home L
So there you have it, a great weekend and another pound lost…… So the journey continues!