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Trip Report It was all fun + games 'til the food poisoning....

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We were happy to leave for Amsterdam last Saturday morning. Fly into Amsterdam, out of Paris, with an overnight in-between in Auvers Sur Oise. Amsterdam and Paris are two of our favorite places, we've been going once a year for the past number of years, twice a year when we are really lucky.

RSW through ORD into AMS, uneventful. DH and I both slept for four hours. I was disappointed it wasn't longer, however we were awake, alert, and feeling good. Schiphol Airport (isn't it a nice airport?) to Centraal Station. We pop out of Centraal Station and are greeted with a beautiful, sunny day.

(Wardrobe note: I'm always seeking good travel clothes. This trip I purchased a "Zella" activewear pair of black pants and zip jacket from Nordstrom and was very pleased. Extremely comfortable for the plane, not constricting, didn't wrinkle, and I felt pretty pulled together).

It is an easy ten minute walk to Rentabike Frederic (Frederic.nl) on Brouwersgracht, where we will pay for our houseboat and pick up the keys to what we will call home for the next three days. We've rented from them the past three trips, it is so easy and works out so well for us.

(I am a guidebook junkie. I will purchase numerous guidebooks as well as check every library book out available for my destination. Rentabike Frederic I found in Rick Steves. I know on this forum not everyone is a fan of Rick Steves. I find his writing entertaining and I think his directions are spot-on, so his books are an automatic Kindle download for me. His accomodations and restaurants I'm not really aligned with, however I have to say Frederic was a real find, and my most memorable dining experience to date came from Rick Steves as well).

The houseboat isn't ready yet, we leave our luggage and head to Gartine (gartine.nl). Gartine is down a narrow street, and its a tiny little place. We were here last trip on our arrival morning and found it to be special. Today there is one open table, for two, right by the window. DH has the "Big Breakfast", croissant, homemade jams, sourdough toast, fried egg, French toast, cold cuts, shards of old Dutch cheese, and orange juice. All of this is served on a blue and white Delft footed plate. I have the scrambled eggs with house-grown herbs and smoked salmon on sourdough toast. We both have cappucinos. The service is good and friendly, the sun is shining. We are delighted to be here.

After breakfast we happen upon an art fair at Spui. We enjoy minging about a bit and find out Art Spui is every Sunday 10am - 6pm. We especially like two pieces and are going to ponder between the two and plan to come back and make a purchase, however we got sidetracked and didn't return. (Next time).

My favorite place to shop in Amsterdam is Cora Kemperman and I always come home with a few new things from there. (Check out her website at corakemperman.nl, it is a beautifully done website. Her story and how she does business is interesting as well). I leave with a new skirt, matching top, and another top. Happy day.

Time to buzz back by Rentabike Frederics to pick up our keys. Our houseboat is nearby, on the Brouwersgracht at Keizersgracht, in what is considered the Western Canal Ring, in the Jordaan. We approach this big, black, obviously-been-around-a-long-time hunking houseboat, as we come aboard through a rickety little gate I am a little nervous and say so to DH. He opens the hatch, peers in, says nothing to worry about, this is great, this is beyond great.

Beyond great indeed! White painted wood floors, walls, ceiling. We step down into a modern galley with deep taupe cabinetry, rough hewn wood table with contemporary white chairs. Deep taupe modular sofa, a high rail running the length of the boat on both sides with lots of half-burned white candles of all shapes and sizes in glass hurricanes and jelly jars. High windows with white canvas edged in black window coverings which we roll up water-side to bring in the view from the canal.

We unpack and run to Albert Heijn for groceries. It was such a lovely day that I want to kick off my closed-toe shoes and put on my Haviana flip-flops. I pack Havianas only for indoor wear, like a slipper, when I travel. But it's such a nice day I want to wear them outside. Well, I must've tripped on the cobblestones, and went into this slow motion fall, like you see in a movie. I can remember feeling that I needed to land, I needed to stop, as I went careening by other people. The street was really busy, fortunately I didn't run into anyone else or hurt myself, well, besides my pride. I do't know how it happened but then there I was on my knees, looking up at DH who had my flip-flops in his hand. Lesson learned.

So now we are back at the houseboat. This was the best! We had rented a houseboat previously, and what I didn't know that I wanted until I didn't get it was a place to sit outside on the houseboat. This houseboat has a stern outfitted with a big white market umbrella, one of those Kartell plastic sofas with a cushion, and pots upon pots of blooming pink flowers everywhere. We get out the wine, the Gouda cheese, some olives, proscuitto, roast beef that looked good at the grocery store (and was good as well). it is a stunningly beautiful day, there is a lot of boat traffic on the canal, everyone, it seems, is out on the water on every kind of craft imaginable. Huge boats, little boats, a beautiful wooden boat piloted by a dashing gentleman in a sportcoat. Party boys and girls with loud music and laughter. A solo boater with his dog. A large boat with everyone dressed in white and pink with balloons. Boats with so many people you think someone is gong to slip off. We are having the best time, hanging out on our houseboat, relaxing, drinking wine, snacking, and snapping pictures of the boats going by.

Later we head for Vondelpark, we've never been and it is a warm Sunday early evening. It is a beautiful park, so green and lush. Everyone who doesn't have a boat or didn't get an invite to be on one is here at the park taking advantage of the glorious weather. We grabbed a table at Het Blauwe Theehuis, however changed plans and decided to go instead to our favorite Amsterdam restaurant, Daalder Eten + Drinken.

Daalder (daaldercafe.nl) is in the Jordaan, back by the houseboat. We discovered it a few years ago when looking for somewhere to have lunch, and will visit numerous times over the course of our visits. (Last time we went every day). Tonight we had homemade ravioli with manchego and mushroom sauce. It was very good. Although the truth be told last time we were here we had a pasta dish with "truffle something" and a fried egg and it was knock-your-socks-off kind of good. I was hoping for that kind of good again. Dessert was excellent. (And I wasn't even sure if I was going to order it). They called it Tasting of Strawberries. A narrow rectangular white plate with chopped strawberries with strawberry mousse atop, along with something else, of course strawberry again, it had a firmer consistancy than the mousse, was chilled, and looked like it was prepared in a loaf pan and cut into slices. I don't know what it was called. Delicious. Let's just call it that. Next was a strawberry gelee, yum, (just one, wish there were more), and lastly a champagne flute with sorbet in prosecco. Amazing. What a great way to end a stellar first day in Amsterdam.

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