This will be the first year in many that I will not be in Amsterdam for the holidays. I started reading over some of my old trip reports from years past and thought that I'd recycle this one as it brought a smile to my face and rekindled those feelings of being in my favotrite city during this special time of year. Be forewarned that this report includes a lot of eating, drinking, and sightseeing along with coffeeshop visits so for those of you that find those other activities boring you may not want to waste your time reading this. For everyone else, enjoy and Merry Christmas!
PROLOGUE - Thereâ€™s A Riot Goinâ€™ On
We arrived at the airport in Philly at 6PM, a full 2 hours , 40 minutes ahead of our scheduled departure only to find a skeleton crew on duty at the USAirways check-in. The line was ridiculously long but we had plenty of time and were not nearly as inconvenienced as the large group of travelers waiting in line at the adjacent counter. All these people were bound for various locations in the Caribbean and some were waiting since 10AM that morning due to canceled flights. We were now second in line when a chorus of hand-clapping and shouting erupted from these unfortunate folks. This seemed to work as while passing by on our way to our gate, it appeared as though the staff at those check-in windows had miraculously doubled along with several cops behind the counter.
After being totally rejected by the woman at the gate in our quest for a free upgrade, we found ourselves drinking beer and Grey Goose at the Blue Bar (?) where the Philly filly behind the bar advised M on how to get around the newly adopted no smoking anywhere in the airport policy. After finishing that last cig by locking herself in the COMPANION CARE lounge, we finally boarded our flight and were on our way.
DAY ONE - Blinded by Lavender
Arrived without incident at Schipol at 9:30 AM, very pleasantly surprised to find a sunny, clear morning sky (first time out of my eight visits not to be greeted by rain), and were at the Krasnapolsky check-in desk by 10:30AM. Barry informed us that he could not honor our request for our customary free-upgrade to our favorite room with balcony, but that we could have the room for an additional fee of 35 euros per night. A little steep, but what the heck, it was worth it to us for New Yearâ€™s Eve alone. Our room would not be ready for a couple of hours, so we decided on a late morning stroll around the city.
Since it was Boxing Day or the second day of Christmas for Amsterdammers, most of the shops and stores on Kalverstraat were closed. Made our way to de Dampkring and were pleasantly surprised to find it nearly empty as we heard that this place has become ridiculously popular since the filming of the scene from the film Oceanâ€™s 12. Decide on a gram of NYC Diesel and a gram of Hawaiian Haze, a fresh OJ for me and a cup of tea for M. The Diesel did not disappoint (damn I love that first smoke of the trip) and after having a nice conversation with Simon, a young Dutchie who joined us at our table, and observing that crazy but rather unfriendly house cat, we were ready to continue on our journey.
After discovering that the Kaaskamer on Runstraat and a couple of the pubs that were on our agenda were closed, we picked up our strippenkaart and city map at the souvenir shop on Paleistraat. The fantastic beer store just next door, the Bierkoning was still closed at a little past 1PM so we decided to stock up on our beer and cheese supply for our room tomorrow and headed back to the hotel. Had a yummy lunch consisting of a ham and cheese toastie and a cup of pea soup in the hotel lobby restaurant and then checked in to our room. M was out like a light, so I most graciously unpacked all of our suitcases, smoked a bowl of the Hawaiian Haze out on the balcony, and then went down for a nap.
Awoke only an hour later and although having only slept for about 20 minutes during the flight over, was somewhat ready to go out for the evening. M had slept for 3 hours on the flight and another couple of hours in the room, so she was ready to go as well. The hot showers felt great on our travel weary bodies and got us in gear. Our first stop as usual was at the Wynand Fockink, the jenever bar attached to the hotel. M and I shared a citron and a pear flavored jenever and a de Rjik beer, delicious. After bidding the friendly barkeep farewell, we made our way down Damstraat, across the canals of the Red Light district and over to the Nieuwmarkt square. The canals and itâ€™s beautiful houses were glistening under the full moon. The weather could not be more perfect, high 30â€™s and clear skies with very little wind. Stopped for a Westmalle Dubbel on draft and one of their house beers , Tom Ton at de Beiiard Berke de Schuster. Great place! We were a little disappointed to find CafÃ© Bern closed, but Plan B for dinner would suit us just fine. So off to La Paella on Warmoesstraat for our favorite grilled calamari and mussels in red sauce. Stopped at the Globe along the way to see if they were showing the Ravens-Steelers game on satellite, but alas, not to be as the only game they could get was the Colts-Chargers so we proceeded to dinner. Once again, La Paella did not disappoint as the food and service were excellent!
Feeling very satisfied, we made our way down Warmoesstraat to the Hunterâ€˜s Bar which was a new coffeeshop for us. Purchased some Lavender and some Super Menali Cream black hash and sampled the Lavender (Mâ€˜s first smoke of the trip) while checking the football scores and our email on their internet. Dammnit, the Ravens were getting there arses kicked, so we decided against returning to the Globe to see if they were able to raise the game on the ESPN satellite. The Lavender was smooth and tasty and it actually did taste and smell like lavender! M loved it too and we decided it was time to continue our walk, so along Oude Brugsteeg, and into one of our favorite coffeeshops, De Kuil. What a great vibe this place has, and again not crowded at all. The weed tender kindly vaporized some of our Lavender for us which we washed down with a couple of very cold Amstels. This is where things started to get a little, ok extremely hazy for me. I donâ€™t know if it was the lack of sleep, the Lavender, or the combination of both, but I was having a terrible time focusing. Reading the rest room signs not 20 feet away was impossible for me! Now I know that Iâ€™ve been a little near-sighted for quite some time now, but this was ridiculous. Even the weed tender dude was a blur and he was not more than 10 feet from our table! But we were having a great time here, so no reason to panic, just enjoy the buzz and go with the flow.
After finishing our beers and vaporizer bag, we headed back to the hotel with a stop for a couple of beers at the CafÃ©â€™ Tâ€™waart on Damstraat and practically right below our hotel room. The Bavarian beer was awlful, but the place was decorated beautifully with traditional Christmas greens and ornaments. A quick stop at Reneeâ€™s for some apple pastry delights, and then back to the room where we enjoyed this bounty and sampled the Menali Cream. Very nice stuff, we were ready for bed. M was convinced that I was down for the count, but was very pleasantly surprised, the perfect ending to our first evening in Mokum.
DAY 2 - Amazing Grace
Woke up and could see! Hallelujah!
Didnâ€™t leave the room until 12:30PM, as we were both dragging a bit after our first full day of drinking and toking. Finally got it together and headed out. I love that feeling you get when you walk outside that first time of the day to embark on a new adventure in this city, always a rush of adrenaline. The weather was great again, sunny and high 30â€™s, beautiful.
Walked down Rokin, over to Kalverstraat, stopped at Le Marcheâ€™ at the V&D department store. This cafeteria style market/restaurant was terrific! Reminded us a bit of Harrods in London, only not nearly as large or expensive. We shared a banana-orange juice concoction and agreed to return here later for some supplies for our room.
We continued down Vijzelstraat to Ferdinand Bolstraat and to the Albert Cuypstraat . We had lunch at the Groen ____? at the same corner as the Katsu. Pea soup, M didnâ€™t like, I did. Then a stop at the Katsu to purchase some of their Tibizia black hash. Over to the New Gollem cafÃ©â€™ on Daniel Stalperstraat. M had a La Chouffe draft, I had a Westfletren 8. M had a delicious bowl of onion soup served with fresh french bread.
Back over to Ferdinand Bolstraat , trammed it to the Muntpleine. M bought tulips for our room at the Singel flower market, then back to Le Marcheâ€™ for some fresh grilled veggies (mushrooms, zuccini, eggplant, sweet potato) and some fresh rolls. Through the Historiche museum and up Spuistraat to the Bierkoning on Paleisstraat, open! Bought 16 various Dutch beers including two Christoffel gift packs complete with glasses and coasters. Back to the room and sampled our wares. Vlo Speciale was speciale indeed. Veggies and rolls were perfect.
Left the room at 7:30PM, walked down to CafÃ©â€™ Nes, closed on Mondays, oops. Over to the Nieuwemarkt and CafÃ©â€™ Bern. Teriffic meal of fondue and entrecotte. Chatted with the two guys from NY sitting next to us at the bar. Drank Westmalle Tripel with dinner. Stopped for Amstel Bocks at In De Waag and La Chouffes at Tâ€™Loojste. Definitely getting buzzed from all this 7+ % alcohol beer, which was to be the theme this trip.
Hunterâ€™s Bar to check email and more football scores from yesterday. Some more Lavender. Next door to the Old Quarter for some incredibly hot jazz at their Monday night jam session, yet more Westmalle Tripel.
Back to the room and off to sleep within a half-hour. No surprises tonight for Lady M.
DAY 3 - 420 at 4:20
Slept in late, left room at 1PM. It had snowed a little bit this morning and was still kind of wet and cold so M decided to bundle up, wearing long underwear, fleece, scarf, gloves and jacket and felt like the kid in the movie A Christmas Story who couldnâ€™t put his arms down. In typical Amsterdam style, the sun began to poke out from the clouds and the temperature rose quickly. Lunch at CafÃ© de Prins, then over to Papeneiland for a couple of Amstel bocks.
Down Haarlemmerstraat, checked out Desserts Unlimited, bought a small chocolate filled with hazelnut lollipop, very yummy. Stopped in at Barneyâ€™s for some Sweet Tooth, Buddhaâ€™s Sister, and Laughing Buddha and a couple of cokes. M doesnâ€™t like this place so we didnâ€™t stay too long. Buy and fly at Picasso for some of their Dream.
Walked down the Nieuwdijk, stopping at Chills and Thrills for some dried Mexicans, said no thanks for the instruction sheet to the friendly shroom tender. Looked like it was getting ready to pour down rain on us, so we looked ahead and to our left and there was De Kuil. Looked at my watch as we entered and lo and behold, it was 4:20 PM ! Sparked up a bowl of Dream (excellent) and drank a couple of Amstels while listening to some great tunes. Went back to our room and made our phone calls for the first time this trip.
Stopped for a couple of jenevers and a de Rijk beer at the Wynand Fockink and then off to dinner at Luscius. This place was amazing, M and I agreed maybe the best find yet as far as food was concerned. Started with their sample plate of 8 (4 different types) raw oysters, shared their dinner special - seared scallops and asparagus served with a fried egg and sugar bacon, also shared a starter portion of their lobster tail served with white buttery potatoes, salad with shaved parmesan and a bowl of fish soup served with croutons, parmesan, and rouille. Everything tasted fresh and fantastic, we washed it all down with a few Westmalle Tripels, and left feeling very satisfied.
Went across Spuistraat to CafÃ© Gollem and found a nice cozy table upstairs. I went down to the bar and ordered us a couple of Ij beers, a bottle of Struiss and a bottle of Colombus for M. M must not have liked my Struiss too much as she dropped her bottle of Colombus on my filled glass, making quite a mess. The bartender graciously lent me his bar rag but not so graciously charged me for another Struiss. Great beers though and worth every cent, especially since these cannot be found too easily in the US.
Left the Gollem and off to hear some gypsy jazz at the Casablanca. Stopped along the way at the Red Light Bar for a couple of bowls of Great White Shark, an earlier purchase from the Greenhouse and were soon ready to hear some music. Arrived at Casablanca just in time for the start of the second set. Great sounding quartet - guitar Django Reinhardt style, drums, bass and sax. A couple of more you guessed it - Tripels and we bought their 2 CDâ€™s before leaving. The Casablanca is a beautiful pub on a very colorful street.. Our next stop, in fact, was at the beginning of the Zeedijk at a pub called tâ€™Appien which means the ape or the monkey. We had a couple of Amstel bocks here and some friendly conversation with Jacques, the barkeep.
Stopped for a nightcap at the CafÃ© Nes or is it the Nes CafÃ©, hard to know for sure. They were finally open and what a great place just around the corner from our hotel! M had an Ijndeejaar on draft and I had a Gulpener Korenwolf. Great vibe here with good music, friendly people and a regulation sized pool table. Appearing quite buzzed by now, I assured Simon, the friendly bartender that M was in good hands and we left and went directly back to our room.
Watched a little South Park on our laptop and tried some more Menali Cream along with our Christoffel and Zatte beer. Then off to sleep at about 2 AM, we would not make our planned trip to Brugges at 7:30 AM.
DAY 4 - Great Balls of Fire
Missed our 7:30 AM train to Bruges (by only 7 hours or so!) and didnâ€™t leave the room until 2:30 PM. Down to the lobby for lunch, got the laptop fixed up for wireless internet for the day at the business center, and checked our email. We then did the tour of the Oude Kerk, really a beautiful old church inside, and found the â€œhand on the breastâ€ engraved on the cobblestone outside, then over to the Old Church coffeeshop for a smoke. Sat at our favorite table upstairs overlooking the action down below. Love looking at the groups of tourists being led through the Red Light District.
We then made our way over to Spui Square and had a couple of beers and a jenever at the tâ€™Hoppe bar and a kip satay at CafÃ© Luxemburg after waiting awhile for one of the tables overlooking the square. While we were standing there waiting, we began to discreetly nibble on the shrooms we purchased yesterday. Met a couple from Ireland sitting at the table next to us and had a lovely conversation with them, exchanging travel tips.
After dinner, we walked down Regulierstraat to Betty Too for some Blueberry for dessert. Picked a nice bud of this great tasting weed and after smoking a bowl or two, we were buzzing very nicely as the shrooms began to kick in. Then over to a pub on the Rembrandtpleine and enjoyed the view of the square from the funky opaque glass windows. Then went for a nice long walk back toward Dam Square, enjoying the city sights through the now opaque and funky lenses of our eyes! Decided on a nightcap at the CafÃ© Nes and then stopped at Renees for some chocolate goodies and back up to the room.
More of the black hash we got from the Katsu a couple of days earlier and washed it all down with a Zatte beer. This all proved to be a bit too much for me as I accidentally set on fire not one, but two different pieces of paper by carelessly throwing them on our table where M had lit a scented tea candle! Oh shit!! The drapes nearly caught fire the first time and I the second, but we managed to put them both out without any damage to the room. Normally, this would be a real buzz killer, but when youâ€™re as buzzed as we were and in our favorite city, all you can do is laugh and be grateful that you didnâ€™t make the CNN World News for burning down a Grand European Hotel!! The candle was no longer allowed on that table and had to be placed as far away from me as possible for the remainder of our trip. Off to bed for a good nightâ€™s sleep.
DAY 5 - Utrechtsestraat
Again a late start, didnâ€™t leave the room until 1PM. Walked down Spuistraat on our way to Utrechtsestraat. Stopped and had french fries with ketchup at the joint next door to de Dampkring, hit the spot. Then up the Singel to Vijzelstraat and stopped by the doll/souvenir shop run by the old Dutch man and his wife. This is the place to buy souvenirs and gifts for back home. We chose to return later as we had several hours of exploring ahead of us and didnâ€™t feel like being burdened with packages.
Down the Kiezersgracht to our destination at the corner of Utrecthsestraat - CafÃ©â€™ Leeuwen. Sat at the bar until one of the window seats became available and then had a delicious lunch. M had the hearty pea soup while I chose the salad with proscuitto and some sort of hard shaved cheese with a fantastic vinaigrette dressing. Washed it all down with a Ijbock beer and a couple of glasses of tap water. No more bottled water for us, this water tasted as good as ours back home, which is very good. Wandered down Utrechtsestraat and stopped by for some Royal Stixx at where else? The Stixx CafÃ©. Very tasty and smooth bud. After a short while, we continued our journey along Utrectsestraat enjoying the great window shopping this street has to offer, stopping at the mega record shop that sells cdâ€™s, dvdâ€™s tapes, as well as vinyl, truly amazing place that was very busy, donâ€™t think this would make it back home. Stopped for a couple of Zattes at the Onder de Ooievar, got a nice window seat and enjoyed the lovely view of the canal and the flower stand with Santaâ€™s sleigh perched atop. Continued our journey through the side streets and back up Utrechtsestraat to the Oosterling pub. Great time here as we met some of the locals including Rudolph, a very nice Dutch man recently retired from his job at the electric company. M had one of her favorites, Brand Urtyp and I had an Imperator. We also tried a 5 year old jenever called Simon at Randyâ€™s recommendationâ€¦very smooth.
We left the Oosterling with an extra bounce in our steps and made the long walk across the Weteringschans and up and over Leidsestraat into the Dolphins Bar. M used the facilities and I opted to wait outside as it was way too crowded and smoky in there for either of us. Global Chillage on the other side of Leidsestraat turned out to be a much better option as it was much more welcoming with its very chilled music and atmosphere, nothing spectacular, but a nice spot to stop for a smoke and a cup of tea. After sampling some of the Blueberry purchased earlier, we left and had dinner just a few doors down at Los Pilones. Now this was our first time eating here and it was fantastic. M had the enchilada of the month which was filled with chicken and a guacamole verde sauce, and I had the taco of the month which was a soft tortilla covered with grilled sirloin, corn, onions and mushrooms. Both were outstanding meals and we enjoyed the after dinner stroll up the Herengracht and over to the CafÃ© van Daele for another round of Zattes on tap there.
Made it to de Bierkoning with time to spare and selected 8 more bottles of Dutch beers to carry us through the weekend. Then back to our room to drop off our beers and down to the Wynand Fockink for a jenver, a pear liqueur and a de Rijk beer. We sat on a window ledge in the alley with many other patrons as this place was packed tonight.
Off to hear some music at the Casablanca. Another real treat here as we listened to a jazz/funk band called Biggles Big Band. No less than 10 instruments on the stage and filled the back room. These guys were great, had kind of a funky New Orleans sound. We stayed for the entire first set and then headed back to the room as we were getting a bit tired and wanted to get a good nightâ€™s rest for tomorrow.
DAY 6 - Happy New Yearâ€™s !!!
Woke up feeling well rested and left the room by 11:45 AM , early for us! Walked over to the Nieuwemarkt and had brunch at CafÃ© Fortyn right on the square. We each had a delicious bowl of mushroom soup. Then across the square and waited in line at the bakery for a olliebollen, a traditional Dutch New yearâ€™s treat - fried dough ball with raisins. We learned our lesson from last year as one proved to be just enough.
Walked down Kloveniersburgwal and through the Waterloopleine flea market to the Rembrandt House, the house where Rembrandt lived during the height of his popularity. Love these museums where the building itself is fascinating to look at. Really amazing how they managed to restore the house and retrieve the works of art once housed there.
After our tour of the house, we proceeded down to Muiderstraat and waited for the tram to take us to the IJ Brewery. However, after a little while of waiting for the #10 tram and some incorrect information from a Dutch woman also waiting at the tram stop, we realized that the #10 didnâ€™t stop here and actually the nearest stop was quite far away. So we decided to stop into the coffeeshop down the street, the Hortus and regroup. The proprietor graciously called us a taxi and off we went to the brewery. A little bit of advice for anyone seeking directions or taking a taxi to this place - make sure you specify clearly that you want to go to the IJ brewery and not the Heineken brewery. We caught the mistake after only one block of driving in the wrong direction, but it could have been much worse.
We arrived there at 2:40 PM to find them closed. But the sign said open at 3PM and I had emailed them in advance to make sure that they would be open on New Yearâ€™s Eve, so we decided to have a drink at the pub across the street which had a great view of both the brewery and the windmill next door. We returned at exactly 3:01 PM to find the place nearly packed! We recognized the bartender as the same fellow who works at de Bierkoning and this, combined with the minimalist atmosphere of this place made us feel instantly at home. M had an Indeejars and I a Pilzen, both on tap and they were fantastic. No carbonation at all as the lines were connected to the freshly made beer supply downstairs in the brewery, as we were about to find out. We ordered another round, this time M had a Zatte and I had the Indeejar as we were joined by two young American students and one from Montreal. It was there first trip to Amsterdam and someone had told them of the brewery. We gave them some tips of places to visit and then the bartender announced that the 4 PM brewery tour was about to begin for all those interested. So everyone at our table and about 10 others from the bar joined in on the tour. This blew away the Heineken Experience! What a great tour, filled with humor and a thorough explanation of each step of the brewing process. No free samples here, but plenty of product back at the bar afterwards. M had another Zatte and I another Pilzen as we said our goodbyes to the students.
It was getting time to head back to the centrum so we hopped the #10 tram and got off at the Leidsespleine. The Oester Restaurant on the square was closed so we decided to head back to the room and make a plan for dinner. It seemed that lots of places were either closed or closing up for the holiday so we were getting ourselves resigned to the fact that we might wind up eating pizza tonight. Stopped at de Beiard on Spui Square for a Mc Chouffe for M and a Westmalle Dubbel for me, then back to the room.
A New Yearâ€™s Eve visit to the Wynand Fcokink, where we met two very nice and entertaining local guys and sipped our jenevers and beers. We decided to try our luck on Wamoesstraat for dinner and we found another Spanish restaurant open called Manoloâ€™s. Again we got lucky and were about to have another fantastic meal. We shared the grilled calamari starter, and the grilled fish platter for two along with an order of garlic bread, and washed it all down with a couple of small pitchers of sangria. We then shared a delicious piece of tiara missou for desert. This sure beat the hell out of pizza!
Extremely satisfied and quite buzzed, we made our way through the crowded streets over to De Kuil but the place was packed so we went back to our room for the festivities soon to begin. Poured a Vlo Speciale and filled up a bowl of hash mixed with various types of weed, we were getting geared up for the fast approaching midnight hour. Already at 11 PM we could see and hear the volleys from the thousands of firecrackers being ignited simultaneously on Damstraat just below our balcony. The always crazy, never ending display on the canals of the Red Light district had begun and the sky was beginning to light up with fireworks every direction we could see. Also, the moon began to peek through the clouds and the stage was now set for the arrival of 2005. At midnight, all hell broke loose with fireworks exploding all around us with a spent bottle rocket even landing on our balcony! This continued until 2 AM as we sipped and toked in the New Year. This was not as crazy as the last couple of years as the celebration seemed more subdued, maybe a reflection of world affairs, but still for visual effects and duration of festivities, I still donâ€™t know of another celebration quite like this one. We had the munchies and ordered room service - pizza margherite (pizza after all) and a piece of chocolate rum pie and we were in bed by 2:30 AM.
DAY 7 - On New Yearâ€™s Day
Slept until noon and left the room at 1PM to have brunch at La Grotte. Got the table at the window overlooking the busy Haarlemmerstraat. Brunch was very good as I ate the omelet filled with cheese, mushrooms, tomato, and onion and M had the grilled croissant with cheese and bacon. Also had my first smoke of the day as it is allowed here.
We left and walked along the Brouwersgracht and over the bridge, down the Herengracht and into the Amnesia coffeeshop. Very comfy in here, always liked this place. A cup of tea for M and a vanilla milkshake for me. Fired up a bowl of Laughing Buddha and sitting at the table next to us, the Dutch character self-named the â€œAmazing Jeromeâ€ started up a conversation. He gave me a piece of his hash which looked like it was cut with soap and asked for some of my weed to mix with the joint he was rolling. He then tried to strike up a conversation with the American guy sitting at the other adjacent table but this guy was in no mood for the Amazing Jerome, so that meant that he was all ours. We were just about ready to leave anyway, so it was brief. After offering me a hit of his joint which I graciously declined (due to the tobacco and the soap covered hash he mixed in), Jerome then asked if he could have what remained of my shake. I obliged, of course telling him that my milkshake was his milkshake, and with that we said our goodbyes and off we went.
Returned to the room and made our New Years phone calls to home and took a nap. We later went downstairs and had our complimentary New Years Day jenever and de Rijk at the Wynand Fockink and then off to dinner at Luscius. Unfortunately, they were not offering the scallops with asparagus tonight, but dinner was still delicious as we shared their grilled prawns, steamed mussels, and poached haddock with their great salad and white potatoes. After a pleasant meal, we walked down Spuistraat to another small brown bar and then over to the CafÃ© Gollem for a Columbus and a blond Belgian ale recommended to me by the bartender and a La Chouffe for M.
Then walked back to the hotel stopping at Reneeâ€™s for some goodies and then back up to the room. Watched some more South Park, listened to some tunes and sampled our stash of fine beers and smokeables.
DAY 8 - Leidsepleine
Left the room at around 12:30 PM and attempted to have brunch at De Bakkerswinkel but there was a long line so we decided on Het Karbeel just down Warmoesstraat. Very good as M had a pancake which was really like an omelet and I had an egg sandwich with ham and cheese. We then wandered down to the Zeeldijk and stopped in the Ooviear for a jenever and a couple of beers. I had a Brand Sylvester and M had a La Chouffe,. We drank a 3-year old jenever recommended by the barkeep and marveled at the simple beauty of this pub which was established some time back in the 17th century. We then wandered around for a bit and back to the room to regroup for a little while.
Then off to the Leidsespleine. Our first stop was the CafÃ© Eylders for a couple of beers. Then down the straat to Rookies for a smoke and a chat with Mark, one of the partners who own this establishment. Mark had taken us on a boat tour the same time last year and is a very nice guy.
Next stop was for dinner at the CafÃ© de Saloon on the other side of the square. Stopped by at the Satellite Sports Bar along the way to check on the NFL games, last week of the season, and really loved how they even had a couple of games on the television screens outside at the entrance. The food at de Saloon was excellent. M had the French onion soup and I tried the pea soup which was by far the best that I had ever tasted. We also shared a plate of smoked salmon which was also delicious. Feeling satisfied once again (we really did have nothing but great luck with our dining selections this trip) we strolled back to the sports bar and sat inside and watched games on the 100 television sets in this place. This really would be the place for die hard NFL fans to come, but it soon became a little overwhelming for us, so we headed out for our main event for this evening, the Melkweg.
I had purchased tickets on-line for tonightâ€™s concert - the Jazz Orchestra Of The Concertgebouw, and was really looking forward to seeing them. We made the short walk over and after buying two Heinekens, we went directly to the upper level of The Max, the 1,000 person capacity hall in which they were playing. I loved the venue and the band immediately. M wasnâ€™t as impressed with the venue, but couldnâ€™t help but love the sounds coming from the 16+ piece jazz orchestra on stage. Also loved smoking a bowl in there without worrying about being seen by security staff as it is back home. We stayed for awhile and moved downstairs to the bar before taking our leave.
We wound up taking a taxi back to Dam Square due to the fact that we were both pretty far gone at this point of the evening, it being a little later than we were used to being out this trip. I knew that the driver was taking us for a ride to beef up the fare but was a little too buzzed to prove it so I kept quiet. Finally arrived at our destination, paid the jerk the 14 euros and we decided to stop for a nightcap at the CafÃ© Nes. Things got pretty wild here as we met Frans, the owner and partied with him, Simon and the several other locals who along with us, were closing up the bar tonight. My memories of this are still pretty fuzzy, so Iâ€™ll save the details for a later date if and when my memory returns. Letâ€™s just say that we will not soon be forgotten at the CafÃ© Nes!
Left and made the short walk (thank God for that) back to our room, stopping at Renees and a pizza stand (I think) along the way. Think I passed out pretty quickly and M was pretty pissed, but thatâ€™s the extent of my memory about this evening.
DAY 9 - Last Day
Woke up late this morning. At around noon, an early version of Chinese New Yearâ€™s began to unfold on Damstraat just below our balcony. More 50 foot long strands of firecrackers plus a dragon. Quite a sight! Left the room at 2 PM, exchanged some dollars on Damstraat, and who do you think we saw strolling and whistling loudly along the straat? None other than the Amazing Jerome! I do find it amazing how during each trip, I do seem to run into these local Dutch characters multiple times.
Walked over to Centraal Station to see about taking a museum boat but decided instead to tram it. We first stopped at Mâ€™s favorite cheese shop, Kaasland at the corner of Haarlemmerstraat and the Singel for a cheese, tomato, lettuce, and cucumber broodje on French bread. Then a couple of doors down to the Rokerij for a smoke and sat in one of my favorite spots in the front overlooking the flower cart and the canal.
Caught the tram to the Rijksmuseum and viewed the Golden Age exhibit along with some of the regular exhibit which has been pared down some due to the ongoing renovations. Fascinating stuff, especially loved the chest of drawers inlaid with mother of pearl and the doll house which was owned by some wealthy Dutch family back in the 17th century.
Left the museum and off to find Raamstraat and the Profekal de Zotte. Found it without too much trouble as this trip I really felt comfortable navigating the city. In fact, the map that we purchased the first day of the trip was somehow lost by Day 2, so we were mapless for practically the entire trip. Anyways, I had a Westmalle Dubbel on draft and M a cup of coffee as she was still recovering from last night. We felt bad for the guys running the pub as they were dealing with a flood caused by the renovations taking place on the floors above. Water was dripping from the ceiling so we left before it fell down upon us!
Off to the Leidsespleine for a smoke at the Rokerij. Then picked up some yummy looking chocolates from Australia on Leidsestraat for gifts for back home and then caught the tram heading towards Centraal Station. Hopped off at the Spui and walked to our room to drop off our purchases. We also had bought some souvenirs for my nieces at the museum store.
Back out for a quick and final stop at the Wynand and Fockink for a pear liqueur and a Brand Up and then over to the CafÃ© Bern for dinner. Again, had a repeat of our favorite combo of fondue and entrecote and salad along with a Westmalle Tripel, fantastic again. Bid our goodbyes to the lovely Eva and stopped at â€˜t Loosje for a La Chouffe for M and an Indeejar for me. I have to say that the Indejaar (meaning end of year) from the Ij brewery was probably my favorite of the trip, very malty tasting yet smooth.
Stopped at Hunterâ€™s for a smoke and to check our email. Rolled a gigantic â€œlast evening of the tripâ€ joint consisting of Orange Bud mixed with some Great White Shark, Buddhaâ€™s Sister, and of course Lavender. Yummy indeed and burned very well as they had dried and cured nicely over the past several days. The right next door to the Old Quarter for their Monday Night Jazz Jam Session. This place is great and we got the window seat up front so that we could both look out at Warmoesstraat and see the stage. Musicians with their instruments in hand would keep wandering in ready to join in the festivities. And these guys were just incredible musicians, probably students from the Bimhuis. All this taking place in the lobby of a hotel!
On the way back to the room, we stopped at La Paella and ordered some of their cold calamari salad that they display in their front window. Waited quite awhile, but finally was ready, so we headed back to the room, taking our final walk up Warmoesstraat.
Arrived in our room and opened up the bag from La Paella to be pleasantly surprised to find that instead of the cold calamari salad, they had instead prepared for us their clamares in a spicy red sauce and a hunk of their fresh bread. We had sampled this delicacy in the past so we were quite pleased with the error and it also explained the delay in getting our order. Washed it down with the last Vlo Speciale from our beer stash and got to work on packing our bags for our impending departure tomorrow. After packing, we rewarded ourselves with a fantastic joint consisting of most of the remaining weed sprinkled with the two different types of black hash. Incredible, smoked just like a cigarette. Taking small drags, we could only finish a little more than half and sadly had to trash the remainder. Off to bed at 1:30 AM with an 8 AM wake-up call.
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adventures of the visitors to Amsterdam.
adventures of the visitors to Amsterdam.
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