We drove out of Belgium and headed north to the Netherlands. I should mention that to keep CB happy we did spend the day at Spa while the Belgian Grand Prix was taking place.
Once again we were at at airport hotel and arrived the night before our day in Amsterdam. This time we were at a Radisson Blu We were really, really impressed with this hotel. The room was amazing, very modern and well furnished. We had also gotten a really good deal online which meant we had a free breakfast and the breakfast was top notch. It was buffet style with lots of healthy options such as scrambled egg, smoked salmon, Bircher muesli, lots of great things to choose from. We would definitely recommend staying here. Once again they put on a shuttle to the airport and from there you can catch the train to Amsterdam.
The train takes about 30 minutes and due to the canal layout it takes you to the north of the city. From there you have to walk through what I thought of as Amsterdam: the tourist attraction. It’s filled with bars, which were busy even first thing in the morning, and lots of stag and hens parties. We moved away from this area as quickly as we could.
Amsterdam works on a horseshoe design with several semi-circles of canals radiating out from the centre. It’s all very compact and easy to walk around although you really need to watch out for the bikes. Cyclists rule the road and there are hundreds of them!
First up for us was a photo stop. Now there are plenty of photographic opportunities in Amsterdam but I recommend heading to a little bridge were the streets Staalstraat and Groenburgwal intersect to get a shot of a chapel at the bottom of the canal. So picturesque.
Even in August the weather in this part of European can be very similar to British weather and we got caught in a few showers. During one particularly heavy downpour we ran into a place called La Place. This is a chain, of which there are a few in the Netherlands and Belgium, which works on a canteen style if you like, with different stations where you grab what you want, put it on your tray and pay at the door. It is a little hectic when you first go in, but everything is well signposted. We just stopped in for a coffe, tea and a cake. We settled on the roasted pineapple cake which was sweet and moist.
For lunch, I had found a place called Lombaro’s from trip advisor. They specialise in sandwiches and burgers but they do have a selection of salads which was just what we wanted. They only have enough space for four to sit in and it is really designed as a takeaway. As the weather had brightened up a little we settled on a takeaway and sat by the canal to eat. CB had a sandwich which was delicious and packed full of chicken, while I had a roasted vegetable and goats cheese salad. Again it was packed which made it great value for money and it was beautifully presented with lovely roasted pumpkin seeds and balsamic dressing on top. Everything is made fresh to order so you can easily mix and match if something on the menu doesn’t take your fancy.
We spent most of the day wandering about the canals, we stopped at the floating flower market and the Amsterdam sign at the Rijksmuesum. You might have guessed we aren’t big on going into museums and prefer to spend our time wandering about, doing lots of eating and soaking up the atmosphere.
In the afternoon, during another rainy spell, we were in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam. This is a really cool, quirky area and is home to the Anne Frank House. We didn’t go in as we weren’t organised enough to book however it’s something I would like to go back to do.
We did stop into a place called CiTea for some tea. They have a huge selection of blends, some I think are their own creation, and I grabbed one to takeaway called Happiness. If you a tea lover I would definitely recommend stopping in here, the guy really knows his stuff. The only downside is there is nowhere to sit in.
Fast forward to dinner and I had found a restaurant on Trip Advisor called Season’s that was getting really good reviews. Not only that but if you booked on their website they had an early dining deal of 2 two course meals for the price of 1. Bargain! The early time slot suited us perfectly as we had to get a train back to our hotel. Well, the food it not disappoint. This is definitely one of the reasons why I use Trip Advisor so much when planning our holiday.
To start, I had figs stuffed with goats cheese, wrapped in Serrano ham with walnuts, mint and honey. They were served two ways so one was hot and one was cold and it was a great combination. It really inspired me to try with at home. Next was salmon on a bed of fresh red cabbage. Lots of lovely fresh, seasonal flavours and we would highly recommend eating here. With the discount, two courses each worked out at about €20 but I would definitely pay full price to eat here again.