Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Say Cheese to Amsterdam

 Now we can tell everyone we stayed in a houseboat because where else would you stay in Amsterdam? Not just any houseboat, it's one shared by two cats and our hosts in an area just 20 minutes tram ride from the Amsterdam Central station.  Just 2 and a half hours train ride from Venlo, we reached Amsterdam feeling fresh (for once) and found the houseboat fast enough. We did not like rushing to visit every single touristy location, we spent our first day just lazying around in the houseboat and went to a nearby farmers market to check out some local wares. This is where we discovered the Dutch mini pancakes (poffertjes) with delish butter and powdered sugar (yum!).

Poffertjes - I miss!
Where we stayed - one of those floating homes

flower market

The tram system is amazing, we took the tram to get to nearly everywhere we went. We keep asking ourselves, why Amsterdam? we are not the typical Amsterdam travelers - not for the weed or even the after sunset fun (red light district). FYI, Amsterdam itself has a lot to offer other than coffeeshops and the red light area. Right in the heart of Amsterdam is one of the oldest botanical garden in the world (Hortus Botanicus), with several nice greenhouses - the butterfly pavillion is popular but I personally like the 3-climate greenhouses.

Next we went to the floating flower market, with shops selling bulbs and weed starter kits. Also a good place to get souvenirs, it's cheaper than the main streets (dam, etc) and also lined with cheese shops. (Who would have thought the Dutch are so into Cheese?) Our host offered us some cheese on our first night and they dig the cheese fondue (chocolate fondue I understand, cheese fondue? sheesh BUT each to their own, whatever floats your boat). Last stop for the day - we walked around the Jordaan area, nice canals and small shops to window shop.

view from Jordaan
Our second day, we visited one of the largest farmers/flea market in Europe, the Albert Cuypstraat. Wasn't too excited, but we found poffertjes (yum yum) here. There's a stall with heavenly-smelling grill chicken that we missed so please try that if you do get there yourself one day and let us know if it is THAT good. Calvin ended up craving for chicken all day but I found a Malaysian restaurant and got my rice fix XD (eventually he gave up and settled with KFC instead - oh well). We did walk through the Red light district - strictly no photos (let me just say, it's something you got to do just to people watch there). What's next? ...................  Paris!
Albert cuypmarkt - Calvin checking out wigs XD


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