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[tdf] hungry & delirious in amsterdam

July 20, 2012

“It would be an understatement to say we woke up hungry.”

Fair enough really. Pickled herring, chips with mayonnaise and beers do not three square meals make.

It may or may not have helped that we were wide awake at a little before 6am, so after making some calls home, a pot of lemon ginger tea and re-packing our bags for the coming day, we started to think about what lay ahead.

Destination: Amsterdam
This post is part of the onebitemore “Tour de France” series, published every Friday (except for this post) until I run out of stories to tell. To see an overview of the trip or to see other posts in this series, click on the map to be redirected to the index page.

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It seemed there was a fairly long list of things to do, being:

1. Check out of Hotel Iron Horse

2. Explore Amsterdam

3. Eat something (a few times over)

4. Get luggage (and self) to Centraal to catch the train to the airport

5. Check into Citizen M at airport

6. Go back to sleep.

(Koji secretly also had things like “ride bicycles”, “spend hours in museums” and “bask in the sun at the Vondelpark” on his list but I think he may have been getting ahead of himself there.)

I should probably note here that none of the above list appealed to me in my hungry, confused state (apart from maybe numbers 3 and 6). It was going to be an interesting day.

breakfast near Centraal, Amsterdam

We deposited our luggage in lockers at Centraal and stumbled around until we happened upon a little laneway cafe that had a sign for poffertjes in the window. Cue excitement, and then utter disappointment, when told that the sign was purely decorative.

No matter, waffles with cherry jam and a ham and cheese tosti (more cheese than ham or tosti) formed an able breakfast, consumed under a strange orange glow with a machine made espresso and hot chocolate.

the Boekenmarkt op het Spui

the second hand bookmarket

It was by sheer chance (and a faltering sense of direction) that we stumbled upon the Boekenmarkt, a weekly market filled with second hand books and prints of all kinds.

At a little bit before 10am, we were there just before it opened but the various sellers let us browse their wares whilst they set up. I was immediately drawn to some beautiful prints of old hand drawn maps of the city and picked one up to hang on my wall for a little less than €15.

the second hand bookmarket

Boekenmarkt
Open every Friday from 10am to 6pm

How to get there:
Walking: about 10 minutes from the Dam square.
Tram: catch trams 1, 2, 5, 13, 17 or 20, get off at “Het Spui”


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 the Bloemenmarkt

The Bloemenmarkt (floating flower markets)

A hop, skip and jump down the canals later and we struck upon the famed Bloenmarkt, a flowermarket where all of the stalls are built off the path and onto floating pontoons that sit in the canals.

Being the middle of tulip season, we saw bunches of 50 tulips for just €10 (prices that made Koji cry silent tears some months later when he paid a far more extravagant price for the same on our anniversary).

It’s a little bit tourist trappy to be sure, with magnets being sold in amongst bulbs and blooms, but for the avid horticulturalist (or the avid posing-with-giant-bunches-of-flowers-fan) it’s a sight to behold.

Bloenmarkt

Located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein. The flower markets are open from Mondays through Saturdays from 9.00am-5:30pm, and on Sunday 11.00am -5.30pm.


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museumplein & the van gogh museum

van gogh museum plaza

Our next stop (and Koji’s most anticipated site) was the museumplein outside the van gogh museum… oh, and the museum itself, which is a multi-storied, beautifully curated affair with queues that stretch past infinity for entry. Unless, of course, you are sharp of eye and quick of wit (or read this blog).

If you walk to the back of the queue and cross the street diagonally away from the museum, you will see a little house with a little sign out front saying “Van Gogh Museum tickets sold here”.

alternate ticket shop for van gogh museum

It’s a diamond factory and museum in its own right, but also sells tickets to canal cruises, tulips tours and all of the local museums (the one across the road being no exception), meaning you can buy a ticket or two for the same price as in the ticket office without waiting in line.

(It also means that you’ll score envious looks from the people waiting outside in the cold as you scoot right past and into the “pre-purchased ticket” line on the far right side of the entryway. Yeah!)

stroopwafel stall on museumplein

But before we embarked on a couple of hours of culture, there was another sign that caught my sharp eyes and quick wit.

“Fresh Baked Syrupwafles €2.25”

No matter that we’d eaten less than an hour or so earlier! No matter that there were original paintings to see! Stoopwafel was available and I was going to eat it!

(It was a highlight, to be sure).

(The Van Gogh Museum was also a highlight – my recommendation, catch a lift up to the top floor and walk down the fire escape stairs as you work your way through the floors, you’ll get a burst of sunlight at the end of every floor and also avoid most of the crowded passageways).

eating the stroopwafel

van gogh museum

The Van Gogh Museum is located at the opposite end of Museumplein to the iamsterdam sign. Entry costs €14 for persons aged 18 and up (entry is free for 0-17yrs). Entry is also free for those holding an iamsterdam card.

Opening hours are 10am – 6pm daily with extended hours to 10pm on Fridays.

From 29 September 2012 to 25 April 2013, much of the Van Gogh Museum collection will be relocated in the Hermitage Amsterdam. Read more about the location, admission and opening hours during this period.

(There is free wifi available in the basement of the Van Gogh Museum for those of you addicted to the internet).

museumplein

The museumplein is a large square next to the Van Gogh Museum, housing the iamsterdam sign, a tourist information centre and store and a number of small cafes.

If you will be going to the museum shop at the Van Gogh Museum, it is adviseable to purchase your posters from there instead of the store on the museumplein as you will receive a cardboard carrier for your poster. The museumplein shop only has plastic bags.


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a picnic at the vondelpark

a picnic lunch in the vondelpark (from Bakkerij Simon Meijssen)

After hours squinting at paintings of trees and valleys, flowers and vases, it was time for a sit down. And a meal.

The museum cafe, whilst schmancy looking, seemed a little sterile and we were in need of some good old Vitamin D.

Enter the Vondelpark.

A ham and salad sandwich and a delicious rosemary foccacia were procured from the nearby bakery Simon Meijessen, and we perched on the edge of a fountain as we watched the youth (including some very stoned Aussies) while the afternoon away.

the vondelpark

“Can we get bicycles and ride around the track?”

“How about we leave that for a day when I’m not about to fall over with confused exhaustion and lactose-induced stomach aches?”

A pause.

“We’ll do it with your sister when we’re back.”

(I was not the best person to travel with that day to be sure).


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poffertjes at de vergulde lantaarn

de vergulde lantaarn

The poor boy tried everything to cheer me up that afternoon.

A trip to the shops (where I sampled more cheese and fell even further into lactose-induced trauma). A trip to the non-food shops (where I was too bundled up to bother trying anything on). Even a ride on a tram (where I was too old and embarrassed to run from front to back saying “choo choo!” – we don’t have trams in Sydney ok?)

And then he stumbled upon gold.

poffertjes from de vergulde lantaarn

“That thing you wanted for breakfast!”

“Huh?”

“That thing! The Pfffrrtk-yerrs?”

“Yeah?”

“Is that them?”

He pointed at a sign in the window of a little diner on the other side of the street.

“But what if it’s another decorative sign?” I wailed.

“I’ll ask for you. Even though I’m not too sure how to say, um, pfffrrtk-yerrs.”

poffertjes from de vergulde lantaarn

They were glorious. Twelve pillows of slightly charred, icing sugared, treacled topped, mini pancakey goodness – miles and miles better than the limp and sometimes flavourless versions we see at the odd market back home in Sydney.

We thought about ordering another plate. We thought about smuggling the syrup bottle back home with us.

And then we decided we were thinking too hard and that it would be far better to polish them all off before the other ate more than their fair share. (By the other, I clearly mean me.)


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Restaurant Haesje Claes

restaurant Haesje Claes - a traditional Dutch Restaurant

Buoyed by the successful consumption of stroopwafel and poffertjes (in the same day!) we decided that there was only really one way to dinner – Dutch style.

Our first choice, a trendy warehouse style restaurant with a mod-Dutch menu, wasn’t available that night (and by unavailable, I mean the building had been emptied and an eviction notice pinned to the door) so we went with a more traditional choice, Restaurant Haesje Claes.

restaurant Haesje Claes - a traditional Dutch Restaurant

A converted row of houses, Restaurant Haesje Claes contains a number of dining rooms, each adorned with homely decor, dark brown walls and in our case, a strange collection of teapots that sat atop a somewhat precariously slanted shelf.

Koji, rattled by a day with a delirious and sometimes cranky girlfriend, rewarded himself with a Wieckse Rose (€2.75), the first in what became a string of white biers that we consumed along our trip.

I was too busy eating the dark brown, slightly sweet bread with golden butter to even try to taste it.

restaurant Haesje Claes - a traditional Dutch Restaurant

“What should I get?” Koji pondered, looking over the extensive menu.

“I think you should get one of everything… hey! You can get one of everything!”

The Haesje Claes Tasting Platter (€14.95) contained one of just about all of the entrees available, and oh how my eyes popped open when I saw it. Mostly with envy. There was a cheese croquette, smoked salmon with horseradish, shrimp croquette, potato salad, pickled herring and a little espresso cup of pea and ham soup.

restaurant Haesje Claes - a traditional Dutch Restaurant

I’d decided, based on my slightly poor constitution, to select a pea soup with sausage (€5.75) for my entree. It was salty, warming, earthy and plain old good for you. The fact that it came with a small bundle of croutons wrapped in bacon didn’t hurt either.

Mains were an equally hearty affair, with my stamppot – a traditional Dutch dish made of mashed potatoes with a vegetable served with sauage & bacon (€15.75). The mountain of mash was unconquerable, try as I might, and I was left picking at the pickles in the vain hope that my stomach might free up more room for the giant meatball that sat atop.

After his entree-of-everything, Koji picked the slightly more sensible sauteed fillet of cod fish with mustard sauce (€18.75). Light and tangy with a delectable mustard sauce, it left me reconsidering my eating-out-mantra of always-get-the-most-filling-thing-on-the-menu.

apple pie at restaurant Haesje Claes - a traditional Dutch Restaurant

And even though there wasn’t room for all of the stampot, there was certainly room for dessert. A golden tower of apple pie with a drizzle of cinnamon sauce (€3.95) whilst Koji stuck to a lone espresso (€2.10).

Needless to say, we had no trouble polishing that dish off.


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citizen m airport hotel

Citizen M Airport Hotel

A long walk to Centraal, a fairly long train ride and a fairly short (but cold, windy and rainy) stroll later, we hit our accommodation for the night.

We’d picked Citizen M at the airport as we had a 6am flight to Nice the next morning and wanted to stay somewhere within walking distance of the terminal – most airport shuttles from hotels in town didn’t start up until 7am or later. What we didn’t expect was to find ourselves in a state of the art modular masterpiece, complete with 2 hour self check-in, a takeaway breakfast buffet that allowed us to grab and run the next morning (after our inevitable accidental sleep in) and freaky red corridors that made the place feel somewhat like a spaceship.

Citizen M Airport Hotel

The rooms are all built the same here. A larger than King sized bed takes up the rear quarter of the room and is built wall to wall so even tossers and turners won’t disturb their bed partners. The lighting, heat and television are controlled with a single iPad-like remote control.

You’ll have to be fairly close to your roommate though (or send them to loiter in the hallway) as the shower is a mere cylindrical glasshouse in the middle of the room and the toilet doesn’t have any sound insulation (though it’s made of opaque materials so at least you won’t be able to see what’s going on there).

Citizen M Schiphol

We paid €128 for the night, including breakfast for two and a late check in fee, but it was worth the convenience of being able to run (literally) from the door to the check in desk in under 10 minutes. Also, 2m x 2m bed and rainfall showerhead? Yes please. Always.


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This post is part of the onebitemore “Tour de France” series, published every Friday until I run out of stories to tell. To see an overview of the trip or to see other posts in this series, click here.

Previously: Cold & jetlagged in Amsterdam.

Next time: It’s nice in Nice (think about it… yeah).


  • #1
    July 21st, 2012

    Glad you finally got your Stoopwafel! You look so happy eating it 🙂 Was definitely a packed day for your and Koji.

  • #2
    July 21st, 2012

    Amsterdam is my favourite place in the whole world! Looks like you had a blast and glad to see you squeezed in so much! Reading this is making hungry for some vlaamse frites with oorlog sauce.

  • #3
    July 23rd, 2012

    so freaking jealous of everything! but most of all the stoopwafel. i need a stoopwafel right now.

  • #4
    July 23rd, 2012

    Stroopwaffles are the bestttttt! OMG it was the sweetest snack but I had so many of it for the 3 days I was in amsterdam/edam and I love love loved it! Love your photo collage of it 😀 And yes, I found that they eat chips with mayo. It’s so bad, but oddly good at the same time!

  • #5
    October 24th, 2013

    Good information. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident (stumbleupon).

    I have bookmarked it for later!

Shez