The City By Boat

The City By Boat

When it comes to experiencing a city like Amsterdam, built as it is on a tightly-knit web of interlocking canals that wind around like a maze, finding someone who can row/steer, and persuading them to let you onto a boat, is just a necessity!

My friends and I felt it was hightime for a waterborne adventure. So, when we found out our friend Stefan was willing to take his boat out on trips, we jumped at the chance!

We met Stefan (‘Captain Stefan’) with the boat at Bloemgracht, not far from the centre of town, and climbed in.

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Rocky!

Stefan piled us with blankets, as it gets suprisingly cold being on the water

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But as soon as we were moving it was smiles all round!

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It was SO relaxing to lie back and watch Amsterdam pass by as we sailed blissfully along, listening to music and chatting.

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…just hoping our driver didn’t let us crash!

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…Only joking, he was a great captain!

We started our journey at the top of the Jordaan canals.

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Passing Oude Kerk, Old Church, on Prinsengracht

Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest building, at an amazing 800 years old, and is a notable landmark.

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We passed a lot of tourist boats, which are the typical way to experience Amsterdam by water. I have been on them twice, and although it is a nice thing to do for sure, you do feel very enclosed, and the boat itself is very loud. We definitely felt pleased to be with Captain Stefan!

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“Coffeeshop Easy Times”

We enjoyed the reflections on the water..

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And looking at the varied designs of the canal houses. Usually you just zip by on your bicycle, or speed along without really looking.

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We did see a transport option that we would have considered over our boat….

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Who wouldn’t want to sail in a clog?

And the variety amongst the canal boats was cool too- I loved this blue one

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But a few of them need a lick of a paint (and some)

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We came out of “canal land” (as I like to call it) and emerged through the dock to Amstel river.

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Now out in the open air, the wind was blowing like mad and the temperature had dropped further, but it looked Dam (hoho) beautiful!

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Stefan offered us the chance to drive, and Anna bravely took him up!

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Scaring us instead!
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Stroopwaffel time!

As we directed out of the river and towards the centre of town, we passed groups of people hanging out on their boats with some beers. A charming sight!

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We passed the ballet house and museums by the water

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And quirky restaraunts on the edges of the narrow canals as we came through to the Red Light District.

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“Sexy Amsterdam”

Eventually we came round to Centraal Station, which looked beautiful and glittering gold in the early evening light.

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As the sun went down, we sailed back towards the Bloemgracht through the Jordaan via the Herengracht.

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Herengracht literally means Gentleman’s canal, and it is where Amsterdam’s wealth is historically centered, in it’s grand warehouses, banks, company HQ’s, etc. It really has a very distinct feel of tradition and hereditary positioning, quite apart from the diversity you find everywhere else.

We sailed back onto Prinsengracht, passing the long queue to the Anne Frank house….

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And an on-canal cat sanctuary!

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De Poezenboot- the pussycat boat!

It is a completely unique sanctuary for stray and abandoned cats, and its unique status has made it a world-famous tourist destination!

The sun was setting as we arrived back at the boat’s resting place

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And our 2 hour jaunt on the water was over!

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l would really recommend taking a trip around the canals (and the river too) to anyone visiting Amsterdam. Although you definitely don’t see the whole city and it’s sights- far from it- you get a real sense of the chilled out atmosphere that Amsterdam embodies. It is the complete opposite experience you get from biking around the city, and that is what makes it feel so special!

Stefan is also happy for me to give his details to any interested boat-trippers!

That’s all for now,

Love O

xxxxx

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Westergasfabriek

Westergasfabriek

If a night consisting of arcade games, Beer, Tacos, fun-fair rides and a very large scale Candy Crush sounds good in your books, then I have found you a place!

Westergasbriek is a cultural venue in Amsterdam West that hold exciting events all year round, from film festivals to music sessions, from gourmet food markets to art shows. Situated in Westerpark, it is made up of a crew of great bars and clubs, namely Pacific Parc and The North Sea Jazz Club, but there are also shops, restaurants and much else to attract the daytime visitor.

Let’s head over!

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We arrived outside Westerpark to a dazzling spectacle of lights on the water, which we discovered was down to the Kermis Fair; Amsterdam’s largest. It moves around the city, but entry is always free.

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Walking in, we were greeted with booming music and neon light everywhere we turned!

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A feast for the eyes! Having dragged ourselves away from the never-ending pink of the fair, we arrived at Westergasfabriek’s Zuiveringshal building further along the park.

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Between March 13th-16th, the building hosted the Ton Ton Club XL. The Ton Ton Club is normally an everyday gaming club in the Red Light District, but it was transported to Westerfabriek in “Xtra large” form for this weekend.

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We entered the old factory space to see dozens of picnic tables with groups of happy drinkers, and hear the DJ play upbeat songs from the large station

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All around the room were arcade games, racers, pinball machines, even group guitar-hero. It was literally a big kids playroom in new-school style!

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The non-gamers hung out and chatted, and the atmosphere was as electric as the games.

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Speaking of interesting places to hang out…..

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‘Starfishin

Only in Amsterdam would beer and a ballpit meet!

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Getting out not quite so easy!

To use the games, or buy your beer/meal of choice, you had to queue for these tokens:

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However once accomplished, there were so many great stalls to choose from- from hot dogs, to chinese buns, to mexican everythang! And a mile long bar of course.

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“Wendy’s Bao” chinese
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Carribean rolls

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These cupcakes and cookies on a stick definitely get points for innovation!

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Sweet potato and spinach quesadilla with lime, salsa and sour cream

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But Jerrie and Emer reccomended the infamous Taco’s above all else!

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The only problem with the evening was that if you went outside you had to queue to get back in, and it wasn’t a small queue!

We all agreed that it was an amazingly unique night, and not something we would have ever experienced in our respective home cities. The Ton Ton Club posted a video of the weekend’s events which captures it well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gezshiq2I0k

It is definitely worth keeping up with what is going on at Westergasfabriek for all kinds of fun (and games!) so check out their website too: http://www.westergasfabriek.nl/westergasfabriek

By the end we were all gamed out, so we jumped in the car and drove home!

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Coming through!

That’s all for now,

Love O xxx

The Pancake Bakery

The Pancake Bakery

Lets talk about Pancakes.

In Holland, there’s no need for one day to celebrate and indulge in this food. Everyday is pannekoek day, and they are a staple meal, not just a brunch treat!

They are eaten by families for lunch and supper with lots of sweet, savoury and stuffed variations, and Dutch students also make sweet pancakes for pudding in the evening.

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A Dutch dinner party with pancakes to finish

Now I’ve been to a few good creperies before in Paris and Brussells, but nothing comes close to the Pancake Bakery.

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On the Prinsengracht canal, you could miss this place if it weren’t for the loud red signs declaring it’s location to the wanderers and tourists.

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“The best Pancakes in town!”

However, the pancake bakers don’t really need to worry about not being noticed. They are a worldwide hotspot, and bring in hundreds of new visitors everyday.

I guess we should go in!

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The long cavenous room makes you feel like you’ve stepped off the street (or canal) and gone back in time, and with reason. It used to be a a warehouse for the Dutch East India Trading Company during the 17th century ‘Golden Age’ when Holland was one of the major empires of the world and had a huge influence. I found myself reminiscing the golden age too, since S Club 7’s “Don’t Stop Never Give Up” was playing when we walked in!

At the table, there are bottles of Dutch Schenkstroop (typical syrup), a very large thing of maple syrup, salt, pepper, and sugar powders. I thought that was the meal sorted, but then you see the menu.

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Some very interesting combinations

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Quite a menu, right! As if that wasn’t enough, they also offer a plethora of deserts, just in case you didn’t feel like there was enough ice cream in your main.

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The walls are adorned with old paintings in Amsterdam settings, and photographs of the canals from 50-100 years ago, which you can peruse if you aren’t too busy fantasising over what’s to come……..

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Amsterdam, you haven’t aged a day!

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As you’ll know from my About Me page, I’m not currently able to have any of the ingredients involved in these beauties except the eggs….which could be a little unfulfilling! So rather than stay at the table with an envious stomach, the waitress let me come over to the kitchen to see the orders being made.

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The chef fries the ingredients for the different pancakes with the batter and and flips then over a large flame…

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Money shot!

Then passes them over to be decked out in the toppings.

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Loads of syrups, licquers, sweet shavings, and lots of nutella!

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A daily serving of sugar for the Pancake Bakery!

So, first up was the Canadian:

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Crispy bacon with cheese, onions, ham and mushrooms. Don’t you just want to roll that up and eat it in one! Mmm.

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Next was the Indonesian:

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A folded pancake of chicken, leeks, onions, mushrooms with an Indonesian peanut satay sauce, served with bean sprout salad and crumbled prawn cracker.

Indonesia used to be the Dutch colony, so you find a multitude of Indonesian restaurants and eateries around Amsterdam. The Pancake Bakery believes it’s uniqueness comes from their providing so many cuisines from all over the world in one restaraunt, reflecting Holland’s history in the global network.

Then was the Pancake Bakery’s most popular order:

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Banana, whipped cream and chocolate sauce
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A pretty sweet pic, don’t you think?

Then there was one for the person who likes to kill a few birds at once.

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Morello Cherry liquer
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Poured over peaches, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream

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You’ve got your dinner, your pudding and your drink sorted all in one!

Then things got all Italian. I guess pancakes and pizzas are probably cousins, as this creation looks like it works pretty well!

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Ciao bella!

The Caprese: basil, tomatoes, onions, melted fresh mozzarella and pesto.

The special’s of the day board was intriguing to say the least!

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Have you every heard of a veal pancake with brussell sprouts and red cabbage? You have now!

The sweet pojjertjes are a dutch delicacy; super cute baby pancakes.

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Poffertjes with cinammon icecream, stroopwaffel chunks, Belgian chocolate flakes, whipped cream and vanilla sauce.

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Um, yum!

The Pancake Bakery is open everyday from 09:00-21:30 apart from Christmas Day and is really worth a visit. What I think is most special about it is the huge range of international pancakes, all made properly with the authentic ingredients. And of course the fact that everyone agrees they are the best pancakes in town! The atmosphere is relaxed but still feels like your doing something special whether you go in the middle of the day or later in the evening.

Now as you can imagine, I left with pancakes on my mind, and I thought I would make some too!

I know that the words that come into most peoples minds when they want pancakes are not “LOW CARB” “LOW SUGAR”, but if any of you have diabetic issues or like to eat high fat and protein, then these ones may be up your street aswell!

To make these pancakes you will need:

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2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of coconut flour, 2 tablespoons of ground almonds, 4 tablespoons of coconut milk (or any milk of choice), 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, sugar/sugar substitute (I used stevia) and oil/butter for the pan. {Makes 2 pancakes}

Optional ingredients:

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Coconut flakes, blueberries, yoghurt (mine is pure coconut), cinnamon, nutmeg and nut butters (Hazelnut/almond/Peanut/cashew/Tahini), also bacon not pictured. But anything would work, really. Apparently people eat veal pancakes, for crying out loud!

Mix up all the ingredients in a measuring jug until smooth, but not too thin:

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Then pour on to a non-stick pan with oil/butter:

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If you want to add blueberries, add them now

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Give it a flip, and watch your pan make yo’ cake

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Stack the pancakes and add a dollop of yoghurt

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Extra blueberries, coconut flakes and lots of cinammon. It’s so delicious how the berries burst into the pancakes!

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Now that my diet is coming to an end, I am able to start adding things back in in very small quantities, so this was the first fruit I have had in 6 months! Blueberries are very low sugar so they were the best thing to start with.

If you like to be adventurous, this combination also really works:

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Kinda lost the shape of this one!

Drizzle the pancake with nut butter of your choice (mine is hazelnut):

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Then top with bacon.

This may seem a little weird, but I had always thought maple syrup and bacon sounded weird until I tried it!

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So there we go. I hope I have given you a taste of what Amsterdam has to offer in the way of pancakes, and maybe inspired you to make some quirky ones which will set you up for a flippin’ great day too!

That’s all for now,

Love O xxxx

A Trip To The Movies

A Trip To The Movies

I just love going to the movies. When you barely feel like leaving your house, let alone going to a club and being sociable, meeting a few friends to see a film and inevitably going for a chilled out drink before/afterwards is the perfect answer.

Luckilly Amsterdam has much to offer in the way of cinema. Pathe Tuschinski is the main movie theatre, probably because of its location just off Rembrantplein (the tourist centre) It is part of the main theater chain in the Netherlands…but rather than having a typical feel, just look how beautiful it is!

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You actually feel like you are about to see a play, not a film, and the Aztec decor and huge ceiling with a dress circle at the top make it feel super grand. Built in 1921, the architect addresses the styles of Art Deco, Jugendstil and Amsterdamse School. The theatre is still used for premieres and you can even see the red carpet being whipped out, and dozens of papparazzi.

Anyway, what I really wanted to show you is The Movies.

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At the end of Haarlemerdijk, The Movies is the oldest still running movie theatre in Amsterdam. Before World War II it was defined as the neighborhood cinema. It mainly plays Art House movies and more niche stuff but you can go here for all the Hollywood blockbusters. At night the big billboard glows with the names of the films it’s showing, it totally makes you feel like you’re in the 1920s! I think it is still a super popular neighbourhood haunt, and when a few of us tried to go and see “Selma” on a saturday night it was completely booked up. We then travelled into the centre to try Pathe, but the only film with any seats was 50 Shades of Grey. Hence the irretrievable situation where I have now seen that film twice.

Anyway moving on from that troubling information, lets go inside……

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It’s so old!

The beautiful art deco interior combined with the restaurant and the quality films in the four rooms makes it a very oldschool stylish evening in a cozy atmosphere.

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Fabulous photography, I’m sure pheobe will agree
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Peak into a film screen

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And here it is at night, looking fly!

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It is really cool to go somewhere that is so uncommercialized and makes you appreciate how people used to feel about going to ‘the movies’, something so exciting and worth getting dressed up for.

After a drink in Rembrantplein, we finished our night with the standard Dutch friets. (Ok well I didnt, but these guys did and I lived vicariously through them!)

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Wrapped up in pink and white paper tissue paper around long cones, these are crispy, crunchy, REALLY good (looking) fries. Hopefully I will be confirming my own observations before I have left Amsterdam!

So that’s a very short look at the cinemas in the city. Although it is a pretty commonplace thing to do back at home, in Amsterdam it has become something to look forward to when you get to see the film in such cool places.

That’s all for now!

Love O xxxxx