It was 3.45pm and I was sat at my desk eagerly counting down the last fifteen minutes of my working week. At 4.00pm I was heading straight to the airport for a standard ‘airport pint’ before catching a flight to Amsterdam to visit my best friend Lana…or at least that was the plan. With only a few minutes to go, the standard ‘have you got your passport’ joke was asked… and to my horror the answer to that ‘joke’ was ‘Oh my goodness, NO I do NOT’! I think it took a couple of minutes to actually sink in that YES I definitely do need my passport for a flight to Amsterdam and NO I definitely don’t have it with me! So, without a second thought (and only 90 minutes til take-off) I dashed back into the city and back out again to Dyce (via the infamous Haudigan roundabout) with only minutes to spare! I arrived at the airport 20 minutes before take-off (sadly no time for that sought after airport pint)… maybe next time.
One smooth flight later and I arrive in Amsterdam to be greeted by Lana and Seb at the arrival gates. So happy to have finally made it and even more excited at spending the next two days exploring a city I’ve never experienced before with my favorite wee European!
A short walk from Centraal Station to Lijnbaanssteeg took us to Tales and Spirits, a quirky wee cocktail bar with a couple of outlandish bartenders who had an unexpected knowledge of our home town. Taken aback with their hollers of ‘Aber-dream’ and their familiarity of the ‘Great Granite City’ we sipped contently on cocktail after cocktail catching up on the last few weeks.
We awoke on Friday to some wild rain storms. Not too disheartened with the weather, we linked arms, cozied up under the umbrella and walked the beautiful flower-lined streets of Amsterdam. On our walk to brunch, we stopped off to shelter from the rain at the Rijksmuseum and also saw the giant ‘Amsterdam’ sign which stands tall in front of the building, complete with the hoards of tourists.
We arrived at Bakers and Roasters, a cool New Zealand style brunch cafe with Mexican and Brazilian influences. The menu was awesome – but we both settled on the Huevos Rancheros – a tortilla topped with black beans, melted cheese, fried eggs, avocado, tomato salsa and sour cream, WOW! A couple of coffee stops later, we decided to retire back to Lana’s luxurious apartment for a few glasses of wine and to welcome Seb back from his long day at work. A few bottles of wine later we walked to De Italiaan on Bosboom Toussaint Straat (in the rain) and had one of the best Italian meals I’ve ever had. It was a traditional candle lit Italian restaurant, filled with locals and with only 10 or so tables we were lucky to have made reservations. Great night out with Lana and Seb!
The next day Seb set out to impress early doors with his epic European-style breakfast. Displayed perfectly on the dining room table myself and Lana were in for a treat; freshly toasted croissants, smoked salmon, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice! Beautiful. It was looking more pleasant outside with only short scattered showers in between long periods of sunshine, not perfect – but better than yesterdays washout.
As their apartment looks on to Vondelpark we decided to make the most of the weather and got on our bikes for a cycle round the park. A pit stop off for a beer at the cafe in Vondelpark had Seb suggesting he could make us some Espresso Martinis, so off we went back to the apartment for Seb’s latest creation. Lana and I sat eagle-eyed watching closely as Seb nervously ‘convinced’ us he was confident with his recipe. Twenty (amusingly long) minutes later, three Espresso Martinis were served! They looked great, sure – they didn’t come garnished with coffee beans nor a standard frothy white top, but they did look drinkable. We all took our first sips at the same time only to erupt in fits of laughter at its pungent twang; it left hairs on your chest and a bitter burn in your throat! We chugged (forced) it down and left the apartment for our second excursion of the day.
We rented a wee eight seater power boat to take us around the many sights of Amsterdam, what a way to see the city! Complete with snacks, beers, wine and a sound system we floated in and out of the maze that is the Amsterdam canals, only mooring up under a bridge when a particularly heavy rain shower appeared. It got rather cold after a couple of hours of sailing so we tied up the boat and ran to the nearest bar for some warmth. It was the strangest bar I’ve ever been to. It was essentially an Italian restaurant with a few stools propped at the bar, so we took out seats. It was by far some of the sassiest, most arrogant customer service I have ever experienced. Having queried the status of our cocktails 20 minutes after ordering, we were told to ‘chill-out’, and that my pre-ordered Amaretto Sour had left a rather ‘sour’ atmosphere. Drinks finally arrived and were consumed within a fifth of the time it took to make them. We paid the bill and were about to leave when the waitress burst into tune and started walking around the restaurant singing Classical Opera. Bizarre experience.
After our drink, we grabbed our boat and headed for the pier. With Seb behind the wheel we thought we were in good hands until we crashed up the rear-end of a 60 seater tourist boat… only to then ricochet full force, face first into the canal wall! Trying to steer through fits of laughter and one burst lip (Seb) we were asked if we were ‘all ok’ by the captain of the tourist boat. Safe to say we provided some light entertainment to the previously bored looking passengers.
We got home in time for Seb to try out round two of his Espresso Martinis – and this time he nailed it! We sipped them on their rooftop terrazzo overlooking the city (but didn’t last long before we had to dash downstairs to escape the passing shower).
We finished out final night by eating out at Srikandi, an Indonesian Restaurant over on Stadhouderskade. The food was nice, and the restaurant was very traditionally Indonesian – I had crispy duck served with a peanut sauce and special fried rice. Portions were massive, so we were sent away with a doggy bag full of food – I think we’d maybe munched on too many Pringles on our boat trip! After our meal, we skipped a trip to the Red Light District in favour of heading straight for home. We were bedded by midnight… well it was a busy day!
An early flight meant that I needed to be at the airport by 8am – with passport well and truly zipped into my handbag. Lana and Seb walked me to the bus stop and we said our tearful goodbyes. I really had the best weekend ever; filled with so much laughter, good food, even better wine and the best company anyone could ask for.
Who knows when I’ll be back to this beautiful city or when we will all be reunited… a new adventure awaits!