I bet you’re all dying to find out how I got on in
Amsterdam? The city of debauchery, sin and general devilment. But this time, it
was a much more clean experience I was seeking! First of all, it was my first
trip away with Himself, (you remember himself from Riga yeah?). But not only
that, I absolutely did not want to undo all of the hard work I had been doing
lately in the gym and I knew it was going to be hard. The food in The
Netherlands is incredible. I know it is not generally recognised for its
culinary expertise, but I have to say it is right up my street. In fact every
weakness I have can be found in The Netherlands….. Cheese, pastry, Belgian fries,
chocolate, pancakes, waffles….. I could go on! Then there is the dilemma that
they also serve bread with everything and don’t even get me started on the beer! So
how does a girl on a diet survive in Amsterdam? Here’s how!
Walk the legs off
We must have walked the whole
length of the city and back and to be fair, what a city to walk around! We stayed
a little outside the city centre in the Hotel Vondel, a quirky boutique hotel
in the trendy museum district.
The Trendy Hotel Vondel
As soon as we checked in, I stepped into my
walking shoes and we went off exploring. We walked all along the famous canals
and over the pretty bridges unwittingly decorated with quirky bicycles.
along the streets of tall, thin, traditional Dutch architecture and were amused
by the un-even, “wonky” walls and windows.
We took a stroll through the famous
Bloemenmarkt with every colour tulip imaginable for sale. We also walked
through the Albert Cuyp Market a famous street market selling everything from clothes
and shoes, to fruit and veg. We bought
some fresh strawberries (bonus point) and some freshly squeeze orange juice to
keep us going.
But for lunch time I have to be honest, diet or no diet, I was
not leaving without my Belgian fries. I had been dreaming about them since my last
trip to The Netherlands almost 4 years ago! So for my weekend cheat meal, I had
a big ‘ol cone of delicious Belgian fries with mayonnaise. Yum! I did have to
walk it off though so we marched on the famous Rijksmuseum.
I'm not even sorry!
I AM a Photo Hacker
The museum is surrounded by
beautiful gardens and the huge I Amsterdam sign. I wanted to get the required
selfie in front of the sign, but the problem was, so did 50 other tourists! So
we didn’t have a hope.
After trying a few different angles I put my thinking
cap on….. Why don’t I stand at the back of the sign and simply flip the picture
with photo editor? Boom! There we have it, who is the greatest tourist of them
The Ice Bar – Xtra Cold
It was time for some evening
entertainment so we returned to the hotel to change and headed out to the Amsterdam
ice bar. I was really excited about this as I’d never been to an ice bar
before. We were given a thermal jacket and gloves and led into, well, exactly
what it says on the tin, a bar made of ice! It was -9.4C and I can only say the
obvious, it was freezing! We were served two free drinks served in glasses, also
made of ice and of course I opted for straight vodka, you know, for counting
calories! It was whipped cream flavoured vodka and it was possibly the nicest
and sweetest vodka I have ever tasted. Thankfully, I was only allowed two of
Healthier Dinner Choices
So by now it was dinner time and
I was so hungry! But we didn’t stop until we had a stroll around the red light
district. Whether you agree with the Dutch laws or not, you have to visit the
red light district. I was both curious and amused by the various transactions I
saw on the streets. I was also surprised that the whole area seemed safe and
clean and not the seedy back alleys I had imagined. After absorbing all of the
chaos around me it was time for a sensible meal, so we found an Argentinian steak
house (they are everywhere!). Needing an extra feed after all of our walking I
order a steak AND a chicken fillet and polished it off.
Day two was a terrible rainy day.
There was still a lot of walking to be done so the umbrella came out and off we
went. Our first stop was to visit Anne Frank’s House, but the queue was so long
that it weaved around the corner. Not wanting to spend an hour queuing in the
rain we popped across the canal to the Amsterdam Tulip museum instead. Now I
forgot to mention that tulips are my favourite flowers so this was something I
was looking forward to. I loved this small stylish museum where I learnt that
the flower is not actually Dutch, it comes from Asia and is common in places
like Kazakhstan. (Every day’s a school day!). We also learned about the first
ever economic bubble caused by tulip bulbs, called tulip mania.
It all goes downhill from here…….
So just next door to the tulip
museum, lays the Amsterdam Cheese museum. Not much of a museum, but rather an
epic cheese tasting session. Even though each cheese was cut into tiny cubes, I
must have eaten a whole wheel of cheese here. Traditional Gouda, Goats cheese,
smoked cheese, smooth, creamy, nutty, spicy cheeses, cheeses coloured blue and
green and red….. You get the picture.
A new take on "Blue Cheese"
So we purchased a small amount of cheese
and a little jar of mustard, then we moved downstairs to a little room
outlining the history or cheese and how it’s made and I couldn’t resist an opportunity
to dress up in some very “cheesy” (quote intended) outfits including clogs for
a photo op!
Just trying to fit in!
Nerdy Fun for Big
It was still raining so we decided to head to the NEMO Science
Museum, a huge building filled with the wonders of Science. While this is
Amsterdam’s number one destination for children, we Big kids had a lot of fun
in there too. As a self-confessed nerd, I particularly enjoyed the Psychology
section, where we could take part in interactive personality tests and face
recognition technology! It was also a nice little refresher for various
scientific principles and of course I did spend some time just being silly in
An Authentic Dutch
So after the Science museum, just a short hop down the road
we reached the “Brouwerij 'T ij” a super-cool microbrewery with a windmill
attached! You can’t get much more Dutch than that! The bar attached was jam-packed
full of young people tasting the on-site produce and it was a very welcome
place to shelter from the rain for a bit. It was also a great place to take a
selfie! By then it was time for dinner so I opted for a healthy portion of
salmon to allow for a few drinks later.
Just say No.... To Coffee Shops
I made an executive decision not to visit a coffee shop, even though they were very inviting in the rain! I decided that the last thing I needed was a a dose of the munchies!
The Irish Bar
OK. So I am not the type of person to go abroad and go to an
Irish bar usually, but we were meeting a friend who was celebrating her
birthday, so we headed to Molly Malone’s Bar for an Irish party with a twist! The
bar, unlike many plastic-paddy type bars is run by a genuine Irish man and
looks as you would expect an Irish bar to look. The party however was fairly
different with a charismatic singer blasting out cheesy Dutch tunes and a
platter of local Amsterdam delicacies including cheese, sausage and something
like steak tare tare. We both joined in the fun taking part in a dutch dance or a "Polonaise Hollandaise" if you will... see, I'm even picking up the lingo at this stage!
On the final Day we opted to go to the Heineken Experience
and I must say it was among the highlights of the trip for me. I was expecting
an informative tour of the brewery’s history, but I got so much more than that!
We spent two hours in the museum, with floor upon floor of interactive fun.
From karaoke and photo booths, to rugby scrum simulators this certainly wasn’t about
standing and looking at things. We tasted the beer, became the beer and then
pulled the beer ourselves. I would go into more detail, but I don’t want to
ruin it on you! Staying true to my diet, I only took a small 15cl glass and gave
my other drink away to a lovely Irish couple, who were only delighted! After
all of this excitement and armed with my new qualification (Certified Heineken
Pourer) it was time to make our way back to airport and flyaway home L
So there you have it, a great weekend and another pound lost...... So the journey continues!