Last weekend I escaped the rain and drizzle that swept across the British Isles to sunny Amsterdam. Here are my highlights.
There are markets all over Amsterdam dedicated to all sorts of things. We visited the Bloemenmarkt which is one long, line of huts selling seeds, bulbs, flowers, potted plants and a load of floral paraphernalia.
We also visited the foodie Farmer’s Market which takes place on Saturday mornings in the Jordaan area. It was very similar to British farmer’s markets to be honest. A lovely range of stalls to amble through and set in a child’s park so they can play while you shop.
I haven’t drunk this ubiquitous beer since I was at University. The Dutch founders acquired and built their first breweries here in 1864. One of them is now a brilliant museum and interactive experience. It takes you right through the development of the brand and the way the beer is made with many lovely interactive exhibits. It’s been well thought through to appeal to little ones and adults alike.
I am a big cheese fan and could not resist visiting every cheese shop we came across – much to the annoyance and rolling eyes of my girls. Having said that, they were keen to sample the many flavours of Gouda on offer using their pocket money to invest in a smokey, sausage shaped one which lasted all of one day at home!
papabubble sweet shop
This tiny little sweet shop in Jordaan has a little row of stairs with cushions where you can informally perch and watch the kitchen preparing sweets. We got three just in time for passionfruit and raspberry preparation and I can tell you that even Willi Wonka would take his hat off to these guys. Such a stunning level of detail goes into these sweets and they even sell off the ends that are too big to be used for charity! A must visit.
If you are planning to visit Amsterdam in Spring, Summer and maybe early Autumn, allow some time for the wonderful flower gardens of Keukenhof. We got there first thing in the morning and got to see the lovely displays without too many crowds. There were wonderful displays and exhibits of roses and orchids which brought back wonderful memories of my flower shop days.
There are many pancake restaurants in Amsterdam to suit all budgets. We couldn’t leave without sampling the finest from The Pancake Bakery which is a tiny little place on Prinsengracht. We queued for about half an hour to get in but it was worth the wait. The staff are lovely and there is a huge range of sweet and savoury. We had a Norwegian (smoked salmon and cream cheese), a Masai (mixed vegetables and cheese) and an Indonesian (vegetables with a satay sauce on a bed of beansprouts). They were enormous and very filling.
We also devoured (and spent far too much money on) Poffertjes – Little blini sized pancakes served with melted butter and a dusting of icing sugar. Too, too good!
It was such a lovely weekend full of ambling and eating. The perfect break.