Friday, October 17, 2008

2008: Week 41

The week started fairly slowly as we continued to settle in to Amsterdam. We spent time looking for a second bike (one came with the apartment), watching TV to escape the rain, and exploring our local area. We've also been investigating some of the food and drink items available here. Blackcurrant seems to be a favourite flavour, and we have enjoyed blackcurrant jam, soft drink, and tea (all similar to Ribena, but a little less sweet). Salt and vinegar chips are non-existent, but the barbeque ham flavour is pretty good, while the balsamic flavour was disappointing. Beer is cheap; €10 buys 24x330mL bottles of Grolsch or Heineken in a plastic crate. At the market we can buy cheese of varying age, bbq kippen (miniature chickens; the taste is very similar to Aussie bbq chicken), and fresh herring (you eat it raw with onions and pickles). A new favourite is FEBO, fondly referred to by us as "the food in the wall place". There is a counter where you can buy hot chips and sauce (saté is my favourite), and a wall with many small windows holding various flavours of croquettes. Just drop your coins in the slot, open a door, and you're enjoying your hot snack. It sounds a little gross, but the turnover is high, so the food is fresh and the serve yourself option keeps the queing time to a minimum.

The end of the week was all about being tourists. Between us we had three family members staying in Amsterdam, so we spent several days showing them around town and visiting lots of museums. We saw the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, took a canal cruise, visited the botanic gardens (and saw giant lily pads, about 1m across), and toured Rembrandt's House. Food-wise, we ate pannenkoeken, croquettes, frittes with sauce and had a wonderful Indonesian dinner.

By Sunday, only Lynda was still in town, and the two of us caught the train to Brussels for the day. It was a whirlwind visit, but we walked around town, admired Grand Place, ate waffles, visited chocolate shops, saw the lace museum, and ate mussels in a cheesy restaurant on rue de Bouchers. A little under three hours on the train and we were back in Amsterdam.

Best of the week
- Catching up with Tina, Jen, and Lynda.
- A day in Brussels with my sister (who even learned a few words in French).
- Buying a bike so we can explore the regions surrounding Amsterdam.

Worst of the week
- Dodgy and over-priced bike dealers; is it just me who finds it odd when someone has already sold the bike advertised but miraculously has another one (worth €300 new) for sale at a bargain price?
- Over-the-top waiters in Brussels - joking about going on a date is funny, offering (repeatedly) a sample massage is just sketchy.

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