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Amsterdam: Botanical Gardens, Microbrewery & Apple Pie

March 29, 2014

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We woke to a beautiful sunny day. The water on the canal outside our window was so still all the houses opposite and nearby bridge were reflected in the water. We went downstairs to a lovely array of food for breakfast: slices of cheeses and ham, yogurt, fruit and cereals, different breads and cakes and delicious croissants. Coffee was freshly ground and brewed.

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We had so much we wanted to do we unusually made a list and planned a route. But, we decided, we didn’t have to strictly stick to it. On holiday, we don’t like to be too organised and try to go with the flow a bit. But the plan was to take a loop across the northern part of central Amsterdam. This took us through Dam square which was uncharacteristically quiet given the reasonably early hour.

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We passed a wonderful cheese and bread shop. Cheese in Holland is basically Gouda, Gouda and Gouda. You get to know the difference when you live here but it’s really about age. The dark old Goudas are wonderfully strong and nutty.

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Our route took us through the red light district which was quiet and peaceful at this time. You can’t – rightly – take photos of the prostitutes. If you’re easily shocked don’t come this way but the police and authorities do offer support and protection to the girls working traditionally but there are some new immigrant workers for whom life is more dangerous.

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We found a wonderful food market in Nieuwmarkt. We bought dried mushrooms (not the magic kind!), brownies with raspberries in them from Raspberry Maxx stall and some lovely little raisin buns from a brilliant cake and bread stall.

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Nearby was Jacob Hooy herbalist shop. Opened in 1743 it’s housed in a 16th century building.

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Inside were herbal medicines, teas and spices. From there we made our way to the botanical gardens – de Hortus. A beautiful peaceful space with singing birds and quiet benches to sit on.

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The glasshouse contained cycads which date back to a time before the dinosaurs. Some are extinct in the wild today.

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Now we were definitely hungry for lunch. We moved on to Amsterdam’s leading microbrewery, Brouwerij ‘t IJ, situated at the foot of the De Gooyer Windmill.

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By chance our timing was perfect for their 2.00pm opening. It was great inside. We chose a light blonde beer for lunchtime. Food options were limited. Not even bread; sausages or cheese. We chose a plate of cubed cheese and ate it with the raisin bun we’d bought in the market.

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It was a perfect Dutch lunch. We headed back to the centre after, walking along the long Prinsengracht via the Amstel.

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Close to the hotel we stopped at a pretty cafe-bar for coffee and apple pie.

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When in Amsterdam you HAVE to eat apple pie. It’s amazingly wonderful: rich buttery, almost cake like pastry filled with cinnamon flavoured apple. The Dutch definitely make the best apple pie. Now, after a full but lovely start to our day it was time to return to the hotel for a little siesta before hitting the nightlife in Amsterdam this evening. >

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4 Comments
  1. I loved reading about your day! Everything sounds so beautiful and looks so delicious too. I really would love to get there someday, until then keep blogging away for us so we can live vicariously through you ;)

  2. What a wonderful day!

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