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Amsterdam 2016: Last Day

January 25, 2016

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The sun was back for my final day in Amsterdam and as my flight home wasn’t until early evening, I had most of the day to enjoy all my favourite things in the city. There was only one direction to head and that was to the Jordaan. After breakfast, I checked out of the hotel but got them to look after my suitcase for the day. I headed out and cut through to Prinsengracht from the Rijksmuseum. First of all I wanted to go to Elandsgracht where in a toy shop window I saw lots of Miffys yesterday – but it was closed on Sunday. Miffy – the little Dutch rabbit from Dick Bruna books – is a childhood institution and I wanted to buy one for Freddie. It turned out the shop didn’t open until 1pm – common on Monday – so I’d just have to go back after lunch. But the wonderful cheese shop, Tromp, that I discoverd last year when I stayed nearby, was open. That was where I’d buy some gorgeous old Gouda to take home.

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It’s the most wonderful shop. I was given a taste of a 2½ year Gouda and a 3½ one. The older the cheese, the stronger and nuttier it is. A young one just a few months old would be creamier and mild. I chose the 2½ year one: nicely nutty but not too strong for me. I bought three pieces (2 for presents) and the lady in the shop vacuum packed them individually for the journey back to London. My cheese bought, I wandered further down Elandsgracht to the bakery I also found last year.

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I’d purposely had a small breakfast so I had room for a croissant here with morning coffee. I also had freshly squeezed orange juice.

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There were such tempting breads and biscuits that I would have liked to bring home but I had to leave room in my small cabin-sized suitcase for Miffy! I headed back down the road towards Prinsengracht again, passing an organic butcher.

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It’s a wonderful road and must be a great place to live. As I passed by Westerkerk, I could see a long queue outside the Anne Frank House even though it was early. There is always a long queue, except at night.

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I was happy wandering in the sunny weather for some time and enjoying the pretty canals and houses of the Jordaan – it’s such a special place.

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Nearly always in view was Westerkerk, every quarter hour sounding its uniquely Dutch bells.

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At lunchtime I returned to my favourite Cafe ‘t Smalle for lunch.

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I just love this cafe. It’s quite touristy in the sense that you’ll find it in all the guide books, but I always find it wonderfully laid back and friendly at lunchtime and their soup is the best you’ll find.

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I chose perhaps Amsterdam’s most famous and popular soup: pea and ham. Oh it was glorious! Thick and just the most wonderful flavour. It came with the traditional accompaniment of rye bread topped with ham. I also had a small draught Heineken with it – the local brewery! I was so happy and relaxed sitting there that I then ordered tea so I could go on sitting there and reading my book. In Holland when you order tea the hot water is put in a cup and the you’re given a box with lots of different teas to choose from.

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Of course – being me! – I couldn’t leave Amsterdam without a final slice of apple pie. I therefore headed a bit further up Prinsengracht to the most famous apple pie in the city at Winkel, by Noordermarkt. I first discovered it with the family about 20 years ago by chance. We were passing one morning and saw a long queue stretching outside and everyone was emerging to outdoor tables with plates of apple pie. Of course we had to try it too and were suitably awed. When I went back there a year or two ago, I wasn’t so sure about their well-cooked, softer apple filling to other pies with clear apple slices with bite. Their pastry is more cake-like too. But then I tasted it again today and if it’s a little bit different – and served warm – it’s really absolutely gorgeous!

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What a way for a food lover to finish a weekend in Amsterdam. It was an enormous piece but then I had a long walk back down almost the entire stretch of Prinsengracht to the hotel. Oh, and of course I had to stop at the toy shop again to buy Miffy, who was nicely packed for the flight home!

 

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