Amsterdam 2018: Quiet Morning Walk, Lunch with a Friend & Oude Genever


The weather has been mainly dull and slightly wet this trip and the forecast for today wasn’t great, so it was a pleasant surprise this morning to wake to brightness, blue skies and a hint of sun. After breakfast I set off towards the State Hermitage gallery, an Amsterdam offshoot of the famous Russian Hermitage. It had been recommended to me so I decided to visit. It was so peaceful and quiet as I walked there and just a perfect time to enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam.

The State Hermitage is right by one of the larger canals.

There was a strange system of having to buy separate tickets for different displays; a combined ticket very expensive. I didn’t have much time so bought a ticket for the Golden Age Gallery. Really I should just have left it and gone back when I had more time, but it’s well laid out inside and I managed to grab a quick and good coffee in the large and attractive cafe, which you can get into without gallery ticket.

After a brief return to the hotel, I headed northwards, through the Jordaan to Watertorenplein, near Westerpark, to meet my Dutch friend Rita, who returned to the city just over a year ago after living in Spain for a few years. Rita suggested meeting at Cafe-Restaurant Amsterdam, which is inside a converted old pumping station.

It was huge and wonderful inside, full of groups of friends and families having Sunday lunch. I wanted a fairly light lunch and chose Ravioli Stuffed with Artichoke and Rucola.

My ravioli was delicious but when Rita gave me a taste of her mussels and I learnt the restaurant had been voted best place to have mussels recently, I did wonder if I’d made a mistake!

We drank wine with our meal and both indulged in dessert. Rhubarb with Skyr and Hazelnut Crumble for me.

And Sticky Toffee Cake for Rita.

At the next table a dad and his young daughter – about 10 years – were sharing a wonderful platter of fruits de mer.

More than two hours after we’d arrived, Rita and I, happily replete, ventured out into the cold and wind. She showed me where I could get a tram back to my hotel and we bid a fond goodbye. Happy as I am on my own in Amsterdam it had been such a treat and pleasure to meet a friend for lunch.

Come evening, I decided to go to an old favourite, Cafe het Molenpad on Prinsengracht for some supper. It was cold and windy still but Amsterdam is beautiful whatever the weather so, wrapped up well, I enjoyed my walk to the cafe.

I chose a special of the day, a vegetarian curry, to warm me up and had a beer to go with it, sitting at a table by the window with a view onto the canal just outside.

It was simple and perfect. Back out in the cold, I couldn’t resist heading back to Cafe Chris for an oude genever as a digestif on my last night. I passed Westerkerk, right by the Anne Frank House, as the bells sounded on the hour. The sound of Dutch church bells is unique and I just love to hear them.

Inside the bar I sipped my genever, which, despite being cold from the fridge warmed me as it slipped down.

It was quieter in the bar than it had been on Friday night. I chatted for a while to the woman behind the bar who I’ve seen there many times before, in no hurry, happy and relaxed. Then finally I braved the cold air outside again and made my way back to the hotel. What a lovely last day.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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