Dutch Food Tour in Amsterdam

Today started off really wet and cold (again), pretty much now 14 days straight with rain since we landed in London. The only day with some real sunshine was our day in York and the day we spent on trains and ferries getting to Amsterdam. I’d really been starting to think holidaying in this part of Europe at this time of year was a huge mistake and should have gone to Spain and southern Italy instead. However rather than going to the airport and getting a flight to Barcelona, we braved the rain and made it to the food tour starting point. Just before we started the food tour we grabbed coffee from the nearest place on the corner. It was only machine made but anything caffeinated and warm was welcome on such a horrible day.

Spot on time, Judith from the Secret Food tour company met us at the designated point and ushered us into the first stop on the tour. This is my third tour and one thing I hadn’t thought of before, is that food tours are so much better than walking tours since they are mostly indoors out of the cold and rain. A real bonus today…

This was the 1st stop of 6 on the tour. Here we were in a pancake shop and we were served Dutch Poffertjes, which are mini puffy pancakes with sugar, butter and syrup. We were offered any coffee we wanted, so I chose the way most Dutch people choose, which is black coffee with cream. This was absolutely a cure for the cold weather and everything was extremely delicious.

Coffee with creamy milk and a Stroopwafel.

Judith started to tell us some of the history of Amsterdam, it’s creation, the canals and interesting things that make it what it is today. Through out the tour you also learn many things about the city and how it functions, such as why the houses lean all which ways, have hooks about the top window, items that get regularly fished from canals amongst many others

Stop 2 was a cheese shop where we sampled some amazing Dutch cheese, one of the most interesting was a jet black cheese which I’ve never ever seen before.

trust me, the black cheese tastes better than it looks

This cheese with green and red speckles was interesting

Stop 3 was a fish place with traditional herring with pickles, then battered and fried cod. I’m not a seafood eater so I didn’t try this, but Sharon assured me it was absolutely delicious. All the more for her since I didn’t eat any.

Stop 4 was at a Dutch pub where we had a Dutch Beer and some traditional Bitterballen, a traditional fried pub snack which is dipped in mustard before eating. Best described as a small round croquette. Really really delicious on such a cold day. I could have eaten more of those.

We learned about the gardens that are behind many houses in Amsterdam and were able to take a peek in some. You would never know they were there unless you were in the know. Many are a little oasis in such a densely populated and busy place such as Amsterdam.

Old water pump

Stop 5 was another pub where we got to sample some more beer as well as traditional meatballs, sausages and a potato dish called Stamppotten. All delicious stuff.

Stop 6 was a shop dedicated to spirits where the main thing sold was Jenever, which is a juniper flavoured spirit, but it’s nothing like Jin. It’s more like whiskey.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenever

Judith then took us back to the original meeting point and gave us a stroopwafle each, which is a delicious, chewy and sweet biscuit.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroopwafel

This is now the third tour I’ve done with Secret Food Tours, one in Paris and one in Tokyo. You can read my previous entries below, this was equally as good as the others and I’m sure I’ll be doing another next time we are in Europe. (I’m predicting Spain or Portugal…)

Paris Food Tour 2017

Sharon’s Paris Food Tour 2018

Tokyo Food Tour

You can find the Secret Food Tours web site here https://www.secretfoodtours.com

Anne Frank House

We arrived in Amsterdam to more rain, which luckily started to dissipate as the bus arrived at the central station. After dropping bags at the hotel we bought metro tickets and headed straight to the Anne Frank house.

It’s quite a small museum, considering it’s the actual house the Frank family hid in this isn’t a big surprise. The museum very strictly control how many people can be there at any one time. You have to buy your ticket online and you have to enter in the 15 minute slot you are allocated. Even with that it’s still slow moving and crowded in the museum.

As with any house in Amsterdam, the stairs in the museum are more like ladders. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the museum. There is a shop where you can purchase a museum catalogue that contains everything.

It’s quite a moving experience, if you come to Amsterdam you should make the effort to visit. It will take just over an hour to move through the house and see everything.

The coffee in the museum in the Anne Frank house cafe was way way better than I expected, a very pleasant surprise !

Where we are staying is a few stops on the metro outside the main tourist part of Amsterdam central, however we found a great Italian place for dinner.

Restaurant where we had dinner

Great Coffee in the museum cafe

Thoughts on the Ferry

The ferry across the English Channel has been something I’ve wanted to try for sometime. The ferry itself is quite good, it’s by no means a 5 star cruise, but it was comfortable, with plenty of entertainment options and the the food is ok.

Checking in and getting onto the ship was easy and very fast. Way better than a plane, and considerably quicker than the last couple of Eurostar’s we have taken between the UK and the continent.

What let’s the ship down is the port location in Rotterdam and Hull. If coming to Amsterdam again, I wouldn’t take this ship. The starting terminal in Hull is reasonably close to the station but the traffic was terrible and it took over 30 minutes in a taxi to do the short trip. The train from Leeds to Hull was also unreliable adding some unnecessary stress to the journey.

The ferry included a transfer bus to Amsterdam, which they quote as an hour, but given it drops people at Rotterdam station first and usual motorway traffic it’s was actually 2.5 hours.

It probably would have been better to get the ferry to Brugge as it’s closer to its ferry terminal. If we visit the North of the UK again and the head to the continent I’d get an early flight instead, but glad to have checked European overnight ferry off the travel list. The actual ferry itself is fantastic.

One last thought, the ferry takes cars too. If you wanted to take your own car between the continent and the UK this would be a great way to do it.

Coffee Report : Don’t bother. Horrible machine made jobbie. Not even as good as Nespresso. Wait till you get to Amsterdam. Had a fantastic one there…

A standard cabin

Bathroom

Ship map

One of the lounges

The best bit of being on a ship : cocktails

Holland or Bust

Of course the day we leave Halifax it happens to be the nicest day we have had here. Not a cloud in the sky and a brisk 10c

Blue Sky in Halifax

Coffee this morning wasn’t fantastic, just a machine made one from the beefeater restaurant attached to the hotel. After breakfast Sharon’s great aunt picked us up in her little fiat 500 and we went back to her place for a cup of tea to say goodbye before we caught our train to Leeds, then Hull.

We had ordered a taxi to take us from the hotel to the station, not that far, but far enough I wasn’t keen on hauling luggage that distance. We ordered a larger car, and sure enough a tiny one appeared, he called and sent for a bigger one.

Taxi company sent this when I asked for a big saloon to take all our luggage.

We ended up getting a slightly earlier train to Leeds. Unlike the one we took to York this had plenty of space and it was a relaxed 40 minute ride. We had a while to wait in Leeds so got some late lunch waiting for the platform to be announced. It’s announced, then we notice it flashed up as delayed. 10 minutes later it flashed up as cancelled. Ok, that’s a bit of an issue as we need to get the ferry.

The national rail guys tell us there is one an hour later we can just get on, but that would make the ferry connection less than an hour. Totally doable but a bit tight for my liking considering we really have to be on that ship or it seriously screws our plans around.

Leeds Station

So I start looking at Uber options just in case. It’s less than 100km, so it’s possible via Uber, and just as I’m looking the dynamic Uber pricing kicks in and the estimate goes from £150 to over £200. That’s going to sting. So we are debating do we just risk waiting for the next train or drop more than the cost of the ferry on an Uber just to make it. Luckily I look up at the board again and the train is “un-cancelled”. We can’t quite believe our luck so we rush down to the platform and 5 minutes later our original train does actually arrive and we are then zipping our way over to hull, and I’ve saved $400 phew.

Train to Hull is roomy with luggage storage

Just out of Hull we were thinking the train was somehow cursed and we were doomed not to make the ship as the doors on the train refused to close at one stop. Thankfully they just locked them manually and we didn’t get booted off the train like I thought would happen. Next issue was traffic in Hull, to go the small distance from the station to the ferry took 30 minutes in the cab.

Getting onto the Ferry was a breeze, no queues, showed passport and walked straight on. The ferry has a mini cruise feel about it, bars, duty free shops, restaurants, cinema etc and plenty of football supporters on a trip to watch Manchester United tomorrow in The Hague to keep the staff busy…

And we are finally onboard and relaxing a little.

Breakfast in a Northern Town

Today was very cold (for us), wet and miserable. Even Steve mentioned the amount of rainy days was even against the norm for the area. Thankfully it wasn’t like this yesterday when we went to York. Whilst in the car Steve drove us past some of the amazing green farmland with all the stone walls and past the area where the Yorkshire moors start

Steve picked us up and took us to Haworth for breakfast, where we met up with Josh and Beth as well. Haworth is a small little town about 15km from Halifax. It’s famous for being the home of the Brontë family. The most famous work by Emily Brontë is Wuthering heights. So after a great breakfast and coffee we wandered through the streets (most shops were closed being a wet weekday) and then checked out the Brontë societies museum, set up in the old house which is now grade listed by English Heritage.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haworth

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brontë_family

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brontë_Parsonage_Museum

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuthering_Heights

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_York_Moors

Walking down the hill in the cold and rain I kept thinking about the song from the 80s by the Dream Academy, “Life in a Northern Town”. By local standards it wasn’t really that cold, but for me it really did feel as though the world was going to freeze today.

Over breakfast Josh and Beth told us about a cafe in the centre of Halifax that did pink lattes. I had to try one of those, however they had sold out and couldn’t give us any when we went. A bit disappointed but possibly a blessing in disguise. I might try in the morning before we leave to catch the ferry to the Netherlands.

For our last night we had dinner at a Mexican / Italian restaurant here in downtown Halifax. The weather may not have been great whilst we were here but the hospitality and food has been amazing.