Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Some people dread turning 30, or 40. Not me. I thoroughly enjoyed both occasions as great opportunities to gather friends and family. Today, it was Femke’s turn – she is celebrating her 30th summer. Although not as relaxed about it as I was, I do think she enjoyed the day.
She already received most of her gifts, so we started with breakfast in bed with freshly baked bread from the bakery. The big event, however, was to be in the evening, when we spoiled ourselves with a magnificent five dish dinner (plus surprises) at the elegant Restaurant De Kas.
A glass of white wine in the gardens was followed by gazpacho with tempura-courgette and courgette flower, Dutch shrimps with an aubergine compote and Indian papadam, and as a third starter, a marvellous lamb dish served with chanterelle mushrooms, green beans and pea puré. To this, we drank a nice Italian Primitivo wine.
The main course was a delicately cooked seawolf resting on a bed of barley, green peas and a lobster sauce. The recommended Belgian chardonnay (wijnkasteel Genoels-Elderen 2006) was a very good match, with its powerful nose and full taste.
As dessert, we devoured a splendid concoct of pannacotta with strawberry sauce and a berry sorbet.
But the evening didn’t end there. I had arranged for us to stay over in a very special place – one of the former secret catholic churches from the 18th century, now transformed into a one room-hotel in central Amsterdam, called Op Het Altaar (under the altar).
As I am writing of peculiar lodgings in the Netherlands, this was just another case of my diligent research. And I think Femke appreciated the sparkling wine and the strawberries.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Today was Anders last day here in Amsterdam, for this time. But since he flew late in the evening, we had time for some cultural activities in the form of a visit to the Tropenmuseum. Very interesting, I must say. Beautiful and modern exhibitions about the Netherlands colonial past and the countries involved. They also have a good restaurant there, where we had lunch.
We spent the afternoon in the boat again, sailing a long tour all the way to the western parts of Amsterdam, then back home to east to enjoy Femke’s lovely dinner.
It was nice having you here, Anders, come back soon!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday was a somewhat slow day, don’t ask me why. We did go to the World Press Photo exhibition in Oudekerk, but this year it was a little bit disappointing.
Sunday, we picked up a car at our car pool and made an excursion to Muiden and Naarden-Vesting, just east of Amsterdam.
Muiden used to be a busy port until the big dijk (barrier to keep the water out) was built across Zuidezee. Now, it is a posh village by the inland sea, with a cute little castle and a nice café just next to the lock.
Naarden-Vesting is a well-fortified village, or rather a fortress with a village inside. Nevertheless, it is quaint and a perfect spot for lunch.
Afterwards, Anders wanted to revisit our local brewery, 't Ij.
In the evening, we ended up doing a miniscule local pub crawl, starting at Studio K and finishing at our local favourite Ponteneur. This is a bar you can always trust having a nice atmosphere, even a late Sunday evening.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday evening, my old friend from Malmö, Anders (a. k. a. Bonen) arrived to Amsterdam for a five days visit. I am thrilled to have him over – not seeing friends and family so often is one of the flip sides of living abroad.
We kicked of his stay energetically with some paragliding at the coast, followed up by Indonesian food at Kadijk Café and then beer at oldstyle beer cafés Scharrebier and De Druif and alter the Groene Oliphant.
Next day, I had the pleasure of showing Bonen my Amsterdam from the water, taking a long ride with my boat.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
This was my last proper day of my Spanish odyssey. What better way to honour this than to go flying, then eating well?
We went to Otivar again, but today the air was more stabile, so no cross-country to the coast. But I still had a nice time, working hard to stay up, and also testing a new little camera, the GoPro Hero Wide (a small wide-angle helmet camera that also records video).
In the evening, I tried out a restaurant in Almuñecar recommended by Tracy & Dirk. They were spot on with this little gem, called Meson Muralla - La Flor. Delicious tapas and raciones served in a nice environment and at a very reasonable price.
On my way back to Hotel California, I stopped at the village square for a bottle of Alhambra Reserva 1925.
Now, it is time for bed, tomorrow I have to go up early, drive to Malaga, return the rental car and fly home to Amsterdam via Madrid.