I write this from the rooftop of (Dave) Sevenoaks’s apartment in the center of Amsterdam on my new Notebook. I’m sure it’s going to become one of my best purchases; it’s far more fun being able to skype, blog and upload pictures when and where I feel like it as apposed to sitting in an internet cafe so I’m chuffed!
Amsterdam is not only the 1st stop on my travels but it’s also my 1st visit to Europe and I’ve been struck by how concentrated the city centre is. Far from detracting from the city, however, I think all the tiny shops, bars & streets give the city a definite charm. This is only enhanced by the architecture, the canals and all the cyclists. They certainly weren’t kidding about the bikes! Now I was expecting bikes but not in these numbers – there are literally bikes everywhere and I’ve so enjoyed riding round the city. And drinking beer at corner cafes while I watch many gorgeous Dutch girls cycle by.
In addition to doing the majority of the touristy activities, staying with Dave and Val has allowed me to see a more local side of the city and I have thoroughly shopping for groceries at the local Saturday market, eating apple pie and people watching at a bakery famous for said apple pie and sipping cocktails at a “secret” bar (no signs indicate it is a bar), which, coincidentally, we were told was voted the world’s 4th best cocktail bar!
Speaking of Sevenoaks, let me explain the title. I’ll start by saying that 7 can really cook – my 1st meal of the travels was a butternut risotto, served with walnuts & garnished with cheese & parsley. Delicious. Back to the title – after a huge night that started with a few beers at an Aussie bar while watching the Springboks finally record a victory and ended some 12 hours and many bars later, after 5am, with an interesting cycle home, myself or T would have made our guests some fried eggs, fried tomatoes and baked beans. Not 7 though – he whips up poached eggs on toast with a Hollandaise sauce and home-made hash browns. Hell, I’d never eaten Hollandaise sauce let alone thought of making it.
It was awesome having T in town too and really catching up with mates I hadn’t seen in too long. On Sunday afternoon, T and thoroughly enjoyed the Heineken experience before stumbling onto this tiny bar near the Central Station. It was packed (no more than 20 people) and just awesomely random (I’m guessing I made that up) – old school decorations, half a car on the wall next to the chill out couch and then all ages of stereos making up the DJ booth – the quintessential hole in the wall place.
All in all, it’s been a brilliant start to the trip. Seven was saying he stayed at Dave Sunter, another university mate, in HK when he started his 6 month Asia trip and now it’s come full circle and he’s hosting me. Next up I’m heading into Germany; not Berlin just yet but a small town about 3 hours from Berlin called Eschwege. I’m visiting a mate from my South American trip, Toby. I can’t recall where we 1st met but we bumped into one another in various places and ended up hiking together in Torres Del Paine (Chilean Patagonia). I’m looking forward to catching up. He’s let me know the fridge is fully stocked!