2015 03 eu trip (1): holland belgium

day 01: travel

Travelling day. I set the alarm for 5.15am, showered, last minute packing, I was out at 6.30am to catch the bus to the airport express station. Check-in and everything was straightforward. The flight wasn’t full; the seat between us was empty (I deliberately picked the 2 aisle seats in the middle column).

It was a day flight so I couldn’t really sleep. Watched Imitation Game, Grand Budapest Hotel and Robocop. Enjoyed all of them, especially Imitation Game and Grand Budapest Hotel. There is a Japanese anime cartoon feel to GBH, it was atmospheric and funny.

Food was mainly forgettable airplane food. Decent quality, I only had about an inch of their cabernet with dinner, sticking with coke zero and soda water at other times.

The route was almost 1 hr longer than it used to be, to avoid Ukraine. Most of the flight was over Russia. We laughed when the map showed that we were almost directly over Amsterdam, and then we carried on to London. Going from T3 to T5 was okay, then it was a long queue at security. Definitely security theatre, they swiped my small flight toiletries ziploc—the same bag and contents have flown with me thousands of miles around the world, so why would T5 need to swipe it today? Hahaha.

heathrowtea

There was enough time to sit for a while. We shared a hummous wrap from eat and I had a much needed large cup of tea. Ahhhhh.

The flight to AMS was very short. BA gave us snacks (crisps and biscuits) and drinks (the other businessmen all opted for something alcoholic, I had diet coke). We spent about 15mins around the duty free shop, retrieved our luggage and our friends L&P picked us up. They live in the suburbs, and we picked up chinese takeaway on the way back for dinner.

A long travelling day, the sense of excitement is building. Getting a good night’s sleep then we’re ready for the trip proper.

day 02: almere, naarden

lily004house

Woke up at 7.20am, after sleeping at 11pm and waking up 3 times overnight. Our friend prepared an absolutely delicious breakfast of croissant, roll, soft boiled eggs, cheese and freshly squeezed orange juice. I made tea from the PG I brought with me. Our friend’s house is very beautiful, built on the canal with their own deck and at the end of their street is the lake. So peaceful and clean.

eutrip002almere

We took our time and left around 10am. Destination was Almere town centre to look at the shops and explore the market. Our love of markets is legendary. Great produce: fruits, vegs, meat, fish, sweets, baked goods and cheap household items. We bought some veg for home cooking. I even bought a pair of sneakers for €35, as the shoes I was wearing had a hole at the bottom. Lunch was unconventional—cake and tea at a tea shop. It was what we felt like.

eutrip003naarden

Originally the plan was to head to the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve but the lateness of the hour plus poor weather meant a change of plans. Instead, our friend took us to nearby Naarden, a village surrounded by a 17th century fort with pretty streets and traditional architecture. We even stopped at a whisky shop, sampled different types of genever and millstone whiskies—5 year and rye. I didn’t like the genever, it tasted like medicine; liked the rye whiskies best.

ams106genever ams118snack

Rested for tea at a bar café. I had a small bock beer and we all shared snacks of ossenwurst (beef tartare sausage) and bitterballen (like beef croquettes). Back to the house for shower and dinner at home: roast chicken, frites, salad and traditional dutch apple tart. Great to have homemade food.

day 03: oostvaardersplassen, pancakes

eutrip004oostvaarder

I was so tired last night I went to bed at 10pm and woke up at 9am. Still not quite over jetlag, it’ll take a few more days I suspect.

Breakfast was croissants and tea. First stop today was a garden centre, we’re too early to see flowers in bloom in the tulip and flower fields, so our friend took us to the garden centre instead. There were many lovely varieties of flowers and plants. Made me want to have a garden again.

The actual destination was Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve close to the garden centre. It’s a pretty marshlands with walking trails around a lake area. There are supposed to be deer, ponies and cattle—we saw a herd of something from afar and hundreds, may be even thousands of birds. In fact the visitor centre had binoculars and bird watching stations.

We had lunch there at café at the visitor centre. I had a ham & cheese omelette that came with bread and salad; mm had ham & cheese toast. Freshly made, we thought it was good value. Worked off the food with a walk around the nature reserve, almost 2hrs we covered around 2-3 miles. Great weather, blue skies and fresh air. It’d be a brilliant place for running.

Went to a supermarket nearby and bought vegetables, snacks, diet coke, stroopwafels and I saw rivella (!!). Haven’t had rivella since Switzerland. I got 2x2l bottles for travelling as well as a 500ml bottle for immediate consumption which, hahaha, got me into a bit of trouble with mm.

For dinner our friends drove to Lage Vuursche to take us to a pancake restaurant. Posh area, beautiful surroundings and buildings. I had a bacon & mushroom pancake. We shared poffertjes (small, fluffy pancakes with icing sugar) for dessert.

We weren’t too ambitious today, it was nice to take it easy, take a walk and enjoy good food.

day 04: amsterdam

eutrip006piano eutrip005amsterdam

Late start today, relaxed. Left the house at 11am, got the bus to the station to get a train to Amsterdam Centraal. Stopped by the free public piano at the station to watch people playing. Met our friend for lunch near Dam Square, nice café for sandwich and salad. Spent the afternoon walking around town, the first time we visited for almost 20 years. Lots of tourists and things have changed quite a bit.

ams275iamsterdam ams284canal

Took a circular route from Dam Square to Westderkerk, then along the canals to Rijksmuseum area—didn’t go in, took some pictures outside. Got some souvenir magnets after exploring the hard rock café shop. Stopped for just a minute at the bloemenmarkt before heading back to Dam Square area to meet our friend after work. Total time walked, around 3hrs.

She treated us to the most creamiest, richest ice cream at the tiny van der linde shop. Caught the train back to the house and I made dinner.

eutrip007dinner eutrip008crumble

Originally we wanted to make steak or lamb, but we couldn’t decide on the protein. I ended up making chicken & fennel with grilled courgettes and red peppers. For dessert I made a quick apple crumble. I was so happy that we finished everything. Nothing was left. Yay.

day 05: antwerp, brussels, mechelen

eutrip007antwerpsteen

Our 5-country trip will become 6-country. The great thing about living in Central Europe is proximity and ease of travel to other countries.

We started the day at a cash-and-carry supermarket, like costco. Had to be very restrained not to buy anything. We ended up getting ingredients for a picnic lunch of herring, smoked eel, smoked salmon and bread rolls. Herring was fatty and fresh, the eel was the star of the meal, could have just had it on its own.

ant026square

Driving into Belgium was like driving into another state, there was a sign and here we are. We headed first to Antwerp, to Het Steen, a medieval castle where a tyrannical rich man ruled. He charged toll for people and boats passing by and if they didn’t pay, he’d cut their hands off. Such was the life then. Walked to the central square with the cathedral and cobblestoned streets. Stopped for coffee at a nearby coffee shop.

Next stop Brussels. Our friends go there very often and even know where to park without needing to pay. Yes, it’s a 15min walk, which actually was great after sitting in the car for a couple of hours. Brussels was busy, full of locals and tourists. We quickly took in the sights—main square, manneken pis and the all-important chocolate shops.

mech003square

Dinner was at Mechelen, a town between Brussels and Antwerp. Hadn’t heard of it before and it was a revelation. So pretty! Again the central square with an imposing church and beautiful architecture. It’s off the tourist trail and looks like a place we will like to revisit.

We shared a white asparagus starter made apparaently in the flemish way—with what tasted like hot egg mayonnaise sauce. It’s similar to hollandaise with posched egg. For mains we both opted for the horse steak. Ordered rare, came medium rare. Very, very lean and tasty if a bit tougher than beef steak. There’s a stigma with meat other than beef, lamb, pork—our thinking is that if the locals eat it, it’s good enough for us.




flickr sets: lily’s house | holland | belgium


categories

in Europe |

about

This page contains a single entry by invisiblecompany published on Saturday March 21, 2015 11:08 PM.

2014 09 seoul was the previous entry.

2015 03 eu trip (2): florence siena is the next entry.

Return main index or look in the archives.

  • xhtml validated
  • css validated
  • made by mac
  • dreamweaver
  • photoshop
  • Get Firefox!
Powered by Movable Type 4.2-en