There are many things one absolutely has to do when in Amsterdam for the first time. One of them is to take a scenic boat tour of the complicated canal systems of the city center. For around 17 euros a person, we were able to catch a guided tour at 9 o'clock in the evening.
Since Amsterdam is built on a lot of water, the houses tend to lilt on one side. Look at the black apartment building. Do you see how it's kind of crooked and slanting to the left?
We also noticed a handful of full-fledged boat houses docked along the sides of the canals. Did you know that it's easier to get a boat license than a driving license in Amsterdam? The guide told us that people have to wait up to two years to receive their driver's license! Makes you appreciate the LTO more, we think.
Since driving on Amsterdam's narrow streets can be quite harrowing and finding free slots and PAYING for their exorbitant parking fees can be a pain, people opt to hop on bikes instead.
Out of all the cities we visited, they had the biggest bike culture. Lots of rails and slots were allotted for parking bikes. We also saw quite a handful of pimped-out bikes. From Cath Kidston print bike baskets to sleek folding steel models, they had it all.
Bike patrons run the gamut from men in business suits to ladies in high heels. In fact, you're more likely to be barreled over by a bike than a car! This also means that their city is far less polluted!
Context clues and our friendly waiter told us that this means "The Blue Hollander." According to P's research, when the locals go out for dinner they don't necessarily look for Dutch food, which is why a lot of the restaurants offered Asian food or the very ubiquitous Argentinian steak grills. We were hard pressed to find a place that served traditional Dutch fare but finally found this well-recommended resto online.
Dutch shrimp salad - tiny shrimp with apples and bell peppers on greens
This was definitely an unfamiliar salad to us, even with the apples. We loved the fact that they didn't scrimp on the shrimp so the dish was quite filling, despite only being a salad. As for the taste, it wasn't too strong but it had a nice and refreshing flavor. The slight heaviness of the creamy shrimp struck a nice balance with the fruit and tomatoes.
Our cab driver here told us that a plate of fish with mash and veggies was what one could expect from a traditional dinner in Amsterdam. We decided to go with that and ordered sole with lemon butter over mash with carrots. The colors or the presentation on their dishes are not as vibrant as we're used to in Asia but the taste made up for it. It was a simple dish with a kick of herbed butter, which was right up D's alley.
To finish off, we had the apple pie with vanilla ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream. We weren't too sure if apple pie is something you can usually find in Dutch kitchens but the pairing of cinnamon, apple and vanilla ice cream cannot be messed with. We particularly liked the berries we had in Europe also, they were all sweet, juicy and plump.
And here's a picture of the Dutch pancake we had on a separate occasion. They were enormous! This was D's order and she got the kiddie pirate pancake (hence the gummy candy) with bacon. The syrup was more like molasses than maple but it was interesting combined with savory pancakes. Although, it's definitely something we wouldn't and couldn't have everyday.
Post on Anne Frank's house and the Museum of Bags and Purses (yes, it exists!) coming next!