Thursday 30 May 2013
Its Howard’s birthday today. For the last five years we have celebrated his birthday in Europe. He thinks this way he won’t get any older! I have promised that we can do whatever he wants today. Breakfast is included in our room rate so we start with a hearty European breakfast. After lacking inspiration we go for a walk around the neighbourhood looking for an ATM. We discover that just over the canal and around the corner is the very funky Haarlem. This place is brilliant … heaps of small shops, pubs, cafes (yep – those cafe’s where you can buy things that make you happy and hungry) etc. We wander the main street, Haarlemmstraat (love the name) and then head over to Jordaan which is supposed to have great shopping as well. We wander the narrow streets, along picturesque canals and over cute bridges – we are falling in love with Amsterdam.
Along the way we pass the huge line of tourists lined up to visit Anne Franke’s house. She lived in the unassuming small building to the left of the big building on the corner.
Jordaan is nice but Haarlem is better. Its now lunch time so we stop at a corner pub for a light refreshment and just watch the nerve-wracking procession of cyclists, cars and delivery trucks. The cyclists have no fear, its as if everyone of them is a teenager and supremely confident they will never die.
Fortified after a couple of drinks we are quite happy to continue on our way … we find a salon that does massages and I treat Howard to a birthday massage (no … no happy ending … it wasn’t one of THOSE places). After the massage we wander back to Haarlem for some birthday dinner snacks and drinks. We saw this place this morning “Ibericus” it is a Spanish style deli/bar. We grab a ham roll. Oh my god! It was so good. A fresh crusty chewy roll, rubbed with fresh tomato and garlic and stuffed with wafer thin spanish Iberico jamon. I will never sneer at a ham sammich again.
We settle into a bar just across the road and celebrate with a few more beers (red wine for me – I’m beered out).
Tonight we have booked a restaurant called Max that is quite close to the hotel for dinner. We haven’t had much to eat today so we grab some muchies and a bottle of wine and head back to our room at Sebastian Hotel to relax before dinner.
Max Restaurant was a short walk from our hotel. Good unpretentious food. Great asparagus in season, duck confit, sea bass filet and a bottle of pinot and we are done! Turns out the staff from our hotel were having a function upstairs! Recommended.
Day 2 in Amsterdam complete … already planning on coming and living here!