Beautiful Amsterdam #33

With King’s Day now a fading, alcohol-flavoured memory, I thought I would share a picture that shows it doesn’t have to be Koningsdag for the city to have splashes of orange.

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Waalseilandgracht

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These ‘dam days

Spring is still fighting to make itself heard here in Holland. The weather is overwhelmingly underwhelming and days of decent sunshine without wind are few and far between. There are the odd breakthroughs, though:

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The babies were very sweet, but the mum/dad duck was bloody loud and annoying. (David Attenborough’s job is safe, clearly.)

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Some lovely early* morning sunshine…….. *In my world, ‘early’ = 10:00

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These flowers clearly think it’s spring, and who am I to argue with them?

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This is my favourite of the 4. I had to twist upside down by my bedroom window to get the angle right, and I think it works.

 

 

 

Our weekend in cake

Following on from ‘Our weekend in books’ post on our other blog, here is one about cake. Sundays were invented for cake. Not rest and church and all that other rubbish. As today is Sunday, I made cake.

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Mini coffee and chocolate fairy cakes

Lots of cake…

This is a blueberry and lemon drizzle cake

This is a blueberry and lemon drizzle cake

The only thing missing now is cup of tea.

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It’s got blueberries in, so there’s almost no calories. Fruit cancels out fat. Everyone knows this.

LM

To the Zee

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There is exactly 1 (+/- 1) advantage of living in Haarlem, rather than Amsterdam; cycling to the beach in 25minutes. This should of course be offset by the number of beach worthy days per year (7). These pictures document the journey between Haarlem and Zandvoort (the beach) on one of the first warm days of 2013.

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The west coast of the Netherlands is stacked high with well-maintained dunes to keep the sea at bay, and it is possible to cycle through these national parks or through some rather exclusive suburbs.

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I was quite impressed in all honesty: the water is not nearly as brown as I expected.

Greetins vrum Zummerzet

If anyone ever has the ‘So where are you from in England?’ conversation with me, they will know that I can be pretty disparaging about my hometown. Ask me about Bristol, where I studied and lived before moving to the Netherlands, and you will have a face full of wide-smile enthusiasm. But my hometown? Eh, not so much. Generally I avoid telling foreigners where I’m from, in case they Google it (other search engines are available).

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Perhaps I was feeling a little guilty or trying to gain a little perspective* but when I went home this week for a few days, I took my camera and went on a sunshine stroll to take some positive photos of Burnham and Highbridge. I think I did quite well. Click through the gallery below and see what you think.

*People who use the phrase “FML” when they spill their Starbucks or drop their iPhone could do with a little perspective. You know who you are.

Artis Royal Zoo

One of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam (second most popular according to the adverts) is the zoo. Surprisingly big for a zoo in the middle of rather small capital city, it’s very easy to spend a whole day there. Here are some highlights from the two visits we’ve had there…

When one of the animals has a wee, you have to take a picture. It’s practically a law.

We were lucky for our first visit, there were lots of baby animals there, including Simba

The red ruffed lemur monkeys are free to get pretty close to you

There’s also a large aquarium, which is one of the places you can visit on Museumnacht.

Awesome starfish

Our camera battery died before we could take any pictures of Mumba, the baby elephant, so here’s one we took from the Artis website:

“Don’t talk in rank, it’s against regulations”

The butterfly house is pretty big, with lots of different types of flutterbys to keep you interested in the humid temperatures

That’s quite a tongue you’ve got there

This isn’t a man in a gorilla suit, but it really looks like it

Always a favourite, we spent some time watching the penguins…

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There’s also quiet spaces in the zoo, including picnic spaces and gardens.

Ahh…. zen

Blue skies and beer

With the sudden rush of sunshine and the promise of longer days, we thought we’d take the camera out and about in Amsterdam before the clouds came back.

Not a cloud in sight. Bootiful!

Tulips on a canal boat? Pfffft, they could at least try to be a bit Dutch

With spring not being in full swing yet, bursts of colour like these are really noticable at the moment:

Only Twinkies, cockroaches and patio furniture survived the apocalypse.

View of the Amstel river

Food at blue - a cafe at the top of a shopping centre. Lunch comes with great views over the city AND they give you ketchup with your chips. That's rare in A'dam.

The next couple of pictures were taken in a courtyard in the centre of Amsterdam, surrounded by houses, which are for single women only: the Begijnhof. Visitors can enter through an inconspicuous wooden door and have a look around the courtyard, but can only walk down certain parts; the rest is reserved for residents.

The atmosphere in the courtyard is almost impossibly quiet, because on the other side of the door lies the Spui, a square which is frequently used for book and art markets and always busy with tourists. When we went in, however, the only sounds still audible were those of a couple of busking musicians.

The warmer weather really does transform Amsterdam, you just have to look at the behaviour of the locals. Every seat in a patch of sun is taken, boats roam the canals and all the trivial nuisances in life, like going to work, for example, are abandoned for soaking up the fleeting sunshine with a beer.

We can’t wait for summer….

LM