Can’t believe an entire month has gone by since the Hubs and I arrived in Amsterdam! Of course, it has all been about moving into our apartment, setting up things, formalities and other mundane details that needed to be taken care of, before we can actually start enjoying the city. But despite the fact that it has turned out to be such a busy month, we did have some interesting times.
For starters, we’ve had to learn the life-saving skill of dodging cyclists. Doesn’t help that I keep forgetting about the cycling lane! Cyclists have the right of way here and they RULE the road (sometimes even the pavement!). Several misadventures on this front but I’m not complaining. I love how great cycling is for the environment!
Here are some of our memorable ‘firsts’ in Amsterdam……
The first Dutch snack we tried
I like to call them ‘little balls of heaven’ but they are known here as bitterballen (plural). Always served with a side of mustard.
These usually get gobbled up before I can even think of taking a picture! 🙂
This savoury bar snack has a crispy fried outer coating that perfectly complements the mushy beef filling inside. I’m told that back in the day Dutch housewives created this snack as a way to use up leftover meat. Pure genius!
The filling inside is a mixture of puréed beef, butter, flour, beef stock, herbs and seasonings, but it’s the subtle hint of nutmeg that really takes this snack over the top. And be extra careful when you bite into a bitterbal coz the filling tends to be piping hot. Lesson learnt the hard way 😦
Even for someone like me who doesn’t enjoy meat, this crispy delight is hard to resist. As the Dutch say, ‘lekker’ (yummy)!
First time eating out of a hole in the wall
Well, not really a ‘hole’, more like a vending box.
We had heard so much about the legendary ‘Wall of Fried Food’ before we even got to Amsterdam, so we were looking forward to finding one. This is basically a vending machine but for hot snacks like krokets (croquettes), frinkandel (a deep fried sausage), kaassoufflé (a deep fried hot pocket with a cheese filling)….. you get the drift. Burgers too.
Spoilt for choice!
FEBO and Smullers are the two brands that offer this service. So if you’re feeling peckish anywhere in the city, just find the outlet nearest to you, drop your coins in the slot and grab your hot snack! I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
First bird I photographed in Amsterdam
Having lived in Asia for most of my life (India & Singapore), I know nothing about European birds. So every new bird species I see and photograph here is exciting. I’ve photographed several birds over the past few weeks (helps to be living in the vicinity of Vondelpark) but the first bird I photographed here, the Eurasian Magpie, will always be special. For my post on birdwatching in Amsterdam, click here.
The highly intelligent Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
The Dutch take birdwatching very seriously and the record holder for the Global Big Year 2016, Arjan Dwarshuis, is from Amsterdam. Arjan traveled to 40 different countries and observed a staggering 6,850 bird species over a span of 366 days.
First day trip out of Amsterdam
This past weekend, our itchy feet led us to make an impromptu day trip out of Amsterdam. A short train ride and we were transported back in time to the Dutch town of Zaanse Schans, which showcases Dutch life in the mid-19th century. We went for the windmills but were pleasantly surprised to observe a variety of birds in the grasslands.
Windmills everywhere you look!
Coming soon an entire blog post dedicated to this charming town.
There have been so many other wonderful experiences – the onset of Spring, exploring my neighbourhood, going for walks at Vondelpark, receiving my museumkaart, my first visit to the Rijksmuseum with my museumkaart, seeing the 2 stolen Van Gogh paintings back on display at the Van Gogh Museum……I’ve lost count.
A serene morning at Vondelpark
As our seemingly unending list of ‘Things to Do’ gets a bit shorter by the day, we can’t wait to explore Amsterdam, Netherlands and the rest of Europe. Stay tuned!
For now, tot straks! (See you later!)