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Some Odds n’ Ends From Amsterdam

30 Jul

Amsterdam in June feels like February in California–COLD. Thus, after an afternoon of meandering throughout town, a tall glass of hot chocolate was in order.

My buddy Sam and poked our heads into the closest cafe to grab a glass of the good stuff and a warm safe-haven from the chilly weather.

Sam modeling with the hot chocolate

Since I was only in Amsterdam for one day, I did not have a chance to taste all of the typical Amsterdam dishes such as: raw herring, Dutch pancakes (similar to a French crepe), poffertjes (much smaller than Dutch pancakes, and they are puffed and served with butter and powdered sugar) and licorice. I did, however, taste stroopwafels. Oh stroopwafels, how I love thee.

Two buttery thin waffle cookies sandwiched together with a layer of thick syrupy honey molasses. Oh man, so freaking yummy. Very dense though, upon eating more than one stroopwafel, you can definitely feel your belly get heavy.

I also went to the Heineken Brewery, where I got at least 3 beers to sample. I participated in a beer tasting where the “expert” taught me a bit about foam and presentation of the beer. Also, I learned that the beer is actually 95% water and the rest is a combination of hops, barely, and yeast. I got to go into a room that simulated the experience of a beer being bottled–the room shook and we got splashed a bit. Silly, kitschy, fun.

Speaking of silly, kitschy, and fun…I went on a “booze cruise” with my traveling group and yes, it is what you think it is. A lovely little cruise along the canals of Amsterdam complete with endless wine and beer. To kick off the cruise, we were given little bottles of Flugel.

According to this website, “Flugel combines vodka with the taste of black currant and the energy boost of guarana, B vitamins, and caffeine. This “healthy” vodka is currently available in The Netherlands, Belgium, and France. It is targeted to youth partygoers. The tiny 20ml bottle is actually the size of your palm, and could be easily concealed inside a pocket. The Flugel contains 10 percent alcohol by volume.”

Oh, and we also got to munch on these yummy little pastry snacks while sipping on our wine, beer, and Flugel…

A captured moment: the blonde bombshells with their drinks and pastry snacks 

For dinner, we ate at a floating Chinese restaurant, the Sea Palace. Honestly, I was quite disappointed. Ok, the decor was nice but I was not impressed with the food at all. It just did not get me excited and it tasted sub-par. The rice was super buttery, too, which I do not usually expect from a Chinese style rice, even for fried rice. I guess I am just spoiled with good Chinese food back in the U.S.? Oh well, it was an experience nonetheless.

Stepping outside of Amsterdam for a morning, we visited the quaint village of Edam. We visited a cheese and clog shop, two very significant symbols for this town and for the Netherlands in general.

First, this adorable woman gave us an overview of how they make their cheese…(we got to taste like 10 different cheeses, too!).

And boy oh boy did it smell strongly of cheese in there!

Then, this studly man demonstrated the skillful art of clog-making. He makes it look so easy.

Stylish, eh?
There were clogs everywhere used for everything including cigarette ashtrays!
The town of Edam was small but lovely. Cheese n’ clogs aside, I had a spectacular day riding “granny bikes” around the village.


A Quick Glimpse of Roma

29 Jul

Roma. Rome. Italy. I saw pretty much all of the touristy sites of Rome in just about 12 hours. 12 hours of non-stop walking, photo-snapping, historical site-seeing Italian craziness.

Ok so I was in Roma for more than 12 hours. I was there for about a day and a half, which really is not much. The first night I did a quick walking tour where I saw the Spanish steps, the Fontana di Trevi, the Pantheon, and some swanky chic shops amongst other famous Roman hallmarks. Oh yes, and there were people roasting chestnuts on the streets!

The next day began with a tour of the fascinating and huuuugeee Vatican City complete with St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and quite possibly my favorite part…a statue of this lady, a woman of great fertility as symbolized by her many supple breasts:

With a full day still ahead of us, we stopped for a quick bite of lunch before moving on to more sites. A quick bite of cheap, good pizza to-go. I can’t even remember the name of the place. You choose your flavor, and you pay by the weight. The Vatican took a lot out of me and I was super hungry so I ate 5 fairly large squares. I was full for hours and hours afterward.

Cheese with Prosciutto and Wilted Greens

Roasted Eggplant with Herbs 

After lunch, it was off to the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Catacombs…Then, we browsed around one favorite places: the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, otherwise known as the “wedding cake.” I think the reason I like it so much is because it is called the “wedding cake,” and fittingly so, it really does look like a cake:

After a full day in the sweltering sun, it suddenly started to pour rain. Luckily my traveling companions and I ducked in to a quaint little restaurant at just the right time. We were seated outside under a covered awning, which was quite nice because we were sitting and we were dry and we could watch the rain trickle down all around us.

Bring on the drinks! Bright red Campari and Italian Prosecco took the edge off our sore bodies and set the mood for a lovely dinner.

I ordered a simple pasta dish–tonarelli shaped pasta with (mostly butter) black pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Yeahhh baby!
One of my dining companions ordered another simple pasta dish…spaghetti pomodoro with fresh basil and a fried noodle on top. In case you haven’t got the message yet, simple is the name of the game here.

So there you have it, a quick glimpse of Roma. Ciao tutti!