Copenhagen - Amsterdam
An early start was required to make our flight to Amsterdam today. However, I was thrilled that I was able to sneak in a danish in Denmark at our breakfast buffet (yes, I'm one of *those* people. For the record, I've also enjoyed a berliner in Berlin!). Our flight was on Cimber Sterling, which (surprisingly) I found to be much better than SAS, with whom we flew from Munich to Copenhagen. This was simply because the processes around boarding were far more efficient and staff were actually on board the plane while we were boarding. For some very strange reason this wasn't the case flying out of Munich. Odd!
Upon arrival in Amsterdam, my first order of business (while still inside the airport terminal) was to pick up a pack of stroopwafels. My best friend spent some time working for the UN in The Hague and introduced me to the glory of the stroopwafel when she last returned. These biscuits comprise two layers of thin wafers that sandwich caramel syrup. They're delicious consumed straight from the packet, but even better when left to rest atop a cup of tea/coffee, which liquifies the delicious syrup. YUM!
Following "mission: stroopwafel", we jumped into a taxi and drove to our accommodation - Bed and Breakfast Amsterdam. What a delightful B&B in a great part of town - I can highly recommend the establishment for travellers to Amsterdam. The owner of the premises quickly provided us with all the information required for navigating what was to become one of my favourite cities in Europe. However, before we could set off to explore, we opted to "refuel" at a quirky little café next door. There, we ordered open sandwiches topped with hommus, roast zucchini, chutney and salad. My beloved nearly cried with delight at *finally* being able to eat hommus once again - we go through about a litre of the stuff every week and couldn't find it easily in Germany or Sweden. I believe withdrawals were starting to set in... ;)
Bellies full, we set off through the glorious Vondelpark towards the city centre. Though the weather was overcast and drizzly, nothing could dampen our high spirits, as we approached the infectiously wonderful city.
Our first stop in Amsterdam was the Van Gogh museum, which was also exhibiting some of Picasso's early works at the time of our visit - an absolute bonus for this Picasso fan. Seeing many of Van Gogh's familiar still lifes and self portraits in the flesh was a somewhat surreal experience for myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but only wish the museum would restrict entry a little more - it was very crowded in parts.
Next on the agenda was our pre-arranged bike tour with Joy Ride Tours. We waited at the "I amsterdam" sign not far from the Van Gogh museum and were met there by our beaming guide.
Our tour was an absolute cracker! The overcast weather seemed to deter all other tourists and subsequently the four of us enjoyed exploring the city privately. It was a fun, intimate and honestly brilliant tour. I would almost go as far as to say that it was the best organised tour I've ever had the privilege to be a part of...and that's a BIG call! We were taken to a number of lesser known areas of Amsterdam, as well as some more major sites - if you squint hard you'll see the famed red light district in the lower right corner below, as well as the beautiful canals and surrounding architecture.
We also enjoyed popping into one of more interestingly named bars that I've frequented - Wynand Fockink - try saying that one out loud (go on, I dare ya!). Here we enjoyed a taste of some of the distillery's delicious liqueurs (in the mandated fashion - i.e. the first sip must be taken without touching the glass) and soaked up the original 17th century decor. We completed our bike tour, parted with our guide and found ourselves back in the city centre where we feasted on burgers and beer. Our walk home was a long one - approximately 4km - and we fell into bed exhausted.