September 15, 2007 - Last Day in Amsterdam

On our last day of the trip, the others headed out early to visit the museums, so my husband and I went to breakfast near the hotel, then set off to climb the Westerkerk tower - unfortunately, it wasn't opened, so we walked through some neighborhoods and along the canals and met up with the others to head to the Albert Cuyp market. The market, in the bohemian Pijp district of Amsterdam, is typical of most weekly European markets and was huge, selling everything from clothes, makeup and shoes to produce, fish and chickens.

After the market we walked back along a scenic canal past Rembrandt's house, buying some street art along the way from a local artist, before boarding an open small boat for a semi-private canal tour. Our guide spoke excellent English, having spent 30 summers at his grandmother's place in Marbella, and was great fun on the 2 hour ride. Because it was Saturday, the canals were busy, and I'm sure at least some of the people pedaling the small personal watercraft had been visiting Amsterdam's famous coffee shops! He loved taking us under a bridge near our hotel to show us this billboard which blends in with the actual scenery and trees over the canal:

We shared a cocktail and shopped for tulips, watching the gorgeous late day sun setting on the buildings across the canal, then met up for dinner.

Our final meal was at de Luwte, which means "on the lee" like a lull in wind when sailing. The food was excellent and the service relaxing (for me - others in the group were less than thrilled with two-hour meals). I began my meal with a smoked sirloin salad with figs marinated in balsamic vinegar then continued with red sea bass that was beautifully seared to crispy skin served over asparagus with herbed rice and a small braised artichoke heart. I had selected an Alsatian Reisling that paired beautifully with the meal.

After dinner we wandered, not wanting our vacation to end, before calling it a night to pack and get ready to fly home the next morning. I'd be remiss if I didn't share some of these pictures of Amsterdam with you before signing off.

These signs are all over the Red Light District and while they may look funny, they are totally serious - while prostitution is legal, pimping is strictly forbidden for the safety of the workers. It's surreal to walk through the district and see the women, in nothing more than a small bra top and a thong, working the crowd.
We came across this sign above a bar that was directly outside a coffee shop (which in Amsterdam is what they call the shops where you can purchase and smoke - legally - marijuana and hash). Presumably they figured the paranoia would be good business for them. While marijuana is legal, Amsterdam is very strict about hard drugs and gun control. This is what the canal view from our hotel window looked like at night. And finally, since this blog is primarily about all things culinary, this is a shot from my favorite bathroom of the entire trip. Inside the ladies' room there is not only art work and the typical personal products, but the recipe for the omelet served for breakfast!

No comments: