Amsterdam mini break

Saturday

My daughter has moved to Amsterdam to work. She and her boyfriend have rented a flat on Haarlemmerdijk which is near the centre of the city. The road is in a busy neighbourhood with lots of independent shops and interesting architecture.

With a bit of anxiety I agreed to have a go at riding a bike around the city. It’s great fun but a bit scary. I wasn’t brave enough to try pedal brakes. The Dutch have different rules than the ones that I am used to and drive on the right. This morning from the flat window I saw someone riding a bike – holding a bunch of flowers, a coffee in one hand and a couple of bags in the other.

For my birthday I was treated to a posh boat trip around the canals (cushions and cocktails) we arrived at the dock a bit early so we went for coffee at #IvyBros- I can really recommend the hot chocolate and Jon reckoned that the coffee was a 9/10.

The coffee shop looked a bit like a game lodge with lots of skulls and interesting decor. ( loo was spotless)

The boat trip was fab- it was hot and sunny and we lolled around on cushions drinking gin and tonic as we ducked under bridges and listened to interesting commentary. The trip was run by #friendshipamsterdam

I learnt about ‘dancing houses’ that were built along the banks of the canals. They have wooden stakes as foundations. The stakes mean that the houses move. Some present at quite alarming angles.

The boat trip and the coffee shop are in the redlight district. I found the girls in the windows and doorways disturbing. There is the oldest church in Amsterdam, a kindergarten and ladies standing in windows right next to each other.

Sunday

We went for a cycle around Westerpark. There is lots of different playparks, ponds and paddling pools. We stopped at De Baakers Winkle for coffee.

The menu illustrations were fab

The buildings in the park are all very similar designed in redbrick with lots of patterns

Winkles is light and airy over three floors. We sat outside in a lovely covered garden area.

Before lunch we rode back to Haarlemmerdijk and wandered around the street window shopping. ‘Lost in Amsterdam’ recommends the area for shopping ( http://www.lostin.com)

I particularly like all the roof details and a tiny old cinema called ‘the movies’

We also wandered around Haarlemmerplein where someone had parked wooden bikes

Inside a bedding shop I found some interesting paper mache shapes illustrated with Indian line drawings

Door detail from the square

Monday

Last day today and I got to wander up and down Haarlemmerdijk. So here are some more detailed pics. There is a noticeable amount of wisteria growing up and around buildings. I would like to come back when it’s in flower

I have noticed lots of stained glass and art nouveau tiles when I was cycling around over the weekend. I managed to find a few tiles and a mosaic.

The old wooden doors are fab too

I also noticed quite a lot of different metal work on doors ( I have exceeded the data allowance for this post ….)

In-between the blocks of houses on Haarlemmerdijk there are lots of plants and bikes – it makes the city feel very green.

I really enjoyed my trip. Though I have to say the Dutch cycling rules are quite tricky- one is supposed to give way to the right …… Cyclists seem to rule the roads , particularly when there isn’t a pavement – so it’s a bit alarming being a pedestrian as well. I think it’s fab and wish there were more bikes instead of cars everywhere.

Lisbon mini break

We are in Lisbon for a couple of nights after our trip to the Omassim Guest house for a yoga retreat.

We are staying in an Airbnb at the back of the Sao Jorge Castle, on Calçada do Menino Deus 6–16. The Airbnb is in an old apartment block. It’s small with one bedroom but could sleep 4 at a push.

It’s quirkily decorated with charming second hand furniture and fittings

Around the apartment building there are lots of narrow streets with pretty architectural details

I particularly like the different ways the doors and windows can open to let in fresh air

There must have been a fiesta recently because lots of houses still have brightly coloured plastic decorations up

The apartment block has a hand of Fatima door knocker. These are a feature of the region and are a Muslim influence which implies that all who enter the house with one of these attached are protected by Fatima – Mohammed’s daughter. There are several different designs

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Jon took us on a walk today to find a coffee shop that had been recommended online. It was a good 30 mom walk from the apartment so we left early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day – it’s 34 degree at the moment ( 4pm) toooo hot for me to be walking around after the cool week in Omassim.

The trek took us past lots of beautiful tiles( see my earlier post), graffiti

Of which there is an abundance

And lots of different pavement mosaics – which are very attractive – if a bit slippery in places

The coffee shop was on Ruas das Flores and did an 8/10 pour over and had a original Blade Runner poster in the loo ( the things I do)

The coffee shop was on the number 28 tram line back to the apartment. These are 1930’s trams, the journey stopped an started as the extremely calm driver avoided pedestrians, parked cars and other obstacles.

Nice internal wooden features and a fab shiny metal wheel. There is an interesting website for the tram

http://lisbonlisboaportugal.com/lisbon-transport/lisbon-tram-28.html

We got off the tram at a very pretty viewing point of the estuary with a church, terrace and more tiles …..

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I do love all the blue and white details.

last night we ate out at a restaurant recommended in trip advisor. The food was fab we had a carrot salad – speciality of the restaurant which was crunchy and peppery with tomatoes and a great sauce, sardines with peppers which should have been on a bruschetta type toast but I am gluten free so they left the toast separate ( which was nice of them). The dinner was finished off with roast pork belly – which was a melt in the mouth version and comes highly recommended. I was in a bit of a strop about eating hot food in 30 or so degrees. However the plates were all to share and were smallish portions – Jon did not leave hungry and we didn’t have sweet or coffee

Funky table light – interesting fact Sean Connery was filmed at that location in 1991 for the Russia House. The restaurant’s name was ‘Needle in a haystack’ or Agulha No Palheiro.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g189158-d8757206-Reviews-Agulha_No_Palheiro-Lisbon_Lisbon_District_Central_Portugal.html

Leuven Part 3 

Feb 11th 

http://mokcoffee.be/

Jon’s conference has finished so our exploits today had a different focus. I had noticed a coffee roastery on Diestestraat. It was freezing again so a hot drink was very welcome. 


The interior was very spartan with pretty floor tiles. I think they might be art nouveau 


Jon’s coffee was a 7/10 , my oat milk hot choc was lovely