Trip Planning, Airbnb, Holland Pass, Restaurants & Sights 13-15Apr2014

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haarlemmerplein at night

this my last post on amsterdam.

wife did good trip planning & reserved a haarlemmerdijk apartment via airbnb. it was a huge apartment with 1 bedroom, big hall, full kitchen (with great coffee maker & coffee & tea provided) & dining, great toilets & showers, and was located in amsterdam’s famous jordan district. its a diverse happening place, filled with fashion boutiques, interior decor shops, cheese, specialty food, dining, cafe & of course amsterdam’s famous coffeeshops, just a stroll from amsterdam central station along haarlemmerstraat linking into haarlemmerdijk. 🙂

we purchased the holland pass online, and i bought the 5 tickets pass for 49.50 euors (5% discounts online). it came with a free train connection from schipol airport to amsterdam central (4euros) & a free 24hr city bus ride (7euros). considering that i had used 2 gold tickets for keukenhof (15euros) & rijksmesuem (15euros), & 2 silvers for schipol-keukenhof return bus connection (9euros) & 100 highlights canal cruise (15.5euros), i would say it was well worth it.

we brought a huawei 3g/4g mifi with us (lent to us by my wife’s good friend) and bought a lebara 1gb sim card at schipol (it’s also available in shops around town). so we stayed connected throughout & my daughter became expert in google map guiding us to beulings & zazas (we took the trams) where we had made prior dinner reservations, and also during the waterland cycling trip. 🙂

we made some miscalculations & was not able to get the bikes at zaandan station to cycle at zaanse schans, but otherwise everything went smoothly. 🙂

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cheese - really excellent cheese here

cheese – really excellent cheese here

we were slightly early on checking in. fortunately haarlemmerdijk had many cafes around every corner. 🙂  cheese shops too.

the cruise terminal next to amsterdam central

the cruise terminal next to amsterdam central

multi-storey bicycle park next to amsterdam central

multi-storey bicycle park next to amsterdam central

beautiful amsterdam central station opened in 1889 & handles 250,000 passengers/day

beautiful amsterdam central station opened in 1889 & handles 250,000 passengers/day

after visiting zaanse schans windmill country on my first day arrival on 13.4.2014, we went to holland international terminal in front of beautiful amsterdam central train station, & queued 45mins for the 100 highlights cruise.

rihksmeseum - taken using my samsung s4 4x magnification from tram

rihksmeseum – taken using my samsung s4 4x magnification from tram

i amsterdam in front of rijksmeseum

i amsterdam in front of rijksmeseum

nightwatch

night watch

an old woman reading

an old woman reading

after seeing the dazzling keukenhof gardens on 14.4.2014, we went to rijksmeseum, saw rembrandt’s night watch & an old woman reading, such incredible details. 🙂

city trams - we got quite used to taking them

city trams – we got quite used to taking them

we used the trams a lot to get from our apartment to amsterdam central & to get to the restaurants beulings & zazas, so made full use of the 24hr pass. 🙂

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herons scavenging in the streets – on our way to zazas

we saw herons scavenging on the streets on our way to zazas on our second evening on 14.4.2014. flea market or something in the day?

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dam square – on the left is madame tussaud’s

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dam square

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dam square

after 1/2 day cycling to waterland on 15.4.2014, we had some time to spare before dinner. wife & daughter went to madame tussaud’s at dam square to use up the last 2 holland pass tickets.

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down the road from dam square toward de wallen, the red light district

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canal along oudezijds voorburgwal where de wallen is located

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canal along oudezijds voorburgwal where de wallen is located

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canal along oudezijds voorburgwal where de wallen is located

hashish & marijuana meseum

hashish & marijuana meseum

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sex shops in de wallen

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sex shops in de wallen

i took a stroll down towards the canal to see amsterdam famous de wallen red light district ( i was last here in 1980 after my final exams when studying in england). it was late afternoon so no activity only sex shops & weed museum…haha. 🙂

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back to dam square

walked back to dam square. was walking across the road & tripped & fall mid way.  had a cut at the brow & bled, broke the frame of  my new specs (fortunately i brought spares), and had 2 balukus (swellings) on my chin & below the eye. fortunately it was just a shallow cut and only thing that was badly bruised was my ego. passersby were very helpful & a shopkeeper gave me tissues & let me cleaned up in his toilet. getting clumsy too soon. sigh!

c.h.e.f andy

Very Good Dinner @ Zazas Amsterdam on 14Apr2014

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amuse bouche

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focaccia bread

had a good dinner at zazas on my second night in amsterdam on 14.4.2014. 🙂 like beulings, we planned & booked the restaurant before the trip.

could not recall the amuse bouche but it was good tasting.

the focaccia was good, the usual.

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carpaccio – euro10.50

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smoked duck mille feuille euro 10.50

we ordered 5 appetisers including the oysters & soup. 🙂

#1 the beef carpaccio was good, sweet & came with foie gras terrine.

#2 the smoked duck mille feuille was good too. smoked duck was good & the pastry too, overall a good dish. taste wise it was not as exciting as it looked. the duck & pastry were competent, good, not special.

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cheese ravioli 1/2 portion euro 8.80

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carrot soup 1/2portion euro2.80

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3 de claire oysters euro 7.50

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creamy & sweet de claire oyster

#3 the ravioli was good. couldn’t remember what was in it, I imagine cheese? but this was better than the green pea risotto we had at the movies restaurant the next day. 🙂

#4 the carrot soup (we had 3 servings of 1/2 portion) had some cream at the bottom & was again very good, and also better than the one at the movies restaurant.

#5 the oysters were excellent, very creamy and sweet. we ordered a second helping of 3 oysters. 🙂

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black cod euro20.50

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guinea fowl euro 20.50

we ordered 2 mains to share.

#6 the cod was competent, but somehow the meat were firmer (& less oily??) than the texture i generally liked, as in my own nobu miso cod or teriyaki cod.

#7 the guinea fowl i guess was competent, just was not a dish that we particularly liked, and by comparison, the duck confit at the movies restaurant was much more enjoyable.

the service was very good – professional & friendly. there was 2 taiwanese ladies on our next table. 1 ordered a lamb but didn’t like it. she was requested to order a different main from the menu. the server took back the lamb & later explained politely & cheerfully that the chef tasted the lamb & it was fine however they would replace it with another main anyway. the lady said sorry when paying the bill & the server said they were sorry that she did not like it. all very nice & pleasant. 🙂

overall the dinner came to euro104 including 2 coffees & a glass of wine, quite good price. it was not really much more expensive than the movies restaurant. the appetisers were great but the mains were not as enjoyable for us c/w the movies restaurant.  i would come back again when in amsterdam.

c.h.e.f andy