Amsterdam Day/Night 5 – Downshifting

One of things I learned a long time ago while traveling solo for an extended trip (but also have to constantly remind myself) is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my body also knows this edict and tends to let me know. After averaging about 5-6 miles of walking a day, I was starting to get a tad bit stiff. So, in order, to give myself a bit of a break along with truly lousy weather, I decided to take it relatively easy. But first, as always, I needed food.

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Since the weather had turned pretty nasty, I chose a place basically right around the corner from my hotel where I had walked by an enticing sign of an aged beef burger and Heineken multiple times. Plus, the name was pretty cool – The Uptown Meat Company. The burger was very tasty, with the aged beef matching well with the crunchy bib lettuce and a nice chipotle mayo. I was curious if like Guinness in Ireland, Heineken would taste better in Holland but nope, pretty much bland as always Heineken. Oh well.

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My main destination was the Van Gogh Museum, which was very close by much to the delight of my aching body. Although Van Gogh is obviously the main attraction, I was mostly excited about the Millet temporary exhibit. Millet was a huge influence on Van Gogh and Impressionist movement in general by focusing on every day farmers and workers toiling away in stunning paintings. I have a policy of never taking pictures of the works of art so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was a very impressive exhibition.

The rest of the museum was divided into floors focusing on various chapters of Van Gogh’s life. Unfortunately, the collection itself was mostly minor works since his masterpieces are scattered in the world’s most famous museums. One exception was the famous self-portrait he did shortly after cutting off his ear. That was a treat to see in person along with his most well-known stiff life – Sunflowers. With that they also had a very cool 3D printout of the work that you could touch to feel the raised paint on the canvass.

After a couple of hours of getting my culture on, my back was once again begging for some rest so I headed back to the hotel in the cold rainy weather.

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After a brief respite, I took off for the Jordaan area to meet up with my old friend, Uwe. We had originally planned to meet at a place known for its apple pie but had to reschedule for drinks later instead. I decided though I needed to go have a slice of that anyway so took the tram and then made the trek in the sudden downpour to Winkel 43, snagging the last table in the bustling cafe.

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The pie lived up to the hype. Huge chunks of apples with an almost cake-like crust that was a struggle to break through with the ludicrously small fork that came with it. The cream was a perfect complement. Absolutely delicious.

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I met with Uwe at the nearby Cafe Tjyssen, which was a classic European bar, including the truly terrible mixed drinks. As Uwe pointed out and I later realized, Euros in bars like that really have no idea what they are doing when it comes to cocktails. Stick to beer, so I picked a local Extra Stout, which was a lot better. After catching up with Uwe for a couple of hours, we said our goodbyes, and I set off to my next item on the Dutch food checkist, a doner kebab.

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Some locals had suggested checking out a place in De Pijp called Kebab House and since that was relatively close to my hotel, that seemed like a good option. The doner kebab is the Turkish version of the classic Middle Eastern dish, which is very popular in Amsterdam. Usually served with fries, the doner kebab is a great late night option, or in my case, simple comfort food on a cold, rainy night.

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While I’ve had better versions, this was a very solid doner kebab and the fries were nice and crunchy. I had made tentative plan to meet up for a drink with this very nice Aussie CEO I had met the other night so I finished up and took a final tram back to the hotel, where I witnessed this showdown at the OK Corral.

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As it turned out, my new Aussie mate was similarly exhausted so I just went back to my room to get some rest. Tomorrow would be Phase II of this adventure with my long awaited return to San Sebastian so it was for the best my night came to a relatively early ending.

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