Monday, 11 June 2012

Amsterdam in general

On this trip we have taken our friend Sidd everywhere with us. He follows us, always has a big smile and is just one of those happy campers whiling to try anything. Though we gave the live sex shows and pot a pass in Amsterdam.
Canal traffic who has right of way I wonder.

The other thing that intrigue me was the Blue Imperial Austrian Crown in the Coat of Arms of Amsterdam. What is that about I wondered after all this is a Calvinist country and no obvious association to Austria a Catholic country. It turns out that Emperor Maximilian I of Austria who is well known in Europe as the promoter of trade and who made of Innsbruck a great trade city had an association with the Netherlands. He supported the people of Amsterdam against the country gentry in a war and in return the people of Amsterdam made generous loans to Maximilian I in his wars against his enemies. In gratitude the Emperor allowed the city of Amsterdam to use the emblem of his crown in their Coat of Arms. So you have the red and black colours of Amsterdam with the 3 crosses of St-Andrew surmounted by the blue Imperial Crown of Austria. Even after the Protestant reformation the symbol of Catholic Austria remained because of what it meant to the people of Amsterdam, a symbol of their independence.
Bicycle dealership.

In terms of food in Amsterdam we had some great food, one French restaurant, one excellent Chinese restaurant and one great cafe for breakfast. De Belhamel French restaurant at 60 Brouwer gracht was tops, service, wines, food, presentation, with superb views of the canals in an old Art Nouveau decor, highly recommended. New King Chinese at 115 Zeedijk was one of the best Chinese food restaurant since my days in Beijing. Their duck crepe and duck egg roll was pure heaven, the duck meant was moist and tender. The Chinese broccoli perfectly prepared with oyster sauce and garlic, just a little crunchy and full of flavour. Predominantly Asian customers, noticed a few Chinese clients drinking cognac on ice with their food, reminded of Hong Kong.
For breakfast Baton Cafe was a delight, long tables where people read their newspapers and Illy coffee from Italy, great breakfast menu beautifully presented, loved also their spice cake fingers they served with each cup of coffee. Beautiful porcelain cups in an enchanting Canal setting with very nice staff. All where within walking distance of our B&B at 6 Brouwer Gracht at the intersection with the Singel canal. Our host Kevin M is a charming fellow and is place made us feel as if we were living at home, simple but good. He even escorted us to the Passenger Marine Terminal only steps away from the Central Train Station and helped us with the luggage, those staircases are challenging, but this is a feature of Amsterdam.
Breakfast European style with a bowl of Cappucino.

We have now left Amsterdam, our ship the Azamara Journey sailed up the long sea canal for 2 hours to the main Sea Lock so we could enter the North Sea. The process of sailing away from Amsterdam to this great Sea lock took us along green farmland with geese, sheep, cows and horses and a few people fishing. Once at the lock the ship is lifted up so we can enter the North Sea. They do not call it the low countries for nothing, the Netherlands is really below the sea level, I can say I saw it.

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