Showing posts with label Amsterdam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amsterdam. Show all posts

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Taste of the World

A certain number of people have only one question when we announce an upcoming far-distant destination:

 “But, what will you eat there?”

Following any trip, the question is usually, “But, was the food . . .good?”

Today, with 2013 only days from being history, I am serving up a helping of some of the mouth-watering foods that have given us a taste of the world in which we’ve traveled during its run.

Some of our happiest travel memories are those that involve food, like that time in:

Honolulu, Hawaii. . .

. . .where their traditional and inexpensive ‘plate lunch’ (total cost for the meal below about $20 US). This meal, served in a Styrofoam box is one of our favorite local eats.  Using our laps for a table we dined on Katsu chicken sitting on a bed of steamed rice and veggies (that's a bit of pork to the left), as we sat on our Waikiki Beach facing hotel room balcony last January.

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The View with our Hawaiian plate lunch:

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Chora Sfakia, southern coast of Crete, Greece:

Sfakian pie”  is one of the specialty menu items at Delfini’s Restaurant.  It is made at the time of ordering so that anticipation builds during that 20 minute wait for the fragrant pie stuffed with lamb and four Cretan cheeses to arrive at the table.  We ordered it with a side of “Horta” – those wild greens that grow on the rough and tumble hillsides surrounding the town and look much like spinach – but taste better! 

This may well be one of our favorite meals on earth! Confession: my mouth waters each time I look at these photos. (Cost: our three-course meal, including the pie,was about $22US total including wine.)

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The View of Chora Sfakia’s waterfront that we had while we ate Sfakian Pie:

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Stamppot, a Dutch favorite (and one of ours as well)  is made of mashed potatoes, mixed with vegetable (carrots in the photo below) and served with rookworst, a smoked sausage and a 'pond' of gravy tops the potato mound. We could have eaten ourselves silly at every meal during our three-night stay en route from Greece to Seattle. (It’s a good thing we walked ourselves silly each day to counter those calories!)

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The setting:  While we didn’t have a 'view table' at this little pub across from our hotel, what made this meal memorable was that table full of people in this photo because it turned out they were a touring musical group and they broke into song and entertained us all!

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Russell township, Bay of Islands, New Zealand

The steaming hot Seafood Chowder with local fresh fish, bacon and shellfish came flowing over the sides of its compact cob loaf at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel – a place that began in 1827 as a grog shop – on the waterfront in picture-perfect Russell.

While we both exclaimed there was ‘too much to eat’ we barely managed to leave a polite tidbit of bread in our bowls. And, we used the occasion to taste two different Sauvignon Blanc wines, the white for which New Zealand is famous. (Cost: $56AUS, about $45US)


The setting: was the amazing patio in front of this historic hotel that overlooked the harbor and fronted the small main street that catered to pedestrians and an occasional car or two. (Russell will soon be featured in a post on TravelnWrite.)


A Sample of Southwestern United States: Las Vegas and Scottsdale
Gluttony – pure and simple!  I am almost ashamed to show you some of the food we ate while traveling in Nevada and Arizona this year. Let’s just say, I understand why my cholesterol count was off the chart a few weeks ago and why my doctor suggested 'continued attention to exercise and low fat foods'. . . (ahem, I hope she misses this post!)

Okay, so it was my July birthday. . .remember, 60, the Big One? I believed that a little self-indulgence was in order at Mon Ami Gaby Restaurant on Las Vegas Blvd. ~ and who can say 'no' to a birthday treat from the restaurant, right?

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The View: was equally as delightful. . .we sat on the patio under ‘the Eiffel Tower’.

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I’ll conclude this food fest retrospective with our November visit to Scottsdale, where we ate twice at the Four Season’s Proof American Canteen. We finally gave in on our last visit and each ordered – and ate – their  Best Burger - Vermont Cheddar, Smoked Ketchup Mayo, Bourbon Molasses Onions, Deep Fried Bacon.  Okay, it tasted as good and was as unhealthy as it looks BUT we didn’t order the optional fried egg on top and ate Cole slaw instead of French Fries. . .that must count for something. . .

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The Setting at the foot of Pinnacle Peak (pictured below) couldn’t be beat!

We found plenty of good eats in 2013scottsdalenov2013 014 and the meals flavored our travels with great memories.

Today we raise our glasses to each of you in a toast of “Thanks!” as our travels in 2013 come to an end:

Thanks for the time you’ve spent sharing our close-to-home and far-distant adventures.  Hopefully our tips were useful and tales entertaining. The Scout and The Scribe recognize that time is a valuable commodity these days and we can't thank you enough for sharing a bit of yours with us.

We look forward to having you join us again in 2014 because there’s a lot of world out there to savor and we hope to have a big helping of it. . .maybe even seconds and some desert as well!

Our thanks and best wishes for a Happy New Year and Happy Travels  ~  Jackie and Joel

We are linking up at:
Noel Morata’s Monday Travel Photo Discovery
Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When the Sun Shines on Amsterdam. . .

Flight connections between Europe and Seattle prompted a couple of brief overnight stays in Amsterdam in recent years. Based on those brief introductory stops we deemed it a rainy, but an interesting -- if somewhat pricey – place, well worth a longer visit.

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So, we scheduled ourselves a long weekend in this city laced with some 165 canals and linked by 1,281 bridges, on our return from Greece last spring.

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What we found was that when the sun shines (as it did periodically during our stay) Amsterdam sheds its dark gray rain coat, and  comes to life with a a colorful vibrancy! Let us take you on a tour:


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Amsterdam2013 025Rain or shine, we could spend hours watching the canal boats ply the waters that make up this city’s transportation system.

The boat, pictured above, painted in the color of its famous Heineken beer cans and bottles, caused many heads to turn as it glided past.


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Although the canals get all the tourist photos, I must say that the city’s electric-powered blue and white trams should be getting equal billing.  They are sleek, modern and so quiet that you must stay on guard for them as they can slide up behind you without much notice. . .well, other than a ding of their bells.

While we did our explorations on foot, we were tempted to hop aboard and take a ‘tram tour’ of the town.  There are 16 lines in and around the city center and they always travel on the right hand track.  Most pass near Dam Square (in the heart of the old town) before terminating at the Central Train Station. 

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Amsterdam2013 061There are more than 8,000 buildings that date from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. . .enough to keep sightseers and shutterbugs entertained for hours.  Their shapes and sizes are simply remarkable.


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If the architectural design isn’t enough  on the buildings, then the signage should catch  your eye.  I’ll be showing you more of the art we discovered as we wound our way past the more than 6,000 shops that operate in the city in a future post.


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Amsterdam2013 027Okay, you knew I couldn’t do it.  How could anyone be in Amsterdam in the spring time and not take a photo of tulips?
We’d lucked out because the tulips were late bloomers this year so we actually caught them still in bloom . Of course with more than 600,000 bulbs in parks and public gardens here, it would have been difficult to miss them.

That is it for Travel Photo Thursday.  Head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for some more armchair travels today. Or to The Tablescraper on Friday for "Oh, the Places I have been"But before you do, I must thank Francesca at Postcard Pictures for tapping us to participate in this year’s Capture the Colour Contest sponsored by Travel Supermarket.  This post is our entry.

And now it is my turn to tap five other bloggers, inviting them to participate as well. So here I go:

Poppy at PoppyView, who’s created a wonderful blog set in Crete.

Krista at Rambling Tart who illuminates Australia (and other wonderful places) in her blog.

Helen at Helen Tilston Painter who’s introduced us to the wonders of  art and travel.

Inka at GlamourGrannyTravels who has brought Turkey and Spain to life in recent years.

Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox who writes from South Korea – the hostess of  
Travel Photo Thursday

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Wedding Night ~ and other Travel Tales. . .

IMG_20130620_162149_853We’d ditched the wedding duds hours earlier --  opting, as they say,  ‘for something ‘more comfortable’. 

The lights were dimmed and we were snuggled up together on that,
. . .our first night as husband and wife. . .

wedding 001. . .well, as snuggled as one can be sitting side-by-side in the ‘no smoking’ section of a Delta Airlines flight that was whisking us across the continental United States to our Caribbean honeymoon hideaway. 

(Can you believe they had smoking/no smoking sections?!)

As a newspaper reporter, I didn’t have a lot of vacation days; so no time to waste when it came to travel.
This Friday is the 33rd anniversary of that first trip.  Although we no longer have those jobs with limited vacation time, we still believe there is no time to waste when it comes to travel! But sometimes it is good to pause in the planning and enjoy a trip down Memory Lane as well. . .

1980’s: Those wild and crazy early years. . .

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Even with only two weeks annually, we managed to cram a lot of travel into those newlywed years.  Hong Kong,Thailand, followed by Singapore and Malaysia and then Japan. We couldn’t get enough of Asian cultures, the food, and history. The now-fading photos (above) were taken in Thailand (circa early 1980’s)– notice those look-alike white pants. And, btw, that elephant had just ‘goosed’ Joel!

The Call of Aloha . . .

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VegasHawaii2012 067When we couldn’t make it to Asia, we’d head to Hawaii; a relatively ‘close’ getaway requiring only a 5+ hour flight from Seattle.

We were captured then by its ‘aloha’ magic  and our recent entry into the timeshare world has made O’ahu  our tropical ‘home away from home’ – for a few weeks each winter.

The 1990’s South of the Border ~ Down Mexico Way
DSCF2815A serendipitous set of events that prevented us from returning to Thailand, took us to Puerto Vallarta in 1993; a trip that was to turn our 8 – 5 work world upside down and change the course of our lives. 

(In this photo we were posing next to our first banana crop.)

Six months after that visit we had purchased Casa de la Playa, pictured below.  A decade later, we had quit those 8 – 5 desk-bound jobs and set out on the course of adventure we continue today.

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33 Years ~ What a trip!

We now spend nearly five months, sometimes more, living out of our suitcases. So many places we’ve seen; such wonderful people we’ve met. Land and sea; land or sea – doesn’t matter to us. Traveling independently, we’ve  follow our hearts; returning to favorite places and discovering new destinations.  Going ‘where the winds blow us’ has resulted in some amazing places, for instance:

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From top left, clockwise:  Off-the-tourist track towns of Mexico; Bologna, Italy; Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Scottsdale, Arizona.

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From top left: Venice, Italy; Loutro, Crete; Kotor, Montenegro,  Lake Chelan, Washington State.

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Clockwise from top left: Walla Walla, Washington; Athens, Greece; Paris, France; Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take;
but by the number of moments that take your breath away.

Thanks for joining us today while we paused to admire the views on Memory Lane. We hope when you take a backward glance at your travels,  you’ll have as many of those breath-taking memories as we do. 
But enough looking back! Time to get started on the next trip. . .

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday, be sure to stop by Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travels. And for those wanting to know about my rendezvous with Nancie McKinnon, check back this weekend!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Umbrellas unfurled ~ An Amsterdam Weekend!

The good news is that I still fit the long pants I wore to Europe a month ago and can even wear my silk long johns (I thought for weeks I had needlessly packed) under them.*

The bad news is that I am wearing long johns after a month of romping through Greece in shorts and tee-shirts. 

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But we’ve left that 80-degree Mediterranean sunshine behind us, packed away the shorts, and have dug to the bottom of the suitcases for warm clothes, unfurled those Seattle umbrellas and set out to make the most of our weekend in Amsterdam.

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Today’s temperature is about 55-degrees, a cold wind blowing and rain often. Somewhat unseasonably cool, we were told by one local this morning. Certainly cold to those of us who last weekend were taking afternoon siestas to avoid the heat of the day – today’s siesta is to warm up and dry out before setting out again.

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The good news about their colder weather is that it delayed the tulip season so we’ve managed to see some of the famed-blossoms along our morning’s route which took us to the flower market and then into the street markets of the Jordaan district.

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We booked our stay here using Hotwire (the web booking line that tells you the class of the hotel and its location but not the name until after you book). We are in the NH City Center Hotel  - a spacious ground floor room, ceilings that are nearly 20-feet high, a view of one of the city’s many canals and two bathrooms, as in two toilets; one in a room with a tub and sink and one n a smaller room with a sink.

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I have to tell you it was difficult leaving Athens yesterday and had we not booked a non-changeable reservation here, we’d have been tempted to stay there longer. Wednesday it had been difficult to leave Crete. Greece has won our hearts – again! Although, I must admit, Amsterdam is charming in its own wet, gray way (flowers, cats, good food and wine). And it helps prepare us for our return home on Monday.

*The asterisk in the opening sentence means the Diet To Go, got up and went while in Greece. Far too many potatoes and fresh bread temptations to pass up while there. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Night in Amsterdam

We can thank the hike in airline landing fees and taxes at London’s Heathrow Airport for prompting us to seek European flight connections outside England.

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Whoever jacked up those fees and taxes forced us into discovering the ease and affordability of flying into and out of Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands; a city bisected by waterways, overrun with bicyclists and surrounded by tulip fields.

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We’ve overnighted there -- thanks to flight connections -- twice during recent travels and have been so taken with the rain-soaked,‘weed’-scented town that we’ve scheduled ourselves there for three nights on our return from Greece later this spring.

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Amsterdam’s Old Center is like a fairy-tale setting with its crammed cookie-cutter shaped buildings and narrow walkways that line miles (kilometers) of its canals. Back in the 17th Century three concentric semi-circular canals were built around the Old City and after that so many branch canals were created that there are 90 islands and 1,280 bridges just within the city.

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We didn't get to walk across many of those bridges as we had a less-than-24-hour taste of the town in October – just enough time to spend an evening on Rembrandt Square – a short two blocks from our hotel.

(Walking in Amsterdam is not for the light-hearted . . .cyclists, of which there are hundreds, don’t yield to pedestrians. Sidewalks and curbs are not uniform.  And the architecture is so charming that you must balance your sightseeing with watching out for those cyclists and trams and cars when crossing those picturesque streets of theirs.)

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We arrived in the rain-soaked Square – our Seattle umbrellas getting a workout that rivaled back home -as we searched the square for shelter from the rain. There were so many ethnic restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes that it was difficult to decide where we wanted to eat and drink.

VeniceSanJuanIsl 208A pub to the side of the Square finally was our chosen spot of rain-respite.  We had hearty servings of local-style pub grub and were entertained by watching the passing parade of people.

. . . reflections and snippets of daily life. . . a teaser to see more. . .

Next time, we told ourselves, we must stay a bit longer.

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Another plus for the city: its cats! We met a number of ‘working cats’ – but even mousers could use a break at the end of the work day, right? This one seemed to enjoy our company but didn’t like posing and moved around a bit. . .thus the somewhat blurred photo. . .

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. . .some others preferred to belly up to the bar and not be bothered chatting with tourists or posing at all!

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Too soon, it seemed, our few hours of exploration were gone. It was time to brave the bikes and rain and head to our hotel. But it wasn’t too soon to start planning a return visit!

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If You Go:

Schiphol Airport, is 15 km (9.3 miles) from Amsterdam -  a city with more than a million residents. There are shuttles, private taxis and train service into the city from the airport. We prefer staying in the Old Center of town near Dam Square, so we take the train from the airport station into town – the train station there is in the Old Center -  then catch a cab to our hotel if its raining or too far to reach on foot.

As with any big city, the hotel selection is large and their prices vary. We booked this charming old Travel Classic* using Hotwire.  If you missed Tuesday’s introduction to our Travel Classics* feature, check it out by clicking this link.

That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday so head over to to Budget Travelers Sandbox and hope to see you back here real soon! (Those who might have noticed the opening photo of tulip fields and my reference to an October visit when there is nothing in bloom - this is a photo of a mural on display at the airport - maybe it will look like this during our spring stopover.)


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