On the previously mentioned trip to Amsterdam, the bloke and I stayed on a canal barge in the Westerdok.

This was the much bigger cousin of the holiday barges that pootle up and down our Worcestershire canal. The main bulk of the hull served as the home of the bloke who ran the B&B. We were in the wheelhouse, overlooking the canal. The docks seem to serve as pretty much permanent moorings for the barges in this area. Each one had a small garden, and there was even a floating children’s play area.

It was surprisingly quiet given that the location is a mere 15 minute walk from Centraal Station. We could hear a distant roar of traffic, but mostly we heard the hangry cheeping of two adolescent coots and the occasional quack of a duck. We also found a great crested grebe nesting a few boats down. It was definitely brooding, as we never saw the nest unoccupied.

Urban great crested grebe nest
The nest itself was a rather wonderful construction, being a mix of urban rubbish and plant detritus, with a few hollyhocks artfully arranged around the edges. The grebe had two female mallard bodyguards, who immediately came to circle the nest at a careful distance, giving me the side-eye when I hopped down on to the dock from the pavement to take photos.

The barge proprietor tiptoed in every morning to leave us breakfast on the table next to the wheelhouse. It included a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice, muesli, yoghurt, and hardboiled eggs nested in knitted cosies. Much as I wanted to sleep in, the prospect of getting that into my belly when I heard his footsteps got me out of bed pretty early both mornings. We received so much food at breakfast that we were able to make sandwiches from the bread and cheese to squirrel away for later. We ate these in the Vondelpark on the first day, and for supper on the second after the lunch at Rijks.

Apart from the sheer pleasure of walking around Amsterdam, we also indulged in a trip to a Michelin-starred restaurant for a very belated birthday treat for me. We spent three and a half hours eating lunch at Rijks, which is next to the Rijksmuseum. The bloke had mentioned that it was my birthday when he made the booking. As a result, in addition to our pudding, I got a white chocolate candle with sorbet and a little message inside. We sampled both white and red wines, all by Dutch winemakers “from everywhere in the world” (e.g. New Zealand and South Africa).

Photos from Rijks behind the cut.

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Me on the tram on the way to Rijks, wearing the leather biker jacket I bought the previous day after getting caught in an epic downpour with no coat or umbrella.

blob
My date. ♥

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Amuse bouche. Can’t remember what the little buns were made of, but they were tasty.

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Simple crispbread.

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Swede in salt crust. That’s a looooot of grated cheese on top. It was awesome.

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“Tribute to the Dutch bean”: Containing thirty varieties thereof. Rather spicy!

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Duck breast with blanched almonds and cherries. Very, very nice.

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Pudding! From left to right in the box, a piece of ginger cake, a passionfruit bonbon, a chocolate truffle with Bailey’s in it, dried mango and papaya, dried rhubarb. Also, two small chocolates on the box lid. The rhubarb was a revelation. I’d never had it before, and it was tangy and refreshing in between eating all those sweets.

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Date in smug mode. Also features the chocolate candle.

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Chocolate candle with message inside, reading “Happy [redacted] birthday!” Team RIJKS”

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Me, after the meal, looking a bit dishevelled, hahahaaa
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