After a 9 hour flight from Seattle, I arrived in Amsterdam Monday morning at 8:30 am local time. No jetlag even though I had little sleep on the plane and the flight attendants were trying to feed us according to Pacific Standard Time, when I was doing all I could to try to get on GMT time. I’m trying to sleep and the flight attendants are making their way down the darkened rows repeating “Turkey sandwich?”. Woman, it’s 4 am, get out of my face. Clearly the 2 days I spent waking up at midnight prior to my flight worked, because I experienced no jetlag whatsoever. Boooyakasha.
Taking the train into Central Station I couldn’t help but draw similarities in climate and morning light (or lack thereof) to taking the train into NYC from Newark, New Jersey. After all, it is the Dutch who founded New Amsterdam. Just take a quick look at a map of Holland and you’ll recognize Breukelyn, Haarlem, and so on.
I’m staying in De Pijp, a neighborhood just south of Centrum, near Museumplein and Leidseplaan. The tram drops me off on Albert Cuypstraat where the daily streetmarket start and my place is just a few meters away. I ring the doorbell and Henry opens the door, introduces himself, and the first thing I notice is a very steep and angled staircase. He trots up the 3 flights of increasingly narrowing stairs and I have to ask him “What if you have big feet?”. I wear a women’s 5.5 shoe and half of my boot does not fit onto the width of each step. I soon learn that Henry was born in Amsterdam and has lived in this apartment his entire life. We chat a bit and then go to the streetmarket together, where I ask “So you’ve never taken a spill down these steps? Not even as a child? You must have had a very watchful mother.”
He buys me a smoked herring and when we walk past a flower vendor, he pauses, asks if I like flowers, and then says “I think I’ll get flowers for your room.” What a gentleman. We part ways and I make my way to Centrum and around town.
At dusk I walked to the IJsselmeer, the lake in the northern part of Amsterdam, and sat to admire the water–how it moved like gentle waves in the ocean. I later learned that the IJsselmeer was sea until 1932; the Dutch built a dike turning it into a lake, and not unlike Chicago, the lake is vast and the wind coming off the water is no joke. Thus, whiskey and bitterballen were in order and I was impressed with both. I don’t think I’ve ever had something that was fried to such perfection. The outside was crunchy, not at all greasy, and had great texture. Biting into it and breaking the crunchy, protective outer layer led to a piping hot, mashed-potato-like-texture that was neither overly creamy nor overly bland one way or other. The combination of the crunchy fried layer in conjunction with the hot mashed potato filling was unreal. I know. You may think it’s just bitterballen, but it was nothing short of amazeballs.