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Potpourri Saturday

September 20, 2015

Very near our apartment — maybe ten minutes — is Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest public gardens in the world, established in 1638. It made for a lovely stroll, more so because of the little market that was in swing. Vendors displayed seeds, heirloom fruits, exotic plants, and products like homemade jams, oils and chutneys. The large greenhouses include a tropical rain forest and a desert climate.

Market at Hortus    Baby Pears

Market Goodies at HortusOne of the most remarkable specimens was this giant rhubarb…  Giant Rhubarb 2

Back on the tram, we headed for Rembrandtplein, a vibrant square featuring a statue of the artist surrounded by figures from his famous “Night Watch.” And pigeons, so many pigeons, hungry for the fries we had to try (because they’re famously good, dipped in mayonnaise).

Rembrandtplein               Rembrandtplein 2

Not far from Rembrandt Square is the Museum of Bags and Purses. What the heck, we thought, it’s free with our museumkaart; let’s give it a flutter! After way too many wrong turns we found it, but not before I grabbed this shot I call Joanna Among the Bicycles:

Joanna Among the Bicycles

The Tassenmuseum was a real find, with an extensive collection of purses and bags from the 1600s onward, and fascinating descriptions of their invention and usage. Just a few examples…

Silk Embroidered Bag Postcard Handbag Beaded Bag

Brocade Bag    Peacock Bags

I had a plan that we would visit the Alfred de Cuyp, Amsterdam’s largest open-air market, but time got away from us before we could get there. Instead we trammed it to the Vondelpark, where everyone seemed to be walking their dogs, jogging, bicycling, or chasing their kids around. There’s a winding pond in the middle, with paths snaking all around. A great spot for a sunny Saturday — too bad we couldn’t linger.

In VondelparkBridge at Vondelpark

This house sits on the edge of the park — prime real estate, for sure!

House on Vondelpark

The first night we were here I unsuccessfully tried to make a dinner reservation at a Mediterranean restaurant highly rated on Trip Advisor, called Olijfje. I got lucky this morning and was able to get us a table for tonight. It was only a fifteen minute walk from our apartment. The reviewers were right: this is a terrific place. Their extensive menu includes Spanish tapas, at least fifteen cold appetizers and an equal number of warm ones, shish kebob, grilled meats, fish and chicken — hard to choose. We shared tzatziki and stuffed grape leaves as apps, then shared a mixed grill consisting of lamb cutlet, chicken shish, kafte and lamb shish with rice, salad and vegetables. Tasty!

Olijfje

We met the owner, from Turkey, who helped me remember the powerful Greek liqueur called Raki; and we enjoyed a small glass with dessert — some of the best baklava I’ve ever tasted. Not as sweet and sticky as most versions. (We’ve noticed that Dutch treats seem to be less sweet than those we’re used to.)

Back home, we were proud to note that we had logged over 17,500 steps again, so didn’t feel one pang of guilt about the baklava!

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