We arrived in Amsterdam on Saturday 11th May 1991.
We had missed the Tulip Festival by a week, so that may have actually been a good thing as we needed to find somewhere to stay for three nights.
We went into the VVV, Holland’s equivalent to Tourist Information, and stood behind a loud and obnoxious guy giving the girl trying to accommodate him a hard time.
‘I told you I want an en suite bathroom with a bath. I also want a telephone and colour TV in the room, in a proper hotel with full board.’
Eventually satisfied with a room in a four star hotel at a cost of £85 a night (gulp), it was our turn.
All we wanted was B&B within walking distance of the City Centre for three nights.
We were immediately offered a room in a family hotel less than a mile away at £25. Perfect.
Our room was on the top (fourth) floor, up 56 stairs but they had no lift (we were fit then, and even fitter when we left). There was one other room on our floor, and both shared a separate shower, a bathroom and a loo. Everything was clean and smelt fresh.
Our room was basic with twin beds and spotless. If we put a sweet wrapper in the bin and went out, when we came back, we had a new bin liner.
Breakfast each day was a (cold) boiled egg, fresh fruit, a variety of breads and processed meats and cheese, sweet pastries, plus fruit juice, tea and coffee.
Finding places to eat for our other meals or exchanging money was easy, and our hosts suggested we purchase a 3 day unlimited travel tram ticket to see the local area.
We made an itsy bitsy mistake by not understanding the zones and went beyond where our ticket entitled us, so we got off and boarded another tram hoping nobody challenged us until we were back in the right place (luckily they didn’t).
Obviously we went to see the Red Light district (I often joke that I tried to sell Hubby there but the girls wanted change!) and on the Sunday as it was my birthday, we had a special meal in a little bistro we found, then took a Canal Bus ride.
Walking to and from our hotel, we passed a street vendor with a confectionery cart. He had the most scrumptious chocolate marshmallow pyramids, a bit like a walnut whip but without the walnuts, and because we bought one each time we passed him, he put them out ready for us.
We were also introduced to mayonnaise and chips.
I’m telling you, Dutch mayo is nectar compared to the vinegary offerings here in the UK. It’s a totally different colour and consistency for a start, has a flavour all of its own, and with chips, well, it’s the most heavenly delish of deliciousness (and sod the calories).
I’m afraid I embarrassed myself and Hubby in a bar over a glass of beer though.
He warned me it wasn’t what I was used to and to drink it slowly, but I was hot and thirsty, and that first glass just slid down my throat practically without touching the sides, so I had another.
That was equally satisfying so I had a third.
And promptly fell off my stool.
Bear in mind these were small glasses, around a third of a pint, so less than a standard ‘half’ in a british pub.
The bartender was very professional and asked me if he could get me anything else, to which I replied,
‘Some peanuts would be nice,’
and he refilled the dish.
Hubby picked me up, and I tried to be ladylike as I staggered out on his arm, giggling my head off.
After breakfast on our final morning, we walked down to Central Station to catch our train only to find they were on strike.
As was the whole transport system in Holland.
How the hell were we going to get home?