When we were in Amsterdam last month one of the things we were most looking forward to doing was spending time on the canals. Initially we had intended to book with one of the handful of tour operators but when I read there were companies that would rent you your own boat, our plans swiftly changed course. Based on minimal research, I identified three companies that we could book with. I tried calling the first one – our preferred option – but no one answered the phone. The second option was the most expensive for the least amount of allotted time, so I decided against that one. In the end, we booked with Boaty Rental Boats which seemed like a good combination of price and cruise duration. The thing to know about Boaty is that they’re located further out than the others so not entirely convenient to get to and from if you’re short on time. Our boat was also – quite literally – the second slowest boat on the canals. We were laughed at, repeatedly, by people passing us and those on shore watching the boats sail by. We ended up getting back to the dock 45 minutes late because our boat wouldn’t go fast enough to get back in time. We had the throttle cranked as high as it would go and if we were lucky we were going two miles an hour. While at first the cruise was fun, by the time we got back we were kind of over just how slow and plodding it was. I’m sure if we’d had a boat that actually went the proper speed, it would have been terrific. As it was, we did enjoy our time on the canals. I just wish we’d gone faster.
So, did you all see the recent episode of Top Gear where Matt LeBlanc tooled around the Dingle Peninsula in a £250,000 Rolls Royce Dawn? If not, you really should. If you missed it, there’s no need to worry because we were coincidentally there that same weekend covering pretty much the same ground as they did. (During one of the shots from the episode we were behind where the camera man was so while you see our vantage point, you can’t actually see us.)
Our Land Rover might be a couple hundred thousand dollars cheaper than the Rolls, but we love taking it along Ireland’s back roads and world class driving routes and this weekend escapade did not disappoint. The 47 kilometer Slea Head Drive, which starts and ends in Dingle, makes up just a fraction of Ireland’s famed Wild Atlantic Way. The afternoon we spent exploring Slea Head was, as you’ll see below, incredibly beautiful. Stopping at various points along the way, we visited the Fahan Beehive Huts which are estimated to be from the 1300s, a few wonderfully beautiful beaches that we practically had to ourselves, and one sheep that tried to get mouthy with me when we approached the stop for Brandon Creek. This inlet was the legendary starting point of the voyage of St. Brendan to America, centuries before Columbus. We didn’t visit the Blasket Islands this trip since we were too early in the season, but my understanding is if the boats are running it’s definitely worth a trip.
You may have noticed on Instagram that we’ve done a lot of traveling the past few months, but I haven’t done a whole lot of writing about said travels. It’s not that there was nothing to say, but rather, I had some other writing I needed to get done by a certain deadline. You see, my next book is finally here.
Lucky Star: A Hollywood Love Story
What happens when two best friends who are secretly in love with each other hookup after one too many shots of tequila? For Sarah Travers and Cameron Scott, that drunken night nearly broke their friendship apart. When cast as the lead in a major Hollywood blockbuster being directed by Sarah’s boss, Cameron must decide what’s more important – sticking by the woman he’s loved since the moment they first met or the bright lights and temptation that come with superstardom. Lucky Star is a story about friendship, love, and learning that Happily Ever Afters don’t only exist in the movies.
When I met Cameron we hit it off like macaroni and cheese. Now we’re practically inseparable but I’ve been hiding the fact that I’m in love with him. Truly, madly, deeply. He finally figured it out and everything changed between us forever. That’s not my biggest problem though. You see, Cameron just landed the role of a lifetime and, despite how he feels about me, I’m worried I’m about to play second fiddle to the bright lights and temptations of Hollywood.
I think I’ve loved Sarah since the first moment I laid eyes on her. It goes without saying she’s funny, smart, and has curves for days, but it’s more than that. She’s my light in this cynical, messed up world called Hollywood. I’d do anything to be with her, but I keep screwing up what should be easy. Now the studio is pressuring me to date my new co-star to drum up interest in the movie and all I can think is maybe Sarah and I weren’t meant to be.
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Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this Amsterdam trip report up on the blog, but I’ve decided to do things a bit different than a day-by-day breakdown this time and that, my friends, actually requires a little more work than just saying, “we did this, and then we did this, and then this happened, and then we saw that, etc., etc.” Today’s post is going to focus on eating and drinking our way through Amsterdam in three days. After the wonderful food tour we did in Venice, we hoped to replicate that in Amsterdam but unfortunately the large majority of tours were already booked, required a larger group, or looked really sketch. In the end, we took note of a couple of places we wanted to hit up while there and winged the rest. Right away we realized that our days were going to be spent eating a lot of cheese and drinking a lot of beer. Now, if you know anything about us, you know this equates to a pretty good time as far as we are concerned.
From the moment we checked into our hotel and got our bearings, we set out walking. I can’t begin to tell you how much walking we did every day. (Okay, I can … about 12km/day which, considering I brought a new pair of shoes and a pair of Converse I don’t often wear that often was a bit of a challenge.) We didn’t really have any set restaurants on our itinerary, but we knew there were local foods we wanted to try so when we saw them, we stopped in. This included raw herring, gouda (my favorite!), beer (oh, the wonderful, lovely beer), stroopwafel, bitterballen, poffertjes, pancakes, and seafood. By the time we were done, I’d gained four pounds! As much as I love sushi, I wasn’t fully on board with the raw herring, and I was surprised by how good the coffee was in most of the places we stopped in to. One of my favorite meals, surprisingly, was the salad I had of dutch bufalo mozzarella at the Rijksmuseum. It was one of the best caprese salads I’ve had in years (not cheap though). The bitterballen were interesting and I can see how they make an awesome snack for people who’ve been drinking, but I burned my mouth every time I ate them so I wasn’t exactly a pro.
We were excited when we were walking around and saw Gollem, a pub Alan’s former co-worker had told him he’d spent a lot of time in back when he lived in Amsterdam, was near our hotel. And by near our hotel, I mean right around the corner. It had an amazing beer selection and we ended up closing out two of our nights there.
Rather than taking a guided boat tour of the canals, we rented our own boat at a place way out in Timbuktu and decided we’d make a sunset dinner of our cruise with some food and drinks. We had planned to go to a grocery store, but when we asked a waitress at an Irish pub where we stopped in to watch half of the first Ireland vs. South Africa rugby match where a market was, she sent us to a huge outdoor market that ended up being on the way to where we picked up the boat, so that worked out really well. We tried all manner of tasty treats and even managed to pick up some cheese and bread for the longest boat ride of our life (more on that later).
We only did one major meal and what a major meal it was. We couldn’t figure out what to eat or where so I pulled up my trusty Yelp app and looked at the restaurants near our hotel. There was a highly rated seafood place really close by so we made reservations and ate ourselves absolutely silly. When I tell you we ordered the largest tower of seafood two people ever ate, I am not even joking. The couple sitting next to us kept staring at us in awe. It was actually rather uncomfortable.
I was really surprised by how much I liked the food in Amsterdam given that I did a piss poor job of planning. Usually when that happens, you wind up with some stinkers and aside from some incredibly bad service our first night, everything else fell right into place. I’ve put together this handy dandy map that lays out all the places we ate in case that’s something you’re interested in.
If you have any specific questions about the places we hit up or want any recommendations, feel free to drop me a line.