A Taste of Dutch Christmas

unnamedWhen I open the cabin drapes this morning, I’m treated to a view of the heart of Amsterdam.  The Central Station is just a walk away! The surprising shape of the EYE Film Museum glows even in the early light, and the Dutch are already zipping by on their bikes.  This is one of my favorite cities in Europe and I’m excited to see it ‘glammed’ up for Christmas.

Some passengers will be heading out to the countryside to view the canals and windmills while others will tour a cheese factory.  There are individual walking tours of the city that you can take with the whisper-guide as your own private tour guide.

unnamed2I’m interested to see the e-bikes that Scenic provides for passengers, so I went ashore to meet the bike tour lady and the only passenger who elected to do a bike tour of the city.  It is chilly and drizzly so I can see that the appeal might be limited.  The bikes, however, are amazing, and the two brave souls whizz off into the city for their adventure.  I would join them, but my daughter is flying in from London to spend some time with us and we will tour Amsterdam together.

Our last day of the Christmas Markets cruise turns into a pleasant exploration of this lovely city as it prepares for the holiday celebrations.  We indulged in a totally traditional Dutch meal at the warm and cozy Haeje Claese (www.haesjeclaes.nl) on Spuistraat. In the historic center. There’s Stampot on the menu and we can’t resist the comfort of this classic Dutch dish of vegetables, potatoes, gravy, maybe cabbage or kale and smoked sausages. God, it is good on this chilly damp afternoon.unnamed3

We stroll through the Dam and along streets lined with Christmas market stalls and smelling of cinnamon and spiced wine. The Bijenkorf (www.debijenkorf.nl) offers pretty luxuries – Dutch chocolate, syrup waffles and jams that will make great stocking stuffers this Christmas.  We walked through the architectural charm of the Bourse Van Berlag and then visited the old cathedral- the Nieuwe Kirk! (www.nieuwekerk.nl) – and then back to the ship.

unnamed5Before dinner, we take a cruise on one of the canal boats to see the Amsterdam Light Festival (www.amsterdamlightfestival.com).  It is called the Water Colour cruise and takes you along the Amstel to see the hotels, museum and bridges lit for the season.  There are special art light displays designed by individual artists – prettiest is the shifting art work that scrolls across the front of the new Hermitage Museum. I have never seen the city look more beautiful.

Our last dinner on board is casual but cheery.  The hotel manager has arranged permission for my daughter to join us for dinner, and so there are seven of us at the table.  The meal ends with the traditional parade of the baked Alaska.

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