Tuesday, November 23

Sex, Drugs, and Vincent Van Gogh

Before going to Amsterdam for the first time this past weekend, I only knew two things about this city for certain:

1. You can find a prostitute very easily in the Red Light District
2. Although cafes serve coffee, coffee shops most certainly do not.

So when we stepped off the train on Saturday morning, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was surprised to say the least. Surprised in a good way though, not in the oh crap there's a really sketchy hooker all up in my space, I think I just caught an STD from looking at her type of way.

The city is beautiful!

Poor Amsterdam has such a bad rap going for it, especially coming from the United States.

Back home, it is mostly associated with hedonistic pleasures that are too taboo for the good ole New England folk that we are. I'm pretty sure my father, the former police officer, had a minor coronary when I oh-so-nonchalantly mentioned I'd be making a journey to the forbidden city.

But in reality, Amsterdam is so much more than that. It'd be like saying London is only about tea and the Queen or that Bostonians only eat lobster and hang out in Harvard. It's all just stereotypes. If you scratch beneath the surface, you discover there are a whole slew of things going on.

There were so many things we enjoyed about this city. The abundance of bikes, the happiness of the people, the beautiful canals.

But the real crux of today's blog post... is the food.

Ohhhhhhh the food. Who knew Amsterdam had such.fanfreakingtastic.food?

Let me just preface this conversation by saying the Dutch are known for 3 things this time of year: cheese, apple pie, and gl├╝wein, which is a warm, spiced red wine.

Hold the phone. Cheese, dessert and WINE are this country's customary cuisine?! I thought I went to Amsterdam, not Heaven. Scratch that, turns out Amsterdam IS Heaven.

I ate so much while we were there. and I was supposed to run 9 miles, but I only ran 4. Want to know a secret?

I also ate apple pie. for breakfast. 3 days in a row. and you know what?

I don't even care. not even a little bit. If you are looking for me to tell you how badly I feel about it, you won't hear it. I am completely guilt free. I cannot even tell you about the hours I typically spend planning my meals, thinking about my runs, and generally being concerned about my weight. too many.

Lately there has been a shift in that mindset. As I am training for my first marathon and pushing myself to new boundaries, I am falling more in love with my body and its shape.

This trip to Amsterdam really put it all into perspective.

I had found the most amazing apple pie in the world.

(Seriously. Most Amazing in the WORLD. I am not even kidding. I would really appreciate it if you could all take a minute, book a flight to Amsterdam, and head straight to Winkel's Cafe and try it for yourself. In fact, I need to digress a moment and just share with you what makes this pie so special. First there's the warm, flaky crust. followed by apples, cinnamon, and raisins. topped off with fresh, homemade whipped cream. I die. I die a thousand times over. multiply my love for Cadbury Chocolate by about 1,000 and you've got an inkling of an understanding of my devotion to this apple pie)

I was in Amsterdam. on vacation. I was experiencing things many people in my life have never had the chance to. and I was going to do it right. So apple pie for breakfast we had. Not once, not twice, but three times in a row. On the last day, Sean and I sat in the window of the cafe, surrounded by people speaking Dutch, drinking cafe latte and tea and just taking it all in bite by delicious bite. Directly outside the window there was a musician playing the violin and an organic food market.

This was more than just a food to be consumed. This was an experience to be had. One that I may never get again. Why would I deprive myself of that? I can always run 9 miles and there will forever be plenty of bananas and greek yogurt in my house, so what's the point in avoiding something so special just because of the calorie content? Suddenly, it all seemed so silly to me.

Life isn't about calorie consumption and miles logged. Experiences aren't determined by the size of your jeans or the amount of junk in your trunk (besides, I'd like to think a little booty bouncing never hurt anyone). It's about living. and so live I did this weekend.

I came alive by riding a bike for the first time in years.

devouring cheese laced with cinnamon, raisin, and walnuts, washed down with a fresh baguette, bottle of Prosecco and a bubble bath.

drinking mulled wine in the middle of the afternoon

and following it with some Belgium beers

and last, but certainly not least, I experienced a food-gasm of When Harry Met Sally diner scene proportions at a small cafe Saturday night, where I feasted on hand made cannelloni stuffed with spinach and ricotta and baked in a rich cheese sauce.

Did I mention I love this city yet? because I do. a whole lot.

I am hoping I can keep the Amsterdam mentality going with me through the holidays. (well minus the whole legalized prostitution thing. No one likes to receive a nasty case of gonorrhea under their Christmas tree)

We took about a zillion and a half pictures over the weekend as tourists often do, so I created a slideshow of all of them. I didn't add any fancy music though. Perhaps you can hum along to it. I personally enjoy When the Saints Go Marching In. Enjoy!

Spread the word and let's fix this city's global reputation. Amsterdam isn't just the slutty cheerleader who makes out with the entire football team. She's also the one who plays board games with her family and cooks dinner on Sunday evenings.


Genesis said...

wow, thats A LOT of bikes along the river. and they decorate them too!

thank you for making amsterdam a 'safe' place on my list :) and life is definitely about living!

Preppy in Polka Dots said...

Love love love! I seriously may book a flight right now! The city is gorgeous!! But you left out the stereotypes--did you see prostitutes and the red light district?!!?

Kendra said...

I love how much of a contrast this post is to the normal "I earned my tiny little square of chocolate by running 12 miles."

Amsterdam looks amazing.

Anonymous said...

LOVE this post, especially this part:

"I can always run 9 miles and there will forever be plenty of bananas and greek yogurt in my house, so what's the point in avoiding something so special just because of the calorie content?"

So refreshing. It's true though, sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and LIVE A LITTLE! :) Also, thanks for sharing these photos of Amsterdam - definitely not how I pictured it. It's beautiful

Anonymous said...

I loved my time in Amsterdam! I thought the fries and the falafel (as a veg) were heavenly! I also appreciate that you really enjoyed yourself without guilt (after all, if you're feeling guilty, are you really enjoying yourself?). It's a good reminder to live in the now.

AT said...

What an amazing weekend! I think David and I felt the exact same way when we went - the definition of pleasantly surprised! Great to read the life in your voice. ;)

Angela (the diet book junkie) said...

oh wow, Amsterdam must be incredible! Europe is definitely on the bucket list for me, looking forward to reading more of your blog! :)

Elizabeth said...

Your post reminded me so much of Eat Pray Love Eat section (which happens to be the only section I read) only your post had a lot less depression stuff and a lot more fun! And I too am glad to see that you run and then enjoy real food and not just one little piece of chocolate.

Rachel Wilkerson said...

Reading this post made me so happy! I'm seriously feeding off of your happy-to-be-living vibes right now. Awesome recap and I have major, major Europe envy!

I'll trade you my mashed potatoes on Thursday for a trip to an Amsterdam cafe and some of that food!!!

Sean said...

QQ readers,
I've been digging around for the Winkel apple pie / appletaart recipe and I've found one that seems promising.

So, follow this link and give another blogger a read.

But come back to the QQ soon. Enjoy the improved life this apple pie and the QQ brings you.

Katie said...

Okay, so I die over your blog and read it daily but finally figured out that I should maybe start from the beginning and work my way to the present. This has been mucho rewarding and provides for hours of entertainment while at work. Did I say hours? Totally meant a few minutes on my lunch break (psh). I've just worked my way to the Winkel apple pie and proceeded to stalk the link that Sean posted and now I must know-- did the blogger ever tell Sean for how long and at what temp to bake the apple pie?! I might need to make this this weekend. Nothing says Happy Superbowl like homemade apple pie...

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