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A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

How lucky we are in London to be so close to some of the world’s coolest cities, and be able to set up time away, like a weekend in Amsterdam, just across the water.

We’ve discovered some of the very best experiences in Amsterdam that you can take advantage of on a weekend city break – have a read for our itinerary.

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

Amsterdam is a city with a reputation.

While we did discover the best place to get high (above the city, you cheeky things), on our recent winter weekend in Amsterdam for couples city-break, we fell a little more in love … with the city, too.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Over the Edge

 

Winter in Amsterdam can be a little harsh, as we experienced in the pitch black at 6pm on Saturday night.

We pushed slowly against the wind, hail slapping us hard in the face as we pressed one slow step at a time forward along the side of a bicycle highway towards our hotel.

There was a very real concern that someone wouldn’t see us among the construction and the weather and knock us down.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Bols cocktail experience

 

At the end of the shortcut we’d naively taken along the waterfront towards Aitana Amsterdam, I felt quite exhilarated about surviving. I couldn’t help but relate to the scene in Clueless where Cher, Dion and Murray are able to pull over safely after a brush with death-by-Californian-highway.

To be honest though, the weather was about the same as London in terms of chill factor, and if you’re rugged-up, winter in Amsterdam for a traveller is just fine!

The other bonus about this time of year is that you can secure lovely accommodation for a fraction of the price it is in summer, and the city isn’t as busy either (although I wouldn’t say it was quiet).

A weekend in Amsterdam - museums and stately homes

 

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples: best travel experiences (especially in the winter)

I’ll address the elephant in the room now – yes, you can buy weed here, it’s well-known for that.

But, Amsterdam is so much more than some of it’s seedier (sorry…) areas, although no judgement there!

 

Amsterdam is full of all sorts of fun – and it’s just so beautiful, interesting, chic, delicious, as you’ll see in our vlog below…

 

We featured a few tips in a previous blog on Amsterdam here.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Reypenaer cheese tasting in the city

 

Once you’re done with the tourist area, may we suggest wandering the neighbourhoods around the city’s popular shopping precinct near De Negen Straatjes (‘The Nine Little Streets’).

Tourist information centres can point you in the right direction.

There’s a neat blog on Amsterdam shopping areas here that might be helpful, but always ask a local for advice.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Bols sensory experience

 

Getting high (on life)

In the first instance, we can’t recommend highly enough the I Amsterdam City Card – we have used it twice on visits to the city and it’s excellent value for money, including transport and entry to most attractions, a free canal ride and discounts in many stores.

Discover more and buy yours here 

A weekend in Amsterdam - get around using the I Amsterdam city card

 

There’s SO much to do in Amsterdam that while a winter weekend (or spring, autumn, summer) is amazing, there’s never enough time, even though this is a little city.

Every time we go we discover more that we love, and more we want to do.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Over the Edge highest swing in Europe

 

Our top travel experiences: a weekend in Amsterdam

Yes, it’s quite cold in the wintertime, but we didn’t find it any worse than London.

Same clothing rules apply: layer, wear a waterproof and warm jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, warm socks and comfortable shoes for walking.

Our winter weekend in Amsterdam itinerary included indoor options though, because you do need a little respite from the cold. That said, all of this is awesome to do at any time of year.

 

We’ve featured it all in our special vlog, but in summary our top travel experiences for a weekend in Amsterdam for couples include:

  1. The delicious and fabulous one-hour cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer Cheese
  2. Learn about Amsterdam’s interesting history through its national drink, Genever, and a cool sensory experience at the House of Bols (with free cocktail!)
  3. Step back in time to discover how the wealthy set lived (this was an incredibly rich city and important trading port just a few centuries ago) by exploring one of the mansions open to the public with the past on display. We enjoyed Museum Van Loon

  4. A canal cruise, included with your I Amsterdam City Card, or hop on board one of the many options available when you arrive in town – day, evening, dining – whatever takes your pleasure. But do definitely see Amsterdam from the water!
  5. Then see the city from the opposite perspective at A’DAM Lookout, which features restaurants, bars, a panoramic sky deck and Europe’s highest swing (and a disco elevator to the heavens, that’s fun!).

 

A weekend in Amsterdam - Reypenaer cheese tasting in Amsterdam is a must

 

Do you have questions or tips of your own? Do let us know in the comments.

Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities so we’d love to have a conversation with you about it… you can find us on social media too.

 

Fondue London – is Abondance the best?

Fondue London – is Abondance the best?

UPDATE: since we did this fondue London review, Androuet has turned into Abondance, but is still run by the same awesome team. Read on…

Two cheesy posts in a row, as we discover Fondue London at its best, Androuet, now Abondance (2019).

(Cooper did owe me after taking himself off for halloumi fries while I was at work!)

He redeemed himself by connecting with the energetic and passionate owners of Androuet in London, French brothers Alex & Léo Guarneri (also the authors of A Year in Cheese).  

~

 

Fondue London: cheesy learnings

We have a confession to make – and it’s a little embarrassing. As cheese fans, we’ve never, ever had fondue.

Disgraceful, I know. Coming from a hot climate though (Australia), it’s not something we would have thought first to have. We missed out in Switzerland too, but I’m quite glad we started right here!

When Cooper was chatting to Alex this came up, and he very kindly offered to share the ultimate cheese experience with us, which is how we discovered London’s best fondue at Androuet (now Abondance).

London fondue - try Abondance near Liverpool Street

 

On Friday afternoon, we hopped on a train into Liverpool street, and wandered across to Spitalfields.

Alex’s brother, Léo, had put a little time into his packed schedule (along with running the restaurant and being a chef, this cheese connoisseur also hosts external events, and researches all wine and produce being sold in their business) to show us the ropes.

Fondue London at Abondance

 

Passion and produce

Alex and I love what we do and we want people to have a great experience. Good chefs and good people make good ingredients.

What became immediately obvious was how passionate this man is about what he does.

When he said he loves his job, we could tell he means it.

We discovered that we have some things in common – we’re expats who love our wines and cheese, and we believe in doing a job you love, because then it doesn’t matter about the hours you put in. Quite the opposite – we’re all really lucky.

Fondue London - cheese love

 

Léo shared with us that they have a good relationship with their suppliers, and they choose to promote produce that comes from people who respect the land. The wine he paired with our first extraordinary cheese, Heublumen (Swiss cheese) was Pipeño blanco from Chile.

While we explored the taste, as instructed (bit of cheese, sip of wine for a rich, delicious flavour experience), Léo explained that the wine is produced as part of the biodynamic movement. That is, biodynamic wines are made using the principles of biodynamic viticulture which takes organic farming to a more spiritual level, with authentic respect for the land and natural cycles of the earth. It also means no pesticides, and in fact the lovely white wine we tried was a little cloudy in colour due to its natural production.

Fondue London - try Abondance

 

On that note, two things we learnt during this dining experience as the main delights including Androuet’s classic fondue were served: always white wine with cheese dishes, and when enjoying fondue, be sure to keep stirring the pot vigorously as the colour should always be white, not go back to yellow.

We had been tentatively dipping straight into the dish so as to save the cheese, but no, get stuck in. It’s only manners.

The traditional fondue blend we tried at Androuet is made from Comté 12 months and Emmental ‘Grand Cru’ with dry white wines. Comté is from Jura (east of France, at the border of Switzerland) and Emmental is from Savoie in the Alps mountains, south of Jura. The ‘Grand Cru’ is known as the best type of Emmental, Léo has shared with us.

Alex and Léo research their wines and cheese (tough gig, but someone has to do it); to be fair, they obviously do an excellent job. They’ve also grown this business from a market stall at Spitalfields around eight years ago to a gorgeous restaurant dining experience, and cheese and wine store.

Fondue London - these guys know their cheese!

 

We’d encourage you to keep an eye on their social media (Instagram and Facebook) for special events like wine and cheese pairings, weekly restaurant deals and experiences around London like cheese discos.

We’ll definitely be back to Androuet for the food, service and genuine enthusiasm for life (in between serving guests, explaining fondue to us and running the business, Léo was also chatting to his mum on site last night). See you all there!

 

Abondance Spitalfields Arts Market, 10 Lamb street, London E1 6EA

 

Halloumi fries London – we’re obsessed

Halloumi fries London – we’re obsessed

 

The other day I found myself, once again, scrolling aimlessly through social media in a sort of comatose trance when I was suddenly startled by three words: halloumi fries London: deep-fried cheese. mmmm cheese.

Quick somebody pinch me, and why am I only hearing about this now?

An hour later I was on a Tube hurtling towards Camden Markets, specifically Oli Barba‘s.

They are the facilitators of these guilty pleasures: scrumptious deep-fried fingers of halloumi cheese. These crunchy sticks of golden cheesy goodness are warm and gooey on the inside and deliciously crispy on the outside. The fries are drizzled with zaa’tar yoghurt, a tasty sweet glaze, then affectionately sprinkled with mint leaves, pomegranate seeds and chilli flakes.

Curious to see what all the excitement is about halloumi fries?

Take a look at our video below.

Chocolate, cheese, cliffs + cows: Switzerland

Chocolate, cheese, cliffs + cows: Switzerland

Switzerland: Land of Swiss army knives, superior watch brands, chocolates, cheese, cows and banks. I didn’t exactly expect the change in pace or scenery as we entered Switzerland from France but the difference has been pleasant and awe-inspiring. Today I sit in the grounds of the fabulous Mountain Hostel in Grindelwald, surrounded by (as above) divine, dramatic country – sweeping cliffs, streams of swiftly moving glacier water, green hills and cute wooden brown chalets all decorated with colourful flowers, cable-cars and trains making their way up and down the ranges to lookouts and snowy playgrounds, and of course the big one above us, Jungfraujoch Mountain. To wake up to such surroundings this morning was lovely, like straight out of a storybook. I’d love to share more images, but my usual trusty computer is currently out of action so I’ll do my best this afternoon and add some further media later…

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Cooper and I stayed ‘down the mountain’ today (more for the sake of saving our last few travel dollars in this expensive neck of the woods than anything), but we certainly weren’t unhappy about the prospect of exploring the area because everywhere the eye can see is picturesque.

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Many of our fellow travellers started early this morning though, in order to make their wayup to Jungfraujoch for some sight, snow and skiing action (we’re looking forward to seeing their images over dinner tonight)! We walked into the town of Grindelwald (15-minutes walk, although quite a steep climb uphill, so be warned (note to Cooper, probably not a good idea to wear flipflops again on this journey)), and hiked through some surrounding forest areas.

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We’ve already liaised with a few other travellers and can report that everyone has captured amazing photos throughout the day. The scenery here is magical. I can only imagine what it must be like in peak snow season (later in the year). There are numerous activity options all year round on offer in the Swiss Alps regions including snowboarding, skiing, canyon jumping, paragliding, tobogganing, hiking… even eating Fondue (primarily melted cheese) or Rösti (based on potato) – double-yummy famed local dishes.

Switzerland is super expensive though – as we discovered on our brief stop in famous Geneva yesterday, where for a ‘mere’ AU$30 we scoffed a McDonalds burger, fries and salad – eeek!  The city (which I know from history class as being central in a little deal named The Geneva Convention) is quite pretty as far as cities go, and particularly well known for a striking water feature called The Jet d’Eau, or ‘water-jet’ fountain (below) which apparently projects about half a cubic meter of water per second up to 140 meters high into the air!

Jet_deau_aug_06

 

More amazing water features lay in wait for us on the drive through to our final destination of Grindelwald yesterday, namely, the spectacularly gorgeous Lake Thun (pictured below) which lies to the west of Interlaken (the region we are exploring today): crystal blue surrounded by soaring mountains – straight off a postcard. Evidently tomorrow on our drive out of the region we will pass by the other famous body of water which surrounds Interlaken, Lake Brienz.

Lake_thun

 

Switzerland is nothing short of beautiful, and I’d relish a little more time to explore the Alps in all their glory. If you’re keen to visit (and we’d recommend you did!), save money – it is as expensive as everyone says here, although much of what you’ll experience is worth the money. Serene, peaceful and quaint. Even the locals are friendly, not to mention efficient. You have to like somewhere that loves their dogs, and cows… this place even hosts annual cow beauty contests and the farmers are known to bring their animals inside in winter when it’s very cold. Bless! Moooo :-)

Pretty_swiss_cow_with_bell

 

Travel tip: Check into the CoOp store in the centre of

Grindelwald for inexpensive salads, drinks, alcohol and food.

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