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.
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.
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 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…
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.
Learn about Amsterdam’s interesting history through its national drink, Genever, and a cool sensory experience at the House of Bols (with free cocktail!)
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
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!
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!).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
AbondanceSpitalfields Arts Market, 10 Lamb street, London E1 6EA
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.
Welcome to Travel Live Learn! We are Sarah + Cooper, Aussie expats living in the UK with our Westie dog, London, along for the ride. Our most popular content here is about pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be.