In search of the perfect pancake

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opening the curtains this morning, it was a relief to see the sun out for our last day in the Netherlands. Alex and Peter head back to the States tomorrow while I’m moving onward to Belgium. After running at such a clip the last week, we didn’t have any definitive plans so got off to a late start.

We were in search of the perfect pancake, a well-known Dutch delicacy. After much Google research, we opted for a place called the Pancake Bakery. Admittedly, partly it was the name. But what about the tag line? “The best pancakes in town.” They better be.

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Inside the ground floor restaurant, we were given a menu listing two full pages of pancakes. There were pancakes stuffed with every possible ingredient — apples, nuts, mushrooms, leeks, cheese. It was a bit overwhelming.

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With much debate, we opted for one sweet (banana and Nutella) and one savory (mushrooms, cheese and ham). While waiting, we investigated the stroop, a thick traditional Dutch syrup. Then, they arrived. The sweet pancake was expectedly delicious, the chocolate mixing with the syrupy bananas. The real surprise though was the savory — which was essentially like eating a pancake and egg-less omelet. That’s not a very good description. You’ll just have to trust us here.

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The rest of the afternoon, we slowly wandered the city’s many canals and tried not to get too lost. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our final hours here.

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Back at the hotel, it was one final trip to the sauna before returning to Rembrandtplein for dinner at the Old Bell. We split a huge appetizer sampler of delectable fried foods, like chicken fingers and dumplings. Not the most healthful dinner — but we were still on vacation.

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Navigating canals (without a GPS)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

If we thought the streets were deserted last night, they were even more desolate this morning as we made our way to the train station for our 2-hour trip to Amsterdam. The flat landscape flying by our windows revealed quiet Dutch towns and as we spotted our first windmill, we knew that we had arrived here in the Netherlands.

There was little choice as the cab driver blatantly ripped us off for the short ride to our hotel, the Moevenpick. Although it would have been a 10-minute walk, it was not one that we were doing with all of our bags and gear. So, we bit the 15 Euro bullet. After a quick check-in, we enjoyed the view from our room before getting ready to hit the town.

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After a burger and fries, we crisscrossed the canals and found Anne Frank House, the secret annex in which the diarist and her family hid during the Nazi persecution. Although it was my second time visiting, the exhibit and experience was no less evocative and compelling.

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With the weather fluctuating between rain and freezing rain, we braved it to the Van Gogh Museum, passing the “iamsterdam” monument as the clouds momentarily broke. The collection inside the museum was, not surprisingly, pretty impressive. Our favorite was The Potato Eaters — curators had smartly decided to display the iconic piece alongside sketches comprising various elements of the final work, like the peasant faces. Almost like pieces to a puzzle.

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Back at the hotel, we warmed up in the sauna before heading out for dinner at a place called Grand Café l’Opera in Rembrandtplein. It was not the most amazing meal of our Eurotrip but the mozzarella sticks did rock.