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Bokbier

amsterdam.jpg

I was lazy today and slept in. Sunday is a day to do it since everything is closed until 12:00. I got up and did some chores. I thought about doing a load of wash but I decided I really didn't have enough. The laundry soap is heavily perfumed and I really didn't to wash my clothes in the soap. I did a bit of sweeping and vacuuming around the house. I at least didn't have to do the dishes since I had enough dishes last night to run the dishwasher.

Today I planned to attend the Bokbier festival in Amsterdam. It opened at 12:00 so I headed out to take the bus to Leiden. I assumed it would run on the same schedule as the night bus but no! I just missed the bus and it was going to be a half hours before the next. Bummer. I checked my coins and I had enough (7.70) to purchase a train ticket from Voorschoten so I decided to walk to the train station instead of going to Leiden. I took a different route and got a chance to see a bit more of the town.

It takes about 45 minutes by train to get from Voorschoten to Amsterdam. I have to change from the stoptrein in Leiden Centraal to the train to Amsterdam Centraal. I was able to get an Intercity which only stopped at Schiphol.

I am always overwhelmed with the crowds leaving the Amsterdam train station and walking down the Damrak. People dart here and there; bikes whiz by, and trams clang their warning that they are coming. Amsterdam is cleaner than my earlier trips. On this trip I have smelled little urine and the streets are not too dirty.

The bokbier festival is held in the Beurs van Berlage, the old Stock Exchange. It was the 27th annual Bokbierfestival. It is held to promote traditional beer brewing and over 50 different breweries attend. They are mostly from the Netherlands with a few from Belgium and German. You pay an entrance fee for your glass and then purchase tokens for each tasting. I got two tokens. It was early and there were just a few people. It is similar to other beer festivals in the US. I picked up a beer listing. It was in Dutch but I could manage some of it. I could tell the alcohol content and some of the comments, caramel, zoet (sweet), bitter. I tried a Ezelenbok from Snab brewery just outside Amsterdam. I asked if the person pouring spoke English and could tell me about the beer. He did. He said that there were two beers; Ezelenbok and Ijsbok. The Ijsbok was unique since it was the Ezelenbok that was frozen. The water freezes and is removed to concentrate both the flavor and the alcohol. I decided to start with Ezelenbok which was 7.5% instead of 9.0%. It was a good starter. The next one I tried was Slobberbok from Klein Duimpje in Hillgome. It was 6.5 and a bit thinner than the Ezelenbok.

The one item that is unique is the stands to wash your glass. These are sinks with water constantly running and three brushes in the middle under water to clean your glass. I've seen them in the bars here. You need it because the bok bier is very sticky being sweeter.

That was enough for now. I headed out to do a bit of shopping and sightseeing. I headed up Damrak to Dam Square. As usual, it was filled with tourists. It surrounded by a strange hodgepodge of buildings. One side is dominated by the Koninklijk Paleis. Next to it is the Nieuwe Kerk. On the other side of the tram rails is the more commercial side. The big department store De Bijenkorf, a large hotel, Madame Tussaud's wax works with a long line and in the middle is the stone war memorial. I dart across the tram lines and head up a bit. I decided to follow the pedestrian shopping street Kalverstraat. It is packed. I spy the Zara and decided to check it out. It is also crowded. It feels like the day after Christmas. But the fashions are great and I almost get a pair of corduroy pants except I can't find my size.

I continue on and see a sign for the Begijnhof, my favorite refuge in Amsterdam. Just off Spui and Kalverstraat is a small enclosed square of houses. It was founded in the 14th century as a home for beguines, members of Catholic sisterhood living as nuns but without vows. One of the facades is from the 1477. One side is the Engelse Kerk and near by is a small Catholic chapel. Leaving out a different door, I emerge out on Spui near several good cafes and bars. I decide to head on up Leidsestraat to Leidseplein. I decided to have some frittes with mayonnaise. Fortunately, I got a small since they were really too greasy for me.

I walked along Prinsengracht, my favorite canal. I love to linger on the bridges and watch the boat traffic along the canals. I headed back towards Spui on Runstraat. It is a great street. There are interesting restaurants and shops. I loved the cheese shop and the different fashion stores.

I decide to walk back to the bokbierfestival for one last drink. It is much more lively. It was pretty crowded and a couple of the beers are gone. There is a band now playing Dutch rock songs. Some attendees are siting on the floor in large groups. I head off to get the Ijsbok. I listen to a couple of tunes and then head off for dinner.

I decided to have Indonesian tonight. Partially because I am in Amsterdam and because this restaurant opens early. I decide to eat at Kantjil en de Tijger on Spuistraat. We had eaten there a couple of years ago and it was good. I decide to have Nasi Goreng which is fried rice with several meats in sauces. It is the closest I can get to a Rijstable which is only available for two or more people. I end up being brought the Bami Goreng (noodles) by mistake. I can never remember if Nasi is rice or noodles. It is good. I really like the pork in a clove soy sauce and pork in the peanut sauce. The marinated cucumber is a nice contrast. The service is a little aloof. You can tell they want to turn their tables quickly and they are geared to tourists but the food is not too bad.

I finish off the meal with a decaf cappuccino and then head back to Centraal Station. I notice a line outside the Australia chocolate store and see that they sell passion fruit sorbet. Passion Fruit is my weakness and I have to have a scoop to eat along the way.

Damrak is still crowded as I make my way back to the station. I go up to get my ticket and the agent doesn't understand me. It takes about three times before he understands that I want a ticket to Voorschoten. Oh well. The train is quick. I switch in Leiden but the train isn't there. It is usually just across the platform. There is an announcement and I hear "stop trein", "Den Haag" and 5b. I watch the crowd and everyone is now heading down to a different platform. I am so glad the Dutch numbers sound a lot like English.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 31, 2004 12:58 PM.

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