The day is rapidly approaching that Mevrouw T and I will be leaving Amsterdam to spend a few months in the southern hemisphere.
Along with the farewells to family and friends, the polishing of the kitchen benches and fixing the leaky sink ready for tenants to move into our spotless apartment, there are a few things we need to do before we leave town.
Eat a herring from Mr Tol’s herring stall. Nowhere in Sydney will we find raw herrings as perfectly filleted as the ones prepared by Mr Kees Tol by the Overtoomse Sluis.
Put raspberries on the morning muesli. Yes, they do have raspberries in Australia, but they’re so expensive compared to what we can get in Holland that we feel guilty about wasting them on mere breakfast.
Visit Klopper and Stolk bakery to buy a zesgranen (six grain) loaf. Everybody has a favourite Amsterdam bakery. Ours is in the Amstelveenseweg. The dark, coarse-grained bread we buy there is unparalleled anywhere in the world.
A special nesting pole has been set up for them, with a protected area of wild park surrounding it and nature lovers watch anxiously to see whether they will breed successfully.
This year at least two of their young seem to have survived and are taking their first flights.
Ride the bikes along the Dutch canals at night. In the summer months with their long twilight evenings it’s hard to stay up late enough to ride in the dark.
The nights are getting shorter now, and it’s one of my favourite things to do in town – rattling over the cobbles by the street lights reflected in the water. It helps to be just a little bit drunk in the saddle.
Go to the Hermitage Museum. This branch of the famous St Petersburg
Museum is smaller and nowhere near as busy as Amsterdam’s better known Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, but it is hardly less fabulous.
The current exhibition, which runs till next January, features the Hermitage’s collection of Impressionists. It looks wonderful.
Our time in Amsterdam is always too short. Must stop blogging now and go out and do something. Buy a couple of herrings, for a start.