Amsterdam was Amazing!


First of all, let me say thanks to British Airways (BA) for bumping us up to Business Class for our chocolate adventure. Having that extra bit of comfort really made a difference for us being able to hit the ground running — or should I say … tasting! Much appreciated, and I can say with all sincerity that BA really knows what customer service is all about. They remain my first choice for overseas travel to the UK and northern Europe.

The Chocolatour II to Italy, Spain, and Holland was amazing. I must say it was wonderful in every way. Hats off to my friend, travelling companion, researcher and navigator extraordinaire, Virginia Heffernan, for getting us on the right trains at the right time to the right place. For having the most refreshing and encouraging smile on the planet, and for being able to stuff more chocolate (and other edible items) in her cheeks to make even the most enterprising squirrel envious with wonder. I would not be able to attempt a project of this magnitude where it not for the assistance of dedicated colleagues. (Thanks again to Kathe Lieber for being my tasting sidekick on the maiden voyage of Chocolatour to Belgium, France, and Switzerland.)

Doreen & Virginia enjoying an amazing meal at Sucre

We were also blessed with wonderful weather. Blue skies and above average temperatures were prevalent throughout the two-week, three-country chocolate extravaganza.

We began our adventure in Amsterdam. Although the Dutch are known for making fine chocolate, I must admit I was not overly excited about visiting Amsterdam. Why? I don’t know. What I do know is that the city blew me away! It is strikingly beautiful. I was awe-struck by the extensive canal system. And by the number of bicycles! I’ve never seen so many bikes in my life, and was amazed at how the Dutch have been able to embrace the bicycle as a mode of transportation. Not just a recreational vehicle as we seem to think of it here in North America. We can definitely learn from them. But watch out! They’re not just out for a Sunday drive. Those 600,000 bikes are burning rubber, and if you don’t keep a keen eye in every direction, you’re likely to get in the way of one! (Some sources say there are more than 1,000,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, so whether it’s 600,000 or 1 million, let’s just say the presence of bicycles is everywhere, and a signature characteristic of this fine city.)

there is no shortage of bicycles in Amsterdam

I was also impressed by the culinary talent of Amsterdam. We met several interesting chocolatiers (whom you will read about in the book), and also some amazing chefs. I was particularly impressed by the worldclass creative talent of chef, Peter Scholte, owner of Sucre, a restaurant specializing in — you guessed it — sweet things.

the amazing chocolate & eucalyptus platter at Sucre

But chef Scholte does not limit his talent to producing remarkable desserts. He wowed us with a six-course meal, each course matched with a superb wine specially selected by his sommelier-partner, Aline.

Aline & Peter of Sucre

If you plan to visit Sucre, do make a reservation. The restaurant is extremely popular with locals and is full most evenings.

We were hosted by the Kings Villa Hotel, a small revitalized property located on Vondelpark, a beautiful greenspace fully utilized and appreciated by local residents and their pooches. The dining room at the Kings Villa was particularly picturesque and served a lovely breakfast.

the beautiful dining room at the King’s Villa Hotel

That’s it for this entry. Much more to come! More travel info on Holland is available from the Netherlands Board of Tourism. I thank them for their support of my visit.

If you’ve been to Amsterdam, let me know your thoughts. What impressed you most about the city? And please check out this post with additional thoughts of Amsterdam.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

13 Responses

  1. Angie Gallop says:

    Ahhh…. my favourite city! I’m so glad you’ve discovered it Doreen! Write about it far and wide! There is so much that the rest of us can learn from this city.

    So great to read about your adventures!


  2. Just came across a site that has oodles of pictures of bicycles in Amsterdam. If you’re interested, you may want to check it out at:

  3. Thanks for your encouragement, Allison! Lots more travels to come!

    And thanks for dropping into the blog, Kathe. It were your fond memories of Amsterdam that encouraged me to put the city on my itinerary. So glad I did!

  4. Kathe Lieber says:

    Ah, sweet memories, Doreen – in every sense! My last trip to Amsterdam was 20 years ago. I was six months pregnant, and – sob! – I’d gone *off* chocolate since the early days of my pregnancy. We kept walking *past* chocolate shops – most uncharacteristic! Luckily, my taste for chocolate returned after I gave birth, and my daughter shares my taste buds, among many other things.

    I agree with Virginia that one of the best things about Amsterdam is that you can walk off all the treats. I also love the trams. And those steep canal-house stairs are another form of fitness training, though I wouldn’t appreciate that as much now.

    Glad you enjoyed Amsterdam. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

  5. Sounds wonderful, Doreen! Looking forward to reading all about it.

  6. You’re so right, Jackie. I have never seen so many bicycles! They’re whizzing everywhere. So few cars. Lots of people walking. I really think the Dutch have a good handle on how to stay fit. No wonder they can eat they fair share of chocolate without gaining weight!

    Thanks for dropping into the blog. Hope to see you here again soon.

  7. Amsterdam is a city I’d love to visit. Not for the chocolate, necessarily, though I wouldn’t pass it up. But for the bikes, as you know. 😉 They would totally get my message.

  8. Thanks, Linda. And thanks for visiting the new blog. Will make another post about Amsterdam next week. Ciao for now!

  9. Linda Strange says:

    Sounds yummy – and your ever-present enthusiasm shines through.
    Looking forward to more.

  10. Thanks, gals, for joining the conversation.

    I’m hoping the book will get a similarly positive and enthusiastic reception from readers!

    We gals need to stick together. Afterall, WOMEN NEED CHOCOLATE!

    Ciao for now, and do drop in again next week for a second post on Amsterdam.

  11. Virginia Heffernan says:

    What I liked most about Amsterdam was the way the city managed to be both beautiful and functional at the same time. We were able to walk most of the city along those breathtaking canals, but when we needed a tram after a hard day of eating chocolate, there it was. I loved our 19th century hotel, including our balcony overlooking Vondelpark, and learning about the history (and of course geology!) with our local guide. Thanks for your kind words, Doreen, and for the opportunity. I couldn’t have asked for a traveling companion with more joie de vivre. Next time we get you on the bike.

  12. Gorgeous!!!
    Must have hot chocolate. NOW.

  13. bonniezink says:

    It looks like you had a fantastic time! I am looking forward to experiencing your adventures through your words.

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