Week 2: Amsterdam Shirleyfest: Food, friends and family

I realized I haven’t told you how the rest of week two Shirleyfest went. I finish off that second Saturday with a bike ride along the canals to the exquisite Hermitage museum where I see Canova’s wonderful marble of The Three Graces, three sisters who were the daughters of Zeus and Venus and represent beauty, joy and elegance. (I have two sisters and I’ll be happy to have them pick first which of the graces represent them and I’ll modestly take whichever one is leftover.)


During Shirleyfest, I try to find a Catholic Church that does weekly mass in English. This time I bike over to the beautiful Krijtberg church for mass. A pedal through the Jordaan area after with a great meal at Koevoot completes the day as the sky turns quite beautiful as I lock up my bike.

Sunday I have in mind to bike out to the Brouwerij ‘t IJ brewery. Situated along a canal and housed in a windmill, the brewery produces organic beers in a friendly setting.

I have a great conversation with Joran and his friend Martijn who works there. Joran works in television and expertly scripts a shot of me at the bar with his friend in the background.

There was more to Sunday but I want to move on to Monday when my sister MJ arrives! MJ has been to every Shirleyfest except Melbourne and I love it when she comes. On Monday we walk all over Amsterdam and that night eat a great dinner at Belhamel where afterwards Nick and Ivan come by for drinks. A gorgeous walk home ends our first day.

With the weather looking good the next day we take the early train out to Zaanse Schans , a picturesque village, famous for its iconic windmills. As we get off the train we smell the aroma from the chocolate factory that is there.

We walk through and up into the windmills, most of which are still operational. There is another building where wooden shoes are being made right in front of us.

It is such a charming place. We are wise to have gotten there so early– it’s charm attracts many people so when we see the tour buses pull up we head back to the train.

That evening we have one of the best meals I’ve ever had—–Amstel 212. It is a restaurant recently started by two Michelin starred chefs and all the seating is bar seating. There are about 20 guests and the 4 chefs are working right in front of us and the fantastic front of the house man is Kevin.

I had gone over to Amstel 212 a few days before MJ arrived and had a great conversation with Kevin. His attention and that of the chefs made this an extremely personal experience. We had 3 amuse bouches before we even began with what we had ordered. Three delicious courses later we were presented with the opportunity for an amazing cheese course.

Of course we said yes. Don’t we look so very happy?

On MJ’ s last day we take in the Rijksmuseum and FOAM, the photography museum and do some shopping at De 9 Straatjes, the nine little streets that connect the main canals. One last dinner at Klepel where we are delighted with conversations from our fellow diners at the bar. MJ departs the next day and I look at my step counter for the 3 days she was here.

I have already posted about Thursday and Friday of that week so I will pick up my next post with the Saturday Haarlem market and my trip to Bruges, Belgium. Until then, can I leave you with something I saw along the canal near my apartment?

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