sábado, fevereiro 10, 2007

Shopping and Turism Trip to Leiden


This saturday, Heather and the fellow expats from the MeetIn.org website are planning a visit to Leiden, a small city south-west from Amsterdam.

Of course, as I have nothing to do at the Saturday, and was trying hard avoid to become bored, I joined the party in a small adventure at the city.

We departed by train from Centraal Station by 14:10, with a bone-freezing cold and a dark-grey sky promissing us a typical dutch day: rain and wind.

First impression is that Leiden is far, far away from Amsterdam, as the train trip lasts for 40 minutes. It was a funny trip, with Heather and the other fellows talking and laughting a lot with quick jokes and funny memories from the other meetings.

I tryied some shots with my camera, there should be some photos when I upload them (at the offices, next monday - please be patient).

Comming to Leiden, Heather runned ahead us through the turistic information office and the flea market, straight to her shopping activities. We split apart in the flea market, and I joined the team that would try to reach the Pieterskerk, church of St. Pieter, built in 1315. Well, actually, there was no stablished plan, and my first impression was that everybody was just wandering arround.
First stop was at the pub, walking from Leiden Centraal Station to the city downtown (10 minutes) make all us cold to the bones. We had a trappist beer and started walking again in approximatelly half an hour.
We only had a couple of minutes inside the church, because it was almost closing time when we get there (by 16:30). Unfortunatelly, because its a big, majestous, unfurnished, full of graves church. I will come back to Leiden to visit this again.
From there, we come to the flea market once more, and just filled in the time trying to spot interesting things in the middle of all those commercial stands. We go to a domestic utilities shop that salled from floor scrubs and buckets to fine vine glasses and after this stopped for a Waffle, and everybody made jokes about not being able to have a three-course dinner after all this food (it was the third stop for food buying, mine first).
After this, everybody meet up at another pub behind the church of St. Pieter for another beer, a little warm-up, waiting for the people that were comming from Amsterdam for the dinner and regrouping. Just 20-25 funny minutes of conversation, and we went to another bar, for a mojito (that was Heather original plan, I guess, not the pub close to the Pieterkerk where we started regrouping spontaneously). More half-hour waiting just to make sure we get on the Zout and Pepper restaurant on the right time.
My idea of dinner stills needing reformulation. It tokes ages to get us all served, and we drank a lot of wine (that's not good before dinner - you lost your appreciation sense when drunk). Well, the environment was fantastic, and there where chairs for almost everybody - we just should remember to show up in a group more or less the same size we made reservations next time.
There were three options for every course in the menu, and people just picked one. The complete menu was:

Starters:
  • Homemade wontons with goat cheese and honey thyme mousse.
  • Shashimi of tuna and langoustine.
  • Grilled crocodile with cucumber and herb dressing.

Mains:

  • Baked duck breast with wild rice and 5 spice mushrooms.
  • Pork rack with zuurkool stampot and bacon sauce.
  • Black pasta with grilled vegtables, nuts and orange soy sauce.

Desserts:

  • Tiramisu with vanilla ice cream.
  • Irish coffee bavarois with irish whiskey jelly.
  • Wine gum parfait with liquorice sauce.

I had the grilled crocodile (a bit dry, maybe over grilled?), the backed duck with rice (nice piece of duck, nice spices, just perfect), and the Irish coffee bavarois with irish whiskey jelly as desert (strange dish, the dry pastry below the bavarois was the most ressalting flavor, and its supposed to be only a solid basis for the bavarois).

We had red and white wine (I stick to white) during the dinner and lots of bottles of water. It was expensive, even for dutch standards: 40€. But its ok, was a nice and pleasant night.

Coming back to Amsterdam was easy and fast: we got the 23:45 intercity train to Amsterdam, that made only one stop at Schiphol airport and another one at the Centraal Station at Amsterdam. I got the number 5 tram from there and get home before 01:00am, tired but happy.

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