Friday, 7 August 2015

Amersfoort: a thick spread of medieval charm

Amersfoort, the Netherlands
Pronouncing names in other languages does not come naturally to our adventuring party. I greatly enjoyed listening to Fabienne say Kinderdijk, which she almost always referred to as Kinder-jig, and once as Kinder-dish. Diving away from Utrecht, she said we were heading towards Amster-foot. Here, I present to you Amster-foot. 
Tying into the theme of the Netherlands, Amersfoort had many canals lined with greenery and pretty buildings. It was around this time that I had decided that I liked Venice the most for a canal city, but for a canal country, the Netherlands couldn't be beat. 
Rather than the aloof canals of Amsteram, with buildings separated from the canals by streets, Amersfoort's canals often had cute cottages or pub terraces emerging from the water. 
Some buildings had worried faces. Perhaps this one is slowly sinking?
But I'm sure that all the water management systems that have been put into place are keeping everything alive and ticking along. Missing the sound of Pacific Ocean waves, I was lulled for a moment by water flowing through a dyke. 
One of the old town gates, the Koppelpoort was built in the early 1400's. In the gloom of an overcast day, the green canals and stoic brick buildings exuded a sense of medieval charm. 
We didn't enter this establishment, I just found the sign hilarious. In den grooten slock (in the great slock), this man eats and drinks his life away happily. The smaller text reads "even for a small cup of coffee or tea", so I guess it's also alright if you don't feast like a glutton. 
At the Amersfoort market, we bought two tapenades from a spreads stall. Accompanied by excellent Dutch bread and Utrecht goats cheese, we ate almost as well as the man on the sign. The tomato spread was superb, and I was surprised to enjoy what we found to be a prune tapenade. The sweetness was offset by little green peppers and salty feta. 
Leaving Amersfoort, we plotted a course to Maastricht and on the way was Den Bosch, the home of Bossche bollen. At Jan de Groot we gazed longingly at the fanciful desserts, packed into the bakkerij with other admirers. Finally at the counter, we ordered our Bosch balls and savoured the creamy, chocolatey pastries. We rushed back to the car, as we had taken our cue from two other patrons and pulled up on the curb with our hazards on. With no parking nearby, that was the most obvious solution, and certainly a popular one. 'Twas a successful day.