Day 2 – Saturday March 11
During planning, Haarlem kept popping up as a desirable day trip from Amsterdam. We had never heard of the Dutch Haarlem. What’s the difference between Durch Haarlem and American Harlem? One is a picturesque town of North Holland filled with charming café and canals, medieval churches and cosy streets. The other is …not so.
We followed Amsterdam weather hawkishly and praying for good weather so we can make good use of the 3-d Amsterdam and Region Travel Ticket — for day trips via trains and regional buses. Figuring out which ticket, passes to buy for public transportation and fitting it to our itinerary and shuffling it according to the weather is an excersise that requires antacids. Needlessly overcomplicated!
Luckily, our prayers were answered. Clear day on saturday for outdoor market in Haarlem! Exiting Haarlem train station, we followed the locals with shopping bags toward Grote Market’s covered stalls. Passing through pretty pedestrianized streets lined with shops and eateries. Merchants were passing out samples of cheeses, sausages and olives. We had our first taste of stroopwafel, a thin wafer sandwich with syrupy center. The aroma of grilled meats pulled us to a durüm food truck where a son and mother team dished out humongous chicken and beef wraps for €5. Outdoor market in Europe is tantalizing to the senses. Farmer’s markets in USA just doesn’t measure up in size and offerings.
With market under canopies and noisy hustle, we almost didn’t notice the medieval St Bravo Church looming over the square and completely forgot to check out its interior. We were more interested in wandering the small quaint streets and discover the monuments along the way. The pamphlet we picked from VVV Haarlem tourist office provided directions and information en route. It was so much nicer wandering in Haarlem than in Amsterdam. Less crowded and and more winding little streets in which to get lost.
As we made our way back to the train station, our eyes got pulled into a pretty window displaying tea sets and baked goods, Bij Babette.We were greeted warmly at our table. So far so good but it all went down hill so fast from there. Tea and crumpets were our choices. Out of crumpets? English muffins then. They were still frozen in the middle and resisted our knives’ works. Apologies offered , our meals were comped and scones were offered. They were…not the freshest. We wanted so much to like the place. So cute, so many occupied seatings and yet…
Before returning to the train station, we detoured towards Molen de Adriaan, an 18th century riverside windmill that becomes a museum.
Time for a break, we returned to our AirBnB and didn’t set out until dinner. Reservation at 6:30pm at the Seafood Bar. There were 3 locations in Amsterdam and we were able to book on-line at the one on Ferdinand Bolstraat. Street construction going on there and pedestrians were cordoned off to narrow corridor on both sides. Felt like cattles clacking on the wooden board covered the walkways. Once arrived, the Seafood Bar’s cheery interior and delicious seafood platters made up for the disastrous afternoon tea. We chose the grilled mix consisting of lobster, tiger prawns, mussels, salmons, and a white meat fish whose name escaped us. All so deliciously washed down with Heineken. The couple next to us helped us with taking pictures. She was magnificently expectant and this was her last big meal before delivery. No avoiding seafood for expectant mother as in the U.S?
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Our short interactions with the locals showed them to be helpful and engaging. It helped that there was thankfully no language barrier.
Not too shabby for day 2! Thanks to Haarlem and the Seafood Bar.