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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Monday, 07 June 2010

What a marvellous way to spend a stag doo. Some people do it in Brighton (ahem), others in Prague or Riga, but Amsterdam was different - and in my opinion, the better of the destinations on offer! Good choice Al! It was my first time to 'dam, but I knew it was going to be a marvellous place to spend a long weekend. Heard a lot of good things about it!

It was a bit of a trek to get to with an early start on Friday morning to a Preston Park congregation point, but we headed off in good time towards Dover. We stopped off upon our arrival in Calais to the Tesco Wine supermarket - great location to pick-up a few bevvies on the way out (cos they were unfortunately closed on Sunday's!! Grrr...Sunday trading laws still in force across France! - Those were the days!). We then made our way through north-east France, through Belgium, via Gent and up towards Antwerpen - where we got stuck in the Friday afternoon rush hour traffic. Grrrrrr! A nice journey sooo far though!

We reached the Netherlands in pretty good timing, and headed up passed Rotherdam and arrived in the evening in Amsterdam. Finding our way across the city, we made it to the Hotel The Crown in Oudezijds Voorburgwal 21 street, in the intriguing area of the City. We refreshed ourselves and got ready for the first night of fun, fun, fun!

We found a nice steakhouse, called La Clina, and had a nice plate of the House-special Mixed Grill - great stuff indeedy - did the job! We then went around, had a few drinks in various drinking establishments - enjoyed the sights and sounds of the fabulous city - including walking cascually around the Red Light District - well the experience was good, although I didn't participate in the seedy activity, just enjoyed the view! Ha! We then enjoyed an intriguing show at Moulin Rouge - different to say the least. Anyway, after a long day, evening, night and early morning, we made our way back to the hotel and relaxed with a couple of games of pool before our night-cap around 3am.

The next morning, Saturday, we had a nice morning coffee and watched the world go buy. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then headed off to see whether we could book a canal boat for later in the day. We also decided to hire a bike from MacBike Hire. For €14.25 for the whole day, it felt like a great way to get around the city. Possibly one of the highlights of the trip. We saw sooo much of the trip. We must have done a good few miles - but it certainly was good. We stopped off for lunch at Cafe de Groene Vlinder at Albert Cuypstraat 130 - great little place. Good was pretty good too - waitresses were evening better to accompany the meal - ha! :)

The canal trip was brilliant - certainly a great 75 mins we spent, and we saw sooo much of the city from a different vantage point. It was a bit calmer on the tour boats, versus the ones that were private-hires that travelled later in the afternoon/early-evening - which were just "different" indeedy! We then settled for a nice meal at Café Loetje - another highlight of the trip, and a great recommendation for anyone wanting great good, great atmosphere - though it was slightly out of the hub of the city, it was a great location (Johannes Vermeerstraat 52 in the Oud Zuid neighborhood) and place to visit, oh and the good was amazing! Eat where the locals eat, as they say!!

We then found our back in the Red Light District again, it was more interesting just to look at the people's reactions more than anything - people watching at its best! After a few more drinks in a few different bars, we decided to head back to the hotel...for a few more games of pool, watching the world go by and relaxation! I must admit I was shattered at this point - one can only have so much of a good time - ha!

The next morning, Sunday, we ventured for some food. We walked pass China Town, and headed towards what was a nice eating establishment. I enjoyed my freshly-made crepes - with Cinnammon and Syrup - yummy indeedy! We picked-up our bikes and then went back to the bike-hire shop to drop them off. Great memories - and the best value of the trip. We then walked back to the hotel, checked-out, waited for the car to return from the car park, and then started our long journey home.

We stopped off at Gent - an amazing place in Belgium. We experienced what I must admit was the best Belgium waffles I've ever had - with chocolate and cream - yummy indeedy! We grabbed a quick sandwich, and then continued our way. The journey, although long, was uneventful. We actually arrived in Calais about an hour earlier than planned and managed to catch the earlier ferry back to Dover. We then headed home. What a trip!

So to summarises the trip, my top 5 highlights were as follows:

  1. spending the time with fabulous company,
  2. the bike-hire MacBike,
  3. and then the great food and drinks (although some were a bit pricey! Red Bull for €4 - what!?) The key highlight was Café Loetje - a great fillet steak and atmosphere!
  4. the canal trip.
  5. ...oh and finally followed by the other "entertainment" during the trip!

Great company, a great stag event, and a fantastic experience. Brilliant all round! I just can't wait to the big day itself now! Congrats Al and good job Si - fine gentlemen indeedy!!

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