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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Voyager avec Patrick (Traveling with Patrick)

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

Patrick the navigator

J’ai eu la chance cette année que mon fils aîné vit à Paris. Cela fait une année extraordinaire pour nous deux. Et l’un des avantages est que nous pourrions voyager ensemble. Quand nous faisons ainsi, Patrick fait toutes les réservations pour transport et logement. Ce me plaît beaucoup ! Il est aussi un navigateur excellent, donc je dit : « Patrick tu diriges, et je suivrai. » Ça marche bien pour moi !

I have had the good fortune this year to have my oldest son, Patrick, living in Paris. While I have been creating a new Paris life for myself, he has been studying at Middlebury College’s Centre Madeleine and the Sorbonne and has just completed all requirements for an MA in French. It has been an extraordinary year for both of us. Among the many wonderful experiences we have shared, one of the best has been traveling together. When we do this, Patrick makes all the reservations for our travel and accommodations (I’ve become quite familiar with Airbnb). This arrangement suits me just fine. He’s also an excellent navigator, so I say: “You lead Patrick, and I’ll follow.” Works for me !


Quintessential Amsterdam - bicycle, canal, bridge, boat, flowers

17th century Café de Sluyswacht - great spot for canal boat watching

A bit of France in Amsterdam

La semaine dernière nous avons visité Amsterdam. Bien que j’étais là il y a 20-25 ans, je me souviens peu, donc c’était comme la première fois pour nous deux. Patrick et moi nous sommes des bons partenaires de voyage. Nous aimons visiter les musées, des églises (moi plus que Patrick), manger la cuisine et boisson (Patrick plus que moi) du paye, apprendre sur l'histoire de la ville, mais aussi nous aimons flâner pour découvrir de petites rues, de curiosités, et autres choses qui ne sont pas très connues.

Last week we went to Amsterdam for a few days. Even though I’d been to Amsterdam 20-25 years ago, I remembered little, so it was like a first visit for both of us and we loved it! Patrick and I are good travel partners. We both enjoy visiting museums, churches (me), sampling the local food and drink (Patrick), learning something about the history of the place…..but also we like to just wander without purpose so as to discover the smaller streets, buildings and neighborhoods that are lesser known and off the beaten track. It's frequently while flaneusing (wandering) that my eye catches a door, window, corner....some interesting detail that will make a good photo.

Quelques détails intéressants

Shop window - old Amsterdam

Painted column from de Krijtberg Kerk, jewel within an ordinary exterior

The Dutch love Nutella too!

Our Lord in the Attic - vestments

Rijksmuseum library

Bar window

Curb your dog!


Un ami d’un ami de Patrick a nous donné une liste de choses à faire et des restos, bars et brasseries. Aussi de nourriture hollandaise typique. Nous avons fait beaucoup des choses à la liste. Nous avons mangé des « stroopwafels, » « bitterballen, » « appeltaart, » « rijstafel indonésien, » fries et, pour Patrick, beaucoup de « Hollands biertje.» Nous avons visité Van Gogh Museum pour une exposition spéciale « Van Gogh et Japon », Rijksmuseum pour les Rembrandts, Vermeers, Rubens et ce que je trouve fascinant, les « poppenhuisen » extraordinaires, et enfin « Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, » une des églises catholiques secrètes. Bien sûr, nous avons traversé « de Wallen » et nous avons pris un tour en bateau avec Those Dam Boat Guys, qui était non seulement informatif, mais aussi drôle. Pour moi, nous avons flâné quoiqu'une zone commerciale, qui s’apelle « negen straatjes, » mais nous n’avons acheter rien. Et pour Patrick, nous sommes allés à « Brouwerij t’ij, » une brasserie sous un moulin à vent. Comment peux-je oublier ? Une journée on faisait du vélo comme tout le hollandais !

A friend of a friend of Patrick who is currently living in Amsterdam gave us her list of things to see and do, and bars, restaurants and breweries. We managed to do many things on this list. We ate “stroopwafels,” a wafer sandwich filled with sweet syrup (Hema has them); “bitterballen,” a meat-based fried snack, very crispy on the outside, but runny on the inside; and Indonesian “rijstafel” or rice table, a meal of as many as 40 side dishes. Ours was about 5 including chicken satay, spicy beef, pickled cucumber, green beans, salad with peanut sauce and, of course, rice. We visited the Van Gogh Museum for a special exhibit exploring the influence of Japanese prints on Van Gogh’s work, as well as the permanent collection; the Rijksmuseum for the Rembrandts, Vermeers and Rubens and something I found fascinating, extraordinary “doll’s houses” furnished in exquisite, lifelike detail by 17thand 18th century ladies; and finally the Museum of Our Lord in the Attic, a jewel of a secret Catholic church built by the owner of this 17th century canal house at a time when Catholicism was banned in Holland. Of course, we strolled through the “red light” district and took a boat tour with Those Dam Boat Guys, the commentary of which was not only informative but also quite humerous. For me, we strolled through an area of small shops and boutiques called the “nine streets,” and for Patrick, we went to the charming IJ Brewery located in a former bath house next to an old windmill, where he sampled a flight of 5 different IJ beers. Patrick tells me that the French don’t know how to make beer, so he tried to make up for 9 months of beer-drought in 3 days!

Bitterballen and beer

Indonesian rijstafel - rice table

Rijksmuseum and "I amsterdam" the city's hugely successful marketing slogan which is one of the most-photographed icons in the city

Our Lord in the Attic (located in the red light district)

Side street in red light district

Patrick and windmill by IJ Brewery

The IJ Brewery flight of beers

IJ Brewery and beer garden

And finally, how could I forget our most quintessential Dutch experiences? We stayed on a houseboat and on our second day, traveled by bike. I must say, I was a bit skeptical about our ability to negotiate Amsterdam on two wheels, but it was great fun. Never mind that as we were starting out I swerved into the oncoming lane and almost wiped out the older gentleman coming towards me. We both survived unscathed and after that, it was smooth sailing. Highly recommend this mode of travel.

Bikes are everywhere....there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam!

"Our" Nicole here for information and reservations.

Restaurant recommendations:

We ate very well and didn't have a bad meal....

Van Kerkwijk

Nes 41

Tiny, simply-furnished family owned.....excellent Dutch food. No reservations....reasonably priced. Popular with locals and prepared for a wait but it's definitely worth it!

Starters....garlic shrimp and dates wrapped in bacon with whipped something (can't remember but good)

Delicious filet of beef with cheese and strawberry sauce (sounds weird I know but it worked).....served with salad and fries.

Kanjil & de Tijger

Spuistraat 291

Good Indonesian where we had "rijstafel." Reasonably priced.

Black & Blue

Leliegracht 46

Charming steak restaurant on a canal....also good salads and sandwiches. We were attracted by outdoor tables and windows. Reasonably priced.

Amsterdam à revoir!

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