Continuing the memory lane stroll, Amsterdam was one of the final destinations of the tour but not even half way on my European adventure. Amsterdam was essentially the last place where I would be looked after, so I felt it my obligation to let loose like a local and have fun with abandon.
One of my first tasks was to seek out stroopwafels, as highly recommended by a friend. These Dutch biscuits are simply to die for: think cinnamon-spiced caramel smothered between two thin, chewy waffle biscuits. Sweet as all hell but crazy addicitive. I think I ended up with three packs: one for consumption, one I left with a mate in London and one I sent home. I was rather distraught at coming home to be told they'd all been eaten.
We also chanced upon a charming little restaurant in the infamous Red Light District, amid coffee shops and sex shops. We went for dinner one night and returned for a fondue lunch the next day. It was probably the single richest meal I've ever had, despite intentions to tone it down with raw vegetables, bread and even a few Grolsch.
I remember this fondue selection was 'Napolitana' inspired and so incorporated sun-dried tomato, basil and fetta cheese to the gooey melted cheese fondue - which included gruyere and some other cheese. I think we spent a good few hours with this pot, a couple baskets of bread rolls and a few re-orders of vegetables. Even then I think we barely made a dent in it and we stumbled out richly full and probably not needing dinner.
By this stage we were probably a bit weary of cheese, but this was a sight. Row upon row, shelf upon shelf of hard cheeses aging. We unreluctantly tasted a few but didn't feel the need to purchase a wheel to add to our suitcases.
A hop, skip, bus to Paris, Eurostar to and from London, overnight train to San Sebastian and then Barcelona a few days later, I'd made my way - in one piece - to the French Riviera. This particular evening I was keen to escape the tourist life for a little and found relief in an upscale supermarket. I may have spent an indecent amount of time perusing aisles for fun but did come away with half a barbequed chicken, a wedge of brie, a packet of 'roquette', a baguette (of course) and a mini bottle of French sparkling. All of which made for a delightful dinner and lunch baguette the next day too, travelling back to Italy for the next and final four week instalment.