We’ve kept an eye on the clock, refrained from buying too much tat at the flea market and have now walked back to the place where we need to be for our appointment.
This in practice means we are standing on a dock.
The second surprise we had for the kids was that we would all be going on a boat tour, but one with a difference: this is “de pannenkoekenboot ” (The Pancake Boat) and you get to eat unlimited pancakes whilst you are given a tour of part of the outer waterways of Amsterdam.
This is not an inner city canal trip, but the part of the IJ that incorporates the “havens” (harbours) .
We had originally tried to book the “Family Cruise” which is a two and a half hour cruise starting at 1.30 p.m. but this tour turned out to be full so our next option was the 16:30 sailing and a trip for on hour. Although I was at first disappointed by the fact that we missed our first choice (we only tried to reserve this the day before so left it too late… the moral of the story is that you need to reserve as early as possible if you want to be guaranteed a specific time slot) it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
First with the earlier sailing we would have been very rushed getting here from our tour of Schiphol Airport, and second the weather is way too cold for outside dining (it’s possible on the top deck in good weather) and the top deck is closed.
This means we are eating on the lower deck, and it’s winter, it’s trying hard to rain and light is fading… for today at least a sailing tour of just one hour is more than enough.
In the height of summer with sunshine and more daylight hours, I think the longer two and a half hour tour would be more exciting because you could see things properly from outside.
One all the tours there are unlimited pancakes; they start with the three most popular which are natural, spek (bacon) and apple pancakes and you get to add some of the various toppings as well if you want.
I went first for the classic Dutch pancake: spek, where the bacon is cooked into the pancake as it cooks and once it’s done you drizzle stroop (syrup) over it and eat! Stroop is unlike any syrup I’ve ever had outside of the Netherlands, it’s not maple syrup or golden syrup, or Caro or molasses, it has a taste all of it’s own. My second pancake was a plain one with peaches on top… yum!
The rest of the group also had spek, or plain pancakes with icing sugar (powdered sugar), or in the case of the kids, plain pancakes with a scattering of sweets on top. We were one of the biggest groups on the boat this sailing so we were allocated a long table near the front of the boat, and there was even a handy little seat for our youngest sailor.
We watched as people streamed onto the NDSM Ferries that go from here to the Houthaven and Central Station (the ferry ride is free) and then at the appointed moment we too were pushing away from the dock and out into the haven. The pancakes are good!… let’s take a look around…