Hints, Tips and Recommendations

Regardless of the number of google searches you do, you can never know everything. It’s all about trial and error which often ends in …. well, error.  We’ll jot down the pearls of wisdom we discover and pass on the knowledge.

This page will also include the little gems we stumble upon when exploring (generally food and alcohol – you know us!).  So as we make our way through each place we visit we’ll drop pins on a map (see Voyages of Discovery) and share any recommendations we have.

General Tips & Tricks

Currency Card

When traveling in foreign countries and using your debit/credit cards or drawing from ATMs there will always be bank charges of varying amounts and you are subject to exchange rate fluctuations so budgeting can be a bitch.  We thought a good option would be to buy a euro currency card as it’s far more secure than carrying cash and if you choose a good one (WeSwap, Travelex) there are no transactional/ATM charges.

THE RUB: You need to be a resident of the country in which you apply and provide proof of residence.  Bummer for us having sterling to exchange to euro and residing in South Africa 🙂

Travel Card – Oslo

Almost everything you want to visit in Oslo (on a short trip) is in Zone 1 and there are plenty of ways to get around.  So download the app – RuterBillet, buy a 24 hour ticket online, select the activation time and travel to your hearts content on trams, buses and even Oslo trains!  A win at 90NOK.

Recommendations

England

Mr Foggs Gin Parlour

Steampunk interiors and a gin list bound to boggle the brain!  Creative G&T recipes and some cool cocktails to boot.  And a mesmerising Negroni.  It’s small and in the theatre district so try to get there between the pre and post theatre crowd.

The Ivy Cobham Brasserie

Managed to get a last minute table on http://www.opentable.co.uk.  Last night in UK celebration with Piers and Verity and a true winner.  A delicate and delicious Crispy Duck Salad to start followed by the Crab Linguine, also excellent paired with a great Tempranillo.  But the crowning glory was the Chocolate Bombe – a chocolate sphere which, when covered in the accompanying warm salted caramel sauce, melts to reveal ice cream inside.  Decadence on a whole new level!

Amsterdam

Shiraz Jardin des Vins

A fortuitous find having almost turned around, this cozy wine bar is at the end of Leidseplein ‘area’.  The area around Leidseplein is overflowing with restaurants, very few of which grabbed our attention.  Shiraz is understated and subtle, has an extensive wine list for all tastes and budgets, serves some standards by the glass, but also has a list of ‘open wines’ which are bottles that have been opened that you can order by the glass.  And let’s not forget the range of beers which Trevor had to sample between the wine!  We ate as we love – shared tapas plates – our first Bitterballen in Holland – Bouillabaise with prawn, Ingewikkeldge Garnaal – prawns wrapped in a delicate potato shell serviced with chilli aioli, Spaanse Kroketjes with Serrano ham amongst other delicious treats.  Service was excellent, place was buzzing – altogether a great dinner.

Pllek

On the recommendation of a friend from Amsterdam, we ventured out to NDSM to find a restaurant called Pllek.  NDSM is a ferry-ride away, across the river in North Amsterdam. At 0°C with an icy wind, the 25 minute wait for the ferry was bone chilling – followed by a 20 minute ferry trip which wasn’t much warmer.  NDSM in winter at 3:30pm on a Tuesday is a fairly desolate space – until you reach Pllek.  Constructed of containers, it doesn’t look like much from the outside – but when you walk through some great murals and into the large space with a roaring fireplace, cozily lit tables and a view across the water to Amsterdam that is unparalleled – you feel like you’ve come home.  An eclectic bunch of people, some working, some reading and some just listening to music and watching the world go by.  A large bar (of course – let me remind you who’s blog you’re reading), very reasonably priced beer and wine and different menus depending on the time of day.  We had made the lunch cut-off (until 3:30pm) but decided to wait for the borrelhapjes menu which started at 3:30pm which allowed us to taste a number of great dishes – my favourite being the organic chorizo with chimichurri.  Most dishes are vegetarian or vegan with a few meat dishes to keep the carnivores happy.  A relaxed afternoon catching up on admin, eating, drinking and watching the sun sink over Amsterdam.