Ejo #75 – Drunk In….. Amsterdam 

Being my favourite place in the world, and one of my most frequently visited, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I’ve often found myself drunk* in this beautiful, vibrant, culturally stimulating, inviting and fun city. I guess the reason I haven’t written about it before in this series is that I have kind of wanted to keep these hidden gems private. But, in the spirit of sharing and an effort at magnanimity, behold as I lay bare just a few of our favourite corners of Amsterdam (surely you don’t expect me to give up ALL my secrets) places to get tipsy and places best experienced tipsy.

The Seafood Bar

For the last couple of years it’s become a tradition that the first meal we have after arriving in Amsterdam is at The Seafood Bar, located right next to Vondelpark. I can’t remember why or how that happened, but now I simply can’t imagine eating anywhere else on that first day. It’s become one of those things that gets me excited about an upcoming trip.


To me, The Seafood Bar = Amsterdam.


Bright and lively, it’s a place where you can get some fresh seafood cooked perfectly and served to you by attractive young waitstaff with a smile and a quip. For some reason we always get the same thing. A plate of 16 mixed oysters, fish and chips and a bottle of Ruinart champagne. Any time we’ve tried to stray from that formula we usually spend about 45 minutes trying to pick something else from the menu and then end up ordering the same thing anyway. And it’s not for lack of enticing options. Everything sounds (and looks) delicious. Maybe one of you could try something else from the menu and tell me about it.


I don’t eat much bread but I eat this bread. You would too.


Invariably, the best oysters are the local Tara’s. Fucking delicious.


Light and crisp batter is the signature. Delicious tartar a bonus.


Restaurant P. King

One of our favourite places to get a morning-after fry-up is P. King. It’s a pretty ordinary looking café that serves a pretty damn good version of Dutch brekky – ham and fried eggs smothered in melted cheese. We usually get the heart-starter version with added bacon because we’re on holiday and because we’re little piggies. We also like to get a morning after beer (because: see reasons already mentioned).


My concession to healthy eating? No bread.

Foam Gallery

I always like to inject a little culture into our drunken trips and on this occasion we visited the edgy Foam Gallery to check out an exhibition on the artist Francesca Woodman who killed herself at the tender young age of 22. Photographs weren’t allowed but I managed to sneak a couple in for you.

She was doing nude self-portraits from the age of thirteen.


An exhibition so captivating I wanted to take it home with me..


I have a theory that any city worth living in has a a foodmarket, a collection of eateries and drinkeries all under one roof where you can spend an entire afternoon grazing and nibbling and sipping and slurping your way through all the stores before stumbling home for a well earned nap. Amsterdam’s version is located just outside the four canal belt but well worth the “trek”. Just like the city itself it is small but perfectly formed and worth exploring every nook and cranny. Below are some of the highlights.


Bitterballen are a Dutch staple.


More incredible oysters, with Champagne.


Spanish style gintonics. Each gin is served with different aromatics.


The most delicious cheese toasti in existence. Cheese, onion, leek, spring onion. Perfection.


So unnecessary and yet so necessary. Zabaglione canoli.

Screaming Beans

Best coffee in Amsterdam. That is all.




Best espresso I’ve ever had.


Cosy café to bunker down in when you get hit by a sudden hailstorm.

Pazzi Slow Food Pizza

It’s all in the name here. You WILL have to wait for a table (there’s only seating for about ten) but it’s well worth it. When you’re seated in the little alcove, bumping shoulders with strangers as you reach for your last slice of pizza and take a sip of your Tuscan red, you’ll feel like you’ve somehow been transported to Italy. Delizioso.


Amsterdam is littered with old-fashioned pub style drinking holes called bruine cafés, or brown cafés. They are warm, cosy, friendly and usually serve a great variety of beers. They’re not trendy places (nor are they trying to be) and the bar is as likely to be propped up by a small group of elderly gentlemen sharing a joke as it is by a younger couple playing checkers. A brown bar isn’t a place for drunken revelry but more for quiet enjoyment and if that’s what you’re after you are more than welcomed to join in. My favourite is Laurierboom in the Jordaan. We always try to drop in for a game of backgammon and a beer.

A very serious game of backgammon.


An even more serious game of chess.


* Drunk in this instance suggests to say joyfully inebriated. I don’t really advocate or enjoy the kind of drunk that is sometimes associated with Amsterdam.

Ejo #47 – Things I Hate About Dubai #2 – HAIRDRESSERS


I’m going to cut (haha) right to the chase. I’ve been to five different hair salons in Dubai, ranging from top-end, super expensive “designer” hairdressers to little, back-street joints where the “hairdresser” also waxes legs, threads eyebrows and gives shoulder massages (hopefully not all at once, but I wouldn’t be surprised)! Regardless of the ambience of the place, regardless of how much the haircut costs and regardless of whether the gown they slip on my shoulders is made of silk or more closely resembles a plastic rubbish bag, all five of these salons do have one thing in common. They have, at one time or another, completely butchered my hair.


Now, I’m sure I can hear some of you rolling your eyes* and saying, “Really? This is what you’re complaining about? A bad haircut?!”. To you, I say two things. First of all, phooey!! And secondly, I’d like to tell you a story about two little girls. When my middle sister, Mari, and I were younger we had a particular Uncle (whom I shall name X) whose clumsy attempts to make us feel special and unique probably did more harm than good. He would say to my sister, “Mari, you are so beautiful, such a pretty girl. You should be a model.” And to me he’d say, “Chrysoula, you are so smart, so intelligent. You should be a doctor or a lawyer.” So, is it any wonder that Mari grew up feeling dumb, and I grew up feeling ugly! Thanks Uncle X, thanks a lot.


Anyway, neither of us lived up to his lofty expectations. But you know the great thing about being pigeon holed? It’s figuring out that you don’t have to conform to anybody’s ridiculous ideas of who you are and what you’re capable of. Taking a long break after high school, Mari eventually went on to complete a Degree (with Honours) in Sociology. Now she academises me under the table. (See how smart I am? I make up words because it’s fun!)


And no, unfortunately, I didn’t blossom from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. I’ll never be Cinderella in anyone’s book. And that’s OK. I’ve come to terms with that. You know why? Because I’ve got great fucking hair!!! And that makes up for a lot! It’s bouncy and thick and has a little wave in it. And can I quote you a statistic here, for effect? Studies** show that 91% of Australians believe that hair is key to a person’s sex appeal and attractiveness. Ninety one per cent!!! That’s like…. practically everyone!!!!


So, pardon me when I get a little emotional, a little overwrought, a little hysterical at a bad haircut. But c’mon people, it’s all I have to work with! There’s no buffer here, no room for error. And when your whole sense of physical self-esteem is wrapped up in whether or not you are having a good hair day, then a couple of bad hair YEARS can be a blow to the ego.


I have never made the claim that my hair is EASY to cut. In fact, the same characteristics that make it great hair (thick, bouncy, wavy) actually make it really problematic hair. I’m the first to admit it and I always warn new hairdressers of the high difficulty factor. They usually dismiss my cautions with a confident wave of the scissors, probably thinking that THEY will be the one to tame my wild locks, as they start slashing and hacking. And then, when they fail (miserably) I’m the one who has to pay for it, and even worse I’m the one who has to live with it. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to defend the Salon Inks, the Ted Morgans, the Toni & Guy’s of DXB. Maybe they’ve had good haircuts at these places. But the fact remains that I have not, and if my hair is too difficult for someone to cut well, then as far as I’m concerned that someone is not a good hairdresser. Ergo, in my personal experience there are no good hairdressers in Dubai.


I’m not ashamed to name some names here either. After all, they weren’t ashamed to sabotage my head, so I don’t feel any compulsion to protect them in return! A lot of people throw the name Salon Ink around as the best salon in the city. I remember asking Narelle at Salon Ink to trim my shoulder length hair and, even more vividly, I remember her giving me a lopsided bob, with kinky layers sticking out around my ears!! Not exactly what I requested and it took me nearly a year to grow out. I recall showing Elaine at Ted Morgan a photo of a blunt fringe (à la Krysten Ritter) and walking out with a feathered Farrah Fawcett do which also took about 12 months to grow.


But the ultimate crappy haircut is the one that still hurts the most. I wasn’t joking when I said I measure my bad hair in years. I am still growing out a chop executed in April 2011 by a man called Shadi Nassif at Caritas salon. I walked out of the salon literally looking like a giant mushroom head. And that, ladies and gentleman, was the nadir (and the finale) of my hair grooming experiences in Dubai. After some serious crying, a lot of cursing and even a little bit of melodramatic wailing, I vowed to never EVER get my hair cut in Dubai again. And, despite the inconvenience, I’ve stuck to that vow. And will continue to do so! It does make hair maintenance a bit difficult, but I’m prepared to live with that.


I am lucky enough to have found a wonderful hairdresser in Amsterdam who seems to understand my obstinate mane. Raúl at LysandroCicilia is not only a delightful young man who loves what he does, he’s also extremely bloody good at it. He’s my Hair Whisperer and I simply adore him. I wish I could say that my life was so awesome, so filled with rainbows and unicorns, that I could afford to fly to Amsterdam every time I needed a haircut. But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Through necessity, I have become very comfortable with split ends and annual haircuts. It’s not ideal, but I’m a stubborn cow, and like I said, I am never getting my hair cut in Dubai again. The end!


* And yes, I can hear you rolling your eyes. It’s a curse.
** Yeah, yeah, OK, it was a Pantene study. But it still counts!!!


Ejo #34 – TEEC: Day 25 (The Best Of…)


The Barn

Bar Centrale


Zyankali (apparently) means cyanide in German. There were razor blades and barbed wire set in resin on the toilet seat, spiders under glass for the bar top, beakers, Bunsen burners and test tubes behind the bar. The cocktails were amazing, and delicious and the place was warm and inviting. Highly recommended!!!

I know, it’s kinda gross but hey, i think deep down you really wanted to see it!

In De Keuken

Best meal in Amsterdam. Relaxed environment but really top quality dishes. This was the unbelievably good peach dessert. In contention for best dessert ever.

Lorenz Adlon

Baldon Sur Mer
No website.

This place had room for 19 guests. It’s tiny, but the food is world class. Nina, the sommelier, was a delight, charming us with her friendliness and wine choices to match the six delicious courses. Only just pipped at the post by Lorenz Adlon (though it only cost 20%).


House Of Bols Tour

Berlin Festival


“I speak English, I just don’t want to help you”

Mustafa’s Döner Kebap

Curry 36

SOOOOOOOO much better than it looks. And so good at the end of a big night. Berlin, thank you for the best currywurst!!

Catching up with Claire, Ben, Kevin and Rachel

The Amstergang: Claire, Ben, David, Rachel, Kevin (and me, of course)!!!

To get my hair cut

To wait in line for Döner at Mustafa’s

To wear a dirndl to Oktoberfest

The day we left

The day we left

The day we left