"Hamster Jam!" Amsterdam by johngayton

Amsterdam Travel Guide: 10,706 reviews and 22,718 photos

The Enigmatic City

When I was a kid I used to play with Lego, Meccano and the odd jigsaw puzzle. So imagine if you took a big box, emptied your Lego and Meccano pieces into it, add a few jigsaws, shook it all about, emptied it into a shallow-filled bathtub along with a bucketful or two of sand and tried to build something?

You would end up with Amsterdam!

As a working city it is modern and functional. As a tourist city it has history, culture and architecture in barrow-loads As a playground there are toys and games galore. It really does have something for EVERYone!

Eating and Drinking

For me, every holiday is a "busman's holiday" - I actually cook for my living...hotels, restaurants, pubs; I've owned them, managed them, or more recently just worked in them. I go on holiday, what do I do?

I stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and drink in pubs! Well I suppose I could waste my time lounging about on a beach somewhere, but that's not me.

Here in Amsterdam I was very impressed by the range and quality of food on offer - from big thick chunks of pizza with chilli or garlic sauce at 4 am - up to a la carte dining and with plenty of interesting post-colonial diversions. My personal favourite is the restaurant at the Hotel Amsterdam with its modern interpretations of Dutch classics such as Stampots.

Hotels here, especially at the cheaper end of the market, can be somewhat capricious - don't set your sights too high regarding spaciousness especially - but hey, do you want to be in Amsterdam and live in your hotel room?

And as to bars...there's one on every corner and usually several in-between (no matter how short the street!)

The Hamster Jam Story

When I was a young boy, many, many years ago, I used to have a pet hamster. Hamsters aren't really that interesting as pets but at least they are low maintenance. Yep, you give them a bit of food every now and then and keep their water topped up and leave them to it.

My furry little friend, whose name I've forgotten, got fed, watered and did his own thing running around in his little exercise wheel. In the strange way that children have I kinda got attached to him - if it was a him, His squeaky little exercise wheel used to lullaby me to sleep every night and would be the first thing I awoke to in the mornings.

Then one morning when I awoke, I awoke to silence, a silence that wasn't immediately noticable, just a vague fuzzy-brained feeling that something was missing.

As I awoke fully I realised what it was - there was no rythmic squeak-squeak coming from my hamster's cage.

I jumped out of bed and dashed over. The cage was in the corner by my bedroom window. Being a late autumn morning the room was dimly lit by the weak dawn filtering through the curtains and I could barely see the cage, far less make out its inhabitant.

I pulled back the curtains to let more light in and there, to my horror, was my furry little friend lying on his back, his legs stiffly pointing skywards.

I was distraught, I knew he was dead, but I opened the cage anyway and picked up his small cold stiff body. I tried to warm the life back into him by cupping him in my hands. But to no avail. I tried holding him to my chest in the vague hope that my now racing heart might pass its life energy to him but that was not to be either.

At this point I burst into tears and must have cried out because my mother rushed into my bedroom to find out what was happening. I held out the inert body of my little friend and cried "He's dead, my hamster's dead."

Mother was very sympathetic and took the hamster from me, hugged me and dried my tears with her handerkchief. "Never mind, " she said, "What I'll do is I'll make some jam with him and you can have it on your toast when you come home from school."

"OK" I replied tearfully, went to the bathroom, got dressed and went to school.

When I got home that afternoon, still feeling very sad, mother greeted me as I walked in the back door and showed me a jar with filled with a pinkish jelly. "There you go." She said, "Here's your hamster jam as I promised."

Mother toasted a couple of slices of bread, poured me a glass of milk and I sat down to pay my final respects to my little friend by having him for my tea (I do believe that this is not an unusual custom in some parts of the world).

I buttered my toast thickly and opened the jam jar, scooping out a good wodge of its contents which I spread on my still warm toast.

Mother is a very good jam maker and it spread easily with chunky meaty bits bound gelatinously providing an ample coating across the bread.

I cut it, as is my habit, into 4 rectangles and took a huge bite from the first, not really knowing what to expect.

YUK!! It tasted absolutely disgusting!!

I ran to the back door and spat out the vile contents of my mouth onto the flower border which ran alongside the path leading to the door.

"Never mind," said mother, "It was just an experiment - we'll throw it away now."

So in the bin went the rest of the toast and with it the jar of my hamster jam.

Well, when you are young grief never lasts and a new hamster was duly bought (another one whose name I can't remember) and just like my old one the new became my companion, lullabying me to sleep every night and greeting me in my mornings by running around in his squeaky little wheel.

Time passed and my previous hamster was all but forgotten. The following spring an unexpected plant started growing in the flower bed just outside our back door.

It was a strange plant indeed. As it blossomed the single flower looked just like a perfectly formed human mouth, cupid's bow and all.

YEP - "Two lips DO come from Hamster Jam"!!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A City Break From The Ubiquitous Motor Car!
  • Cons:Can be a tad on the expensive side
  • In a nutshell:Everything you want to do is there to be enjoyed.
  • Last visit to Amsterdam: Oct 2008
  • Intro Updated Jul 6, 2015
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Reviews (60)

Comments (29)

  • HackneyBird's Profile Photo
    Dec 17, 2014 at 1:17 AM

    'Two lips from Hamster Jam', what are you like! lol!

  • SONG's Profile Photo
    Dec 16, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    >>>Well I suppose I could waste my time lounging about on a beach somewhere, but that's not me.
    Wait a minute. I lounge around on beaches, but I also find lots of other interesting things to do. Depending on the length of the vacation, I might only be on the beach for an hour or so. Other days, longer. The beach is only a small portion of my vacation time usually. :-)
    Hamster Jam? YUCK>>>>>>>>> LOL..........

  • wabat's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    Lots of interesting tips for rainy days in things to do -- i come back for the rest soon. Great read.

    • johngayton's Profile Photo
      Sep 14, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      Glad you're enjoying it Albert - I've had a bit of fun writing it over the years.

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Are you sure you weren't either in jail or the loony bin?

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Aug 28, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    brilliant ! you forgot brunettes however

  • Jul 18, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    cafe pleinzicht is my favorite place.Bert the bar tender is an original and attracts many customers,Just a great place to have a drink.

  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo
    Jun 14, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    John, You mean you will be at Oldenzaal?? Let me know when/where. It's just 6 km from my place. PJ

  • jfinigan's Profile Photo
    Jul 28, 2009 at 10:39 AM

    We loved these places, the best "fast food" in Amsterdam.

  • Jun 8, 2009 at 5:17 PM

    When I was there (June) the ones on the bridges seemed to be closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

  • bastings's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2008 at 12:08 PM

    ...then one morning i awoke to silence;I like the atmosphere so far; good enough to awaken the kids' fantasy. but then when your hamster ends up in the jam..?? i'll stick to my Eric Carle and Leo Lionni's books. haha! you're a great storyteller though!


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