‘And how do you pronounce that?’ I asked pointing to the part of Amsterdam’s map labelled Spui.
‘Spau’ answered the lovely receptionist at the Falcon Plaza Hotel.
I’m glad we finally settled that, especially as we had been calling it ‘spewey’, ever since I narrowly avoided a stream of projectile stoned student puke when disembarking a tram in that very location back in 1985.
Despite the infantile comedic value of that lone incident Spui is actually a very pleasant part of Amsterdam. Essentially a small square lined with cafes and bookstores it is very popular with students because of it’s proximity to the university. It’s also the location of one of my favourite Amsterdam hangouts the Cafe Hoppe (Spui 18/20).
One half of Hoppe is a traditional Amsterdam ‘brown cafe’ with sawdust on the floor and the wooden walls stained an even deeper brown by 300 years of cigar smoke. This is a great place for an old Jenever, a pint and maybe a plate of old Amsterdam cheese, but if you fancy a smoke now it has to be outside as smoking is banned inside cafes and pubs everywhere in the city except of course the cannabis cafes.Yes it is a bit of an old man’s pub, but there’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion.
If you fancy a more substantial feed try the Cafe Hoppe next door.
The three of us had an excellent platter of local delicacies: including bitterballe, old cheese, battered prawns and pancake rolls plus beers and gin for €48.
Beware the raw beef sausage, it’s literally that, a ball of raw mince rolled into a sausage served with mustard. I gave it a go, it wasn’t horrible, just a bit bland except for the mustard.