Cafe Loetje


I remember, as many men do, the first time I saw jeggings. Just the feeling of sheer delight and wonder, a little surreal but quite pleasing.

My first time at Amsterdam's classic Cafe Loetje recently was pretty much the same. Amsterdam is known for many things, but a good steak is definitely not one of them. Sure, there are the dime-a-dozen "Argentinian steakhouses" that dot the tourist areas, but they don't come close to matching Loetje (pronounced "loot-yuh").

Jam-packed but still very fun (again, not unlike jeggings), Loetje offers steak and more steak. You can ask for it to be done a certain way, but it's best to just order it - they will bring it medium rare every time, and it is just perfect.

The atmosphere is standing-room only when you walk in, where the crowd is mostly Dutch, from the well-to-do to blue collar bikers, anywhere from 25-65, and you will wait with a drink or two for a good 30 minutes at least. Then your name is called, like your mom calling you in from the yard for your favourite meal.

You might then be seated next to a dog, welcome anytime in the restaurant and in fact part of the restaurant's lore (they have their own webpage here).

Then it's time to choose - maybe a carpaccio appetizer (lekker), definitely a classic, perfect steak with fries, and plenty of red wine. And maybe a sticky toffee cake for dessert.

You roll out of there a few hours later, warm, full, and certain that you have experienced a real Amsterdam original.

Conan O'Brien - slightly less appealing in jeggings, or meggings

January 18


Blue Monday. The third Monday of January.

The idea that there is one single day when we’re most likely to feel down was introduced by British psychologist Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University in 2005. By taking into account a series of factors, including the weather, the payday and the days left until the next one, days since the first New Year resolution was broken and days gone since Christmas, Dr. Arnall came up with the concept of Blue Monday, also known as the most miserable day of the entire year. Of course, not everybody agrees with it, on the premise that the entire month of January can be a period when one is in low spirits.

While on the payroll of a PR firm five years ago Arnall ‘calculated’ that the third Monday in January was the most miserable day of the year. To make this divination, the former Cardiff University lecturer came up with a complicated equation comprising seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.

And so. What to do?

You laugh with co-workers, draw up some travel plans, make some meatballs, walk the dog, and watch Saturday Night Live clips, like the one with Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg and that chubby dude acting as Beyonce's backup dancers, or Chris Farley and Patrick Swayze competing to be a Chippendale dancer.

Not much of a travel blog post, but it still beats the Blue Monday blues.