I promised on Friday that today I'd give you just a slice of what my vacation to Amsterdam was like last week. This post will be mostly visual but I'll be sure to give you plenty of links so it's easy to find what I'm talking about on the web. :)
First I'll start with a few of the restaurants where we ate and then I'll wrap this post up with some of the shops we hit. We stayed in the Jordaan district, so we mostly hit shops and restaurants there.
This is a chain in the Netherlands called Bagels & Beans. We went to one near the fashion district and a nice kitty came and sat with me while I had my breakfast. He was so cute, and he even has a stylish mustache. Eventually he fell asleep on my lap until a little dog came in and then he attacked it. It was quite a riot to be caught in the middle of a cat and dog fight in the middle of a cafe. In the states, animals are not allowed in eating establishments (against codes of hygiene I believe, though I think most people are not as clean as animals so what's the point!?) but here in western Europe you see pets frequently just about everywhere you go. In Germany you don't see as many cats, mostly dogs, but in Holland cats are everywhere. It's so nice though it's also very practical - cuts down on rodents!
If you want affordable, delicious Japanese-Thai food, Nooch is your place. The atmosphere is so nice and the staff is exceptionally friendly. The food is also very healthy. You have to try their pad thai and make sure to order fresh mint tea and don't miss the mango ice cream for dessert.
Other great places to eat:
De Kroon: Order their monk fish. It's lekker!
Lust: Great place to enjoy coffee or eat lunch or dinner.
Toussaint - We ate here twice we liked it so much. Once for lunch and another night for a romantic candlelight dinner. Such a great atmosphere and the food is heaven.
Foodware - Mostly a take-out shop but you can eat in too. Everything is homemade right there in their open kitchen. Great place.
Now for shopping...
Definitely don't miss the Noordermarkt Flea Market on Saturdays or Monday mornings. I had a blast and even met an Etsy seller there called Accessorize Paradise where I purchased a hair clip that everyone seems to love (I wish she sold them in her Etsy store). I found a pretty print from a children's story book from another dealer who told me she has a shop on Herenstraat called Antiquariaat Lont. Note: I'm not exactly sure what it's called, but a block over from this flea market was a huge fabric flea market with brand new textiles including those from top design houses. I found lots of beautiful fabrics there (shown above).
Aside from the flea market, I really enjoyed these stores too...
Hema. They are in Germany and Belgium, but mostly in Holland with several locations in Amsterdam. So many cute affordable things from office supplies to candy, clothing, beauty products, everything! I love their attention to product packaging. I found their postcards so sweet, and I made sure to buy plenty of pens since I can never have to many cute pens.
I loved this store, it's called Het Grote Avontuur. I purchased some white plastic placemats there and a few gifts, I loved the overall vibe of the shop, all of their hand painted Russian goodies, and their lovely Dutch 'folk' items. What a fun shop, you have to put it on your list if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam. You can also shop them online, in English!
While you're on Haarlemmerstraat you can walk to Papabubble, a fun candy store that I first heard about from Irene at Bloesem. It's worth the visit! Some of the architecture on Haarlemmerstraat shown above, I really liked it!
Egg Mercantile on Leliegracht 6. I loved this shop, mostly because of the great conversation that I had with Joshua who is one of the owners. His partner, Steven, is also his business partner and they've done a fine job selecting the best home accessories and stationery for this lovely shop. Steven and Joshua are American, Joshua had lived in Boston before and also New York, San Francisco... and now Amsterdam where he seems to call home. This shop showcases wares from both North and South America and Europe and I just loved the vibe in there. I took the most photos of his shop because not only was he familiar with decor8 (so I felt comfortable asking permission to take photos), but he was so super friendly and warm. I kept thinking about how badly I wanted to share this shop experience with all of you, especially since I recognized nearly all of the work there... I kept thinking how some of you will read this blog, see these photos, and say, "Hey that's my stuff!".
Do you see the wonderful Elizabeth Soule photography far right?
Love the fancy trays from iBride on the wall...
Do you see the Cardboard Safari head on the left wall? No animals were hurt!
Subrosa (Rozengracht 49-E) is another shop I liked, lots of tin and silver and tons of ethnic influence here. I picked up some jars and a colorful string of lights with tiny Chinese paper lanterns. It's right down the street from my next favorite store for all things kitchen called...
Kitsch Kitchen (Rozengracht 8-11). And kitsch it was, two floors of wild and crazy colors and patterns. Wow. Great, affordable and fun. Kitsch Kitchen has tons of locations in Europe and even one in Southern California but none here in Germany. I hope they change this someday and bring Kitsch Kitchen to us here in northern Germany. It's totally great.
I really liked Shirdak, it was like roaming the pages of my favorite magazine Selvedge. If you read Selvedge, you know it deals with textiles and the history of fabrics from all over the world. Shirdak had a collection of some of the most gorgeous things ever, it was like a museum of beautifully crafted rugs, throws, bedspreads, even slippers and bags.
Here are some other shops I hit (but did not photograph):
Jan (Utrechtsestraat 74)
Sissy Boy (clothing, some home stuff.)
V&D (for clothes)
Fame (for 5-Euro CDs and DVDs, all brand new. Amazing store, I purchased about 15 CDs and a Japanese DVD I've been wanting to see called The Cat Returns, a Hiroyuki Morita animated film.)
H&M: I think there was one on every corner downtown. It was H&M heaven.
Zara and Zara Home
Noa Noa (clothing)
... And a slew of other miscellaneous shops in the Jordaan district that I didn't write down but lots of fun!
Shopping Note: I had planned to spend the entire morning and half of the afternoon on Monday going to my favorite design shops. I was so amazingly excited, I could hardly wait all weekend. On Monday, we headed over to Pol's Potten, Droog, Keet in Huis, and Frozen Fountain only to realize that they were closed. :( I couldn't believe it. Shops are closed in Amsterdam on Mondays for the most part, except for large department stores and a few 'select' shops, but even they don't open until around 1pm. I was absolutely heartbroken. Oh well. Please don't make the mistake that I did!
And to close, here are a few random inspirations from the city.
A little bird peeped a chipper goodbye as we headed towards the train station, 4 hours on a 'slow' train (but first class) to Germany was really nice and relaxing. Rolling hills, farmland, clear sunny skies...
That sums up my mini break to Amsterdam. Hope you enjoyed my highlights from this lovely city today. And a special thanks to all the ladies who met me at the meet and greet, you each made my visit to Amsterdam SO MUCH better than I had imagined.
(images mostly taken by my husband Thorsten Becker, others by yours truly)