EAT in Amsterdam:
Café de Kroon
If you want to avoid the beaten tracks, visit the Café de Kroon. Tired tourists won't stumble in here by chance. If you want to find the Kroon you have to know it in the first place. While its location at Rembrandtplein is prominent, it lies on the first floor. During the day you get great coffee here and in the evening - from Thursdays to Saturdays - the place turns into a very cool lounge (having attracted even Mick Jagger and Jerry Springer already). The interior decoration is rich in contrasts, the large hall with industrial touch boasting leather chairs and chandeliers. You feel like visiting the living room of a factory, if something like that existed. The bar is massive; and you should ask yourself whether you really want to know what's inside the pharmacy vessels in the illuminated display cabins. It's a first-class insider tip you should rather keep to yourself.
In former times machines for the food industry have been constructed in these huge halls with industrial lighting. Luckily, as many other cities, also Amsterdam has some creative heads who use empty buildings and transform them into something new. That's why the former factory premises now seats up to 200 guests who indulge in fresh fish and seafood directly by the shore of the IJ river - making Stork the largest fish restaurant in Europe. All around it there are designers, artists and further people from the creative industries - as is typical for rededicated areas. The Stork is the border stone of the Campus where other companies rent spaces and organise regular events and cultural activities. And it's getting even bigger. Cube and Soluz and Interior Shock have been commissioned for the new development of a 30,000 square metre large area. To be completed within 15 years time. In Stork they haven't painted floors, ceilings and walls - being reminiscent of former times, but they put up cable drums and wooden pallets. The old, small windows haven been exchanged by large glass fronts. In this way, the terrace next to the water and the harbour are directly brought into the restaurant.
Because industrial style is en vogue, the engine room of a water tower happens to accommodate Café Restaurant Amsterdam. The restaurant has been there since 1996. Old engines that have partly been preserved create a special atmosphere and interesting interior unlikely to be matched by a designer. Cosy and rustic wooden tables and chairs as well as the ancient illumination of the Olympic Stadium enhance the special flair. The cuisine mixes Dutch down-to-earthness with French ingenuity and Italian classic style. While the prices are appropriate, the only thing that's missing in the restaurant is intimacy. Due to its vastness it is hardly apt for romantics in need for niches, candles and secrets. But larger groups and families with kids that want to move around will feel good here.
SHOPPING in Amsterdam:
Cindy and Frans love Amsterdam's Utrechtsestraat because in the ever-growing shopping street they can go shopping, have lunch and are close to their own store: Centre Neuf. It was opened five years ago, and the reason was Donna Karan. Which part did the American fashion designer play exactly? Well, the two have met twelve years ago in the DKNY store on P.C. Hooftstraat, that is the luxury shopping mile in the Dutch capital. According to Cindy they have become a good team and even better friends. Their similar taste in fashion and their understanding of service have probably contributed to that. They offer Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs and Acne in their 70s store - the pieces are presented in front of a brick wall and ordered according to looks. They have just opened a second store on the same street exclusively selling fashion by the Danish label Wonhundred.
Jonett van Buyten and Cora Albers enjoy being talked to personally when entering a store. Jonett has made her own experiences with that while being a sales woman herself. She used these experiences with her partner Cora and applied them in their own concept store Maison NL in Amsterdam. Maison NL is a store for women by women offering clothes, shoes, jewellery, purses, living accessories, fragrances, vintage pieces and small pieces of furniture. You can also find garments for men and children but the customers are rather wives and mothers anyway. These are the ones who are known to be best and most persistent at shopping after all. That's also why the owners have precautionarily deposited some coffee cups in the store for a little small talk break in between - a smart idea! And afterwards the shopping spree can continue: through South Africa, India and Armenia. These are the countries where a majority of the goods that Cora and Jonett sell in their store come from. Some of these articles can only be purchased within Amsterdam at Maison NL, for other products that applies to the whole country.
Amsterdam is as famed for its markets as it is for its museums. Here's a good advice: If the money gets tight, forget about Van Gogh and devote yourself to the colours and aromas of the Flower Market or the Albert Cuyp Market or the Antiques Market or...Here's just a small selection: The famous Flee Market at Waterlooplein has been enriching the Jewish Quarter since the sixties. You get second-hand and new clothes, music, a lot of knickknack and even more flair (Mon-Sat/9:00-17:00). The Albert Cuyp Market is the largest market for specialties. All Amsterdam seems to buy herbs, fruits and spices here, especially on Saturdays. (Albert-Cuypstraat/Ferdinand Bolstraat, Mon-Fri/10:00-18:00, Sat/9:00-18:00). The Flower Market, while to be found in every travel guide, is still worth a visit. And you will encounter more bulbs than tourists there for sure. A highlight of the market it that it floats on the water. (Singel, between Rokin and Leidsetraat, daily 9:30-18:00.) The Noorder Market is popular for its second-hand clothes, jewellery and furniture - you'll find the one or other bargain there. (Stationsplein, Mon-Sat/9:00-15:00, in the summer until 16:00).
SIGHTS in Amsterdam:
A Gracht tour can't be compared to a gondola ride, of course, but it is much cheaper and the captain usually spares you the kitschy songs. Also, you won't have to queue up or start a fight for being admitted to the boat. As far as ambience is concerned, the Grachts can very well compete: It's exceptionally nice on the boats and you probably won't find a more relaxing way to see the town than gliding over the calm water and observing the hustle and bustle in the small streets. On an evening Gracht tour the many colourful illuminations are especially attractive, immersing the streets in a magic light. There are several Gracht tour providers, for instance.
Who does not remember boring biology teachers, tricky physics tests or the headache following chemistry lessons? Forget about that right away and give natural sciences a second chance! The Nemo Science Centre communicates scientific topics of every-day life in an entertaining and fun way. Completely without tons of formulas and complicated technical terms you learn about scientific backgrounds. Giving simple and amusing explanations, the Netherlands' largest science centre devotes itself to knowledge that you can hear, taste and touch.
Milk used to be processed here in the past, but then a bunch of hippies came along and staged quite a fuss. What began as spontaneous theatre, is today one of the major cultural centres in town. The Melkweg - you got it: the word means nothing else than milky way - started as beautiful location for spontaneous acting. That was more than 40 years ago. Despite its years, the Melkweg has a young and refreshing flair. Thanks to tough work and determination, the project has well developed. Today, the area comprises two stages, a cinema, several exhibition sites and a restaurant. There is a colourful and diversified programme. The Melkweg is a centre of music, film, theatre, photography and media art, it is a get-together for creative people, active artists and friends of art from all over Europe.
STAY in Amsterdam:
A kitchen of your own is not bad. While you generally tend to eat at restaurants on holidays, you might not want to go for a walk with what you see in the mirror the next morning anyway. The solution: breakfast in bed. You can brew your own coffee; the rolls are in front of your door. Others have done the shopping for you - the fridge offers jam & Co. After breakfast you first of all marvel at what you see, trying to figure out a fitting name for it. Modern antlers? And because you feel so good here you will from now on assume that all the real cool people in Amsterdam live like that. And when you finally manage to leave the cosy studio, you are rewarded at that: The best bars lie just around the block, but there are at least two cultural highlights nearby too, in case you want to soothe your conscience. We have to warn you though: The apartments lie amidst Amsterdam's hustle and bustle. But there are earplugs on the bedside table. The price for one night at the studio starts from 80 Euros.
How they manage to embarrass you here? By asking you whether something was wrong when you check out. Because you will for sure not have anything to complain about. The Roemerhotel, that is to say, offers everything you may wish for: perfect location at Leidesplein, 18th-century foundation walls with contemporary upgrade, exceptional service and a garden. The clocks seem to tick slower here, and that's no disadvantage in busy Amsterdam. It means you can relax. For instance over a cocktail in front of the fireplace or at one of the 23 rooms boasting dapper design and pastel shades. And you cannot only relax in bed, by the way, but also in your private Jacuzzi. The price for one night in the double room starts from 120 euros.
Multitasking skills have seemed to be quite trendy for a couple of years. At the moment, this trend moves toward the opposite direction again - but not for Ulrika Lundgren: she manufactures leather bags and cashmere cardigans, publishes a magazine and has recently opened her own guest house - the Maison Rika - with view on the Herengracht in Amsterdam. The former Vogue and Elle stylist is smart: she has designed the interior of the two suites in the hotel that is located in an old corner house directly opposite to her boutique. Each spreads over a whole floor and manifests her personal living style. She has put vintage pieces and white furniture on the black oak floor, and art objects by Sang Ming adorn the walls. The Gallery Boutique on the first floor with her favourite pieces also functions as the hotel lobby. There she hosts events with artist friends and colleagues from the newly founded Dutch Vogue. You might not be served breakfast the next morning there but she will provide snacks in the suite throughout the day. It's also the perfect spot to browse through the hotel's own city.