SHOPPING in Amsterdam:
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).
To start off with: the Dutch are a fashion loving folk. This is proven - among other things - by the fact that there are seven fashion academies in such a small country. So much young fashion also needs space: Young Designers United takes account for that and as a collective it regularly presents a dozen of young national and international designers in their shop at the Keizersgacht. It's a fashionable win-win-situation: unknown designers can rent some space on the hanging rail. There are only four pieces of each design without fail. The fashion directress of the house, Angelika Groenendijk-Wasylewski, holds the upper hand concerning the choice of designs in order to provide for a selection that is affordable and wearable. For women interested in fashion - Young Designers United presents fashion designs for women - the collective is a rich source of fashion designers who might stand just before their breakthroughs.
290 Square Meters
Ido, the enigmatic founder of the shop, started in 2001 with 90 inspiring square metres bound to attract creative, hip and talented people. The project was so successful that the shop soon needed a larger location and also a new name. The name 290 Square Meters serves as a good source of inspiration because it is much more than a shop. It is the venue of events, fashion shows, readings and similar events. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't offer great shopping opportunities. You'll find shoes, clothes, books, magazines, music, art - and all of it arty and exceptional. The labels include our Nordic favourites Wood Wood and Henrik Vibskov as well as Holland Esquire, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Minimarket and Surface To Air.
EAT in Amsterdam:
Blue walls, lots of mirrors, white table-cloths - that's what the Blue Pepper's owners consider elegant, and we fully agree with them. Since 2002 Amsterdam has had an Indonesian restaurant of the highest class. Start your evening with a Martini and choose one of the three excellent seasonal meals or order from the menu. You have to be keen on experiments though as many of the meals on the menu are not known outside of Indonesia. Try a dish with black beans or the classic Rijstafel made up of eight to ten dishes. At the Blue Pepper traditional recipes are fine-tuned with a modern touch, and European guests are pampered with surprising unique tastes. Wine is the only thing that doesn't come from Indonesia. The restaurant offers a good selection of international wines liaising with the exotic spices.
The restaurant has moved into a former garage and repair work is still taken seriously here. When you arrive you're exhausted, hungry and tense; when you leave you feel fresh, wide awake and happy. Half of the work is done by the ambience: Cees Dam is responsible for the design, somewhere in between retro and future; lots of red, lots of mirrors, a straight atmosphere and innumerable white light bulbs forming circles on the ceiling as highlights. The fine-tuning is served with your meal: Master chef Joop Braakhekke's creations won't disappoint you. So, it's up to you to choose from the extensive menu. As celebs have taken to the place as well, it's not only the cutlery that glitters here. Regulars include fancy folk from the glittering worlds of art, TV, sports and starlets. The only thing not meant to glitter is the content of your wallet. Better have banknotes on you, coins are not even good for tip here.
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.
STAY in Amsterdam:
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.
Do you know what the Japanese are good at? They do without plastic, use a lot of wood and create the kind of architecture that render any Yoga programme unnecessary in the first place. Add lots of comfort, perfect service, the eternal smile and out comes the sole European branch of the Japanese Okura noble chain, one of the leading hotels in the world. Not without reason the Japanese are known to be excellent business people. And the Okura accommodates the probably most expensive suite in town, which is also the largest in the Benelux States. The price per night goes beyond the 1,000 Euro limit. And if you run away screeching now, please do come back. There are cheaper rooms as well, attracting the target group of wealthy Japanologists. You can relax with Japanese soaps via satellite, before you treat yourself to dinner at Ciel Bleu. The hotel restaurant lies at 75 metres, breathtaking view included. The price for a night in a standard room starts from approx. 200 Euros.
Don't tell anyone else: The Jordaan quarter is one of the best in town. The former working-class district turned into a favourite hangout for artists and intellectuals. Today, dreamers will adore its old-fashioned charm, and shoppers will love the hip stores around. The hotel is right here, in the immediate vicinity of the Anne Frank House. And right here you should check in if you are a fan of the authentic. The 17th-century Gracht house has been renovated to accommodate eight rooms, all of them of pretty, albeit plain interior. Don't go on a search for details, you won't find any. Just content yourself with being able to sleep in such a charming historical ambience. And believe us: You won't need more than that. The price for a night in the double room starts from 139 Euros.
SIGHTS in Amsterdam:
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.
On vases, tiles or toilet seats - the focus is on sex here. The Sex Museum gives an overview of the most beautiful pastime in the world and its depiction. Exhibits range from phallus symbols in Antiquity to medieval morals, from the pin-up culture of the fifties to future visions on sex. In addition to paintings, sculptures and scriptures, you also see very bizarre objects, for instance a somewhat dingy toilet seat. But if you think that with what we have to do here is a tatty collection of adult magazines and perverted fantasies, you can't be more wrong. The three floors of the Sex Museum exhibit a sometimes serious, sometimes comic exploration of the topic that is usually not talked about so openly. This extraordinary museum offers a somewhat different perspective of sex, showing different developments in historical contexts.
In the past the focus was on gas here; today it is on art, creativity and culture. The location is as fascinating now as it was then. But today, visits of this brick building located in Westerpark are probably more frequent than in the past. You won't find a dominating art genre here, but you will find conferences, exhibitions, scientific panels, fashion weeks and get-togethers for creative people- and anything that inspires you. For instance a small cinema and big rock concerts. But if you want to just pass by here for a beer, it's just as fine. Artists who work here are not fond of closed studios, so you can visit the Westergasfabrik all day long: in the morning for a cup of coffee at Espresso Factory, for lunch at the baker's or for a stroll through the small galleries in the afternoon. You dine best at the Pacific Parc and afterwards you have enough energy for dancing, for instance at the Flex Bar.