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.
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.
Green canal cruis
Nomen est omen: Amsterdam Eco Tours guide you through the city and the canals without burdening the environment. That functions via low-emission canal boats that are powered by CNG, compressed natural gas, pedal boats for the sporty ones among you and walking tours through the canals. The sustainability begins at pier 6 itself: while waiting for your boats, the little restaurant serves organic drinks and snacks. Moreover, the Eco Tours employees help you to find restaurant and bars in the city that also think about the protection of mother nature and live after these principles. Last but not least: there are nine electrical boats at pier 6 each of them offering seats for twelve guests. The advantages: the environment is protected and there is practically no noise pollution. Furthermore, the little green boats can land at any place where the big canal boats may not stop (day ticket 22 euro). The Canal Company, which stands behind Eco Tours, was the first boat company being awarded the Green Key for their activities in the field of environmental protection
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 Dutch are practical when it comes to food and thus easily satisfied. They are used to the fact that not everything made from vegetables contains vitamins or that some foods look good but don't taste it without mayonnaise. And they probably think that freshness is overvalued. At least that's what the FEBO automats suggest and they are so bizarre that you should pull out a sandwich in any case. There are more than 20 such automats in Amsterdam, representing a fast food chain without visible staff. At least almost: You insert money and pull out croquettes, a hamburger or a sandwich from behind the display window. The stuff doesn't look too good, you need courage for it, but it tastes okay and it is worth a story back home. But you may rest assured: There are people behind the automat who see to its filling with fresh products regularly - at least that's what is said. You want to know what the letters FEBO mean? FEBO started out in 1941 as bakery on FErdinand BOlstraat.
What happens if a fashion designer opens her living room for guests to cook for them? It's the beginning of Marits, the restaurant run by Dutchwoman Marit Beemster. In her living room that follows the Bourgeois Bohemian style (vintage meets design) she serves purely vegetarian dishes made from seasonal and regional ingredients. On three days a week Marit opens her home and serves a there-course menu on plates that stem from grandmother's kitchen cabinet. At tables that are adorned by different chairs, decorated with flowers or embroidered table cloths, according to occasion and season of the year. The dishes are presented in an equally pretty way - that's the soul of a designer - but always remain coherent: Dutch home cooking with a creative touch. The desserts are particularly recommendable. Baking has always been Marit's cooking passion number one.
SHOPPING in Amsterdam:
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.
You've probably found out already: Sprmarkt is not the usual supermarket, although dropping in the fantastic Albert Heijn grocery shop would also be worth a tip. Here, however, we are confronted with a Sprmrkt without vowels and sausage counter that moved into a former grocery shop to attract people with fashion, art and design. Mission fulfilled! Soon Sprmrkt plus and Sprmrkt Sth followed. Both with a top-class selection of labels. The second shop, however, does not only attract with Diesel, Helmut Lang, Monique von Heist, Julius and Unconditional, but also with its unconventional design. The Doepel Strijkers Architects have developed a space installation of long panels of fabric which - wound, torn, tightened, illuminated or arranged with mannequins - boasts the most fantastic architecture.
What sounds comfortable is not really comfortable. The focus here lies on the look. How you manage to walk or dance in these shoes is your problem. Since 1983 men have been spoilt with high-end products by the most acclaimed designers in the world. Sad ladies, however, remained empty-handed (or -footed) when just another impertinent guy came out wearing the hottest boots, trainers, patent-leather shoes, slippers or sandals. Since 2000, with the opening of the shop in the Leidsestraat, the girls' sufferings have come to an end. Now, all the great labels - Gucci, Prada, D&G, Lanvin, Galliano - and smaller labels - Dsquared2, Frankie Morello, Y-3, Cesare Paciotti - make shoe fanatics beaming with joy. The shops are all but uniform - so everyone finds his or her favourite shoes here. The price category, however, is a different story: Be sure your credit card will screech with shock. In the meantime, there are four shops in Amsterdam - and they are all worthwhile visiting: Koningsplein 7, PC Hooftstraat 80, Leidsestraat 10, Cornelis Schuytstraat 9.
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.
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.
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.