I was super blessed with the weather, although I came prepared as the wind can be biting here. Don't even think about wearing heels, get your most comfortable trainers or boots and prepare to be impressed. The architecture is totally unique, the classic tall thin houses set alongside the canals, and bicycles everywhere due to the fact that public transport can only get you near the destination but not outside the door. First thing to conquer as well is the trams, find a tram map and buy a card which you use like an oyster card, touch in and out. The stops are clearly announced and indicated on the tram itself so you won't have to worry about not recognising when to get off.
I started my treck on day one with the Nine Streets area, this is easy to see on maps if you google. Here are the most stylish shops in my opinion, the one off boutiques and cool cafes. I tried two cafes on Reestraat, Ree 7 and Pluk, both serving very healthy clean food in simply and sleek surroundings. Also on Reestraat at Number 1 is the boutique small shop of what was to be my most favourite discovery of all - de Weldaad. The shop on Reestraat on the corner, is full of more small decorative home and gift items, to describe it I would say take a mix of Victorian weirdy, Scandi chic and natural history museum, then perhaps you would be somewhere near to imagining. Fossils, shells and bones, under glass domes, beautiful containers and vases, feathers, mercury glass, wooden birds, and so on. It's larger mother store is up in Noordermarkt and that has all this and much larger pieces, leaning more towards the architectural salvage. Here's some photos of the larger shop..
|old painted tin ceiling tiles can be found here, my current latest crush.|
De Weldaad is beautifully laid out and curated, grouping objects in colour sections and mixing old and new seamlessly.
Also to be found in Nine Streets which I thought was quite unique is a bedhouin and tribal jewellery shop called Parwan on Herengracht.
For interesting smells and quality bath products have a sniff around Marie Stella Maris, their liquid hand soap is something quite different to your usual supermarket brand, leaving your hands feeling soft and smooth instead of dried out, I chose the Cedre Intime as it has Patchouli notes, but they even have a smell like the falling autumn leaves in Amsterdam!
All the plant and florists shops are outstanding and I managed to get hold of some great plants which are hard to find in the UK. There are two plant shops on Bilderdijkstraat quite close to each other, one of which is Wildernis. But wherever you go you will pass a lovely florist and spot some great house plants.
We popped up to Noordermarkt on Saturday when the market is on. On the outside of the market square is de Weldaad's larger store and on the market itself the most wonderful lady who imports from Africa. This stall has a wonderful selection of Shibori and indigo dyed fabrics and scarves, some new and some old, plus lovely tribal jewellery. Birgit's company name is SternAfrica and she personally travels and chooses very good pieces. Food wise, we ate at Finch on the corner and it was excellent, I had a great avocado on toast that Nigella would be jealous of.
From Noordermarkt we walked to Haarlemmerdijk, further North. Here you will find a bathroom shop full of antique baths and all things bath related. The Shop is called Affaire D'eau at number 148-150. The collection of antique reclamation is superb.
We walked there via a street market on Lindengracht and there I found a man selling African baskets at very reasonable prices, you will see these a lot in the shops this year particularly when used for plants. I will feature these in some future posts.
If you are restoring a period bathroom you will find the perfect authentic pieces here in Affaire D'Eau. It might be worth considering driving over to the Netherlands so that you can bring the larger items back home.
Further down the road, as if you are heading back towards Grand Central station, Haarlemmerdijk turns into Haarlemmerstraat, and here you can find one of the Zenza stores. This store to me, sums up perfectly one of the looks that I personally champion, the fusion between ethnic design and craftsmanship with the colour tones of Scandinavian chic. Zenza have primarily a large stock of lighting, which is made in their own factory in Egypt. Both the silver and copper light shades are stunning but there is so much more to this store as well, lovely carved side tables in a pale coloured wood, plant hangers and unusual accessories, I bought some spoons made from shells with silver stems.
To visit the Nine Streets area I got off the tram at Spui and walked through the floating flower market, for Noordmarkt we started at the Dam Square stop and took the back streets heading North. There was a marked difference between the weekday and weekend for numbers of people, and the weekend tourists can make it very busy, so if you can try and go out on a wednesday or thursday so that you can mooch for several days with the streets to yourself. Mind out for those cyclists too, they are ruthless! There are defined cycle lanes and they are strictly not for walking on unless you want to get mown down. I bought a number of plants and to bring them back in my luggage I took them out of the plastic pots, removed some of the dirt and put them in shoe boxes with some tissue paper. One of them is looking a bit sad but the others seem to have survived ok. I will be featuring these in both my Urban Jungle Bloggers posts and for Lobster and Swans new hashtag #botanicalpickmeup
I don't have any photos but there's a really good antique furniture shop on Prinsengracht at 579, set in a lovely old building vof Prinsheerlijk Antiek has very traditional grand old pieces, do have a look if you are passing.
In all my years of visiting this city, since the 1980's, I have never been to the red light district once, so my advice is to see the city like a local would and not like a tourist, it will be so much more rewarding and I hope this blog helps you to do that. Happy Days. J x