Last time I wrote about the alternative side of Amsterdam which involves parks, secret gardens and canal boat trips. This time it is the turn of the bars and shops that I think are well worth a visit and only highlight further how much this city has to offer.
If like me and my friends you are a fan of designer shopping, then the only place to head for is Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat. In a really upmarket area of the city, near the museum quarter, the likes of Cartier, Tiffany, Bulgari, Hermes, Armani, Gucci can be found. And if you need feeding and watering while you are splashing the cash, look no further than George WPA (which stands for Williams Park Avenue, the English translation of where it can found), a US style French brasserie with art nouveau fixtures and bistro tables to confuse any New Yorker that they are in fact home!
For people on a slightly tighter budget, Amsterdam has two huge flea markets – one is Waterlooplein (a little touristy) and the other in Albert Cuypmarkt. A lot of the stalls sell total rubbish but you may just find a hidden treasure. And if you are in Albert Cuypmarkt, then popping into Chocolate Bar is a must. A lovely little bar with very laid back atmosphere where you can have a glass of wine or just a coffee. The relaxed service is pretty usual for Amsterdam, that’s to say not for the impatient, but it is part of the pace of life here. Don’t be put off by reviews saying the service is bad at certain places, as what may be poor by New York’s standard say, is completely normal for here.
Following a gorgeous lunch at Caffe Esprit, we stumbled on the most beautiful jewellery shop, which is a world away from the flea market!
Barong Barong, near Spui, is a mecca of brightly coloured and textured bracelets. Even from the outside, which I spotted from the number 5 tram and was drawn to, you are immediately enticed in by the colours and the stunning window display.
Our favourite was a combination of silver and black stingray leather but the choice is endless. Any girl will feel like a child in a sweet shop here!
Amsterdam is known for its tulips and from March to May every year, around 30km outside of Amsterdam, you can visit the tulip fields in the Keukenhof Gardens or even go biking through the farmers’ fields (don’t worry this is allowed!). But at any other time of year, visitors will have to make do with the Bloemenmarkt. The only floating flower market in the world, there are over 15 stalls on permanent barges on the Singel canal with beautiful cuts, and bulbs.
Finally, I really liked an antique and reproduction furniture and home-y store called De Weldaad in the Jordaan district. De Weldaad has some lovely shabby chic items as well as antique furniture and reclaimed industrial pieces. A few doors down from here is a lovely “brown” cafe, Cafe Proust, perfect for lunch or light bites. The term “brown cafe” used to refer to the nicotine-stained walls when smoking was allowed indoors, but now it refers to places with a friendly ambiance and casual vibe – think: cosy pub…
I loved my time in Amsterdam, I saw the best of what the city has to offer and could ignore the worst as it is not as prevalent as it once was. I found lovely places to eat and drink, and for a mini break just a short hop from the UK, it really did deliver.