Friday, 8 July 2011
I am in love with Amsterdam!
A few weeks back I participated in the inaugural European Meet the blogger conference held in Amsterdam. It proved to be a very well attended and successful event with over 100 bloggers from all over Europe. It was great to put faces to virtual names; the start hopefully of long term friendships. I particularly enjoyed hearing the stories of how some bloggers started then expanded, truly inspiring. Lise M. from "Urban Style Vibes" and many others are to be congratulated for making it happen. Guest speakers were Holly Becker from Decor8, Angelie from Lily's cupcakes and Natasha from Flavourites.
Conference over it was then time to explore and Amsterdam is now one of my favourite cities because of its beauty, amazing design and yet, for a major city, areas of solitude. There aren't many cultures as open and blunt as the Dutch which for some can be quite disarming. As someone who has been cast in the same mould I find it amusing and refreshing. The Dutch are very welcoming and always so friendly.
After nearly avoiding certain death from all the cyclists whizzing by one learns how to look both ways twice when crossing the road so not to be taken out by bikes, cars or trams. I do like the fact that they cycle everywhere no matter the weather and the more on a bike the merrier. Its amazing what you can do on a bike...
Did you know there are over 200,000 boat houses and some of them are quite amazing and stylish? I so wish I could have seen them from the inside; talking about inside while walking in Amsterdam so many times I looked through a window thinking it was a stylish shop and I found myself looking into a person's house, not a place to set up a net curtain business it would seem. Apologies to the ones that saw me do it but it shows how beautifully decorated most of them were.
Coming from a country where socializing is part of my DNA I embrace how the Dutch also do it, like it is a part of their work/life balance. I also found it to be more economic to eat out in Amsterdam than London. There are endless possibilities to sample cuisine from around the world; here are some really great choices Hostaria, Bar Italia, Bar Moustache, Portugalia, etc. I would avoid most places in Damrak, the street just ahead of Central Station. The locals rarely eat in this area and that should give you a clear indication.
There are amazing markets; on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the muntplein is the Bloemenmarkt ( the only floating flower market in the world); also the market on the Lindengracht where you can get fresh veg, fruit and fish or just go to see what's on offer - its great to take stunning colourful pictures.
I found Jordaan one of the coziest and quirkiest districts with lovely little shops where you can buy nearly anything. The nine streets is also a must, loved wondering around exploring art galleries, jewellers and designer boutiques (may I say I did not succumb to my desire to buy everything). Vondelpark is just stunning, and since it was so hot I welcomed the shade the trees provided and the coolness of the lake sides.
Obviously I had to go to the fashion district ( oh hubby did treat me to a lovely waistcoat ) and ended up finding a furniture shop which I now absolutely love - Riviera Maison has a New England nautical theme; their merchandise is available on line and they will ship overseas plus they do have a representative in Surrey. I was greeted with such helpfulness and buying in Riviera Maison is an experience in itself - their customer service is superb.
I also found another shop, Sissy Boy, a great name instantly memorable and I really like their furniture. The layout was so well done that I just had to take pictures so you knew what i meant ( I have to say I was told off for doing so, shades of my experiences in Hong Kong).
I so enjoyed my trip, it has whetted my appetite to return. If you have been there lately or are going do let me know of your experiences.
Pictures via Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Riviera Maison and my own.