Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Amsterdam Part Two - Bars, Vegan/Veggie Food & Museum Guide

Hello again! We hope you found yesterday's Amsterdam Indie Shopping Guide useful! In this post we're going to cover our favourite bars, restaurants and galleries which we found during our week's stay. We're not claiming to be Amsterdam experts or anything, these are just some places we found and LOVED and we definitely intend to go back and explore more, so if you've got any of your own tips please let us know in the comments!! :o)
So let's go...
RoestJacob Bontiusplaats 1
First mention has to go to Roest as it was our fave hangout by far! We were very very lucky as we stayed a little out of town in the East and Roest  was just a couple of minutes walk away from us. However, we still would never had found it unless our wonderful AirBnB host hadn't mentioned it as it's hidden away. The bar itself is a converted industrial building complete with double decker bus (see above) and an urban 'beach' on the canal side (see below - no people present as we were scoping it out before they opened!)
Inside the actual bar the decor is effortlessly hipster cool without seeming like it's trying too hard (like a lot of East London seems to be doing these days). The people were mostly Dutch (aged roughly 18-35) though tourists were very welcome and the staff all spoke English. They made bloody good mojitos and they have table football, which I beat Jam on (WOOP). 
Ok I'll stop banging on about how awesome Roest is... We were lucky to be staying so close to it but still it's only a short tram ride or cycle from Central and I'd say worth the effort. There's also Brouwerij 'T IJ which is a brewery in a windmill (awesome) but the night we tried to go it didn't seem to be open (boo) but is another good reason to explore East Amsterdam.
Brewerij de Prael - Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30
We'd heard that Brewerij de Prael in the Red Light District was a really relaxed brewery with awesome beer. At first we came across their shop which has a few chairs in the middle so you can sit down for a drink and we were disappointed, NOT the relaxed setting we had expected! Then I spotted their logo down the next alleyway and realised they had a whole massive bar down there and we felt a tad sheepish. Jam decided to be cocky (geddit?) and ordered a 'Quadrupel Willy' first time round, not realising it was's him realising:

I went for the 'Bitterblond' which was very nice indeed! We hung out here rather a lot...

Dwaze Zaken - Prins Hendrikkade 50
Not too far from Brewerij de Prael is Daze Zeken, an awesome café/bar in a pretty cool building, fairly small but with big high ceilings and massive windows so it's feels spacious (see above). We watched this Portuguese band play and had no idea what they were singing about, but it was GREAT.

Noorderlicht - NDSM-plein 102
Noorderlicht Café is over on Amsterdam Noord which you can jump on a free ferry to from behind Central Station. Just make sure you get the RIGHT ferry as there's three and we ended up traipsing miles by mistake (turns out Amsterdam Noord is mostly a big industrial estate, not pretty). Where Noorderlicht is situated is very cool though as the creatives have taken over. There's another neighbouring bar called Plekk which we didn't go to but also looked very cool.

Noorderlicht interior

We were REALLY lucky that during our week in Amsterdam 'IJ-Hallen' was on which is a monthly flea market ...or rather I should call it "Europe's Largest Flea Market". And it is HUGE. In fact we went round one warehouse and were about to pass out from exhaustion when we realised there was another WHOLE warehouse of stalls. It's also over on Amsterdam Noord which was great as we collapsed in the Noorderlicht beer garden afterwards. Entrance is 5 Euros but for sheer size it's definitely worth it. We picked up a whole bunch of records and a Dutch speaking Buzz Lightyear (as you do).
Hannekes Boom - Dijksgracht 4
ANOTHER awesome quirky colourful bar by a canal! Amsterdam you really spoilt us in a week! This one is close to the centre, near the big NEMO Science Museum (which you can't miss). It felt like a daytime kind of hangout but that may just be because we went in the daytime and sat on the colourful picnic benches in the sunshine. The whole bar is made from salvaged materials and they've done an awesome job of making it look cool.
So that's 5 bars and I only have 2 food places on my 'Must Recommend' list...oh dear!! Jam was my absolute hero before we went to Amsterdam and did some vegan restaurant research and he found two absolute gems...
De Vegetarische TraiteurRozengracht 217H
I feel hungry just THINKING about this place. This awesome veggie/vegan café and deli serves absolutely scrummy food and is the perfect lunch location for veggie/vegan folk (though Jam enjoyed it very much too!) They sell pittas, burgers, salads etc and use lots of yummy vegan meats which you can also buy from the deli counter. Genius! The burgers and spicy chicken pittas are amazing (don't worry, I had them on different days). Also highly recommend their fresh carrot juice. 
Golden TempleUtrechtsestraat 126
This was another awesome find from Jam (I married the right man!) Golden Temple is a small, informal veggie and vegan restaurant with a bohemian vibe. The main influence is obviously Indian but they also offer Mexican and pizza dishes on the menu too. We obviously went for Indian, both ordering the thali to avoid any food envy and it was DELISH. There wasn't much conversation going on just lots of 'Mmmmmm'. We then shared a massive vegan ice cream sundae which I'm still having dreams about. Be warned, the space is small and you may be sat very close to another table but the whole place is so chilled out and friendly it doesn't seem to bother anyone. 
Apart  from those two we cooked at home and for lunch stuck to two of our quick/cheap eat chain restaurant faves from our Europe travels (and most times we go in to London) Wok to Walk (noodle bar) and Maoz (falafel bar with endless salad) which are dotted all over the city centre.
Fun things we picked up in Amsterdam!

Stedelijk MuseumMuseumplein 10
Most people when it comes to art in Amsterdam tell you to go to the Van Gogh Museum but..and it might be sacrilege to say..we're not really hugely in to Van Gogh... which is lucky as the queue to get in there was HUGE. Instead we went to the Stedelijk which was really quiet and has an AWESOME collection of both graphic design, product design (lots of lovely Memphis!) and modern art. Also I got to be reunited with one of my fave ever Matisse's 'The Parakeet and the Mermaid' (see below) and we pretty much had it to ourselves. 

You have to pay to get in (15 Euros) but it's massive inside and well worth it. There was a really interesting exhibition on the ZERO art movement downstairs too which we almost managed to miss. If we'd stayed longer in Amsterdam I'd have liked to have visited the Rijksmuseum too, especially when I found out there was a Dick Bruna show on. 
Walls - Prinsengracht 737
We were attracted in to Walls by the Matisse quote outside and it was a fantastic little modern art gallery. There was a show of completely black painting by Wouter Nijland....which sounds like it wouldn't be our thing but Wouter uses 10 different shades of black and his processes were really interesting....and the results very beautiful, see for yourself here.

Katten Kabinet (Cat Museum) - Herengracht 497

I was a bit overexcited when I heard Amsterdam had a cat museum. It's not very big, just a few rooms on one floor of an old canal house and the garden. Inside were paintings, drawings, sculptures and pottery guessed it, cats. Our fave part was the old advertising posters in the garden (pictured) and of course we met a couple of real cats too. It's 5 Euros entry but well worth it I'd say.

We did actually visit the most famous of all museum's in Amsterdam, Anne Frank's House this time around (having bottled it the last two visits) and I'm REALLY glad we did. I was worried it would be really touristy and it WAS insanely busy but luckily it was pouring with rain so we only queued for half an hour (on other days the queue was CRAY and the the book online thing didn't seem to be working). Despite it being very busy everyone was very quiet inside and the layout of the museum helps to keep the people flowing in small groups.
Artis Royal ZooPlantage Kerklaan 38-40
Amsterdam zoo is amazing!!!!!!!! They have everything!!!! DO NOT MISS THE HUGE CROCODILE. There's nothing else to say except GO GO GO!!!!!
BloemenmarktSingel 630 to 600
We didn't intend to visit Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam's floating flower market but stumbled across it and it was so much more than just tulip bulbs! Definitely worth a peek, just look at those cacti!!!

Well....that's all folks! Hope these two blog posts about our fave Amsterdam finds have been useful and interesting! We can't wait to go back so if you have any of your own tips please leave them in the comments!! :o)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Amsterdam Part One - Indie Shopping Guide

Hello! As you've most probably seen already if you follow us on social media we've just got from a little shotgun trip to Amsterdam for a week! Amsterdam is one of our FAVOURITE cities in Europe (and we've been to a good fair few), there's just no where else like it. We packed an OBSCENE amount in to a week, walked a billion miles and found some amazing shops, bars and foodie places. We decided to do our own little guide to Amsterdam in the hopes it'll be useful to some other visitors or if not we can just refer to it ourselves in the future when we go back ;o)

We're going to split the posts in to Part One - Indie Shopping Guide and Part Two - Bars, Vegan/Veggie Food Places and Museums/Galleries. The pictures for this shopping guide MAY not be the most inspiring (i.e. they're pretty much all the exteriors of shops!) but hopefully it'll give you some ideas of places to maybe check out. So on to it!
Ultra de la RueOudekerksplein 30
We were soooo pleased to stumble across Ultra de la Rue early on in our trip. This super cool gallery shop in the heart of the Red Light District is full of awesome contemporary art prints, screen printed t-shirts and in general gorgeous things. As if that wasn't enough, Ultra de la Rue have designed their own 'Red Light District ABC' map and app with a guide to "Alternative, Bottom up and Counterculture locations" featuring over 80 places including awesome bars, shops, concept stores, galleries, restaurants and more. In fact, it's probably a FAR better Amsterdam guide than this for the Red Light District area so check it our here ;o)

WonderWood - Rusland 3
If you appreciate beautiful wooden furniture and objects made with mind-blowing craftsmanship, we HIGHLY recommend popping in to WonderWood! Like us you'll probably wish you could afford everything.
DroogStaalstraat 7B
In a similar drool-worthy design way, Droog is an amazing concept store full of contemporary products and furniture. You'll be sure to see something unique in here! They have a Hôtel Droog as well that we didn't go in to but it looks like you can grab a bite to eat there and visit their 'Fairy Tale Garden'.
Kitsch KitchenRozengracht 8-12
Being lovers of all things colourful, plastic and well...kitsch, Kitsch Kitchen was one of our fave Amsterdam finds. With a large space across two floors, this was a treasure trove of wonderfully obnoxiously bright homewares, accessories, toys, stationery and more. I think we were a wee bit overwhelmed as we only left with two small plastic donkeys (as you do) but we also had major hand luggage restrictions (bummer). It's a visual feast for the eyes and definitely worth a visit!
Getting bored of shop pictures? Here's a pretty Amsterdam interlude:
By Popular Demand - Raadhuisstraat 2
Really nice quirky gift shop, great for buying silly gifts for silly people.
Shop de Ville - Staalstraat 11
Along a similar vibe, quirky gifts and homewares (REALLY wanted that big smiley lamp in the window!) We left with a little boat toothbrush holder (as you do). Super friendly staff.
Printed in Space - Grimburgwal 2
Teeny tiny 3D print shop with beautiful colourful vases (wanted them ALL), jewellery and other fun objects. You can watch the 3D print machine at work too (AKA witchcraft). There's also a hologram section where you can do what we did and sway back and forth in front of the pictures going "LOOK! It's moving!! OOOHH!!"
Episode - Waterlooplein 1, Berenstraat 1, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 61, Spuistraat 96
Just realised I haven't mentioned any clothes shops yet.. Episode is a European chain of what seemed to us very well curated vintage. It's quite similar to Beyond Retro in that everything is neatly hung and categorised so it's easy to shop and not your jumble sale kinda vintage shop at all. Prices were probably similar to Beyond Retro too so not super duper cheap but everything was in great condition. I could have spent a fortune but luckily everything I wanted wasn't quite my size. Apparently the clothes are donated to a charity who then sell them on to Episode, which is pretty cool.
Hear Hear - Heisteeg 8
Hear Hear describes itself as 'A Tiny Two Story Shop' and a very charming one it is too. Discover some lovely Dutch brands of jewellery, accessories, ceramics and prints. 
BonBon Boutique - Rosmarijnsteeg 8
BonBon Boutique is a gorgeous shop which is home to the jewellery of Bonne van der Ree. The shop also features lots of other awesome indie brands, most of whom were actually small British brands that we know well. Although it's nice to discover some Dutch brands it was also great to see some British ones reppin' in Amsterdam. 
Velvet - Rozengracht 40
Velvet is a chain of 10 record stores across the Netherlands. We ducked in to the store to avoid a downpour but ended up staying for ages browsing the record collection. There was a great selection of both new and old, with a secondhand section and a large CD section also. Great relaxed vibe inside.
Art Unlimited - Strooijonkerstraat 7 
Looking for a postcard by a particular artist? There's a good chance Art Unlimited will have it! During our whole Amsterdam trip we were on a Miffy mission, being Dick Bruna and Miffy fans and having missed the Miffy statue Art Parade we spent the week collecting postcards instead. We raided the Miffy section here and what a section it was!! But yeah, Miffy aside, they have a HUGE postcard section which has been painstakingly alphabetised by artist. They also sell posters of art prints too.

De Kinderboekwinkel 2Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 344
We couldn't NOT go in a shop that looked like this could we?! Plus we needed to raid it for more Miffy postcards. Great kids book shop which had mostly Dutch books (but very pretty to look at) and some English too.
On our travels we found LOADS of awesome toy shops also (too many to list), proper old fashioned toy shops filled with amazing magical things (including Miffy).

That's it for now! We hope that was marginally useful to someone. Join us for the next installment which contains all the important stuff (beer and food...oh and art).

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