On a crisp clear winter morning I continued my exploration of Amsterdam. Since I’ve never lived here it is a city that I’m familiar with, but one I still don’t know intimately. I find myself drawn, again and again, to the ‘grachten gordel’ – the canal district. I love how the facades of the houses are all so unique and, despite their beauty, are far from perfect. Some houses slump against each other, while others lean away towards open spaces; an indication of the age, and individuality, of these buildings.
First on the agenda was Foam Museum – Amsterdam’s most famous and best regarded photography museum, located on the Keizer’s Gracht. Here we saw the exhibition of the renowned Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki – a mix of his old (and most celebrated – if somewhat shocking) work of tied up women, to his newest work of ‘Alluring Hell’. I was not really a fan of either. But I loved some of his other work and how he explores life and death through the lens of his camera – most poignantly shown through the photographs of his wife during day to day life, from their honeymoon through to her early death. And a parallel series of photos of his wife’s cat who outlived her by 20 years, and whom Araki photographed vivaciously until the cats timely death. It is a moving exhibition, and a memorable one. There is also a Vivian Maier exhibition of her street photography which I have been desperate to see, but the queue was too long for two impatient girls, so we moved on.
It seems like Amsterdam has now also caught the health bug. Restaurants and cafes with a health focus are cropping up throughout the city. Dr Blend is a delightful Juice Bar as well as health store. They offer juices the colour of the rainbow – from healthy green mixes (I loved the sound of Dr Brockiwi – with kiwi and broccoli) but in the end went for Dr Red (I can’t get enough of beetroot). There is a small seating area from where you can admire the shelves of blenders and packets of quinoa, seeds and powders which gets me excited but I am well aware this may not be everyones cup of tea. We saw sandwiches laden with smashed avocados go by, as well as delicious smelling soups and organic muffins.
Lavinia is another new ‘good food’ (as they call it) cafe. We went in to grab one of their raw hot chocolates, but it appears that we were not the only ones in search of a post-Christmas ‘health’ injection. It is super cosy, warm and welcoming, with good breakfast options, sourdough sandwiches, spelt pizzas and ‘green cocktails’ (without alcohol of course). Will need to head back there next time.
If you want to grab something on the go for lunch, then Stach is a great option. They offer everything from salads to sandwiches, but use seasonal ingredients and have more of a health focus than other Dutch take away shops. It’s worth just wandering along the little nine streets to pop into a vintage shop or a cafe. I love people watching here as it’s a nice balance between tourist and local.