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Amsterdam, Blog, Do, Drink, Eat, The Netherlands

Amsterdam revisited

January 2, 2015

Amsterdam revisited.

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.

Foam, Amsterdam

Foam, Amsterdam

Foam, Amsterdam

Foam, Amsterdam

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.

Dr Blend, Amsterdam

Dr Blend, Amsterdam

Dr Blend, Amsterdam

Dr Blend, AmsterdamDr Blend, Amsterdam

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.

Lavinia, Amsterdam

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.

Stach, Amsterdam




For more tips on Amsterdam check out my post on the Rijksmuseum/Brunch and my Amsterdam updated post.

Amsterdam, Blog, Do, Drink, Eat, The Netherlands

Amsterdam: Nine Streets, the Hermitage and the Ysbreker

December 30, 2012

Amsterdam: Updated

Christmas in The Netherlands means I had the opportunity to spend some time in Amsterdam.  With my sister Mol now a ‘local’ there, I wanted to have lunch at a few nice places and also see a museum or two.  To keep myself – and City Turtle – updated.

Day One was unsuitably grey and miserable but Mol and I were determined to set forth on our exploration.  Word of advice:  post Christmas Amsterdam is not the ideal place to be.  It is so crowded – I’m not sure whether there were especially many tourists or whether many locals had the day(s) off and were enjoying their city.  Either way, avoid the Kalver Straat (main shopping street) – we wanted to take a quick look at the Zara sale so braved it.  Big mistake.  People were flowing in and out of the Zara in huge waves.  So we fled.

Nine Streets Amsterdam

Nine Streets, Amsterdam

The cute ‘Nine Little Streets’ (Negen Straatjes) were not much better to be fair, but they have such charm and the buzz is so infectious that it is hard to find the crowds annoying.  Our initial intention was to go to Singel 404 for ‘one of the best sandwiches in Amsterdam’ (quote unquote Mol, many local friends and even the Guardian).  But, having been warned it would be busy, were indeed disappointed to find a queue outside this small, trendy two-level cafe.  Next time.

The Nine Streets is teaming with cosy little eateries.  Screaming Beans has left but been replaced by another cool cafe.  Things are constantly changing.  We walked past the restaurant/cafe Goodies and – despite the perhaps a little off-putting name – had heard good things about it, so decided to give it a go.

Ryan Li's photo

It – naturally – was full.  But the nice waiter said we could sit at the bar and have the next available table.  We watched plates of thick, fresh and mouth-watering sandwiches go by. The tuna sandwich looked so good Mol had already made up her mind before we saw the menu.  Chicken Tikka was not available so I went for the smoked salmon.  The sandwiches (price from €4.50 – €7.95) tasted as good as they looked.  The place itself is a little cramped but with a fun atmosphere.  I liked it.

Shopping wise, the Nine Streets remains the place to be for vintage lovers.  From the more expensive designer vintage shops to the ever-popular ‘Episode’, you will not be disappointed.  Episode is pretty epic.  It has rows and rows of fur coats, denim shirts, overcoats, headbands, platform trainers and colourful dresses.  And even  though I’m not big on vintage, I still had a great time finding Rob a 1920s hat for our New Years Eve party.


Day Two meant more rain and a nasty strong wind but again we were undeterred.  We set off for the Hermitage Museum – which currently has an exhibition on Impressionism (my favourite art movement) and van Gogh (while the van Gogh museum is being renovated).  The perfect combination.  We grumbled at the small queue when we arrived but were grateful to have arrived as early as we did, as 30 minutes later when I looked outside, the queue was snaking around the (large) courtyard.  The exhibitions were beautifully done, informative, but not overly so.  I enjoyed especially the Impressionism exhibit as by the time we got to van Gogh there were about seven people crowded around each painting.  We agreed this was not the way to see art.  I hate being shoved around anyway.  So after we stopped by the rather entertaining museum shop, we made a swift exit.  Definitely worth while, despite the rather high €17.50 entrance fee.


Lunch was a short walk away at the Ysbreker.  I absolutely loved this Brasserie.  It was renovated and more than doubled in size in 2010, yet still keeps its intimate and cosy feel.  It is almost multi-purpose.  In the summer you can come here and sit on their terrace on the Amstel river.  In the winter they have a fire place at the back with book cases and comfy sofas where you can work or surf the web.  Or you can play games.


Or you can simply enjoy brunch, lunch, tea or dinner.  And don’t be worried that they are trying to achieve too much, they can handle it.  The food is excellent and accessible to all.  You can have a ‘tosti’ (cheese/hame toast) for €2.50, or oysters or delicious steak tartar.  I cannot recommend it enough and definitely intend on revisiting it in the summer.

Singel 404

Singel 404  1016 AK Amsterdam


Huidenstraat 9  1016 ER Amsterdam


Berenstraat 1  1016 GG Amsterdam

Hermitage Museum

Amstel 51

Cafe Restaurant De Ysbreker

Weesperzijde 23
1091 EC Amsterdam
T + 31 20 468 1808

Amsterdam, Blog, Do, The Netherlands

Amsterdam Festivals: yet another reason to visit Amsterdam

July 31, 2012

Amsterdam Festivals: yet another reason to visit Amsterdam.

Here are four of the best Amsterdam Festivals:



Awakenings, The Netherlands

When is it: 29th June 2013, from 11am – 23:00

Price: Around 60 euros

Where: Spaarnwoude (close to Amsterdam)


Why you can’t miss it: It has been on the Dutch music scene for some time now, and Awakenings has established itself as ‘the’ expert techno organization in The Netherlands.  It is the largest ‘techno party’ in Holland (eight arenas) with a range of styles within the genre – from progressive to hardtechno.  This year the likes of Ricardo VillaLobos, Carl Cox, Chris Liebing and Ben Simms played.  Plus its close to Amsterdam & easy to get to.  Don’t expect up and coming DJs, Awakenings plays only the well-established DJs.  Apart from good music, Awakenings also boasts a beautiful light show and a closing firework display.

Warning: tickets sell out very early and quickly, so book asap.

Crowd: Young & hip


Awakenings, The Netherlands




Zomerpark, The Netherlands

When it is: 16th June 2012 (next year’s date to be announced)

Price: 38.50 euro

Website: (won’t be of much use to you, unless you can read Dutch)

Why you can’t miss it: It’s just one stage, so it’s small and intimate.  Minimal techno beats. Very close to Amsterdam arena (Arena Park), so easy to get to.   Organised by Gasten Zonder Grenzen.

Crowd: Trendy Amsterdammers


Zomerpark, Amsterdam


De Parade (throughout the summer June to August, tours NL)

De Parade

De Parade, The Netherlands

buy cigarettes online

When is it: June – August

Price: Free till 16:00, then 7 euros

Where: Tours around Holland’s four largest cities: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam & The Hague


Why you can’t miss it:  Theatre lovers cannot miss this – instead of music orientated it focuses on theatre and comedy.  Travel back in time to a festival with an old school circus theme, incorporating more ‘traditional’ fun (think carrousels, story tellers in small gazeebos, bake-your-own poffertjes (small pancakes) and ‘the Dark Room’).  There is even a Silent Disco in cage.  Catch it this year in Amsterdam (10-26th August).

Crowd: Huge range.  From young to old.

De Parade

De Parade, The Netherlands



Voltt from the air

Vollt from the air

When is it: 24th August, 11:00 – 23:00

Price: 41 euros

Website: or

Why you can’t miss it:  It’s set on a huge industrial terrain (NDSM wharf), one of Amsterdam’s coolest locations, reached by a free ferry from Amsterdam Central station.  This smaller-scaled festival has had a recent surge of popularity, yet it retains it’s intimate nature with a warm and vibrant atmosphere.  The music tends to be towards the minimal side of techno, though the tempo increases as the day progresses.  This year you can expect the likes of Cari Lekebush, Gaiser, Tale of Us, Mathias Kaden, Raresh and Bart Skills.  At the beginning of the day they experiment more with the DJs and play some new names, so don’t just expect the big names.  There are two stages (one in an old circus tent) and it has some cool quirks like a giant see-saw.

Crowd: Probably the ‘trendiest’ of Amsterdam’s festivals, the crowd certainly plays the part.

Vollt, the crowd

The blonde crowd

 With many thanks to Celine Gathier and Pieter van Hofwegen for their photos and amazing tips on Vollt and Awakenings. 


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