My birthday celebrations have been continuing on and off with various friends and family now for over two weeks, which was really just how I planned it. Instead of having one party to celebrate my big birthday, I wanted to make lots of plans to do different things with different groups of friends.
So on Friday I am off for my first visit to Amsterdam with what I term as my ante natal group of girlfriends, even though our “babies” are nearly 13 years old now. These friends have been constants in my life since the first time we met at a baby massage class and we have been through thick and thin together, happy times, broken relationships and the passing of loved ones. They are some of my dearest friends and we are going to have a whale of a time.
We are staying in a lovely hotel in De Pijp area, which is quite near the canals and the museums, areas full of culture and history. Even though there will be plenty of drinking and making merry, we are culture vultures and we have a combined passion for shopping and sniffing out the individual independant shops, that offer that something special and no I’m not talking about coffee shops!
I have been reading Amsterdam Made by Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk who takes you on a walking tour of her adopted city, breaking it down into 10 areas of interest and recommending shops, cafes, bars and restaurants in each specific area. The book is a couple of years old now, so some of her recommendations no longer exist sadly, but it’s still a worthwhile read as it gives you a flavour of the city and the areas to aim for, to get off the beaten track.
Some of the shops and markets we are hoping to visit are below. They offer the best in Dutch design and creativity and I will of course let you have a full report on what I discovered, when I get back.
Friday Next is a concept store near to the Van Gogh museum, combining homewares, clothes and hospitality.
Hutspot is a concept store for new designers, giving them the chance to sell their products for a small commission fee. Opened only a couple of years ago, they now have two branches and are constantly showcasing new designs and hosting events, such as BBQ’s within the stores gardens.
The Frozen Fountain is a furniture and accessories store, which also host exhibitions and installations by emerging Dutch designers. this is the store that first showcased the work of Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, famous now for his scrapwood designs of furniture and wallpaper.
Swarm is a lovely shop with an online store, selling reclaimed objects that have been upcycled into beautiful bespoke heritage pieces.The owner used to work for Anthropologie for many years, and now sells her designs back to them.
Noordermarkt is a historical Saturday market which has been trading for over 350 years in one of the oldest areas of Amsterdam, Jordaan. It is a mix of antiques, artisan goods, food and art and on a Monday morning transforms itself into a flea market, a mecca for vintage clothes enthusiasts.
The Sunday Market, runs every first Sunday of the month, and luckily for us, that’s the Sunday we will be in Amsterdam. A mix of crafts, artisan goods, vintage clothes, street food and music, it opens from 12.00pm until 6.00pm.
Of course you can’t go to Amsterdam without having a pancake, but as I am Coeliac and intolerant to gluten, I didn’t think I would be able to sample the national dish, but guess what? I can. Pancakes Amsterdam is just near The Anne Frank Museum and has a selection of gluten free pancakes on their menu. Apparently as they don’t take bookings, the queue outside is usually about 20 minutes for a table, but I reckon it will be worth it?