We spent last weekend taking little trip over to Amsterdam. It’s the perfect place for a weekend break – a super-quick 40 minute flight from our nearby City Airport, a quick train into town the other side and a stroll to the hotel from there. It’s a great city for exploring by foot (or more traditional bike or boat, of course), and every corner you turn presents a picturesque view of bike-filled bridges over the canals. It’s also full of flowers, be it carefully grown around peoples’ front doors or windowsills, or wildflowers growing through the pavement cracks.
It’s great for shopping too, if little boutiques are your thing. The Negen Straatjes ( ’9 Little Streets’) area to the west of the centre contains most of the coolest little shops and it’s great for a wander round.
My favourite one we stumbled on is The Otherist. Styled up like a curiosity cabinet, it sells trinkets and goodies by indie designers, as well as yummy Manos yarns. You can buy online on their website too, hurrah. I also liked vintage store Episode which contains a nice selection of original accessories as well as restyled and reconstructed skirts and tops. The fabulously pink Kitsch Kitchen is a little trove of kitschy kitchen and homeware. I picked up some melamine spoons and some toys for the cat.
There’s a fair bit of food and drink on offer too. We went to the Noordmarkt in the north of town which hosts an organic food market on Saturdays (and had the most packed cafe I’d ever seen next door, with everyone eating specialty Dutch apple cake with whipped cream). We were hoping to stock up on beers at the Cracked Kettle too, but realised we wouldn’t be able to take it back on the flight with us.
We did enjoy a few beers out at the Brouweri ‘t IJ though – a windmill-turned-working-brewery which serves yummy wheat and white beers all made on the premises. They do tours but only on Fridays so we missed out.
My favourite thing though was definitely (and perhaps unsurprisingly) the Katten Kabinet, a whole house turned museum in honour of cats! Housed in a typical canal-side building, it’s been restored to 18th-19th century grandeur and contains all feline-related ephemera imaginable, from advertising posters to sculptures to a pinball table made of Chinese ‘lucky cats’. Best of all, there are 3 real-life furry exhibits who didn’t mind being cuddled and fussed over at the end. So sweeeet!
Amsterdam is full of cats, actually. I saw 14 over the course of the weekend, lazing on windowsills, sitting by the canal and even one chilling with its owners outside a bar. I can definitely get on board with a city that loves its cats!