EAT in Amsterdam:
The building on stilts used to be the TV station of a Dutch private channel. Then it was transformed into a restaurant in the bay of Amsterdam: the REM Eiland. Since this summer, there are three kinds of oysters that end up on the table in REM Eiland located in the Houthaven (the wooden bay) - among other things. The three-course menus change daily - the offer includes sea fruit, meat, fish and a vegetarian dish. The steel construction in white and red served as an illegal broadcasting station for the Dutch TV channel TV Noordzee in the 1960s, and later became a governmental gaging station. In 2008 the entrepreneurs Nick von Loon and Hilly Engels developed in co-operation with architect's office Concrete a plan for transforming the building into a two-storey venue. The view from the rooftop terrace in a height of 22 metres goes from the bay, across the river IJ up to the modern Amsterdam district Spaarndammerhout.
Yes, it is kitschy. But if you want to feel like an emperor in China, you should afford yourself dinner at the Sea Palace. While it is not cheap to dine here, the ambience will surprise you: The restaurant in the style of a pagoda is floating on the water. Here, they will serve you anything you know from the China restaurant but in first-class quality: Dim Sum, for instance, Peking duck or Sichuan dishes. A specialty of the house is the seafood Cantonese-style. If, after so many culinary experiments, so much kitsch and numerous glasses of plum wine you get into a romantic mood, you can order your Chinese-style wedding here. The Sea Palace organises unforgettable weddings, from the invitation to the last drink.
If you are not hungry you should take out your spouse to IJ-kantine - it's worth the unique experience. The restaurant, which lies to the north of the city, is easiest reached by ferry. The ferry is free and takes you out of the city to an old and fascinating industrial area. The restaurant, with its high ceilings and huge glass windows, is probably the district's most beautiful building. And of course you have to pay for it as neither the delicious lunch nor the long drink is cheap. But the sunset above the harbour makes up for it, especially on Sunday afternoons which have a special flair enhanced by live music. Apart from business people who hold conferences here you will also come across families. While parents wine and dine in the restaurant, the kids can play in huge sand boxes or in the kids' corner. Our tip: Those who get seasick can also come by car or taxi. There's free parking available.
SHOPPING in Amsterdam:
To start off with: the Dutch are a fashion loving folk. This is proven - among other things - by the fact that there are seven fashion academies in such a small country. So much young fashion also needs space: Young Designers United takes account for that and as a collective it regularly presents a dozen of young national and international designers in their shop at the Keizersgacht. It's a fashionable win-win-situation: unknown designers can rent some space on the hanging rail. There are only four pieces of each design without fail. The fashion directress of the house, Angelika Groenendijk-Wasylewski, holds the upper hand concerning the choice of designs in order to provide for a selection that is affordable and wearable. For women interested in fashion - Young Designers United presents fashion designs for women - the collective is a rich source of fashion designers who might stand just before their breakthroughs.
You've probably found out already: Sprmarkt is not the usual supermarket, although dropping in the fantastic Albert Heijn grocery shop would also be worth a tip. Here, however, we are confronted with a Sprmrkt without vowels and sausage counter that moved into a former grocery shop to attract people with fashion, art and design. Mission fulfilled! Soon Sprmrkt plus and Sprmrkt Sth followed. Both with a top-class selection of labels. The second shop, however, does not only attract with Diesel, Helmut Lang, Monique von Heist, Julius and Unconditional, but also with its unconventional design. The Doepel Strijkers Architects have developed a space installation of long panels of fabric which - wound, torn, tightened, illuminated or arranged with mannequins - boasts the most fantastic architecture.
Cindy and Frans love Amsterdam's Utrechtsestraat because in the ever-growing shopping street they can go shopping, have lunch and are close to their own store: Centre Neuf. It was opened five years ago, and the reason was Donna Karan. Which part did the American fashion designer play exactly? Well, the two have met twelve years ago in the DKNY store on P.C. Hooftstraat, that is the luxury shopping mile in the Dutch capital. According to Cindy they have become a good team and even better friends. Their similar taste in fashion and their understanding of service have probably contributed to that. They offer Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs and Acne in their 70s store - the pieces are presented in front of a brick wall and ordered according to looks. They have just opened a second store on the same street exclusively selling fashion by the Danish label Wonhundred.
STAY in Amsterdam:
How they manage to embarrass you here? By asking you whether something was wrong when you check out. Because you will for sure not have anything to complain about. The Roemerhotel, that is to say, offers everything you may wish for: perfect location at Leidesplein, 18th-century foundation walls with contemporary upgrade, exceptional service and a garden. The clocks seem to tick slower here, and that's no disadvantage in busy Amsterdam. It means you can relax. For instance over a cocktail in front of the fireplace or at one of the 23 rooms boasting dapper design and pastel shades. And you cannot only relax in bed, by the way, but also in your private Jacuzzi. The price for one night in the double room starts from 120 euros.
Multitasking skills have seemed to be quite trendy for a couple of years. At the moment, this trend moves toward the opposite direction again - but not for Ulrika Lundgren: she manufactures leather bags and cashmere cardigans, publishes a magazine and has recently opened her own guest house - the Maison Rika - with view on the Herengracht in Amsterdam. The former Vogue and Elle stylist is smart: she has designed the interior of the two suites in the hotel that is located in an old corner house directly opposite to her boutique. Each spreads over a whole floor and manifests her personal living style. She has put vintage pieces and white furniture on the black oak floor, and art objects by Sang Ming adorn the walls. The Gallery Boutique on the first floor with her favourite pieces also functions as the hotel lobby. There she hosts events with artist friends and colleagues from the newly founded Dutch Vogue. You might not be served breakfast the next morning there but she will provide snacks in the suite throughout the day. It's also the perfect spot to browse through the hotel's own city.
Do you know what the Japanese are good at? They do without plastic, use a lot of wood and create the kind of architecture that render any Yoga programme unnecessary in the first place. Add lots of comfort, perfect service, the eternal smile and out comes the sole European branch of the Japanese Okura noble chain, one of the leading hotels in the world. Not without reason the Japanese are known to be excellent business people. And the Okura accommodates the probably most expensive suite in town, which is also the largest in the Benelux States. The price per night goes beyond the 1,000 Euro limit. And if you run away screeching now, please do come back. There are cheaper rooms as well, attracting the target group of wealthy Japanologists. You can relax with Japanese soaps via satellite, before you treat yourself to dinner at Ciel Bleu. The hotel restaurant lies at 75 metres, breathtaking view included. The price for a night in a standard room starts from approx. 200 Euros.
SIGHTS in Amsterdam:
On vases, tiles or toilet seats - the focus is on sex here. The Sex Museum gives an overview of the most beautiful pastime in the world and its depiction. Exhibits range from phallus symbols in Antiquity to medieval morals, from the pin-up culture of the fifties to future visions on sex. In addition to paintings, sculptures and scriptures, you also see very bizarre objects, for instance a somewhat dingy toilet seat. But if you think that with what we have to do here is a tatty collection of adult magazines and perverted fantasies, you can't be more wrong. The three floors of the Sex Museum exhibit a sometimes serious, sometimes comic exploration of the topic that is usually not talked about so openly. This extraordinary museum offers a somewhat different perspective of sex, showing different developments in historical contexts.
Milk used to be processed here in the past, but then a bunch of hippies came along and staged quite a fuss. What began as spontaneous theatre, is today one of the major cultural centres in town. The Melkweg - you got it: the word means nothing else than milky way - started as beautiful location for spontaneous acting. That was more than 40 years ago. Despite its years, the Melkweg has a young and refreshing flair. Thanks to tough work and determination, the project has well developed. Today, the area comprises two stages, a cinema, several exhibition sites and a restaurant. There is a colourful and diversified programme. The Melkweg is a centre of music, film, theatre, photography and media art, it is a get-together for creative people, active artists and friends of art from all over Europe.
Rent a bicycle
Bicycles are the ideal means of transportation in Amsterdam. You will hardly find a Dutchman who doesn't own one. No matter whether you want to travel fast and flexibly from one spot to the other or cruise around leisurely: A rented bicycle pays off! There is a reason why Amsterdam is called the city of bicycles. Everyone cycles here, from the very young to the very old. As a tourist you won't only have a convenient and fast rental bicycle at hand, you are also travelling Dutch-style. If you want to see sights as well while you are cycling, we recommend you visit the Jordaan district. There, you can combine a tour of the Anne Frank House with the Norderkerk and the Museum of History. Be careful when leaving your bicycle on stops in between: Don't forget to lock it. As far as equipment goes, the various bicycle rents offer bicycles from 8 Euros per day. The longer you rent, the cheaper it gets. The more gears the bicycle has the more expensive it is - and the more useless. You don't have to fear strenuous mountain tours here for sure!