EAT in Amsterdam:
Café de Kroon
If you want to avoid the beaten tracks, visit the Café de Kroon. Tired tourists won't stumble in here by chance. If you want to find the Kroon you have to know it in the first place. While its location at Rembrandtplein is prominent, it lies on the first floor. During the day you get great coffee here and in the evening - from Thursdays to Saturdays - the place turns into a very cool lounge (having attracted even Mick Jagger and Jerry Springer already). The interior decoration is rich in contrasts, the large hall with industrial touch boasting leather chairs and chandeliers. You feel like visiting the living room of a factory, if something like that existed. The bar is massive; and you should ask yourself whether you really want to know what's inside the pharmacy vessels in the illuminated display cabins. It's a first-class insider tip you should rather keep to yourself.
After several days in Holland the latest you'll have had enough of mayonnaise and wrapped food. Then the time has come for dropping in the De Kas. Here, they are keen on fresh products coming directly from their own garden, field and green house. With devotion and green fingers, owner Gert Jan personally grows herbs, vegetables and eatable flowers and serves them on your plate. If you want to see with your own eyes where your meal comes from, you can go on a tour of the garden and polder from May to October. But you can also believe what we are telling you and immediately drop in the glass building of eight metres height that accommodates the fantastic restaurant. There, you will be spoilt for choice anyway. Piet Boon designed the dining hall but in fine weather the tables in the herb garden are in keen competition with it. If you want to experience an extraordinary evening, book the chef table. You won't miss out anything from there as you have a direct view of the kitchen, the cooks and the staff. You will be served the perfect gourmet dinner with appropriate wines for two to four persons.
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.
290 Square Meters
Ido, the enigmatic founder of the shop, started in 2001 with 90 inspiring square metres bound to attract creative, hip and talented people. The project was so successful that the shop soon needed a larger location and also a new name. The name 290 Square Meters serves as a good source of inspiration because it is much more than a shop. It is the venue of events, fashion shows, readings and similar events. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't offer great shopping opportunities. You'll find shoes, clothes, books, magazines, music, art - and all of it arty and exceptional. The labels include our Nordic favourites Wood Wood and Henrik Vibskov as well as Holland Esquire, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Minimarket and Surface To Air.
Even if you already know the colourful plastic bags, you will stare mouth open at the Kitch Kitchen Supermercado. Mexican plastic wherever you look; flowers, squares, fruits, colours. You will need at least one hour for browsing around. Too many items of too many shapes want to be bought right away. And there aren't only bags, shopping trolleys, laptop covers, saddle bags and manicure cases, but also seat reducers, convenient pads for dog bowls in the shape of a bone - and the perfect souvenir from Holland: the colourful saddle protection for bicycles. And if, in the light of so much optical overstimulation, you are crazy enough to feel like decorating your apartment on your own, you can buy the fabric from the roll here and do what you please with it. But beware: The fabric most likely does not do what your sewing machine wants, so buy a consolation bag as well - just to be on the sure side.
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.
Whether you like or don't like the taste of the famous Dutch beer with the green label and the red star, visiting the Heineken Experience is worthwhile anyway. On four floors you won't only be shown how the beer gets in the bottle but also how Heineken became the trade name it is today. There is an interactive adventure world catering to all the senses. The range of topics includes the individual production steps, the development and philosophy of the company as well as Heineken's definition of fun and entertainment. The fascinating show is accommodated in proper style in the building that once housed the old brewery. It is, in fact, more than just another brewery where you press your nose on smudged glass pane. You will also be able to taste the beer, of course, and almost forget the slogan: Enjoy with responsibility!
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.
STAY in Amsterdam:
Don't tell anyone else: The Jordaan quarter is one of the best in town. The former working-class district turned into a favourite hangout for artists and intellectuals. Today, dreamers will adore its old-fashioned charm, and shoppers will love the hip stores around. The hotel is right here, in the immediate vicinity of the Anne Frank House. And right here you should check in if you are a fan of the authentic. The 17th-century Gracht house has been renovated to accommodate eight rooms, all of them of pretty, albeit plain interior. Don't go on a search for details, you won't find any. Just content yourself with being able to sleep in such a charming historical ambience. And believe us: You won't need more than that. The price for a night in the double room starts from 139 Euros.
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.
A kitchen of your own is not bad. While you generally tend to eat at restaurants on holidays, you might not want to go for a walk with what you see in the mirror the next morning anyway. The solution: breakfast in bed. You can brew your own coffee; the rolls are in front of your door. Others have done the shopping for you - the fridge offers jam & Co. After breakfast you first of all marvel at what you see, trying to figure out a fitting name for it. Modern antlers? And because you feel so good here you will from now on assume that all the real cool people in Amsterdam live like that. And when you finally manage to leave the cosy studio, you are rewarded at that: The best bars lie just around the block, but there are at least two cultural highlights nearby too, in case you want to soothe your conscience. We have to warn you though: The apartments lie amidst Amsterdam's hustle and bustle. But there are earplugs on the bedside table. The price for one night at the studio starts from 80 Euros.