Amsterdam City Blog restaurants, shops, people and life in Amsterdam


A Summery Friday list

Taking a moment every once in a while to think about what you're thankful for can make a big difference in your outlook on life. So here's this week's edition:

* How can I not start with the weather? May's moods have been mercurial to say the least. A week and a half ago I was still wearing my winter jacket, it was only 11 degrees! The last week it's been a steady 25 degrees however. Time for sunglasses, short shorts and skimpy tops. Everything's just better when the sun shines.

Picnic at Rembrandtpark, Amsterdam* Talking about sunshine: yesterday we had a picnic at Rembrandtpark. I hadn't realised just how close it is to our home. Just look how glorious it was.

* We looked after our neighbours' cat while they were away for a weekend a few weeks ago. Yesterday, after we came home from work, we found a cute plant with lovely little purple flowers on our doorstep: "Thank you for looking after Bobo!" How thoughtful. That just makes me smile!

* That little plant brings me to another little thing that I am thankful for: our balcony, where we can enjoy the sunshine from around 2 in the afternoon until around 9 in the evening. I've never had my own 'outside' before. I'm hugely enjoying decorating the place with all the attentive green gifts we got for our housewarming and now from our neighbours. With a homemade cappuccino, or a plate of seafood pasta, life just doesn't get much better than this.

* I got a coupon for a place called Fior di Gelato for my birthday. Levi and I headed over to their tiny place on the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat to see what they had to offer. They are really nice, really Italian people, who make real Italian ice cream. And no skimping on filling up the cups, I got a good cup full of amarena and strawberry flavour!

The amarena was nice:creamy with tart, tangy bits of cherry in it. The strawberry was even better though. With strawberry icecream, you always need a little tang of lemon to pick up the flavour. And this ice cream had the balance between sweet, fruity and tart exactly right.

Great ice cream at Fior di Gelato in the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat in AmsterdamLevi really liked his chocolate milkshake, but found his stracciatella ice cream scoop a little too sweet for his taste. All in all, a very nice experience. If we are ever in the neighbourhood and craving an ice cream again, we'll definitely remember Fior di Gelato!

* While looking for a guide to start us off on our holiday in Italy in a few weeks, we ran into this place called A La Carte, on the Utrechtsestraat. Nice staff, good selection and hey presto! We found exactly what we were looking for!

Also, I saw that they sell something I am a great fan of: the Mighty Wallet. They're made by a company called Dynomighty and I think they're just absolutely brilliant. I have the one that looks like an airmail envelope. They sell that exact same one at A La Carte, plus assorted other travel-related designs (13,50 Euro I think they were, might have been 13,95 Euro).

And on that brilliant note I leave you. Have a great Pentecost weekend, enjoy the sunshine!



Queensday, Instagram and Amsterdam

I discovered Instagram for Android only last week and I'm loving it. On 30 April, Queensday, Instagram and Amsterdam met in a friendly fashion, resulting in these great photos, that I'd like to share with you!

View of the canals and Westertoren in Amsterdam, Queensday 2012 Levi and I rode our bicycles to the Rozengracht and parked near the iconic Westertoren. The weather in the Netherlands has been very bad of late, with lots of rain and low temperatures (considering it's Spring, after all), but today of all days the weather is gorgeous. It's a lovely day to be out and about!

Walking through the Jordaan on Queensday, 2012We went for a stroll though the Jordaan, walking along the canals and the vrijmarkt.

On the vrijmarkt in Amsterdam, Queensday 2012The vrijmarkt (literally translated "free market") is something that you only see once a year. Normally, anyone who wants to trade wares in the Netherlands has to have a license. Except on Queensday, when all the citizens get a frew pass! So everyone and their granny gets everything they don't want anymore from their attic and claims a spot on the sidewalk to hawk his old crap.

It brings out the merchant in the Dutch. They sell their unwanted shoes, crockery, old books, cds, knicknacks and even old videos! It doesn't really matter how much it goes for, because it creates room in your own cupboards and you get money that you would otherwise not have had. As the Dutch say: "Wat de gek ervoor geeft" (loosely translated: whatever the crazy person thinks is worth it).

I love the vrijmarkt, as it feels like looking for hidden treasure among people's unwanted things.

Sitting on the dock of the bay in Amsterdam, Queensday 2012At the Westerstraat we turned around and headed back towards our bikes. We had the best fried fish I've ever tasted, from a fish stall on the Rozengracht. It was hot, crispy, salty, moist on the inside and very, very tasty. We ate it while watching the boats on the canal, just like all these people here.

The canals in Amsterdam are crammed on Queensday, 2012And just look at all these people on the water! It's swarming with all kinds of boats, big and small, old army issue and small rubber boats. There are queues at the bridges, where the canals narrow. Many of them play loud music and fire confetti. People are partying their hearts out on the water. It's Levi's dream to spend Queensday on a boat. Maybe next year!


Free tennis @ Westerpark

On another sunny Sunday afternoon Levi and I went to Westerpark to play some tennis. Sandwiched between a crooked old tree and the railtracks are a pair of excellent free tennis courts with actual nets.

free tennis courts at Westerpark in Amsterdam

If there's no one else, you can play for as long as you like. But if there are other people waiting, you get to play for half an hour if you're with two, and 45 minutes if you're playing doubles.

New on the weekends is the kids' lessons between 1pm and... was it 4pm? If there are lessons, you have to vacate the court.


Durgerdam: a lovely bikeride

After what feels like weeks and weeks of endless rain suddenly the first weekend of October is unseasonably mild. Warm and sunny, it feels like a true Indian Summer. Levi suggests we enjoy this last warm weekend and take a bikeride to Durgerdam, a tiny village along the IJ north of Amsterdam.

We take the free ferry to Amsterdam north from behind Central Station, cycle for a few minutes, then find and follow the endless dike. It's lovely out here! The dike is lined with charming wooden houses with quaint facades. People sit in the sun on benches outside their houses, reading and relaxing. We are not the only ones who have had this bright idea, the dike is swarming with people riding bicycles. It feels like 'escaping to the countryside'.

Durgerdam Skyline

Durgerdam is quite a long ride. We take our time, going at a leasurely pace, enjoying our surroundings. After more than an hour we arrive at our destination and it is teenie tiny. Basically little more than one street facing the IJ. But what a view! We sit and have a drink (we brought our own water, there is a shortage of cafés and terraces. I think we passed only two watering holes on our 1h10m trip. They were filled to capacity).

It doesn't look like there's much else to do here, so we mount our bikes for the return journey, enjoying ourselves all the way home. If the weather's nice and you feel like getting out of the city: Durgerdam is a lovely ride.


Theatre, fun and romance at De Parade

Merry-go-round at De Parade in AmsterdamEvery year De Parade tours the four big cities in the Netherlands: The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam. It's a festival that offers performing arts (theatre, dance, singing, even magic), food and fun, all wrapped up in an old-fashioned carnival setting. Theatres, restaurants and restrooms are set up in tents on the site of the Martin Luther King park in Amsterdam.

Levi and I go every year. We love the romantic atmosphere, the merry-go-round, the poffertjes, the old-fashioned candy stall. The performing artists regularly tour the grounds, dressed up and promoting their shows. The success of De Parade is largely dependent on the weather. We lucked out with dry weather and a few rays of sun on Friday!Eating at Amaro in the open air at De Parade

Foodwise, there's a lot to choose from: Sushi, woodfired pizza, a tempurabar, Italian restaurant Lust, Mediterranean food at Amaro and I'm probably still forgetting a few. After dinner you can satisfy your sweet tooth with some ice cream, a coffee from the Douwe Egberts tent (expect to pay a deposit for the earthenware coffee cup) or a batch of poffertjes, that you get to bake yourself. I love poffertjes!

We saw two shows this year. We originally only bought tickets for one, called Moulin Rouge (tickets were E8,50 a piece), knowing the story I expected something exciting and sexy, but it was a dud. The tapdancing was fun, the accordeon and the violin were ok too, but the story was awfully told and the opera singing brought the tempo way down. The supposedly jawdroppingly beautiful Mimi looked like a dowdy housewife in an unflattering dress with too much bling. For some reason, she did not speak, only sing. By comparison, the male lead only spoke and rarely sang. He talked a lot. It lasted 35 minutes but Levi and I were both bored halfway through.

Anatomica #1 by Danceworks at De Parade 2011Coming out of the tent, we decided we had to see another show, to make up for this godawful one. While we were waiting to be let into the Moulin Rouge tent, we had heard the people in the neighbouring tent clapping and cheering loudly. We decided to take a chance and see whatever was going on there. It turned out to be a piece called Anatomica #1, by a company called Danceworks (ticket for this show: E9,-). What Moulin Rouge lacked in the sexy department, Anatomica had in spades. It was seductive, physical, embarrassingly sensual, funny and wholly captivating.

Festival opens at 3pm. Tickets for the festival are E7,-. Admission is free until 4pm. De Parade is in town until Sunday 21 August. Go see!

De Parade
Martin Luther King Park
(there's button for English at the bottom of the menu on the left)



Pique-Nique des Troubadours

A friend of mine pointed this out to me, and I wish I did not have tickets for Awakenings Festival, so I could go here instead: Pique-Nique des Troubadours at Club Roest at the Oud Gas Gebouw on the Oosterburgereiland this Saturday (25 June).

It's an outdoor picnic in Amsterdam, with music and entertainment. You can bring your own picnicbasket, or (and how I love this concept!) order one with your ticket. One basket feeds around four people  and includes rolls, croissants, snacks, fruit and a blanket to sit on.

If you are a troubadour (in medieval times this was a travelling entertainer, be it a musician or a storyteller), you can add your act to the line-up, because, according to my friend: the more the merrier! After the pique-nique there is an afterparty at Club Roest, a new venue in Amsterdam.

This friend of mine is a member of Vers Vermaak, the same organisation who is responsible for Stekkerfest, one of the most charming, lovely and fun dance festivals of the summer. Vers Vermaak is a guarantee for a friendly, creative atmosphere, where you will have a good time, regardless of the weather.

Pique-Nique des Troubadours logoPique-Nique des Troubadours
Saturday 25 June 2011

Location: Club Roest
Czaar Peterstraat 213

Tickets for the Pique-Nique (1pm-11pm) are €10,-
Ticket for the afterparty (Après-Pique-Nique, from 11pm): €12,-
Picnic basket for four: €30,-

More info can be found at the event's Facebook site:
Pique-Nique des Troubadours on Facebook

Or on the Vers Vermaak website (Dutch)
Pique-Nique des Troubadours on Vers Vermaak


“Pimp my ride” Amsterdam West-style

Flower car in Amsterdam WestI spotted this car in Amsterdam West. Completely bedecked in flower stickers. Ahhhhwww!


Valentine’s Day: hearts in the city

Another little Amsterdam photo collage, this one with today's theme: love! Random hearts I spotted on Amsterdam's streets.

Amsterdam art gallery heart, Valentine's Day 2011Amsterdam sidewalk heart, Valentine's Day 2011Amsterdam leaf heart, Valentine's Day 2011


Haarlemmerstreet holiday lights

Amsterdam, Haarlemmerstreet holiday lights 2010I love the way the city is decorated during the holiday season.

My favourite this year is the Haarlemmerstreet, with its romantic white bowers and red hearts. Generally speaking, I'm no fan of the cold LED light, but if it's used this way, it's all ok with me!



Winter is the season for gloves and mittens, anything to keep your extremities warm and your digits flexible. This is also the season when we see dozens of casualties of carelesness. I started documenting them in the winter of 2009.

Here's a compilation of lost gloves in Amsterdam. As you can see, gloves are more popular than mittens in Amsterdam:

Lost glove in AmsterdamLost mitten in AmsterdamLost glove in AmsterdamLost glove in Amsterdam

Lost mitten in AmsterdamLost glove in AmsterdamLost glove in AmsterdamLost mitten in AmsterdamLost glove in AmsterdamLost glove in AmsterdamLost glove in AmsterdamLost glove in Amsterdam