My kiddie shoe shop of choice here in Amsterdam is Meys & Co. I’m picky with shoes for my children– they need to be strong, durable, cute (but plain), and slightly old-fashioned. I always find something to my taste at Meys & Co!
There’s a good selection of classic styles mixed with more fashionable footwear, and they also have a good range of hip sneakers and colourful wellies. The ladies in the shop are helpful and patient, and don’t mind kids climbing in the window display at all…
If you’re visiting Amsterdam and have little kids, you should definitely step into the Miffy store on the Scheldestraat. Miffy (‘Nijntje’ in Dutch) is the sweet little bunny designed by Dick Bruna in 1955 who quickly became a world famous character.
The wonderful collection of Miffy books, which discuss a large number of topics (amongst which art, school, childbirth, and death), have been translated to more than 50 languages. There’s a good selection available at the Miffy shop as well as other Miffy merchandise, like clothes, toys, cards and accessories — all great for presents.
Worth a visit!
Even though they don’t serve French Fries at Burgermeester (Dutch for mayor), they do serve the most delicious burgers! Think burgers with Blonde d’Aquitaine beef and truffle, lamb with red onion compote, wild duck with Chinese cabbage, salmon with grilled asparagus and lemon mayonnaise… Or the vegetarian burger with falafel and grilled vegetables — all of them super tasty, and accompanied by potatoes, corn on the cob or salad, fresh fruit juices or milkshakes.
Even though the food is upscale, the setting is definitely super relaxed, like a fast food joint ought to be. Meaning food is served quickly, and kids crawling over benches won’t be a bother!
Best of all? All the deli burgers come in mini varieties — perfect for little tummies (or big tummies that like to try them all)!
Last weekend we did something unexpectedly fabulous: we took the children to Rembrandt’s House. Rembrandt, as you might know, was a very famous Dutch painter who lived from 1607 till 1669. From 1625 onwards he lived in Amsterdam. For a big part of his live he was very rich, already well known in his time, and he lived in a beautiful house that is amazingly well conserved and restored and can be visited today.
I didn’t really know what to expect with two little children, but they were SO impressed. Our daughter (4 yrs) listened to her own audio tour, aimed especially at kids, and I can say that at the end of our visit she could give me specific information that I didn’t pick up myself.
If you’re in Amsterdam and want to combine some culture with history and a fun family activity, the Rembrandthuis comes recommended. There’s no restaurant, but walking down to the Staalstraat takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll find Pucinni, with great coffee, good sandwiches and amazing cakes. In the same street you’ll find cute kids gift shop Beestenwinkel, my favourite grown-up gift shop Klevering (that happens to stock some really lovely kids items as well), and a bit up the road there’s Droog Design, a showcase of the famous Dutch design group.
Thanks to its flat (meaning not hilly) landscape, the Netherlands is the perfect place for getting around on bike. It’s also quite safe: bike lanes are virtually everywhere, and drivers are so used to the many bikes around that they take them in careful consideration. So the ‘fiets’ is the preferred means of transportation for most, if not all Dutchmen. We cycle to work, we cycle to school, we cycle to the shops and we also grab the bike if we go out at night (this will also conveniently save us the money for a parking ticket or a taxi).
Kids? No problem. We just take them in front with us when they are little, in a special seat hanging from the steer. When they grow bigger, they get a seat on the back of the bike, if necessary combined with the pre-mentioned seat on the front for a little sibling.
If you have three or more children though, it’s probably time to get a bakfiets. A bakfiets is kind of a cross between a bike and a beach wagon, and you can conveniently fit in as many as 4 children (although I’ve seen people squeeze in even more!). If you’ve ever been in Amsterdam, chances are high that you’ve noticed them around. (more…)
1) Rent a Bakfiets
A great and very Dutch way to get around Amsterdam is on a bakfiets. They can be rented in numerous places around the city, and your kids will love this way of transportation. There are bike lanes everywhere, and cars are very much accustomed to all the bikes around, so it’s all as safe as can be. You can just leave them in a corner on the sidewalk if you’re going inside somewhere, but make sure to lock them well… Read more here.
2) Boat Tour
The best way to experience the wonders of the canals of Amsterdam is by a boat tour (found in front of the Central Station). The beautiful and unique canal houses can be best admired from the water and the great part is that you won’t wear out your little one’s feet. The guides will give you and the kids interesting background information in a number of languages. And there’s a toilet on board, just in case.
A very pleasant way to get around town is on the tram. They allow a few buggies inside (take the bigger entrance in the middle of the tram), and kids will love seeing the city pass in front of the windows and the ‘train-like’ feeling of it all. If you find the maps in the tram-stops confusing just ask the people around for help. Virtually everybody speaks English fluently in Amsterdam, and knows the tram system by heart.
Don’t you love these wall decals? I mean, even if you don’t live in Amsterdam, you surely must like them!?!
These supercool stickers are made by Zuuz, and besides the fact that I really like the images of the typical Dutch canal houses, I love the fact that they are so big — my daughter can draw on them even when she’s standing up! We have a long hallway in our current apartment so we could fit both the crayon sticker set and the outlined houses set next to each other, and it really looks fantastic.
I never knew crayon stickers were so much fun for the kids — my daughter really loves drawing in the windows, the doors, and the people… Brilliant!
Look how lovely this pendant lampshade is… It’s very typical Amsterdam with its cute canal houses! The scene you see on this lamp is called ‘Jordaan’, named after the picturesque neighbourhood in the centre of Amsterdam with its narrow streets, small houses and cute bridges.
Hylkia, the creative brain behind ‘Hartendief‘, originally studied fashion design but after the birth of her daughter started creating accessories for children’s rooms, eventually resulting in a series of these wonderful silhouette lamps. They are very stylish in their simplicity — plain when switched off, but when switched on the silver (or gold) silhouette on the inside of the shade creates a magical shadow world on the outside…
You can order these lamps through the Hartendief store, but if your Dutch is not so polished these days you can just email Hylkia with your questions and wishes in English.
If you’re in Amsterdam for a bit longer ‘de Pijp’ is a neighbourhood that shouldn’t be missed. It’s really up and coming, and the mix between shabby and chic is something that I love! I’m not going to describe every single shop I like in de Pijp, but I’m sure you’ll find some treasures browsing the little streets of this artistic and multi-culural neighbourhood! What you shouldn’t miss is one of Amsterdam’s most famous markets, the Albert Cuypmarket. Over one hundred years old, this market is open six days a week (closed on Sundays) and offers everything from fresh fish, vegetables and cheeses to clothes, wigs and incense. But I love this market most for it’s cute fabrics and haberdashery! It’s best to go on weekdays, as on Saturday it can be very busy. And don’t forget to try one of those freshly baked syrup waffles, they’re to die for! (But be careful not to give them to your kids too quickly; they’re piping hot!!)
xxx Esther (more…)
In one of Amsterdam’s hottest neighbourhoods, de Pijp, you can find Bazar, a restaurant serving Arabic dishes in a middle Eastern atmosphere. I really like Bazar, mostly for it’s relaxed atmosphere. No dressing up, no big prices, nothing fancy but on the other hand super relaxed and kid-friendly. Mini picnic tables are put next to the grown-up’s table so the little ones can eat in style. Highchairs are available, colouring plates and crayons free to use and a little corner with television is present. A kid’s menu is available and the ice-cream is a favourite! Great to meet up with friends with kids, the staff really doesn’t mind the little ones running around. They even like to play ball!
xxx Esther (more…)
Shabbies were originally designed in the seventies by Dutch shoe designer Fred de la Bretoniere and are the most comfortable, fashionable and beautiful boots I own. They’re the perfect mix between nonchalant and chic. Shabby chic!
The colours of the natural leather are seriously amazing, and I really like the fact that they look equally cool with skinny trousers, a skirt or a mini dress. And of course they are much easier to chase kids with than 3 inch high heels!
If you’re interested in a pair of Shabbies of Amsterdam, make your way over to one of the three Fred de la Bretoniere shops. There’s one on the St. Luciensteeg 20; one on the Van Baerlestraat 34 or one on the Utrechtsestraat 77.
If you happen to be in Amsterdam and have a few hours to spare for some coffee and shopping, Utrechtsestraat is a good place to go.
The Koffiesalon, a lovely coffee-shop (in the true meaning of the word), has good seating, great espresso, yummy cakes and sandwiches and you can help yourself to as much water as you like. I brought my daughter here for some mummy and daughter time before and we both greatly enjoyed it. It’s also a good place to meet friends or even have an informal meeting.
Not far up the road, at number 74, you’ll find one of my favourite shops in Amsterdam, Jan. The shop owner, Janna, who obviously has great taste, has gathered a fantastic selection of products. Lamps, cushions, dinnerware and cutlery are amongst the stock, but the shop also features fashion accessories such as bags, belts, jewelery and watches, and some lovely toys and kiddie books. If you need a present or want to treat your own family (= yourself), don’t miss it.
Next door you’ll find Bellerose (they have good kids’ clothes). Funky ladies fashion can be found at Jan Lensen, beautiful French and Italian ceramics at Kom, great interior pieces at Mobilia, and there are many, many more great shops and restaurants. Maybe you’ll need more than a few hours!
HEMA is one of those shops (or concepts really), that is almost impossible to describe. If you’ve ever set foot in a HEMA, you understand. In fact, you get the concept immediately, and you’re a fan instantly – no denial possible! And you just understand why we, Dutchmen, are all raving about it, and why this chain of shops is what we miss most when we move abroad…
So, what is HEMA?
HEMA is a Dutch chain of shops that only sells HEMA-brand products. No luxury products, but products that are meant for daily use and that are functional yet fun. The assortment is wide and prices are low (we like that in the Netherlands), designs are trendy and fresh, simple and colourful. The quality is good, and overall the products are seriously so much fun that you can’t help bringing home yet another cool tea-towel, notebook or cute cookie-cutter set for the kids! (more…)
I’m sure I’m telling the food-concious Amsterdam inhabitant nothing new when I say the word ‘Marqt‘. Because Marqt came and conquered, and we didn’t look back!
The concept behind Marqt (not a supermarket but a ‘fresh market’) is fresh food, mostly organic, coming from local farms in the neighbourhood of Amsterdam and of very high quality. Everything is presented in a sublime and spacious interior (think wood, brick and stainless steel).
For people living in NY or London, where fancy food experiences (we don’t call them supermarkets any more) such as Whole Foods are around your corner, this concept might be nothing new. But to us here in provincial Amsterdam, organic shopping used to be limited to a couple of over-prized, sexless bio-shops where the shop assistants were as slow and un-enthusiastic as the food they were selling. But with Marqt in town, Amsterdam is back on the organic map!
P.S. When you go shopping at Marqt (BTW the bread is divine), you can leave your cash at home, because they only accept cards.
I love soap. And, much to my husband’s chagrin, I love soap shops! A beautiful soap shop here in Amsterdam is La Savonnerie, where soap is being made by hand, the traditional way — all with natural ingredients and all hand-stamped!
Many, many, many beautiful bars of soap can be found here, in the most gorgeous shapes, colours and scents. And, if you are you looking for a cute give-away for a birthday or other festive occasion — La Savonnerie can stamp any soap with your own special text!
A visit to this lovely shop is totally worth it (and it is very close to one of my favourite shopping areas in Amsterdam, the Nine Streets). Next to the soaps they also carry a nice selection of lovely bathroom articles and… they have a small collection of the cutest toys imaginable!
xxx Esther (more…)