Every time I visit Amsterdam, I fall more in love with the city. The gabled houses along the canals are full of beautiful character. And the cobbled streets and brick buildings are gorgeously atmospheric. It’s simply divine. But as much as I appreciate old, picturesque places, it’s hands down the hip and modern elements of the city and its inhabitants that does it for me. The historical architecture and rich culture contrasts beautifully with super modern interiors and very fashionably dressed people of all ages.
The country’s capital was packed with locals and tourists. We spent our time doing what we like to do best – soaking up the ambiance of the city. So we walked along the canals, browsed through streets and stores, snacked at cafes and ate some of our favourite Dutch food.
Amsterdam is much bigger than Arnhem which makes the shopping more diverse. Mainstream brands are concentrated in popular shopping streets like Kalverstraat (pictured below). Most European and international brands are present, alongside local Dutch stores that are quite affordable. You’ll find all the high end brands on P. C. Hooftstraat. And quirky boutiques in areas like De Negen Straatjes.
The stores in Amsterdam had everything I saw in Arnhem and then some. They’re overflowing with military inspired clothing, safari colours, harem pants, tunics, boyfriend blazers, white jeans and denim shirts. Dresses and pastels are scarce. The denim on denim trend is fierce. Bershka, Zara’s sister brand, devoted their entire display window to denim.
Other big trends: strong shouldered jackets, stripes, low heeled shoes, low-waisted drawstring blouses and printed leggings. I made one purchase, finally finding the right strong shouldered jacket and can’t wait to wear it. It’s going to come out to play on this trip so stay tuned.
With respect to footwear, it is all about flat white, dove grey and tan boots. High heeled clogs, heeled sneaker pumps, pink boots and cage heels are in abundance too.
The streets are full of the same practical yet stylish Dutch uniform: skinnies or leggings tucked into flat or low heeled boots with tunic, cropped jacket, statement scarf and cross-body bag. Some are in short wool coats or trenches, while others sport biker jackets. This look was worn across all age groups, from pre schoolers to ladies well into their sixties and seventies.
More ladies in gorgeous white skinnies with tall chestnut boots. KILLER. Arty skirts worn with rugged boots and cropped jackets are pretty popular too. Much to my delight, I saw lots of people wear colour. Barely a high heel or bootie in sight though. If I saw five gals wear high heels and booties it was a lot. I guess stiletto heels don’t work that well when walking on cobbled streets and commuting by bicycle. But I don’t have an explanation for the lack of booties.
I was struck by how fabulous the kids looked running around in their great little casual trench coats, bright scarves and tough-looking mid-calf boots. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen a little girl in sneakers yet.
On the first day here I wore bootcut jeans with apple green cowboy boots, red animal print tunic and black trench coat. I definitely stood out wearing wider cut jeans, ankle boots and no scarf. On the second day, I was back to wearing wearing the Dutch uniform of skinnies with boots, tunic, scarf and trench.
Amsterdam’s gastronomic delights were “pannekoeken” (pancakes) and “haring” (herring). Dutch pannekoeken are huge, doughy and thick, so unlike a French crepe or American stack of pancakes. I like my pannekoek with apple and Greg likes his with bacon. Drench the lot in syrup, wash it down with “chocomel” (chocolate milk) and you’re in heaven.
Dutch herring is an acquired taste because it’s served raw with chopped onion. It’s not Greg’s favourite but I adore the delicacy. Chewing minty gum after eating raw haring is a good idea.
We’re on an early morning flight to Brussels tomorrow and on to Antwerp the next day. Goodbye pancakes, hello waffles.