Monday, September 11, 2017

Postcard from Amsterdam

After a wonderfully relaxing time at Holland's seaside (click here), we were looking forward to a few days in Amsterdam to explore Dutch city life. Again we were so impressed by how friendly, warm and welcoming everyone is (and speaking perfect English, too).

Amsterdam's picturesque canals are flanked by beautiful narrow buildings, constructed by merchants who became wealthy in the 17th century, Amsterdam's Golden Age. Holland's trade, military art and science was on top of the world, and brought enormous wealth to the city.

Most people cross town on bicycles... the young, the old, and everyone in between. Bikes outnumber cars by far, and it has the wonderful side effect of greatly reducing engine noise and pollution, which contributes so much to the laid-back atmosphere of this pretty city.

The 'De Negen Straatjes' (Nine Streets) is located in the heart of the historic canal district and is a lovely neighbourhood to explore:  Nine picturesque streets span three blocks and canals and are lined with shops, cafes, art galleries and restaurants.

We stayed at the chic and stylish Dylan hotel, located on the Keizersgraacht in the heart of the Negen Straatjes. The rooms and suites are beautifully decorated, making you feel at home away from home. It also has a cool bar (Occo), romantic inner courtyard and a Michelin starred restaurant (Vinkeles) under its roof.

Lounge area at the Dylan

the bar / Occa Brasserie

loved the calm and balanced decor of our room

the inner courtyard - a stylish and tranquil place for an alfresco meal or afternoon tea

On our first day I found this tunic dress by Scandinavian designer Filippa K (available here) in the Nine Streets and it became an instant favorite. You can dress it up or down with a simple change of accessories, which makes it a perfect travel companion. Teamed with trousers and boots it will be great for the coming winter and autumn months too.

Holland has always been progressive and I've never seen so many electric cars in any city. Charging stations are everywhere, and some of the cars are so small that they never have the problem of  finding a parking space. I was just wondering how anyone could get into them...

And then.. apparently no problem for a family of three!

The Cornelis Schuytstraat is another great area for shopping, and you also come across plenty of lovely little restaurants and cafés. Holland's most famous exports are flowers, and at the Menno Kroon Concept Store you see a very lovely and beautiful selection.

Cornelis Schuytstraat

In keeping with the general laid back atmosphere, many boutiques have benches where you (and your tired shopping companions) can have a rest..

If after a day's walking you find yourself thinking of a coffee or a little something, be careful not to pick up a muffin from the counter of a 'coffeshop'... unless you'd like to 'alter your state of mind' that is. What may look like an ordinary muffin could in fact be a space cake, infused with hash or weed, whatever the preference. Other items on the menu include a variety of pre-rolled joints, hash by the gram, as well as regular coffees and soft drinks. Ordinary cafés are called 'coffee houses', so be sure to enter the right kind!

Coffeeshop offerings

My new dress, worn tunic style with a white pair of jeans.

Dating back to 1683.. 'It really does not matter' What a great motto.

Missed the Wiener Boys (click here to see their IG page) of course, and found myself stalking dachshunds.. this one had a leash matching his owner's dress!

Nine Streets quarter..

For an evening out, wearing the tunic dress by Maje I bought last year (click here to see the blog post), accessorised with a Kelly Pochette in black croc, Charniere bracelet in black lizard/rosé gold and Dior (Frisson2) sunglasses.

Where to eat, drink and stay

1. The Rijks,  right next to the Rijks museum

 All wines, cheeses and spirits served at the Rijks have a Dutch connection.. if not actually produced in Holland, then wine makers, distillers or cheese makers of Dutch origin.

The chic modern interior. The evening was so lovely and mild that everyone was dining on the terrace instead.

The Côtes de Provence Fleur de l'Amaurigue rosé (by Dutch de Groot winemaker family) was excellent and reminded us of home. 

I love restaurants with an open kitchen, it is always fun to see the chefs at work. At the Rijks  the shelves are lined with cookery books, and the ingredients laid out on the counter almost prompt you to ask 'can I chop some onions?'

Cheese from Holland, of course!

2. The Duchess - A fantastic venue (it used to be a bank) and a fun menu.. all courses are meant to be shared, so you end up with plenty of different dishes. Most of the former KSK bank's features are still intact.. the ornamented ceiling, marbled counters, and huge stand-alone clock are in striking contrast to the ultra modern screens and the open kitchen. It's a fabulous mix, lit by huge chandeliers and candle lights.

3. Right across the street from the Duchess you find the W lounge bar with and Mr Porter restaurant. If you book at the restaurant, it is well worth getting there a bit early and having a drink in the bar... it offers stunning panoramic surround views of Amsterdam.

Mr Porter is Amsterdam's most famous steakhouse with a staggering choice of carefully selected meats and cuts, but it offers beautiful vegetarian dishes too.

If you are looking for alfresco dining, the Occa Brasserie in the Dylan's romantic courtyard setting could not be lovelier

Where to stay: The Dylan


The Dylan: Keizersgracht 384, 1016 GB Amsterdam. Tel: +31 (0)20 5302010



Occa Brasserie (same address at the Dylan)

The Duchess: Spuistraat 172, 1012 VT Amsterdam. Tel: +31 (0)20 811 3322

Mr Porter:  Spuistraat 175, 1012 VN Amsterdam. Tel: +31 (0)20 811 3399


The Nine Streets shopping area:

P.C. Hoofstraat: Amsterdam's high end shopping street, where you find Hermes and many other luxury brands. It is a lovely and relaxing street, making shopping extra pleasureable!

Cornelis Schuytstraat:

Filippa K:

Menno Kroon Concept Store: Cornelis Schuytstraat 11, 1071 JC Amsterdam.
Tel: +31 (0)20 679 1950

X Bank concept store: Spuistraat 172, 1012 VT Amsterdam. Tel: +31 (0)20 811 3320

Amsterdam coffeeshop map:

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  1. Thank you for this lovely travelogue. My husband and I visited Amsterdam last December and enjoyed a wonderful meal at The Duchess.

  2. Dear MaiTai, what a pleasure to read your wonderful Amsterdam travelogue this morning! Thank you for taking the time to share with us your carefylly collated thoughts and images. You are now one of my 'go-to' travel sources of info! Reminiscent of my recent holiday there with my teenage daughter, plus lots of ideas for our next trip, perhaps with all the family, thank you so much for these. (The question is, does one disapprove if one's rather grown-up son decides he wants a hash muffin! I shall have to wait and see if I can be laid back for a change!) Love your Amsterdam style, inspiring as always. Thank you and have a great day. Sheena x


  3. I had no idea Amsterdam would be so interesting - guess I've been living under a log - a very soggy log at this point! Everything looks so enticing and colorful after the cool, monochromatic beach stay.

    I would die in one of those tiny cars, though. I'd be afraid that once I somehow managed to fold myself into it, I'd never be able to unfold myself and get out of it! They're certainly great for the environment but probably not meant for slightly claustrophobic Swans.

    I do want to know why you were kissing that young man in the third picture, though, in your new black dress. Scandal! Had you been indulging at one of those infamous coffeshops? And, as far as offering to chop some onions, I'd be all in for that task - those chefs are too cute!

    I'm glad that you had such a great time in Amsterdam and thank you for sharing. Your photos are, as always, superb.


    1. Reading such a fabulous travelogue is one big pleasure- and reading your comments comes right after, makes it double worthwhile, dear Jerrine. Always a good laugh, your humour is brilliant! Still holding my belly, Katja

    2. Jerrine,
      Ah ah ah I would be curious to know who this young man is too! Much more interesting than the little tiny car!
      Much love

    3. Awwww, thank you dear K. I'm finding humor very necessary during these trying times (but Irma did not get me!).

      And, really, don't you want to know what the lovely MT was doing kissing that boy? I do!

      Love to you,

    4. Attention Swans--

      Apparently, I have eaten too many space cakes in the coffee shop because I didn't even notice the photo of the lovely blonde woman making kissy faces with the handsome young man. You girls have some eagle eyes!

      What caught my attention, in addition to the boats, was that darling little car! It looks just like a toy! What safety features do you suppose it has? I'm not sure it would provide much protection in a crash. When car shopping, I wanted a Fiat. A cute, sporty, little red Fiat. My sweet husband took one look and I saw my dream of a fun Italian ride squirt out the window. Now I drive a fabulous Subaru Outback, that I love, but it is by no stretch of the imagination sporty.

      I digress. I hope Jerrine and the East Coast swans have upped their storm preparations. There are so many now that I've lost track, but another storm headed your way is surely insult after injury. Fill the bathtub and buy your plywood, and most importantly, put the Hermes scarves in a big Ziploc bag for protection!

      Here's hoping it's not so bad and that we all come out sighing with relief.

      Love and laughs to you all--

    5. Yes, dearest C. Men are always more enticing than machines, aren't they!

      Love to you,

  4. I have loved reading this travelogue... I adore this city, it's people and its culture. Your photographs are fabulous. Thank you, what a lovely way to start the week. Oh, and by the way... those coffee shops are a real eye opener... I obviously must have had a sheltered upbringing... my dear late mother told me about them after she and my father visited Amsterdam when they first retired... but she never told me the whole story... lol

  5. Your photos are lovely!What a BEAUTIFUL CITY...........
    I have been there a couple of times years ago...........time to GO BACK and visit a COFFEE HOUSE!NOT THE OTHER!!!!!XX

  6. Dearest MaiTai,

    Thank you for sharing so many great pictures of Amsterdam, a city I very much like. The houses along the cannals are so well preserved and so beautiful! You look fabulous as always! Any temptation at Hermès at P.C. Hoofstraat?
    Have a great week ahead my dear. Love, Manuela

  7. Dearest MaiTai,

    You outdid yourself- your travelogues have become my holy grail reference books when planning a trip. I've just been to Amsterdam last year- I can also highly recommend this city for an extended girlfriends' weekend - but now I feel that I have to revisit again soon, exploring all the fantastic places you have been to (I'll skip the coffeeshop...). You are a gifted photographer with an amazing eye for little details - and a brilliant writer on top. It's always a pleasure and highly appreciated to have so much background information- thanks so much for taking the time to share your travel experiences, looking drop dead gorgeous in your new acquisition. Love, Katja

  8. Très chère MT,
    It is always a dream to visit anywhere in this world through your eyes, and we are talking about wonderful amazing eyes …

  9. What a beautiful oasis of calm these travelogues have been during these horrific times in Houston. I have enjoyed returning again and again to get lost amongst the beauty!
    As always these witty swans add to the fun around the pond! I mean, seriously, who is that guy you are kissing? LOL
    About now, a mind altering visit to a Coffee Shop may just be what the doctor ordered;)
    Mwahs, T xx

  10. Dearest MaiTai,

    I can only echo other Swans' comments about seeing familiar places through your eyes. It is truly like experiencing the best, most moving moments of beauty and re-living them.
    Amsterdam is one of my favourite places to visit, and I thought I know it quite well, but thanks to your amazingly edited travelogue I long to visit the city and the places you feature again. Many, many thank for taking time to share your impressions through your blog.

    Have most enjoyable last days of summer.

    with kindest regards from southern Ontario,

  11. Can't wait to know who the handsome young man is? 😉 Big kiss, Manuela xx

  12. Hello, dear MT and lovely Swans! I feel bad neglecting the blog and the fun conversations that take place here, but I've enjoyed every travelogue just the same. I am madly downsizing and packing because . . . I'm buying my own home (condo)! Without a husband or anything! Just me! I'll be house-poor but happy to be in a place of my own where they can't raise the rent by ridiculous amounts. To be starting over like this at 64 is insane -- but perhaps sanity is overrated. After the move I'll post exciting pictures on Instagram of rooms filled with unpacked boxes. Hope the weather is improving for those who suffered through a sweltering summer.
    Much aloha,

    1. Well done Fifi, many, many congratulations!! What a great step to take and I look forward to seeing pictures on IG. Can't believe you are 64, but it's seems the perfect time to get into your own place! Wishing you the best of luck for the move!!

  13. Dear Fifi,
    What a lovely new! I am so happy you will have your own sweet home. All by yourself 😉Women power! I wish you much happiness.

  14. Thank you, dear Catherine! I'm very excited about it. I will bore everyone with lots of pictures on Instagram.