Paris is a popular weekend destination for many people and I understand why. After six years of living here, it's still such a pleasure to spend the weekend discovering the city as there is so much to do, see, eat and drink. However, I never turn down the opportunity to spend time in another city with a different landscape. This past weekend our chosen destination was Amsterdam. Known for tulips, cheese and pretty canals, Amsterdam has a special place in my heart - it's somewhere I would consider moving to with JB. This time, we weren't lucky with the weather (it rained most of the time) and I discovered that I cannot manage both Google maps and crossing the street. Despite these minor setbacks we managed a lot of walking, shopping and eating. Here's a few suggestions for things to do in Amsterdam if you're there for the weekend.
Bakers & Roasters take reservations on the weekend which is really convenient when you're a party of five, one of whom is a cute little baby. This New Zealand style café, with coffee beans from Ozone Coffee, serves fresh juices, staple brunch plates and really yummy salads. Service was friendly and efficient, and it's spacious, something we are not used to in Paris where places tend to be smaller and more intimate. Wifi available.
G's is a fun brunch spot with great food and cocktails. I'd highly recommend the eggs and take the French toast (to share). They also take reservations on the weekend but don't seem to have a listed phone number so email only. We were significantly late for our table but the servers were really nice and seated us quickly. Wifi available.
If you're a fan of excellent coffee you should head to Scandinavian Embassy, located just next to Sarphatipark. Nicolas Castagno, winner of the 2013 Brewers Cup Champion of Sweden, experiments with coffee-brewing methods to make sure every cup has great flavour. Everything on the food menu is sourced locally and the fruit and vegetables change with the season. At the weekend SE offers a brunch menu for 18 euros or you can order à la carte. Thumbs up, there are gluten free options. Also, Wifi.
I didn't make it to Lot Sixty One coffee roasters but I've heard good things about them.
JB and I are a big fan of Nordic design - there are a few Muuto pieces in our apartment and we have had our eye on a Muuto dining table for a while now. We also have some Hay cushions, and I love their colour palette, so we paid a quick visit to their small store in the centre of Amsterdam where I gazed longingly at their furniture for a bit. They also have an in-store café if you want to take a break after shopping - very well thought out Hay!
I only discovered Dill and Kamille last September on a previous trip to Amsterdam. It's a really lovely store, full of home and kitchen ware at prices that are friendly on your purse. Definitely worth a visit if you want to stock up on hand-towels, kitchen utensils or cute bowls. They also host cooking classes and events, so if you're based in Amsterdam you may want to check out what they have on.
Amsterdam from all appearances seems to be a child-friendly city (Paris take note). Rachel and I got up early both days to walk around the city. We got our nails done, grabbed coffee to go and did some shopping. One coffee place we stopped at was Blender, a kid's café and concept store. It even has a play space for tiny ones to go wild in whilst mum and dad catch up with their friends. The Miffy store (or "Nijntje" as the Dutch call this little white rabbit) is a great address if you need a present for friends with children. Or if you have your own children and want to buy them some cute new toys. I may have walked away with a key-ring and some postcards (I love collecting postcards). Big & Belg is a hipster store selling adorable hipster clothes for children (Paris people, think BonTon).
Amsterdam is certainly not lacking in cultural activities, so if you like museums then you're fine. The Anne Frank House is definitely worth visiting, I found it sad but inspiring. Then there's the Van Gogh museum, one of JB's favourite painters, we have paid that one a visit. You've most certainly heard of the Rijksmuseum, home to Dutch art and history. In spring or summer it's worth checking out the Stadsarchief, the Amsterdam City Archives, which is a very impressive building but rather depressing when it is wet and windy.
Aside from various blogs, I used my Wallpaper Amsterdam city guide - it has trustworthy recommendations and I just discovered that they offer several phone apps, something I'd seriously consider downloading for the next trip.
Tell me, what are your favourite Amsterdam spots?