Amsterdam -- She Shops, Shops, Shops
small. Think creative. Think "the Nine Alleys"
(Negen Straatjes), a series of wonderfully wee streets
in the Jordaan district that criss-cross the city's main
canals. Get your hotel concierge to point you in the right
direction and simply walk, walk, walk. That's exactly
what I did and I discovered tiny specialty boutiques,
mini restaurants, galleries and second-hand bric-a-brac
stores. If you pride yourself on bringing back gifts with
a difference, you'll thoroughly enjoy a shopping spree
in this area. Here are a few of the places I stopped into...
alleys of the Jordaan district...
Shops selling soap products
are not really unusual in today's gift buying market.
However, La Savonnerie
(Prinsengracht 294) is definitely a cut above the
rest and well worth a visit. Imagine the absolute
best colours of the rainbow and over 80 different
scents captured in bars of gentle-to-the-skin soap
suitable for the whole family. Dutch men choose "Zino"
in shades of blue for their morning shaves, Dutch
women favour the smell of "fresh cut grass"
in colourful green rectangles, while their older moms
adore the pristine white of "lily of the valley."
For babies and toddlers, La Savonnerie offers sets
of "happy-color" building block soaps sporting
embossed letters of the alphabet. What fun! Website:
Looking back, looking forward. Brilmuseum
(Gashuismolensteeg 7) is a small, quirky eyeglass
museum showing off 700 years of lenses, eye fashion
and history. Check out all the styles ranging from
yesteryear's wire rimmed granny glasses to today's
ultra modern rimless look. Added bonus -- this is
also a shop that sells glasses. Pick your favorite
new pair then go back in history to see where that
look originated. Open Wednesday to Saturday 12:00
to 5:00 pm. Brilmuseum offers a perfect browsing experience.
Ask any Dutch dentist and they'll
tell you about Witte
Tanden Winkel (Runstraat 5) a tiny
specialty shop in the Jordaan that stocks anything
and everything to do with keeping your teeth healthy.
There's toothpaste in every size and flavour, dental
floss matched with dental floss dispensers as well
as over five hundred different types of toothbrushes
and toothbrush cases. Journeywoman chose an elegant
chrome-cased travelling toothbrush for herself, a
sleek Italian-designed model for a girlfriend and
a Thomas the Tank brush and holder for the kiddies
in my family. It's hard to leave this shop empty handed.
Finally, any Journeywoman who sews or knits will want
to visit the Knopenwinel
(Wolvenstraat 14) where you'll find an incredible selection
of buttons, buttons, buttons to suit any garment and
any budget. In fact, even if you don't sew it's great
fun to simply drop by so you can mention this place
when you're telling your travel stories to girlfriends
floating flower market...
A mini history
lesson! Step back in time and imagine the Amsterdam
Flower Market of the 1800's. Then, farmers
sailed barges through the canals and peddled posies straight
from their boats. Today, in the same area, Amsterdam's flower
market is housed in fixed floating barges located along
the Singel, one of the city's oldest canals. Definitely
worth a visit!
fifteen plus florist and souvenir shops line the waterway,
their colorful wares and postcard stands spilling out of
the stores and on to the pavement. There's
heaps of fresh flowers, mini cactus plants, potted herbs
galore, and an absolute myriad of tulip bulbs packaged for
export. These bulbs make incredible gifts for the flower
aficionados you know and love. They're easy to carry, inexpensive,
and come with "certificates of health" that will
allow you to pass custom regulations back home. However,
be sure to pack these bulbs in your carry-on bag. This way
inspectors can do their job without going through all your
checked luggage P.S.
Don't forget your camera - vendors' faces, floral arrangements
and local passers-by provide great photo opportunities.
Open Monday - Friday 9:00am - 6:00pm, Saturday 9:00am -
the same area...
in the Flower Market district take a moment to meander into
These folks bill themselves as "the world's no.1 hammock
shop" and their emporium is filled to the rafters with
every conceivable design and colour of the rainbow. I saw
inexpensive cotton hammocks for babies as well as very,
very costly silk models for adults - all produced by South
American weavers. And if you're looking for mosquito netting
for home decor or your next jungle adventure, you'll definitely
find it here. Nets available in no less than four designer
shades of turquoise, yellow, cream and white. It's a fun
stop! (Singel 488-490) Website: www.maranon.com
who decorates a Christmas tree will welcome a Dutch-inspired
memento from this next little shop. The
Christmas Palace is a store that specializes
in all types of Yule decoration and Delft Blue porcelain.
This is a browse, browse, browse kind of place. It's the
ideal spot to add to your international collection of holiday
ornaments or to do some early Christmas shopping for the
folks back home (Singel 508-510).