Postcard from Amsterdam

So you're going to Amsterdam for 48 hours and were wondering what to do, where to stay etc...

Well, I've just had two very happy days there and can highly recommend:

1) The Blue Sheep - a fantastic little B&B within easy walking distance of everything but very quiet and with lovely hosts Jan & Novella. They have dogs, Nespresso and shampoo (I'd forgotten mine) and as far as I'm concerned that makes it a home away from home. It's both stylish and cosy.
2) Taking fantastic walking shoes as it's easy to walk everywhere plus there's also trams (pay on board) or hire a bike. To be honest though I would have probably died if I had cycled anywhere - they KNOW how to cycle & they take no prisoners. [The British Health & Safety Executive's heads would all explode if they visited Amsterdam for more than a minute - no helmets, cycling while using a mobile/umbrella/snogging etc.]
3) The 9 streets shopping area for funky shops selling fashion, shoes, handbags etc. Even a shop selling men's bags exclusively... They take their bags seriously in Amsterdam. Don't on any account visit the normal shopping area or go anywhere near Centraal Station.
4) Handbags & shoes - the most famous bag (and shoe) designer is Hester van Eeghen who has been in business for over 20 years. Fantastically colourful and stylish - probably a bit too much for me, so I found a wonderful designer near the Mirror Quarter on my walk back from visiting the fabulous Rijksmuseum (less busy than the Van Gogh Museum where it's best to buy your tickets before you leave home as it is also with the vast majority of museums.) Big thanks to Cindy Jeurissen for helping me try a gazillion options on her bag - what a fabulous idea - one bag but around two dozen different straps. Genius! A really lovely designer and definitely 'one to watch'.
5) Anne Frank Museum - amazing experience and mot to be missed. Either book online to beat the queues or go at 8pm as it closed at 9pm and you only need an hour.
6) If you can do go and see what's considered to be the best Orchestra in the World - The Royal Concertgebouw - who had me in stiches on Wednesday night during their final piece. They all went completely mental - the sound was astonishing and even the Dutch looked at each other in amazement. Delicious restaurant next door too (Brasserie Keyzer) with Concert Menu two courses for 31.50 Euro and they guarantee to serve you within an hour so you're not late for the concert. Read with interest (afterwards) poor review on Trip Advisor because there was a rat running over the tables... lol. [Keep your ticket for the concert as it gets you free tram back to your hotel/b&b]
7) Check out possibly the smallest car in the World - (see photo) - it's called a Canta & it's truly tiny. Very Postman Pat.
8) Go fuzzy-eyed with all the delftware on display everywhere - very pretty but not cheap.
9) You have to visit FOAM which is a real haven from crowds and has some very interesting photographic exhibitions. A very peaceful and happening place.
10) And finally I guess you'll just happen across the odd canal or two during your stay... Beautiful, even in the rain.

It's really very nice not having loads of cars flying all over the place although I think you're as likely to be wiped out by a bike. You may see the odd clog, cheese shop, orange 'Holland' t-shirt, tulip, or red light - you may even smell the odd waft of funny smelling tobacco - but these aspects came pretty low down on the overall flavour of the City during my brief stay.

I saw this wonderful quote on a shop window and it reminded me of my friend Rebecca who I know lives by this setiment.

You're only here for a short visit... "Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way" Walter Hagen

And that's what I take away from my trip to Amsterdam. Oh yes, plus the fact they seem to really like dogs & take them everywhere - unlike in London where I understand they are shortly to be banned... (ok, so a slight exaggeration - I really shouldn't read the Daily Mail... ha ha ha).

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