Shop – Utrechtsestraat, from Frederiksplein to Rembrandtplein
Stay – Intercontinental Hotel Amstel
Eat – Restaurant Greetje
Amsterdam is cool. The canals are cool. The lofts are cool. And the girls are bicycles are just effortlessly cool. Maybe even sexy. When you see Amsterdam, you understand what other cities are trying to achieve, to no avail. New York tries to do the lofts, but with the high-rise architecture and lack of natural light shining deep into the buildings, it fails.
Every city now tries to do the bike, but watching people struggle to stay on balance takes away the fun of it all. Amsterdam is the originator of, and therefore effortlessly accomplishes, cool.
Amsterdam is also a business friendly location where many international companies are incorporated, causing a lot of business traffic to travel through its veins. If you find yourself with a half day of freedom and want to shop for cool Dutch things, don’t get lost in the tourist zone around the Red Light District or the Old Town. Start at Rembrandtplein and walk away from it all, along Utrechtsestraat, all the way down to Frederiksplein. This is a short street, you can walk it in under 15 minutes but for the alluring window displays that will require you to take your time and meander. There are clothes, hats, shoes, jewelry, and home decoration goods. Remember, these are cool Dutch things, and I won’t be able to rattle off familiar labels for you. You are not going to find the Gap or H&M, or COS here – thank God.
If you are a lucky business traveler you will be staying at the Intercontinental Hotel Amstel, right across the Amstel River from Frederiksplein, your ending or starting point of the shopping venture, depending on what portion of your day is free for you. If you are not so lucky and staying elsewhere, walk into the Hotel Amstel and enjoy a glass of champagne sitting above the Amstel River.
For a true Dutch meal to top off the day, go to Restaurant Greetje. Lady Greetje is still at the bar overseeing her restaurant. Take a look at her, a look at her picture from 50 years ago on the restaurant literature, savour the years and treasure this taste.
Image Courtesy of PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock.com