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Amsterdam -- She Shops, Shops, Shops


Evelyn Hannon

Amsterdam is a great walking and shopping city. I always find it such fun to put on my sturdiest shoes, grab my backpack and just meander -- through the bustling city center, along the many canals and across the tiny, picturesque bridges. What a perfect way to spend one of my travel days -- window-shopping, popping into stores, browsing to my heart's delight, and inevitably coming home with some very interesting and unique purchases.

It's pretty pricey on P.C. Hooftstraat...

New York has Fifth Avenue, Chicago has the Golden Mile and Amsterdam has P.C. Hooftstraat -- home of world-class boutiques and baubles designed to win a woman's heart and pocket book. Expect Cartier, Bulgari, DKNY and Hugo Boss mixed and matched with luxury Dutch specialty stores. Located just five minutes from the city's museum quarter, this posh area is very easy to find and well-worth a visit. Be prepared for wonderful people watching , terrific trend spotting and very elegant merchandise.

How exclusive are some of the shops? At Shoebaloo (#80), a very upscale shoe emporium, kiddies rubber boots are 180 euro a pair. Shoppers looking for style without as large a price tag need not be discouraged. They can head for Dr. Adams, a shoe chain located further up the block with much more affordable prices.

Flower Corner Sweers (#29) is a mini flower shop with delightfully welcoming service. Those in-the-know wander straight to the gift nook in their back room. On offer are charming and colourful items -- napkins, cosmetic bags, candles -- each just a bit out of the ordinary, each a wonderful household souvenir of Holland.

Looking for true Dutch kitsch? Close by is Kaaks (#32), an enormous souvenir emporium. Beside the many postcards, calendars and key chains, there are t-shirts galore ranging from tiny to extra big, Dutch dolls in typical dress, colourful wooden shoes and authentic Royal Delft ware. This is chic memento shopping at very chic prices.

Is your sister, girlfriend or daughter pregnant? If your answer is yes, I suggest a stop at Robbe & Berking (#130), a Dutch shop specializing in sterling silver objects. Be sure to ask about their birth spoon collection. This commemorative teaspoon - with handle (different for boys and girls) - is designed so you're able to engrave the newborn's name, date of birth, height and weight on it. The price tag for this elegant gift is 50 euro for silver plate and 75 euro for sterling. Happy to report that service in this shop is sterling as well!

If little Journey people are high on your gift list, you'll want to make your way to the exclusive Oilily Store (#131-133 ) to see their colorful children's wear collection. Founded by a Dutch husband and wife team, Oilily's well-known whimsical styling calls out to the rich and famous around the world. Stockings in their signature combo of pinks and oranges can be had for a mere 10 euro. With these your little darling is certain to stand out in a crowd.

Finally, every shopping spree needs a coffee or lunch break. For that time, Journeywoman suggests Caffe Fiorito (#63), where sitting outside in the sunshine is a real treat. This unassuming spot attracts a nice mix of locals, shoppers and tourists, and their snack food menu is very reasonable for ritzy P.C. Hooftstraat. Take your pick - Dutch delight sandwich with goat cheese, lettuce, truffle oil and pine seed on Turkish bread (7 euro) or Dutch Apple Pie served with whipped cream (3.79 euro). Either one will be a special treat. Travelling with kiddies? Let them try what all Dutch children love - white bread smothered with a rich chocolate paste (2.30 euro). Your youngsters might give up peanut butter forever.  

Tall girls love to shop in Holland...

Heading to Holland? Here's a great tip! Make sure to do your trouser shopping there. The people of The Netherlands are the modern days tallest people in the world. The average Dutch man is just over 6 feet, and the average Dutch woman is just over 5 foot 7 inches. Pop into any clothing store - they'll probably stock your pant length in any style and color you choose. I know, I'm Dutch and I wait until I go home to shop.
Irma, New York City, USA  

Exploring the nine alleys of the Jordaan district...





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