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...
soap products are not really unusual in
today's gift buying market. However, La
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: www.savonnerie.nl
Looking back, looking forward.
(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
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...
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
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
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 - 5:00pm.
the same area...
you're in the Flower Market district take a moment
to meander into Maranon's.
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).