Street Art

I heart Amsterdam

We broke up. My (former) favourite city and I.

I didn’t fall out of love, it just became too difficult to maintain a long-distance relationship. Our love affair began in 2001, at University. We grew up together, formed a deep connection, an unbreakable bond… or so I thought. But then it was graduation and time to get a real job – I moved to Surrey. It was a sad farewell. We tried to make it work. I visited at weekends, whenever I could and we kept the sparkle going for longer than anyone expected… but as the years went on, we drifted further and further apart.

We had a good run, Brighton and I.

But things change, relationships move on, and you can only have one favourite city.

So, here’s the story of how Amsterdam wooed me…

Sex appeal || Street Art

You can go to the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum when it’s raining! If it’s not – walk. Amsterdam is a piece of art in itself!

The architecture, the canals, the people, the Street Art. Spend a day walking around Amsterdam and you’ll learn just how damn sexy it is. And I’m not even talking about the red light district!! Walk the entire length of the Prinsengracht  (one of Amsterdam’s three main canals) and you’ll experience countless pieces of modern art. Thought provoking, fun and above all: brand spanking new! These talented artists see a bit of blank wall or a garage front and create masterpieces. Not so great if you happen to own that garage or piece of wall, but hey, it’s all in the name of art.

Street Art, Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

Street Art, Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

One of my favourite pieces (pictured) can be found just 300m away from Anne Frank’s House. As you can *just* see, it’s number 185 on Prinsengracht. (Fingers crossed it’s still there!) This particular piece has suffered a bit of graffiti, but then again, what is graffiti and what is art?

If you’re really into it, you can even go on a Alltournative (ha ha!) Street Art and Graffiti Walking Tour.

Sense of humour || King’s Day 

Amsterdam isn’t afraid to be playful or to take the piss out of itself. The best day of the year to visit Amsterdam? 27th April. Without a doubt! On Koningsdag or King’s Day, aka Europe’s biggest street party, the whole city turns orange, otherwise known as oranjegekte (orange crazy). Yep, that’s right – lots of people will be dressed head-to-toe in orange! The sillier the better! Even the more modest people will bring / wear / buy at least something orange. Some people even dress their pets in the colour. Seriously.

The whole of the Netherlands is a massive party on this day, but nowhere more than in Amsterdam! The main roads are closed off to cars and trams so that crowds can party in the streets and there’s live music, LOTS of booze and an electric atmosphere wherever you go! You could even call it gezellig! 😉

To add another level of craziness, the whole city turns into an open air flea market for the day. Time to get rid of some old tat, or let the kids test their budding entrepreneurial skills!

Kings Day 2014

A typical King’s Day outfit

The biggest and most atmospheric vrijmarkt  (free market) is in Vondelpark. Can’t visit for King’s Day on 27th April? There’s a flea market on Waterlooplein 6 days a week. Buy some crazy orange stuff ready for next year!

The other amazing thing about King’s Day (even despite the date being moved – it was formerly Queen’s Day on 30th April) is that the sun always shines!! Now, I don’t want to jinx it… so work with me please, weather gods, but the last five King/Queen’s days have benefited from glorious weather, making it even more gezellig! (If that’s even possible!)

Good teeth || Food 

The third and probably most attractive quality of Amsterdam is the food. It’s a real food lovers paradise!

The Netherlands doesn’t have the best reputation for its grub, but in Amsterdam you’ll find culinary delights to suit every taste and budget! To try some traditional borrelhapjes (borrel  is drink and hapjes is small bites – so snacks to accompany an alcoholic drink) head to Nieuwmarkt. My absolute favourite area of Amsterdam!

Here you’ll find tons of cafes and kroegen (pubs) serving:

  • oude kaas (‘old’ mature cheese)
  • leverworst (liver sausage)
  • kaasstengels (literally: cheese sticks) or kaassoufflés (both based on deep-fried cheese) 
  • vlammetjes (spicy ground beef enveloped in a little parcel and deep-fried)
  • and of course bitterballen!! (Yup, you read the name of the blog, right?)

My favourite places to go are Gewaeght Cafe, Cafe Del Mondo and Cotton Club. The latter only serves drinks, but be sure to check out the toilets which are floor to ceiling tegeltjeswijsheid (Dutch wisdom tiles) very traditional and very funny!

IMG_2947

Looking for something more sophisticated? Try Woo Brothers at Jodenbreestraat 144. (They don’t have a website because they are TOO COOL and they don’t need to!) Asian food at its absolute best.

Oh, and don’t even *think* of leaving the country until you’ve tried patatje mayo (chips with mayonnaise). Get them from a street vendor; they’ll come in a cone, drowned in mayonnaise! Lekker!

What’s your favourite thing about Amsterdam? Or, if you haven’t been yet, what are you most looking forward to checking out?

Hayley x

Advertisements

Not your average huwelijksreis (honeymoon) – Part 1

I was hoping to share the official wedding photographs with you – before the honeymoon pictures – but I’ve only just received the “sneak peek” myself… so in the meantime… let’s crack on with our beautiful huwelijksreis!

My dream honeymoon destination has always been Thailand. The clear water, the blue sky, the perfect beaches… it’s just ideal honeymoon material! However when my friend got married in Bali in October last year, we thought – “heck, we’re going all that way already – let’s go to Thailand as well”. It was everything it was cracked up to be and more… and I would LOVE to go back, but for our honeymoon, we wanted to go somewhere we’ve never been before. (If you’re new to the blog and want to read about our Thailand trip, you can do so here: 10 things to to do on Koh LantaKoh Lipe: Thailand’s secret island?Thailand Packing List.)

So we decided on… ITALY! (There is actually a significant reason for this, but it’s better to explain that in a later post… it will all become clear later – I promise!)

As we wanted to visit several places in Italy, we did the Dutch thing (they love camping and caravaning!) loaded up the car and decided to turn it into a road trip! A mix of hotels and camping, keeping the plan flexible so we could stay in places for longer if we liked them… and move on if we didn’t. But first stop: Basel in Switzerland! We left for our honeymoon on my birthday, so didn’t want to spend the whole day and evening driving. Basel is around a 7 hour drive from home so it seemed like the ideal location for a stopover. We were right.

En route to Basel

En route to Basel

We arrived quite late in the evening, so only had time for a quick shower, change of clothes and then went out for dinner: a cheese fondue! Of course! We’d done a bit of research prior to the trip and found a highly recommended restaurant on Trip Advisor called Elsbethenstubli, serving the “absolute best fondue you’ll ever have” – according to one reviewer. They were right. It was delicious. The best we’ve ever had! Another reviewer thoughtfully added “Remember, it IS Switzerland”… so we weren’t too surprised when the bill came. It was expensive… but hey, it IS Switzerland.

Cheese fondue, Basel, Switzerland

Cheese fondue, Basel, Switzerland

On the way back to the hotel, we stumbled upon a fantastic bar called Zum Kuss. (It means “The Kiss” in German.) Again, it was expensive (10+ euros for a double gin)… but so, soooo worth it. Their gin collection was one of the most impressive we’d ever seen! The second shelf down is ALL gin. I shit you not. AMAZING!! The Dutchie had one with cucumber and pepper. Yum!

Zum Kuss, Basel

Zum Kuss, Basel

And now for some “real” photos, from my “proper” camera!! (The above were phone photos… Sorry!) The next morning, we wanted to get on the road by lunchtime, so we had a couple of hours to explore Basel:

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Zum Andreasplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Zum Andreasplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Basel Town Hall (known locally as Roothuus) is over 500 years old and dominates Marktplatz (market place) in the centre of Basel.

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall, Marktplatz, Basel, Switzerland

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Basel Town Hall

Beautiful! You must go there if you visit the city!

On the subject of recommendations… a place to avoid is Restaurant Zum Alten Stockli. It looks great from the outside and has a lovely terrace, but the waitress was unbelievably rude, slow and unfriendly and one of the locals was even worse! A terrible dining experience, we wanted to get out of there as fast as we could!! Later we discovered it’s the #346 worst restaurant (out of 411 restaurants) in Basel!! Lesson learned… ALWAYS check Trip Advisor first!!

I’ll end on a positive note, however, of a cool mural we spotted… plus some street art! (The Dutchie had a better picture of the mural… an amazing panorama… but since his phone ended up drowning in a swimming pool in Italy – the less said about that the better – this will have to do!)

Music mural

Music mural, Basel, Switzerland

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Street Art, Basel

Part 2 coming soon: Italy and the Stelvio Pass!! Now I’m off to relax before my first ever Dutch lesson! Nervous? Me…? Eeeeeeeeekkkkkkkk!!

Hayley x

Having visitors means… Going to Amsterdam!

When you have visitors to The Netherlands, you have to go to Amsterdam… right? I love it! The perfect excuse to visit this beautiful city again and again! My best friend came to stay at the weekend and it was wonderful to be able to give her a guided tour.

Like any tourist, top of her list was a visit to Anne Frank’s House. I had warned her that the queue may take a couple of hours – as we hadn’t been organised enough to book (months) in advance – but when we arrived there around 11am it was even a surprise for me! RIDICULOUS!! The queue was so long we couldn’t even see the end of it!! Must have been at least a 4-5 hour wait… so thankfully, it was off the cards. Instead, we did what I love to do best: rondlopen.

I’m a total street art geek, so it’s my idea of heaven…

Street Art vlakbij Anne Frank's Huis (Street Art near Anne Franks House)

Street Art vlakbij Anne Frank’s Huis (Street Art near Anne Frank’s House)

If, like us, you get caught out by the queues at AFH… worry not, there’s plenty in the area to keep you entertained! Her house is located on the famous Prinsengracht (Prince canal!) which has tons of cafes, bars and shops… as if the beautiful canal itself wasn’t enough! 😉

Cheese Museum, Amsterdam

Cheese “Museum” – it’s basically a shop, but I’m not complaining! It’s a good shop!  And next door is the Tulip “Museum”…

Tulip Museum

Tulip Museum

Did I mention it’s a great street for tourists? 😉

When in Rome...

When in Rome…

Tourist shop

Tourist shop

A great little shop for souvenirs (opposite Anne Frank’s House) and not too over-priced. They have everything from magnets and mugs, to stroopwafels and clogs!

And did I tell you about the Street Art in Amsterdam…? Keep your eyes peeled, it’s lurking around every corner!

Street Art, Prinsengracht

Street Art, Prinsengracht

Penguins, Amsterdam

Penguins on Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

Ok, not technically street art… this is actually the window of a Nursery, but still kinda cool…

Nursery window

Nursery window

More Street Art Amssterdam

Once we’d done Prinsengracht to death, we pretty much did a full lap of central Amsterdam. I’ve been to the city 15+ times, but I’ve never seen as much as I did on this particular trip!! Props to my best friend, she was the perfect partner to explore with – enthusiastic, full of energy and despite only being 5′ 2″ she kept up with my long legs all day.

Canals, canals and more canals… aren’t they beautiful?

Canals, Amsterdam

Oudkerksbrug

Oudkerksbrug, Amsterdam

I found out after taking the picture that the first boat on the right actually belongs to a friend of ours! Where was he when we needed a canal tour, huh?? 😉

Oudkerksbrug, Amsterdam

#nofilter

#nofilter

We also had to visit Museumplein, of course…

Van Gogh Museum

Outside the Van Gogh Museum, with bikes in shot… naturally!

And the famous I amsterdam letters!

iamsterdam

Iamsterdam letters, located on Museumplein

And what outing would be complete without the best Dutch delicacy known to (wo)man???

Bitterballen at Cafe del Mondo, Amsterdam

Bitterballen at Cafe del Mondo, Amsterdam

My friend loved them (I’m yet to find a meat-eater who doesn’t, actually!)… and I’d give Cafe del Mondo (Nieuwmarkt) a very respectable 9/10 for their near-perfect plate of bitterballen. A minus point because they weren’t perfectly round and the rocket on the side was slightly sad looking 😉

Amsterdam… ik hou van jou. (Amsterdam… I love you.)

Hayley x

 

Street Art Stavanger

DOLK,, Stavanger, Norway

DOLK, Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Herakut in Stavanger, Norway

Nuclear Babies Make Funny Faces

Nuclear Babies Make Funny Faces

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway from  Martin Whatson / nuart.no

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Street Art Stavanger, Norway

Hayley x