Monthly Archives: September 2011

A rare glance at glamour, in Calvinist Amsterdam.


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Today (in Amsterdam).

Here I am, standing in front of a beautiful building, in a beautiful city, on a beautiful day.  I’m taking in the lovely weather (which is not typical), lively atmosphere, and being generally happy.

Today I made a short bike tour within the city, cycling to Oud Zuid, onto the Overtoom, to the Nassau Kade, turning right onto Prinsengracht and finally ending at the Westergasfabriek.  I love being in the West of Amsterdam, as it feels completely different from where I reside, across from the Scheepvaart Museum, just 15 minutes east of Centraal Station.  At the Westergasfabriek, there was a Buddhist convention, complete with drummers, lots of yoga mats, and colorful flags.  This sudden diversity in the middle of what used to be an old gas factory reminds me of how unique the people and places of Amsterdam are.  I have been so lucky to reside in this city, which boasts a very Dutch identity, yet at the same time, always feels a bit exotic.

Later in the afternoon I had a drink with a Dutch girlfriend at Orloff Cafe, which is an extremely cozy and delightful place just steps away from my home.  On Queensnight (the craziest Dutch holiday) there was a fantastic local party there.  Dutchies in funky clothing were dancing to Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson, drinking small glasses of beer, and being as silly as ever.  It was one of my most fun memories, biking past the place on my way home, and then stopping, turning around, and deciding to join the fun.

Dinner tonight was at Cafe-Restaurant Walem on the Keizersgracht.  My German companions ordered smartly.  They received tender steaks, with delicate gnocchi and robust garlic sauce.  We shared a tomato soup, and delicious bread.  I opted for a salad, as I decided today would be the day to start eating healthier.  What a mistake.  I should have followed the advice of my beloved Grandmother.. “The Diet Starts Tomorrow!”  My salad was completely tasteless.  The duck meat was dry and cold, without flavor.  The lettuce was watery, and the radishes unappealing.  “How Dutch,” I said to myself.  Some things come thoughtfully with elegance, and all the trimmings.  Others come completely plain and abrupt, without apology or a second glance.

Now, as I’m about to get ready to go out on the town, I’m hearing our Dutch neighbors, who are only watching football (soccer), but sound as if they’d like to reach the next solar system.  This is pretty typical.  For good and for bad, (I finally realize), I really like this city. The Dutch, the expats, the cafes, the parks, the music, the history, it’s all there.  Just give a bit of yourself, and you’ll get a lot in return. xx Helen Anne

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The New Vintage.

Trend alert: Vintage is hot.  And not just in Amsterdam.  A recent trip to Antwerp and Paris proved several new vintage boutiques, and in Geneva (or so I read), vintage is also a hot topic.  Vintage of course made its debut in clothing & jewelry, but lately has become prominent in photography, restaurants, hair styles, hotel design, furniture, weddings and more.

What could be the reason for this sudden fascination with all things old?  Is it the downtrodden economy forcing our wallets to go secondhand?  Is it the frequent time spent glued to our mobiles, tablets, and laptops that makes us yearn for a simpler time?  Is it TV shows like Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, and Pam Am, that glamorize “the old days”?  Whatever the reason, vintage was all over the latest travel magazine I read, seen in friend’s wedding themes, and is especially noticeable in European retail.

Where once shiny, new stores stood, now are vintage boutiques filled with oriental rugs, love seats, old photographs, and quirky (in a good way) owners.  All this “old” poses the question: Is it actually more cool now to own something already used with a story behind it (Jackie Kennedy inspired sunglasses, or a vintage bureau for example), as opposed to purchasing a brand new coffee table, or a shiny pair of stilettos?  It all depends on personal taste and preference, but in my view, it looks as though the trendy public is leaning towards nostalgia when making home and clothing purchases, rather than brand-spanking-new-luxury goods.

I’m not a trend analyst or anything, but I’m predicting we’ll see more of this in the coming months and years:

Happy vintage shopping! xx Helen Anne

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De Jordaan Is..

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Fun in NDSM!

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Amsterdam Bucket List.

With less than three months left in this neat city, I’ve got a lot of my mind, and a lot to do.  I sat down today at a very inspiring cafe in De Jordaan, and came up with this list of things I need to, have to, do before I leave:

-Visit a beach with lots of sand dunes

-See Swan Lake at Het Muziektheatre

-Listen to Jazz at the Bimhuis

-Visit the new Rubens exhibition at The Hermitage

-Dance at Studion 80, and Canvas op de 7e

-Take the red light district tour

-Eat at that strange, floating Chinese restaurant near Centraal Station

-Go to Museumnacht

-Hang out at Hanneke’s Boom

-Buy something from a Dutch designer

-Eat as much Oliebollen as possible

-Travel to the following Dutch towns: Leiden, Delft and Nijmegen

Does anyone have other suggestions of what I should do before I leave??

Thanks! x Helen Anne


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My Perfect Day in Amsterdam.

We’ve come to an important milestone, my friends.  I’ve lived in Amsterdam now for almost a year, and it’s time fore me to share with you my favorite parts of the city, in the MY PERFECT DAY blog post.

So folks, here it is:

Breakfast for me would naturally start around 11am, at Greenwood’s with fresh Irish soda bread, eggs, tea and gossip with friends.  If it were a Monday morning, I would hit the Noordermarkt, (Amsterdam’s best clothing market) with a big bag, and scour the tables and racks for vintage goodies.  Working up an appetite while toiling at the market would bring me to the Winkel 43 Cafe, where I would then devour a slice of apple taart about the size of my head.  Mmm, tasty.

Greenwood's, for the full english in Amsterdam

My afternoon would not be complete without a stroll through the Negen Straatjes, popping in and out of boutiques, looking for deals (the Dutch way) and great design.  A favorite place of mine is the legendary vintage shop, Laura Dols.  The store only stocks vintage items in very good condition, and there is wonderful variety in each section.  (If I were feeling really ambitious, I would continue my shopping on the Utrechtsestraat, planning my next trip at the A la Carte travel book store!)

Laura Dols, on the Negen Straatjes

In order to clear my mind of all of the fashion fuss, I would cycle over the canal belt  to Vondelpark for a walk through the rose garden, before heading to the FOAM photography museum, for my daily dose of culture.

Recent exhibition at FOAM

As my busy day would start winding down, I’d grab a friend (most likely my boyfriend) and head to Burgermeester, home to the finest hamburger- or lamburger or salmonburger -in the world.  Ok I might be exaggerating, but these are some of the tastiest burgers, topped with such healthy and innovative stuff (truffle egg, chorizo, asparagus, anyone?)

Burgermeester, the burger master

Fueled up for a nightout, it would be time to hit the town.  High heels on bicycle pedals would take me first to Cafe Lux, for a drink with a hip crowd.  If I had tickets for a special DJ, it would probably be at Trouw, but on a normal night, the music and atmosphere of De Kring/Club Up would draw me in to dance the night away.

Craziness @ Club Up

So there you have it.  All my favorite places, all in one post.  If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, let me know- I just might be able to help 🙂

Talk of the Town:


Singel 103

020 6237071


Noordermarkt 9-3

Winkel 43

Noordermarkt 43


Laura Dols

Wolvenstraat 6

020 6249066

A la Carte

Utrechtsestraat 110-112

020 6250679



Cafe Lux

Marnixstraat 403

+31 20 422 1412

De Kring/Club Up

Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 26-1


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