Friday, August 26, 2005

An act of nature


I love thunderstorms. I love it when it’s raining hard, but only at “night”.

Last night I couldn’t sleep because I was listening to the heavy deluge of rain. With the melodious taps and splashes on the roof and on the windows, I kept still, under the sheet covers... all senses alert and relished this wonderful act of nature.

But my favorite of all is hearing the rumbling sound of the rain coming. It brings me fresh memories of my childhood days during monsoon season in the Philippines. I can only take pleasure from those memories now as I drink a warm cup of coffee, at night, whilst watching the heavy downpour outside.

Next time I better send a message to the gods of Dutch weather that if they plan of sending heavy rain along our way, that they better make it before bed time!

Leaves have also started to fall today and it’s the first time I noticed that some of the trees have changed its colors to yellow and orange.

My favorite season has come: Autumn

Monday, August 22, 2005

SAIL 2005 Amsterdam


SAIL 2005 happens every 5 years in the IJ harbor of Amsterdam, strategically situated right at the back of the Amsterdam Central station.

The big event was opened last 17 August with a dramatic “sail in” of the participating ships led by the city’s flagship, the Clipper Stad Amsterdam, with the prince of the Netherlands [Prince Willem Alexander] enthusiastically navigating on its wheels.


The parade was received by tens of thousands of eager spectators along the coast harbor and by a myriad of striking boats floating in the IJ haven. An equally impressive gun salute with the use of an old canon was executed to welcome the boats into the haven.

So full on a Sunday, the last day of the event… and this is even before reaching the IJ Harbor! (IJ is pronounced as “eye”)

The SAIL 2005 is a 5 day event in Amsterdam and is known to be the city’s 2nd largest event after the yearly Queens Day on the 30th of April.

During the 5 day affair, one can expect an array of multicultural, youth and nautical programs. Music is on the air, beer and wine spirits on the loose and everyone is in the party mood. A variety of rich international cuisines on display are also available at your fingertips. I even saw a lechon [grilled suckling pig]!

My 3 favorite boats during the event:

The Prins Willem VOC ship from Den Helder, Netherlands. A replica of the largest Dutch East Indie ship dating back to 1651.


This boat is a kids dream. When I had a good look at it, I felt the ship came to life, like it just jumped out of a pirate fairy tale book!

Dazed, I tried to pinch myself to take me out of the fantasy bubble world and bring me back to reality. It is simply amazing!

The beautiful Amerigo Vespucci ship comes from Italy.

It looked so romantic, very regal and darn luxurious from the outside...

This ship actually reminds me of the heartbreaking movie, The Titanic.

There were many foreign ships and boats that joined the event. From the tall ships alone, participants came from Poland, Russia, Turkey, UK, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Romania, Germany, Portugal, India, Norway, Ukraine, Belgium, Oman, France, Ireland, Lithuania and Spain.

The SailTrain of NS [Nationale Spoorwegen], the Dutch National Railways.
I could not believe my eyes. The NS train sailing in the Amsterdam haven?! I had to laugh! Now, that was really a good act, hehe.

Last Sunday evening at exactly 22:00 hours the event had its last hurrah of lights and fireworks.

Today Monday, 22nd of August, the ships are expected to bid their farewell during the “sail out” parade as they exit the IJ haven and go home to their respective countries.

And this is my most favorite candid photo that Dutchman took.

Russian boys in their navy blue suits chatting while aboard the MIR ship.
Best of all, the SAIL 2005 event is FREE for all, and FREE entrance too to all the large tall ships participating in the exhibition. Indeed, a treat for the ship hobbyist!


For more pictures of these beautiful ships and the successful event, click here in My DUTCH TRAVEL Photo Album. Enjoy them as you please. [grins]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

City Spotting: BRUSSELS, the European City of Culture

An international multi-cultural city, Brussels in a nutshell is luxurious, historic, alluring and warm.

Situated in the most central of all locations in Belgium, the city enjoys being the capital of the country, but it is also regarded as the capital of the Flanders region [the Flemish Belgians, the Dutch speaking part in the north].

The CENTRUM

With my hot pot of mussels, a must when in Brussels and foto’s of the amazingly beautiful historic buildings in the “Grand Market Square” [Grand Place/Grote Markt].


Dating back to the 16th century, this square is a MUST SEE when visiting Brussels. They say its the loveliest square in the whole of Europe, if not in the whole world. The ancient mansions like a protective cluster surrounding the square grounds are accented with gold color giving the place an air of opulent ambience.

Tourists flock and hang out here and the cafes offer exorbitant prices than anywhere else in Brussels.

More pictures of Brussels in My EUROPE TRAVEL Photo Album.

LANGUAGE: Moi? Ik?

A tourist directional sign in French and Dutch… er English speaking tourists, sorry, no English!

A noticeable characteristic in the city are the signboards. They are in both “French” and “Dutch”, the country’s 2 official languages. French however is now widely spoken in Brussels; albeit in my opinion, it could be because French is a language spoken and learned by a large majority in Europe, and many immigrants in Brussels come from Africa and the Middle East who learned French in school. Another of my hypothetical reasons is that, unlike the Dutch speakers who are more tolerant linguistically, French speaking people usually insist on speaking French. Right? Ooops, I hope I don’t get a slap there, hehe.

BRUSSELS INSIGNIA

After discovering the Grand Market square, one must try locating Brussels naughty little citizen, the “Manneken Pis” boy. Legend says that in the 16th century [or earlier] there was once a little boy who got lost in the city. His father found him in the corner street; where the Manneken Pis holds its home now; peeing.

The Manneken Pis! A Dutch phrase that means “The statue of the pissing boy” looks like an exact replica of the Sto. Nino of Cebu, Philippines. The only difference is the Sto. Nino is not showing his prized little weapon, lol.


Manneken Pis also endured the centuries of war and looting. He had his own fair share of harrowing incidents, such as of being hidden by Kings and dignitaries, looted by soldiers, and stolen by students.

What many people do not know is that this little naughty boy owns over 600 costumes, which are all currently preserved in the City Museum. The Belgians love dressing him up. Kings and nobles shower him lavishly with gift costumes. He even has a Santa Claus outfit!

MUST INDULGE...

Brussels, Belgium to the outside world is known for its lusty gastronomy. First on the indulge list is none other than the famed and divine Mussels pot [Moules/Mosselen].

Musselsfor an early dinner. They come in different recipe variations. The most popular is mixed with white wine. Well nothing unusual, I could not finish the whole thing even if I want to! Twas too much for my small tummy.

The city is a haven for connoisseurs who love to sit back and partake in the wonderful tastes in life. This is what the Dutch always say about the southerners -- living the Bourgeoisie lifestyle.

Belgian Waffles”. Finger licking good but oh so calorific! I am so ashamed; I finished 2 of these lekkere dingetjes, well in a span of 3 hours.

Arriving in Brussels will greet you with the malodorous smell of hot yummy inviting waffles. Ahhhhhhhh... I just love the smell, so fresh, so refreshing, so I can't wait to bite them now. Our Belgian waffles here in Holland are up to no good; they don’t even come close to these, I don't know why. Hmm, someone need to steal the recipe fast.

Bon-bons and just any “Belgian Chocolate” will do…

A great way of exploring Brussels on foot is trailing the narrow cobble stoned side streets starting from the Grand Market Square, searching for the best epicurean chocolate shop in town. There are many of them so prepare to be exhilarated. Brussels is besieged with chocolatatier shops in every corner and alley. Pay attention to the chocolate figures on the window display though, they can be sometimes funny and atrocious.

Next challenge on the list: Partake in the “Beer” culture of Brussels!

I am not a beer drinker myself, so I felt my I do not have enough warranted skills to do this beer tasting jaunt. I only had a Duvel and a Kriek. Being a wine lover, I preferred the Kriek [raspberry flavored beer], fruity and tasty.

For the unsuspecting tourist, here is a little trivia -- did you know that there are over 350 beer varieties in this little country? This makes Belgium hold the reigning title of having the most number of beer brands in the world. Wow, such beer achievement for such a little country, haha.

A little nice DIVERSION

Just a little bit outside the perimeter of Brussels center lays some of the most gorgeous historical finds for any tourist to experience. A few of them are:

[Upper left]Laeken Castle”, it is the official residence of the Belgian Royal Family located in the northern part of Brussels.

[Upper right]Cathedral of our Lady”, this gothic basilica is currently being restored. It actually resembles a lot like the gothic churches here in Holland.

[Lower left]Brussels Royal Palace” , built in the 18th century, it now serves as the office of the King of Belgium.

[Lower right]The Atom” and the “Royal Park”. The Atom represents Belgium’s 9 provinces.The Royal Park is a nice relaxing place if you want to get away from the hectic city.

EUROPE’S CAPITAL

Brussels of today is the seat of the European Union/European Community and the NATO. Let’s backtrack in time before Brussels became the city of Europe…

During the selection process of identifying where to host the headquarters of the EU/EC, the most attractive options were zeroed in on the BENELUX countries [Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg], mainly because of its central location in Europe. Why not the large influential European countries, you may probably ask? With all due respect on political and egoistic decency, an EU/EC headquarters can never hold its office in the UK, France and Germany. Its just not done, because each of these monsters will beg to differ and fight for it [grins].

The office of the “European Parliament” where everything happens, including screaming throat to throat at another EU member rep. The other foto on the right is the office of the “European Commission”.

The headquarters must take a seat in a neutral ground, in a neutral EU/EC member country right in the center of Europe.

Well, congratulations to Brussels!

PS: The Dutch however blames its previous socio left wing government for driving EU/EC opportunities away.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The WILL to SKI


There is no turning back! I am going to “Winter Sport” this January!

Thinking about that makes my knees wobble and my heart palpitate. This will be my first time!!! Darn, I don’t even know how to ski! I know it’s not the best of all ideas to start learning how to ski at 35. Like they say: “It’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks

The winter holiday was finalized last weekend when we were at Friesland. Dutchman’s friends, the couple who owned the farm; let’s call them PI couple; initially mentioned their plan to go to winter sport in January, without the kids[!]. It was also our plan but there was nothing concrete, no schedule and the Dutchman kept throwing doubts about my physical condition. He thinks I have no place in the sports world and is not fit to ski! (Uh-huh, say that again? I have trekked the mountains and rivers of Banaue, climbed up to the 3rd level (top most) of Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu, and did spelunking in big Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, well full of bats!)

Well thank heavens for reinforcement. The PI couple undauntedly believed in my desire to ski. Nevertheless, by popular demand, the cheese-head was forced to agree and commit. I quickly laid a € 200 - BAIL OUT FEE (I have 4 witnesses)! If he bails out, he pays me € 200, [laughs evil-y]. Am I just so smart or am I just resolved to the ski challenge?

The winter sport holiday will be in the Austrian Alps. I heard Austria offers a great nightlife too.


Here is a foto of a ski resort in the Austrian Alps somewhere in Tirol region, in the west part of Austria.

We are currently busy canvassing which ski resort we will take (4 of us are going and will share a cozy chalet). We have to book in advance because many people all over Europe go regularly to winter sport. Anywho, the resort would surely look like the above… all snowy white!

Now I badly need to prepare for the trip. I practically have 5 months before the holiday, so that’s excellent enough to get my muscles flexed and stretched, my condition worked out, my confidence beefed up, and buy the essentials [winter sport clothes, shoes and accessories] for this sportive holiday.

Luckily, there is a Skipiste [ski arena] in Nieuwegein, Utrecht, about 20 minutes from where we live that offers ski lessons. They have a 15 meter high ski landing and slope. I think the hill was said to be made from garbage (umm, like the smokey mountain of the Philippines? hehe). Click here for a foto.The white thing is the man-made slope where you can practice skiing.


Yay, I am extremely excited!!!

In the meantime, I am absorbed with my Benelux [Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg] and Germany city spotting tour. I am off to Brussels soon. Stay tuned for recaps and foto’s of these beautiful and historic cities.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Weekend up north in Friesland


Last weekend was a nice, yet, quite a gloomy one (I cheated and re-touched the photo’s to give extra light). We visited two of Dutchman’s friends up north in the province of Friesland [in Lippenhuizen and Sneek respectively], bordering the North Sea and the north of Germany. The capital of the province is Leeuwarden. I haven’t been there yet but in the near future, why not!

The Netherlands has two official languages: Nederlands [Dutch] and Fries [pronounced as ‘Frees’]. The language Fries which is also how locals are called in Friesland, is as they say a mix between Dutch and English. Many Dutch people actually do not understand Fries [the language] but all Fries [the people] understand Dutch, since they study this in school. I hope you didn’t get confused there, he-he.

Heerlijk appel taart! [Delicious apple pie!]
We were welcomed in Lippenhuizen with a home-baked delicious apple pie, freshly made from apples picked in the backyard. It smelled so sinfully glorious and the crust looked so crunchy, just like those delectable warm oatmeal cookies. After savouring it and had my fill, I kind of made a promise to myself to start learning the art of Dutch pie baking.

Then we had a peek at their two lovely thoroughbreds, a cross between Dutch mares and English stallions [or the other way around]. . They have very shiny hairs on their bodies --- must be the horse shampoo I have heard that can make miracles on women’s hair? Silly me forgot their names.

They were a very friendly pair and they loved eating apples. Yeah, I helped fed them.
Dutchman’s friends are not really farmers. The couple are working professionals [consultant and lawyer] who both have a strong love and passion for horses and horse back riding. They bought the seven-hectare farm last year, with the main objective of breeding horses for equestrian sports, but recently, they found out from the municipality that local laws prohibits breeding more than 15 horses in the area.


Cows were not a problem though, you can breed a hundred and its fine - but not horses. Strange? Quite a dismay really, so instead of moving forward with the renovation and ranch project, they decided to put the whole lot on sale and look for another farm without any permit issues on horse breeding limitations.

Moi trying to act and look like a Dutch farm girl, ha-ha.

Afterwards, we went to Dutchman’s other friend, in Sneek, and had a nice banter of their good old teenage and 20 something years (I have to say his very very crazy years!).

Sneek is a small municipality with an impressive marina and a nice litte old Centrum. We circled the Centrum a little bit for the sake of curious me. Hey, I love city spotting.

During the entire drive, to and fro (about 400KM+ in all), there were not much to see --- except the highways, flat lands, flat farms, dikes, more highways, more flat lands and more dikes. By the way, there is a saying by foreign people in this country that the Dutch think as flat as their land... and yes, it is true.


Nevertheless, in Almere area, which is a part of the Flevoland province, you can see many modern windmills lining up horizontally in the dikes facing the IJsselmeer Lake.

The Nuon [an energy company] modern styled windmills are said to have given energy [or electricity with the use of these windmills] to more than 7,000 households in the area of Almere.

A little bit of history: It was only lately that the Flevoland province existed. The area that covers this expanse used to be a large cove that exits to the North Sea. The Dutch, known as pioneers in water and land reclamation technology, have reclaimed the mass of sea water into dry land. The reclamation project stretches about 32 kilometers. It also involves creating an afsluitdijk [closure dike] that protects mainland Holland from the North Sea.


It is quite amazing to drive through the highways (see photo of the windmills) with the thought that all these around you was previously water.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

City Spotting: HAARLEM, the city of flowers

The medieval city of Haarlem, located by the river Spaarne, was once one of the 2 most powerful cities [the other is Dordrecht] in the Netherlands during the 16th and early 17th centuries. This is the home of the great tulipmania trade in the 1600’s, and so with the tulip crash... The city was also known for beer brewing, ship building and textile manufacturing.

In the late 17th century towards the 18th century, Amsterdam stole Haarlem’s crown of power and influence. Amsterdam became Holland’s capital. But since this charming city is roughly 15 minutes away (20KM) to the northwest from the capital (about an hour from Utrecht), many tourists drop by to sample the Haarlem experience. So did I, last week!

Here are some of the few pictures of interesting places and buildings that I took in Haarlem:

The Saint Bavo Cathedral by the Grote Markt square

The church is right on the corner of the Grote Markt square where lots of open air cafés are sited.

Built in the early 1500’s in gothic style by the Catholics, originally as a church; it was later upgraded and held the cathedral status since 1559. However, d
uring the J. Calvin wave circa 1578, the cathedral was seized and converted into Protestantism [just like what happened to other churches all over the country].

The shops at the foot of the cathedral are technically part of the church’s structure. I find it actually very amusing to have a mix of store – shopping while church hopping, haha.

The Vleeshal (The Meat Hall) by the Grote Markt square

Built in renaissance style in 1602 to 1604, this building was primarily used for selling fresh meat, thus the name, Meat Hall.
In other words, this is their city meat market in the 1600’s. Wow, how grand!

It now serves as a café restaurant, and a museum.

Haarlem City Hall by the Grote Markt square

The city hall was built in the 14th century (1351). I guess the Anno 1630 date by the entrance of the city hall [see foto] is a later addition to the building.

History says too that in this exact spot is where the original wooden city hall used to stand. Building remains were found that dates back to circa 1100. Wow, very interesting, Haarlem is that old...

If the weather permits, you will see everyday open air cafes stationed right outside the city hall, in the Grote Markt square. But every Saturday and Monday, a large open air market will replace these cafe terraces.


When I was there last week, there was a Haarlem Culinair event going on in the square. So I sat down and enjoyed a glass of white wine, bread with Tapenade (olives), and Gambas. The weather was terrible; as usual, it was showery and gloomy. You can NOT survive without an umbrella or raincoat here in the Netherlands!

Dutch medieval buildings

These historic cute buildings have since then, for quite some time now, metamorphosed into fine shops on the ground floor and living quarters on top. You will see a lot of these all over in the car-free Centrum of Haarlem. You can walk from one shopping lane to another whilst admiring the Alice in Wonderland look alike colorful crooked houses. An enchanting experience I must say!

The other close up picture is an 1849 old drugstore called Van de Pigge. In 1902, V&D [Vroom en Dreesman, a large Dutch department store], built their building in the area. Van de Pigge drugstore was the only retail shop that did not approve of the buyout. So now, the shop looks quite interesting encapsulated by the imposing V&D building. And yes, it is still in business!

A Subway sandwich store (nothing Dutch)

This one is indeed a strange combination, nothing Dutch by the way. A Subway sandwich store, not in a subway or train station but right in the middle of a 2 way street by the stoplight! I couldn’t resist, I had to take a picture, haha.

The river Spaarne is seen on the second picture.

Haarlem Train Station

Another must see. If one didn’t come by train but by car, the Haarlem station is only a 10 minute walk crossing the river Sparne from the Centrum.

The first wooden station was built in 1839, then came the real station in 1842, built in semi Greek neo Classicism style. In 1867 it was redesigned. In 1905 it was further redesigned and a new station in Art Nouveau design was built or added.

Here you can enjoy an afternoon watch of the trains arriving and departing. There is a Brasserie (café) in the middle of the train platforms where you can have a nice sip of coffee or tea.

Click here for more PICTURES of HAARLEM

Haarlem by the way houses the oldest museum in the country, the Teyler museum. You can also find the Corrie ten Boom museum here (Jewish family’s hiding place during the WWII). Not only that, the city offers many secret gardens which we call here hofjes... and scenic canals and parks. But I am not yet done. Haarlem was awarded as the Best Shopping City in 2002!


A quick ride from Haarlem to the west before reaching the coast, will give you a sneak peek of the flower fields. This is in Lisse and Hillegom, but you will only catch the flowers in bloom during late April to early June. Further to the coast are the Dutch beaches. A popular one is Zandvoort Aan Zee which has a small pleasant albeit touristy Centrum. I have been to all these places and they are pure delight!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

TOKOS and the PINAY in ME


A food store that sells exotic provisions here in the flatlands; well doesn’t always have to be Asian edibles but could also be coming from other cultures of color, other than of the Caucasian twist; is called a TOKO.

An exotic food shop in Utrecht City selling mostly Asian food adapts the term TOKO as a conspicuous sign for its store.

How the term was adapted and popularized by these exotic food barns is somewhat vague to the nosy me. For all its simple glory; that I only know of, TOKO in the Dutch dictionary just means winkle, a STORE.


But that isn’t really that simple. It doesn’t sound virtually right when locals here say, “I am going to the bicycle TOKO [umm…], a flower TOKO [eh try again?], a laundry TOKO [lacks the ‘it’]”.

True, they are examples of stores thus indisputably they should be or are TOKOS, but it’s kind of like hearing someone you do not fancy, whisper I love you to you on your ears. It’s cheesy and it just doesn’t fit.

So when someone says, “I am going to the TOKO”, which literally means: “I am going to the exotic food shop”; somehow someway, perhaps by divine cultural intervention, people just know what kind of TOKO you are going to. Amazing how a word can develop into something that specific!

Moving on…

Tadaaah! I bought last week a Bagoong Guisado (Sauteed Shrimp Paste) in the TOKO!

I bought the Dagupan Bagoong Guisado (Dagupan Sauteed Shrimp Paste) for €2,50 ($3.00 / P173.00) and 100grams of Sesame Seeds for €0,80 ($0.99 / P55.00).

My palates have been yearning for that familiar tang of sour and salty delight [read: green crunchy mango with hot & spicy bagoong]. The thought of it makes me salivate now. [slobbers]


Alright, before someone even starts, I am not pregnant [heaven forbid, LOL]. Okay, stop that thought!!! *Erase*

I also can’t get enough of exploiting sesame seeds in my whipped up dishes. I love them sprinkled on top of my not quite vegetarian meals. They go well with sesame oil for flavoring by the way.


Ah, the smell of sesame oil just opens up the gateway of your uninhibited appetite. It makes you want to gorge the entire meal without pausing for breathing. Not that you’re not allowed to do that, but hey, I have seen people attack their food like it’s their last day of being fed!

Have mercy on them! If Dutchman ever does that in front of me, I am going to put him on a leash. Really.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Summer Sale

It’s almost over! And even if you hurry up to the store stands, there won’t be much left anyway. The nice items on sale were sold weeks ago. The left over clothes on the display racks looked despicable, like they were donated by leger des heils (salvation army).

During any sale season, this is what you normally see plastered or hanging on the store windows of Holland:
Uitverkoop” which means Sale and another popular one, “Opruiming” which means Clearance.

I delighted myself and bought a few items on sale but I am extremely annoyed and I want to frantically pull my hairs apart for not checking the stores early.

Since I’m giving my wardrobe a total face lift (that means my 4 to 5 year old clothes must go), I planned on buying matching suits on sale, such as blazers + pants or skirts. But ho, the women in this country are freaking fast. Anything on sale didn’t go to waste but went under the microscopic scrutiny of my fellow Dutch shoppers. They are quick, and oh well, I was not. Anywho, I bought a couple of blazers, no pairs on sight though, [sniff], so I ended up buying, then later, digging my closet to find something to match for them!

A vocal and luring sale poster… “Alles moet weg!” (everything must go!) “Korting” means discount.

One of my good finds is a 50% off cute Laura Ashley black loafer (for my walking purposes) to match my almost 2 year old Francesco Biassia black bag. Click here to see a photo.

I have to confess. I am not a real shopper nor am I a bargain hunter. If compared to those Filipina market hagglers or let’s say, even the inexperienced Dutch punter, I, in contrast would definitely be a stark naked baby, committing all the rookie mistakes in haggling and bargain hunting. I know, I am so pathetic!


This one is quite vulgar, a huge 70% discount banner, hehe.

The solace I have is self control, thus my money is usually well spent. I indulge from time to time but the items I mostly buy goes through an automatic paralysis-analysis exercise. In this order: Do I like it? Do I really want it? Wait, do I need it? How much? Is it on sale? How much again? Can I do without it? Worse, if I can’t really decide, I do this: I will think it over for a day or two, maybe a week!

See, there is no hope. I may not have the bargain hunting syndrome, but I have the ultimate virus. I have totally become DUTCHIFIED!

Summer sale usually starts late June and ends early August, every year.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Shopping in Amsterdam


For the girls (and well for the boys too): Where to go when shopping in Amsterdam?

Bijenkorf (means Beehive), an upscale department store in Amsterdam located by the Damrak. The building was built in 1911 with neo style design, a cross between baroque and classicism.
Bijenkorf in the Netherlands is synonymous to Harrods in the UK, Bloomingdales/Neiman Marcus in the USA, and Rustans in the Philippines. But compared to the British and the Americans, the Dutch have simpler tastes and shopping habits. Many would veer away from swiping their credit cards regularly and buying ridiculously priced goods. So if you are here on a visit and happen to drop by at our Bijenkorf showcase, do not ever commit the mistake of comparing or expecting to find a widespread variety of the same pompous items back home, because as I have said, the Dutch live simpler lives.

Fact is, I am extremely disappointed... we have more designer brands and bigger shops back home in Manila!

Magnificent Magna Plaza shopping center, situated at the back of the Damplein (Dam square) in Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal.
This is the closest one can get to a mall in Amsterdam. Ostentatious I should say! Shopping experience will never be the same again if all malls in the world are designed like this.

Built in 1899 in neo-gothic and neo-renaissance style, the impressive building was Amsterdam’s former Post Office. It was renovated and re-opened into its magical glory in 1992 as a shopping and leisure plaza.

It’s grandiose interior. I just love those dramatic arches and period columns!
When I am in Amsterdam and I find enough time to bum around, I make sure that I drop by in this fabulous place. Not only is Mango here, there is also this signature/designer shop selling their items at super slashed prices, all year round up to 50% to 70% discounts! Such a treat, I must admit and ooh very tempting.

And when your feet are tired from all the shopping extravanganza, you can easily swing by to this hip Irish Pub just outside around the corner. Perfect.

Kalverstraat, Amsterdam’s biggest, longest and busiest shopping street.
This is the shopping paradise of the city where tourists and locals meet. The packed and busy street stretches and connects to smaller shopping side streets that also offers fetching goodies. If you’re an avid shopper, like any woman, it will take you a day or two to fully comb the whole place. Most major stores and leading brands can be found in this area.

The Dutch by the way prefer this type of “outside shopping” than the customary “shopping mall” (inside the box=mall shopping). As they say, it is the “ambience” that matters. That, coming from the culturally correct European.

We also have a street that houses upscale signature shops (read: expensive Italian and French designers) in PC Hooftstraat. It is just a small street that caters to a tiny clientele percentage in Holland, mostly the dignitaries, royals, celebrities and socialites. A lot of moneyed people here are relatively and unsuspectingly low profile and prefer to buy their clothes and personal items in not too expensive or rather cheap places.

Well, what can I say… Holland taught me the joy and pride of wearing a € 5 sale skirt!


Next entry: All about SUMMER SALE

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