Friday, February 26, 2010

Lindengracht Market in Jordaan

The Lindengracht market is open only during Saturdays situated on the Lindengracht street in the heart of the Jordaan District in Amsterdam. I was actually searching for the famous organic farmers market of Amsterdam, the Noordermarkt, which happens to be in Jordaan as well but since we first landed in Lindengracht and we don’t have the time to do two markets in a day, we settled for this. I am reserving the Boerenmarkt - Noordermarkt for another time.

Zelfbediening means Self-Service. Fresh produce on sale in the Lindengracht market.

Fruits from free trade and globalisation: Oranges, Pineapples and Melons.

Little boy waiting for his mother by the bike with a wheelbarrow in front - this is very typical Dutch, kids and goods are loaded into it at the same time. Next foto is the omnipresent cheese vendor.

My girl friend asked me if the Dutchman ever gets jealous because we’ve just been out for a day and we’ve already had 2 encounters where I had to do a photo shoot with some men, lol, earlier at the hotel and this at the market. Anyway, as you can obviously see, I'm a little girl compared to the giant Dutch but then again I am wearing flats. Next fotos are fresh potted basil herbs and fennel - yummy for salads.

Melted chocolate with nuts and the street baker with loads of uncut loaves. The Dutch swears they have the best (sandwich) bread in the world because its soft and rich.

The open wooden stalls are all uniformed coming from the same supplier I guess and it can get busy in this market too.

The street market has a good mixture of goods on sale. From fresh produce, dairy, meat, fish, flowers, bread to dry goods such as clothing, shoes, CD’s and household items. It is so much cheaper here to shop than at the supermarkets, much cheaper even than LIDL.

I didn’t buy anything but my friends bought earmuffs to shield their freezing ears from the cold.

Summing up, I like the Lindengracht market; it has this kind of special atmosphere and a very local vibe to add. You see trickles of tourists passing through as well, and at the end of the Lindengracht you get to go around the corner and view and walk along the beautiful quaint canals with stunning old buildings that Jordaan is quite famous for.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Medieval Amsterdam

I would be lying if I say that Amsterdam is not my favorite city. She is far different, unique is the right word, compared to other cosmopolitan and historical cities. I especially love her dark, mysterious and leaning buildings and I never tire of seeing them standing tall on the canals. They, for me are more captivating than the luxurious buildings in Paris.

The medieval Amsterdam quarter is the oldest part of the city. This old area stretches from Centraal Station to the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, the Damrak in the center and the Wallen, which is also called the Red Light District. As you may be aware of, it’s not advisable to flip out your camera in public in the Red Light District, the hookers there are paparazzi shy. If you take a foto of them their no mercy bulldog bouncers will on a fly pounce on your sorry neck. Thus being warned, I only have fotos of other places. Nevertheless, my girl friends were pretty amused with the smorgasbord of sexy ladies available that night, the throngs of tourists to add that picked up after eleven and men trawling the district for the right find.

On the left is the only foto that I took of the Red Light District, by Casa Rosso where one can watch a live sex show. There was an unusual gathering of swans and ducks, it was so pretty I had to preserve the moment. Middle foto is an interesting corner building near the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, where our hotel is located.

The Spui square, you see that arched brown door on the red brick building, that is the entrance to the Begijnhof. On the left you can see the flag of Amsterdam on the walls of the Amsterdam Historisch Museum, the Triple X flanked by lions and the royal crown.

Kids feeding the doves on the little square between Spui and the floating Flower Market. Next foto is a traditional Dutch cheese store in the basement of the building.

Tulips in the floating Flower Market, they also sell cannabis/hash here. Middle foto is the Munt Toren. On the right is the statue of Rembrandt on Rembrandtplein.

The Rembrandt square... before, you can find life size sculptures of the characters depicted in Rembrandt's popular painting, 'The Nightwatch' here. Foto on the right is the view to Rembrandtplein from inside the cafe.

My friends loved the Dutch chocolate milk drink, they think it is the best chocolate drink in the world hehe. Foto on the right--bittergarnituur for lunch. We had heavy breakfast at the hotel that we snacked our way to lunch.

Typical Dutch architecture, the gable houses. Foto on the right, a biker meets classic rider. I love the poshy melon color of the car.

More Dutch architecture here along Rokin nearby Damrak which is really close to the Dam square and De Wallen/Red Light District.

Yours truly inside the canal boat cruise playing as tourist haha. Middle foto is a typical Amsterdam scenery: gable houses, canals, bridges and bikes. On the right foto it says Beware of pickpockets, they also shop!

Traditional Dutch wooden draw bridge, the bridge is opened upwards for passing boats. Foto on the right is a typical Dutch stonebridge and canal by the Carre Theater, one of the oldest theaters in the Netherlands.

More fotos can be found here: Amsterdam (Medieval) - The Netherlands

Our day was full-packed with lots of sightseeing and activities that I am, helaas, already quite familiar with. Obviously I have done most of them before. We walked endlessly; my back hurt at the end of the day and I was looking forward jumping into my inviting bed in the hotel and then stretching myself with the soft pillows nuzzling my tired back. The weather cooperated as well. Saturday was quite chilly and windy but it was dry and the sun shone!

A recap: We went to see the Waag in the Nieuwmarkt area; ate in Chinatown; passed by Spui and visited the Begijnhof; checked out the floating Flower Market; had lunch and drinks in Rembrandtplein and then afterwards we took a canal boat cruise.

We also spent a lot of time in the Jordaan area but this strongly merits another separate entry.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The spinster’s semi-monastic private community is a secret little place, an inner court stashed nicely in the center of Amsterdam’s medieval quarter away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Begijnhof is not always easy to find but there are two entrances; one is in the Spui square--this is the brown arched door and the other one is on the side street from the corner of Spui (by Esprit Café). Walk a bit further down the alley until you reach an intersection and you see an arched brick gate.

The begijnhof is open daily from 8AM to 7PM. When visiting here make sure to keep voices down as you are treading on private residential grounds.

On the left foto is the main entrance of the Begijnhof. Middle foto is a garden near the Spui entrance with a sculpture of a Begijn, not sure who she is, could be the famous Begijn Cornelia Arents. Right foto is the entrance from Spui square.

Most of the town houses here are built during the 17th and 18th centuries. Tourists and non-residents are not allowed to venture into this side of the Begijnhof.

Left foto is the Roman Catholic Begijnhofkapel (Begijnhof Chapel). You can see on the middle foto the bell tower of the English Presbyterian Church while on the right foto you can see its entrance. English masses are serviced here.

Left foto is the interior of the Begijnhof Chapel and on the right foto is another section of the Begijnhof. The Black wooden gothic house is probably the most famous house in the hofje and is recently renovated.

The Beginhof, a non-religious organization was formed in the late 14th century for a very noble cause. Many unmarried women from noble backgrounds came to live here with the goal of doing charity to the community without the religious pressures from living in a convent. The begijnen take a vow of chastity but they can always leave if they want to marry.

The last original begijn (I call them semi-nun spinters) died in 1971 and until now only unmarried older women are accepted to live here. There are about 47 town houses in the hofje.

In the begijnhof you will also find the only English Presbyterian Church that offers English services in the Netherlands. Across this church is a Roman Catholic Chapel, the Begijnhofkapel, a much ostentatious one than the English Church I suppose.

The whole begijnen concept is unique so when in Amsterdam do not miss this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Drunk Dutch Humour in the Toilet

I have been busy during the weekend entertaining friends visiting from Japan. We checked-in into a hotel in Amsterdam Centrum near the Dam square which is a strategic location as it is very convenient from here to walk to the different quarters of Amsterdam.

I found this ceramic tile on the wall of the dames toilet in a cafe in Rembrandtplein, Amsterdam. It says, “Hoe meer ik gedronken heb, hoe beter jij eruit ziet” — The more I drank, the better (or prettier) you look! LOL

We were forced to take refuge in this cafe when hail and wet snow threatened our just blow dried hair. I know, GIRLS =)

Visit Period: February 2010
Destination: Amsterdam Centrum

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