cool art on a wall near centraal station
Sometimes, and especially before Christmas, a girl has to knock all the intellectual stuff on the head, put her museumkaart away, and go shopping. Wading bravely into the teeming metropolis - as far as any European city other than maybe London achieves teeming metropolis status, which I always imagine involves scary numbers of really angry people - I boarded a train to Amsterdam. With no definate plan in mind, other than to get some presents bought and come home in a good enough mood to cope with dinner with friends again, I knew this would be a challenge. And of course, a double challenge because I am so prone to getting distracted by shiny things, interesting art, buildings, museums, and pretty things that I like but that would make awful gifts.
I think I may have been a magpie in a previous life.
It was actually a fairly eventful train ride, as a group of three people had taken a saxophone and an accordion onto the train and were busking down the carriages. They were playing really cheerful swing-jazz sort of music, and were pretty good, so I think they made a pretty good profit off the day. I hope so, anyway. They were good, they were fun, they weren't annoying or aggressive, and they weren't pretending to be collecting for starving kittens trapped in warzones or anything, which I always resent because I know that no reputable charity collects for starving warzone kittens using a paper cup on a train!
Now, Sarah, you must behave yourself, I said firmly, as I got off the train.
I had heard that there were nice shops if you turned right out of the station, so I did. I crossed several bicycle lanes, and wandered up a Not So Good Street (noone in my family would appreciate a model penis, even if I could buy it straight faced!) that reeked of Marijuana. This is not so good, I thought - there are no Dad gifts on this street at all. Having gone on a small detour to find out what an interesting churchy thing was (The Rennaissance hotel conference centre - how weird would it be to go on a posh conference surrounded by coffee houses?!) I found a better street. I don't know what it was called, but you'll find it if you follow the signs for Leidseplein as you leave Centraal station. It had many coffee shops too, but more importantly, it had gadget shops, art shops, and kitchen stuff shops.
Oh, the kitchen stuff shops! If only I had a small camel train to bring things home with me, or failing that, a largish van. The ceramics! the glasses! the sheer unsuitability of that sort of thing as gifts, given they'll be checked into cargo at Easyjet! Behave, Sarah, i told myself, look at the gadgets. Some gifts were bought in the artsy shops, and natch, I can't say more right now. But some mission accomplishment occured. Then I headed into the Jordaan.
The Jordaan is very pretty and full of little markets on Saturdays. I'm reliably informed that some of them are not in the Jordaan, they're over the border in a different neighborhood, but for the purposes of the perpetually lost, that was close enough.
markets in/near the jordaan
One market was mostly ordinary food and old things, and the other market was mostly cool arty things and posher food. The Jordaan also homes the only vintage clothing shops I've seen in the Netherlands and some gifty-jewelry-arty shops, and the cutest baby stuff shop I've ever seen. Nobody I know has babies, so I removed myself from the store. Honestly, this is why I shop alone. Even my most patient friend would have pushed me in the canal by now. I didn't buy anything on the markets, although there was tons I wanted. I just wanted it for me, and that wasn't helping.
I popped out of the Jordaan near the Dam, and went to Kalverstraat, which is the more highstreet end of things. I got bored with people walking into me and/or randomly walking backwards, got distracted by another small church, and ended up near the American bookstore.
It was good, although no presents occured to me there either, so I got a hot dog and went to Leidseplein for no better reason than to see what it looked like in daylight. There is, just so you know, a pretty good H&M there. Right now there's an icerink too. I couldn't find the statue of the little guy up the tree, but I did find the Anne Frank Graffito of teh dubious tastefulness and took a picture. After that, I bought some poffertjes and walked back down Leidsestraat (I think) to the Dam. An unsuccesful trip to the kalvertorren shopping centre and the shopping centre behind the Dam with the enormous Sissy Boy shop (that's what it's called, much to the amusement of almost all my British friends who've seen it), and a rather more succesful trip to somewhere else, and I was ready to go back. How it takes me five hours to get three people a gift is beyond even me, but such is life.
I wanted to write up a "SarahElaine's shopping tour of Amsterdam" in the review bit, but as I never know where I am, decided against. I may review some tips though.