'DAM COOL SPOTS

AMSTERDAM, just an hour away on the plane, that’s quicker than a trip to London for me and about the same price. Just allow plenty of time on your return trip to navigate your way around the airport it’s HUGE

I do love a city break, mooching around independent shops, endless brunches and topping up on a coffee. Amsterdam is the perfect city for this, truly amazing, ever since getting back in November, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can go and live there ….. HELP!! I’m smitten.

My bible on this trip was coolmapp’s downloadable city guide, full of beautiful imagery and curated by locals “ Imagine, you get to meet the coolest person in the city you’re visiting. That’s what we are trying to capture at Coolmapp, by giving our users a window into the hidden spots of a city”

Coolmapp Amsterdam City Guide - Image from their website

Coolmapp Amsterdam City Guide - Image from their website

The City Hub was my choice for a budget sleep, I figured I wouldn’t spend much time here so opted for sleeping in a pod with a pretty cool communal area with cold beers on tap.

City Hub - Sleeping Pods - Image by peastyle

City Hub - Sleeping Pods - Image by peastyle

City Hub - Help yourself bar - Image by peastyle

City Hub - Help yourself bar - Image by peastyle

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven on the first night when we opted for a Lebanese - D&A Hummus Bistro if I could only eat one type of food for the rest of my life it would be this. Smoked Aubergines, lamb koftas, hummus, shakshuka and the fluffiest of pittas.

D&A Hummus Bistro - Image by peastyle

D&A Hummus Bistro - Image by peastyle

There’s an endless choice of places ‘to do” brunch in Amsterdam and I discovered a ‘Flammkuchen” a delicious super thin crispy type of pizza using crème fraîche as the base instead of tomatoes at The Tire Station - that pink wall, every instagramers dream

Sticky Fingers Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Sticky Fingers Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Fuelled up on breakfast we hit the achingly gorgeous 9 streets area in the sun, everything you imagine Amsterdam to be, the bikes, the lanes, the bridges and canals, it’s all just picture perfect.

Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

We are Labels - De 9 Straatjes Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

We are Labels - De 9 Straatjes Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Amsterdam in the Autumn Sunshine - Image by peastyle

Amsterdam in the Autumn Sunshine - Image by peastyle

No city break is complete without a few stops to keep you caffeinated. Lot Sixty One boasted the best coffee in Amsterdam so we had to put this to the test of course, it didn’t disappoint.

Lot sixy one Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Lot sixy one Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

On one of the days we joined Pim on a fabulous morning’s bike tour which I booked via Airbnb Experiences, I think this was hands down the best thing we did during our short stay, I loved tootling around on my bike, it took a while to get used to the pedal brake (who am I kidding, I was useless at it but that was part of the fun) we learned a bit about Amsterdam’s history and culture, took a ferry across the IJ river to the NDSM Wharf filled with public art and just generally had the best time.

Bike Tour Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Bike Tour Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

NDSM Wharf Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

NDSM Wharf Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Hitting the independent shops was another highlight, my suitcase wasn’t big enough to bring my entire wishlist back with me, but it didn’t stop me from going ga ga over the beautiful wares on offer. Some of my favourite places that I’d recommend making a pilgrimage to are ……..

Suka Amsterdam, it’s a must, filled with neutral and natural tones, I could have moved in on a permanent basis, totally dreamy

Suka Amsterdam- Image by peastyle

Suka Amsterdam- Image by peastyle

The Gathershop is a little gem filled with handmade and fairtrade products from small design studios. Whilst chatting to the owner Jessica, you’ll notice a familiar accent from the North of England (not jealous that she’s managed to make the move from the UK to Amsterdam at all) whilst we were here we called into the Foodhallen to fill our tummies.

The Gather Shop  - Image by peastyle

The Gather Shop - Image by peastyle

If mixing vintage with new is your thing, then this shop is pure heaven. Reclaimed windows, sitting alongside a bounty of feathery, velvety cushions and throws, mix in some plants and candle holders and De Weldad is an Aladdin’s Cave of interiors treasures.

De Weldad Amsterdam  - Image by peastyle

De Weldad Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Wildernis here I did manage to slip a few pots into my suitcase, there was just no resisting it. This Urban Jungle has it’s shelves groaning with the lushest of plants (both in the green sense and in the Cardiffian sense) and an array of ceramic pots of all shapes and sizes.

Wildernis Amsterdam  - Image by peastyle

Wildernis Amsterdam - Image by peastyle

Food and Drink is pretty high up on my agenda on any city break, one place that I was in danger of getting sucked into and never to leave was Coffee and Coconuts. We weren’t lucky enough to nab a sofa seat but maybe this was a good thing as I think they’d have been turfing me out at closing time.

Coffee and Coconuts  - Image taken from their website

Coffee and Coconuts - Image taken from their website

You can never go far wrong, quite the opposite, if you follow your nose to a Hoxton hangout. So Lottie’s Bar and Grill for me was like shooting fish in a barrel, ticking all the right design boxes, comfy chairs set against an industrial backdrop a good smattering of plants and photogenic sinks in the loos!

Lottie’s Cafe Bar and Grill - The Hoxton Amsterdam - Image taken from their webiste

Lottie’s Cafe Bar and Grill - The Hoxton Amsterdam - Image taken from their webiste

Two days just wasn’t enough by a long shot, a year would be a better option I reckon. Thanks to Coommapp I was able to shortcut right through my city research and and hit the ground running on making the most of my time here.































"Paris is always a good idea"

In Audrey Hepburn's words "Paris is always a good idea" oh boy! she was SO right wasn't she? so with my well thumbed guide books in hand, we headed for a four night stay in this city of lurve at Easter.

Paris - always a good idea

Paris - always a good idea

The first time I visited Paris I was eighteen, I hitch-hiked from Le Harve with no idea where to go, what to do and nowhere to stay. Rookie mistake!! It was during this trip that I vowed that that was the last time I would ever visit a city without at least a bit of research, a vague plan and a back pocket full of cool places to people watch and get my fix of good coffee.

Finding Amèlie

Finding Amèlie

I've never been one for heading to the tourist traps, so when I came across Messy Nessy's blog and book 'Don't be a Tourist in Paris'  I knew it was a done deal. Another bible that made it into the rucksack was Elodie Rambaud  'Paris Style Guide' full of cool hang outs and quirky shops. I'm not sure four days was enough time given the amount I'd book marked. 

Paris - the city of Love

Paris - the city of Love

We arrived late afternoon and after dumping our suitcases at the hotel we hot footed it straight over to Montmartre to seek out a little bit of Amèlie's magic.

Instead of making a bee-line straight up the hill to the Sacrè-Cœur we meandered around the surrounding cute little side streets, filled with fabric outlets and independent shops, stopped off for an obligatory carafe of red to numb our legs before pumping up the steps to the Sacre-Coeur to enjoy the views of the city spread out below us.

Sacrè-Cœur - Montmartre

Sacrè-Cœur - Montmartre

Views across Paris - Montmartre

Views across Paris - Montmartre

La Maison Rose - Montmartre

La Maison Rose - Montmartre

I could have sauntered around Montmartre forever, but we were working up an appetite for our supper, so after bookmarking a few places, the consensus was to go to Le Refuge des Fondus. This as it happened, was the perfect way to finish off our first day "not being tourists" it was hilarious!

Avoiding the Glass Tax at La Refuges Fondus

Avoiding the Glass Tax at La Refuges Fondus

We knew to expect our wine in baby bottles, but we didn't expect to have to climb over the tables to our seats (space was that tight) and to be on first name terms with our fellow diners by the end of the night. This place is a must if you're in the area (but be warned, don't wear your favourite flammable outfit)

Le Refuge des Fondus

Le Refuge des Fondus

Day two we headed to La Marais, starting the day the right way and seeking out a good brunch spot. I think we found my favourite place EVER!! Holybelly - don't be put off by the queue outside, it soon dispappears, the all-day brunch menu and coffee is to die for.

Waiting patiently for our eggs

Waiting patiently for our eggs

La Marais is a shoppers paradise, brimming with cool independent shops and has something for everyone, whatever your jam is, once my belly is full, mine is a corker of a homewares shop, in case you hadn't figured this out already. Here are a few places that I wore out the rubber on my trainers.

Basket heaven at Mona Market

Basket heaven at Mona Market

Merci - Paris

Merci - Paris

Dreamy Rugs at Pompon Bazar

Dreamy Rugs at Pompon Bazar

The Leaf concession at La Trèsorerie

The Leaf concession at La Trèsorerie

La Galerie de Lunette

La Galerie de Lunette

We did succumb to some classic touristy sights in Paris, but we did them slightly differently. A visit to see the Louvre Pyramid at night and instead of climbing the Eiffel Tower, we elected to drink yet more wine with a picnic on the grass underneath it (nothing to do with my fear of heights)

Le Jardin du Luxembourg

Le Jardin du Luxembourg

One of my most treasured memories was hiring a little sail boat to push along in the pond at Le Jardin du Luxembourg, for just 4 Euro you are transported back to a time when ipads and Netflix simply didn't exist, a blissful afternoon.

The rest of the trip was largely made up of eating brunch, visiting beautiful independent shops, and strolling through parks that brought tears to my eyes with their beauty (with a few wine stops thrown in for good measure).

 

Frenchie to Go

Frenchie to Go

Galerie Vivienne

Galerie Vivienne

AM PM

AM PM

Ailleurs

Ailleurs

Caravane

Caravane

Paris

Paris

Paris

Paris

Hope you've enjoyed the tour. Now when can I get back? Let me know if you find any cool spots that I need to add to my itinerary.