Living the London Life

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 20.59.02About a week ago I moved from Amsterdam to London, and thus far I’ve had a fantastic time! The first couple of days I was mainly busy moving and arranging stuff at my future uni, but after all of that was done, I went out to explore the city. I’ve been to London before, so I tried to visit parts of the city I’d not seen yet. But of course I did some touristy things as well 😉

First of all, I went to the glorious department store Liberty. If there wouldn’t have been so crazy many tourists, I would probably have walked around the store for the whole day. It’s not just their collection, but the whole building that breathes luxury. I love walking around every floor and making a wish list in my head of all the pretty things I want to buy with the famous Liberty print. Yes, one day I will walk out of that store with one of their signature purple shopping bags containing a fancy gift for myself. But that will probably take a while, since I basically have to spent all of my money on rent..

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Luckily, not everything in London is expensive. For example, the temporary World War I memorial at the Tower of London is really a must see, for free! It’s there until the 11th of November, so if you’re going to be in town before that time, you should definitely go see it 🙂 Another free, and awesome thing to do is go to the Sunday Up Market at Brick Lane. There you’ll find a lot of interesting stalls selling clothes, crafts, and food from all over the world. Afterwards, you can relax a bit on the rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton with a real British Pimm’s (or any drink of your liking).

 

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If you’re lucky to find yourself in London on a sunny day I’d recommend you going to Hampstead Heath. It’s a big natural park in the north of London and a fantastic place to relax and get away from the hectic city life for a bit. Close by, you can get a great coffee at Ginger & White. I found this place through The London Coffee Guide which leads you to the best independent coffee places in London. So no need to go to Starbucks anymore 😉

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But of course, London has enough to offer for rainy days as well. I’m a big fan of the Victoria & Albert museum, where they currently have the exhibition “Wedding Dresses”. The collection displayed features wedding dresses from the early 19th century until the dresses Kate Moss and Gwen Stefani wore to their weddings. And their permanent collection is great as well, my favourites are the fashion and jewelry ones.

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My last visit of this week was to the British Library. I have loved libraries since I was a little girl, so maybe this visit was more exciting for me than for the average person, but I was quite impressed with what I saw. The building itself is not very special, but their permanent collection of ‘treasures’ is really cool. The library owns, amongst others, original documents from Leonardo Da Vinci, Shakespeare, and The Beatles. I am definitely going back there, and would recommend it to every literature lover.

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So this is how I spend my first week in London. Let me know if you have tips about things I have to see or places I should go 🙂

 

Crazy about strawberries

Strawberries are definitely among my favourite summer fruits. A bowl full of red shining ‘zomerkoninkjes’, little summer kings as the Dutch sometimes call them, can brighten up my day in an instant. That’s also why I love trying out recipes with strawberries. I recently came across this lentil salad trough http://www.healthyfans.com, and it was absolutely delish.

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All you need for a one person portion is:

  • two hands full of parsley
  • 100 grams of feta
  • 10 strawberries
  • a hand full of rucola or corn salad
  • a tin of lentils
  • one small red onion
  • a third of a cucumber
  • some pepper and salt

One of my old time favourite strawberry recipes is Eton mess. It is originally served at the cricket game of Eton College and Harrow and is very easily made. The only thing you have to do is mix strawberries, meringues and cream and you’re ready to enjoy a lovely dessert!

Of course, strawberries cannot only be eaten but are also fantastic in drinks. This little red fruit can spice up any smoothie, juice or cocktail. The Dutch liquor house Bols has several delicious cocktail recipes with strawberries, such as this strawberry ‘n balsamic martini:

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I can’t wait to make these and more recipes. It’s definitely going to be a strawberry filled summer!

Best of: Amsterdam

I love travelling. It’s really one of my favourite things to do. It gives me such a thrill to go to a new place, meet interesting people, get to know a different culture and taste local food. But this desire to travel sometimes makes me forget to appreciate the place I am actually living in, which at the moment is Amsterdam. And Amsterdam happens to be one of the most amazing cities in the world. It might not be as overwhelming as New York, or as romantic as Paris, but Amsterdam definitely has its charm. It’s such a pity that a lot of tourists only come for the weed and red light district, because this city has so much more to offer than that, for tourists and locals alike.

Amsterdam is a very pretty and green city. The majestic canal houses (Dutch: grachtenpand) are of course a sight to sore eyes, and the many parks make the city less hectic than other capitals. Also the numerous museums, amongst which the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank house, are worth a visit. If you want to go shopping I would recommend going to the 9 straatjes, or Haarlemmerstraat, which are filled with little shops varying from famous fashion brands like Karl Lagerfeld to local shops, so they are perfect for window shopping as well as for finding a new outfit or a gift. One shop that I just love because of its window and shop decoration as well as its often changing collection is Tenue de Nîmes. This store is heaven for the denim-lover and its friendly sales people make you want to come back again and again.

Also the Utrechtsestraat is a street with interesting and original shops and when you’re tired you can drop by at the Koffiesalon for the best coffee in town!

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In general, you can find lots of lovely places in the city centre to get a bite, but recently I have been discovering Amsterdam East which is really up and coming and I’d definitely recommend going that way for lunch. Rum baba (Pretoriusstraat 33), for example, is a great lunch room. It has a fresh and comfy interior which is very inviting both for having a quick lunch or staying a couple of hours while reading a book. They have a wide variety of sandwiches, teas, coffees, juices, and delicious cakes and pies.

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Other places in the east of Amsterdam which I’d recommend are Coffee Bru and 1900 (here you can also go for dinner).

Finding a good restaurant is quite easy in Amsterdam, but finding a good cocktail bar can be tricky. Lots of bars have cocktails and happy hour, but if you want something else than a Sex on the Beach or a Pina Colada you should go to a real authentic cocktail bar. My absolute favourite is Door 74. Standing in front of its plain black door you can hardly imagine that inside you’ll find a sophisticated bar where skilled bartenders can make the most interesting cocktails. Other bars that might be a bit less authentic, but where they have excellent cocktails as well are the Sky lounge, the rooftop bar of the double tree hilton hotel, which is also worth a visit because of its marvellous view, and the Amstel hotel where they only serve cocktails that contain something typically Dutch.

And these are just a couple of my favourite places in Amsterdam. I hope more people will come to realise what a lovely city Amsterdam actually is and keep on coming back and discover new places.