The Western Canal Ring area in Amsterdam in a Unesco World Heritage Site: it's a real treat wandering about, admiring the architecture or the many quirky shops that are to be found here.
We usually start from Dam Square, walk down Kalverstraat, the main shopping street, turn right, and these two buildings, one Art Nouveau, one Art Deco, are the landmark, the signal that we are about to enter this very special district in Amsterdam. We tend to walk along the Singel, one of the large canals, for a bit, then walk up one of the Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) looking at the shops until we reach the Prinsengracht, the last canal of the ring, then down another of the Nine Streets, and so on and so forth.
Not sure what this building is, but we presume it must be a bank - very fortified
The Negen Straatjes are a real delight - full of quirky little boutiques stocking antiques, vintage fashions, housewares and one-off speciality shops: the toothbrush shop exclusively sells just that
or plastic ducks in the Amsterdam Duck Store.
It's a real pleasure wandering around here - during our last two visits we have noticed signs of gentrification - the big designer brands seem to have started moving in here, and this undoubtedly will change the atmosphere of these streets
Hester Van Eeghen's handbag store has been here for years
but this time we noticed that she has opened a shoe shop as well - shoes with her trademark bright primary colours and inspired designs
everything well looked after
with the Dutch flair for simplicity and elegance
including the pots of herbs in their paper bags in the window.
The contrast between the intimacy of the narrow quiet little streets
and the openness of the canals, is very pleasing
and when the weather is good every one is out - either on a boat or sitting in cafes
and there is an air of celebration all around.
As usual, the queue outside Anne Frank's House is very long
snaking around the block
We continue walking along the edge of the water
admiring the architecture
looking closer at some of the buildings
or even closer
But the canals is what we like best