(The following is a guest post about the incredible shopping in Haarlem, Netherlands from the inimitable Adrienne Lusby, one of my all-time favorite people. I’m sure you’ll like her too.)
Being a photography addict, Algis vehemently protested writing about this charming city in the Netherlands until such a time that we could go back for a plethora of amazing photos. I thought the one below was pretty good.
Mercury’s Winged Foot (As seen in 4 Quick Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos)
A location this fabulous and so close to Amsterdam shouldn’t have to wait a moment longer. So I’m letting the proverbial cat out of the bag to tell you about a town so charming, with shopping so fantastic, you’d be crazy to pass it up. It’s called Haarlem, and yes, it’s the original city that Harlem, New York was named after.
Haarlem, Netherlands offers a respite from the excitement and sometimes overwhelming stimulation of nearby Amsterdam (and I donâ€™t just mean the red light district!).
As my friend Kyle once described it to me: â€œHaarlem is like Amsterdam, but smaller, cleaner and more charming…not to mention the awesome shopping.â€ But weâ€™ll get to that later.
Just a 15 minute train ride from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam and youâ€™re in a whole different world. No more cars, backpacking stoners and cheesy buskers to contend with. Stroll along the windy cobblestone streets of Haarlem and youâ€™ll feel like you’re getting a true slice of Dutch life. Cars are banned here, but bicycles are everywhere.
Like Amsterdam, Haarlem has its share of scenic canals, gorgeous architecture and even its own tiny (albeit much less conspicuous) red light district. It is also happens to be anchored on one side by a beautiful old-fashioned windmill called â€˜The Adriaan.â€ (How could I NOT love this place?)
The people here are not only incredibly tall (as in the rest of the Netherlands) but also exceedingly nice. Being a mere 5â€™1â€ mouse in a town of giants, I was happy to discover they were indeed the friendly giant sort. So friendly, in fact, that when Algis and I stopped to eat at a local cafÃ© where the menu was all in Dutch, our waiter offered to translate the entire thing into English for us right there at the table. Thank goodness we knew the Dutch word for â€œThank youâ€, (Dank je Wel).
Eating Tip: The Netherlands is known for its delicious cheeses (Gouda, Edam and Leyden being some of the more famous ones) so it’s hard to go wrong with a cheese sandwich.
Aaaaaand… back to shopping.
GROTE MARKT: This is the center of Haarlem and where all the shopping happens!Â Haarlem has been voted many times as the best shopping city in the Netherlands, and for good reason. I dare say, I enjoyed the clothes shopping here, even more than in Paris. Street after street of beautiful, unique shops with everything from shoes to dresses to menâ€™s clothes as well as dÃ©cor and housewares… oh, and donâ€™t forget the chocolate!
Although my favorite part of shopping in Haarlem was the abundance of one-of-a-kind independent clothing shops, I will admit there were indeed a few chain stores around that I recognized. However, those were few and far between and the stores which seemed to be exclusively European chains were waaaaay cool and had styles I rarely see here in my home town of Los Angeles. Oh, and by the way, if you’re a man and you are partial to super-pointy hipster shoes… welcome to paradise.
Whatâ€™s especially exciting and surprising about Haarlem is how affordable the shopping is. I wonâ€™t lie and say I didnâ€™t spend $400 on a sweater in a specialty shop, I did.Â Then again, I also bought an adorable dress I saw in the window of a little store that was only $35.
Here are just a few of the great finds I snapped up while in Haarlem.
I guarantee Algis and I will be back again sometime soon, and this time weâ€™ll bring back a lot more clothes…err… I mean photos!
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