TRAVEL GUIDE: HAARLEM
One thing that I really struggled with when I was in Amsterdam was finding that quaint charming aspect. It really was a bigger city that felt a little overwhelming, loud and crazy at times. We wandered from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for that ah-ha moment. There was a store here and there but nothing that was it. That was until we went to Haarlem.
Harlem in the US is actually named after this Haarlem, when the Dutch settled Manhattan. Haarlem is about 20 minutes but car from Amsterdam. We took a Uber and I think it was about 30 Euros. We decided that we didn't want to bother with the train so this was a more convenient and not that much more expensive way to travel.
When we arrived in the center square, we saw right away that there were wide car-less streets with shops on either side and knew that we had found something good. Orienting yourself within the city is pretty easy because there is a big church that sits in the middle and the streets fan out from there. We just got lost among the streets and popped our heads into the cute little stores (SO many of them)
WHAT WE DID
Shopping - there were countless cute "concept stores" I learned that a concept store basically is just a store that sells both home and clothing, think Anthropologie in the US. Some of my favorite stores were: Waar, Atelier 8, Homestock, Concept Store Nyhavn, Dille and Kamille (I am obsessed with this place!)
Walking - Haarlem was so charming that you could explore the small canals and winding streets. It's pretty small so the chances of you getting lost are slim so wander around and get a little lost. One of our favorite places to walk was along the Spaarne river/canal which winds near the center of town (you can also see a reconstructed windmill there too)
WHAT WE ATE
by Lima - This was such a great find. We loved the super-healthy food and the great eclectic vibe of this place.
Mogador - This coffee shop reminds me of something you would find in Brooklyn but is very Danish at the same time. We stopped in for a quick iced coffee but they looked like there was lots of great space there to work and hang out. Outside was a cute little farmers market where you could get fresh stroopwaffles to go with your coffee (also makes the perfect souvenir)
We also grabbed a beer outside in the square near the old church. It was wonderful people watching a a great way to cool down after a long day of wandering.
So that is Haarlem and my LAST guide (over a month after getting back) Hope you enjoyed all of these tips. Can't wait for my next trip...wherever that may be.