Inspiration: Part One

Nick and I just got back from our vacation. We love to travel. Not only is it a good way to get some much needed rest, but the change of scenery feeds our hearts and minds. Seeing the sights, visiting museums, shopping, eating, enjoying the local culture of the different places we visit inspires our lives and work throughout the year. This year we were in Amsterdam, a place we seem to visit every couple of years, and Berlin, where we've never been to. Here's a bit of what we saw:


A beautiful city. Every corner you turn gives you amazing sights.


Bikes chained to the canal railing. Everyone rides bikes and looks so healthy. Don't forget to look both ways when crossing a street!


A front stoop with mossy stairs. I love the shape of the cement steps. The potted plants and iron work...mmmmm....Every building has great architectural features.


A beautiful hand rail. All of the iron work, front doors and window frames of the buildings are painted with a glossy enamel that makes the details look almost wet.


More of that glossy paint on these great iron shutters. 


 We took a day trip to Rotterdam where we went to the new Markthal. The building was enormous and so beautifully designed. There was the interior space that housed the market, with local vendors selling fresh produce, fish, meats, charcuterie, etc., as well as prepared food. There were also a number of restaurants. We had a lovely lunch. The shell of the structure houses a number of apartments whose windows face in to the interior market, as well as out over the city. Amazing...


Wonderful things everywhere caught our eye.


This is the ceiling of the interior of the market. These tiles were about 4' square and created a beautiful mosaic of flowers, fruits, vegetables, insects and other wildlife. 


Back in Amsterdam we did a lot of shopping. The Droog store is a place where great design is offered. We visit every time we're in town and leave very inspired by their collection. 


This window on Haarlemmerstraat caught my eye. 


As can happen when you're in Amsterdam, the skies opened up and it rained on us. There's something really wonderful about walking along the canals in the rain (as long as you're prepared!).


Amsterdam is ringed in canals. Because of this it's really easy to lose your sense of direction. You will be walking west along one of the canal streets and then suddenly you find you're walking east! Westerkerk is a beautiful church on Prinsengracht built in the early 1600s. If we're momentarily lost, we always try to find its clock tower. This allows us to get our bearings. Still...losing oneself in this beautiful place can be an adventure that brings wonderful surprises. In fact, we've found some of our most favorite restaurants, stores, etc. this way!


Brown cafes are an Amsterdam classic. These pubs are called that because of their history as smoke-filled rooms where people eat, drink and hang out to gossip and talk politics. The atmosphere in these cafes was supposed to have been so smokey that the walls were essentially lacquered brown. There's no smoking in restaurants anymore, but De Reiger is still a lively place with consistently good food and drinks. We have a meal here every trip. This time we saved it for our last night. I had my usual Moules et Frits (Mussels and Fries). 


Magical city. Our last night in Amsterdam. Now on to Berlin!