Recently I made a short solo trip to the Netherlands. I used to do a lot of solo travel in my early twenties and loved it, it was such a liberating feeling to be in a new place with the freedom to go anywhere and do anything. This was my first solo trip in many years, as when I travel now I’m always with either my partner Michael or one of my girl friends. I visited the Netherlands for the first time five years ago, stayed in a houseboat in Amsterdam and did all the requisite tourist spots like Anne Frank’s house.
This time, I did things differently. I took a train from London to Rotterdam, then another train from Rotterdam to Den Haag, where I spent the weekend. On Sunday afternoon I took my last train to Amsterdam before flying back to London on Monday night.
Like many men, Michael finds thrift stores pretty boring, so I took the opportunity to visit as many as I could during my short stay. I’m on a No Spend Year at the moment, so I only bought a scarf, which was on my suitcase capsule wardrobe list and I didn’t eat out when I was staying in Den Haag as I had access to a kitchen where I could cook. You maybe wondering, why are you even doing a trip like this on a No Spend Year?… which is a very valid question. The reason is I had to leave the UK for visa reasons, so it kind of was a non negotiable!
I booked a room at the Best Western in Amsterdam for it’s great location between Schiphol airport and Amsterdam’s city centre. It also was very reasonably priced and felt comfortable and modern. The staff were super nice and stored my bag in a secure room next to reception, so I could spend the day after I checked out enjoying the city before my evening flight. I took the train in to Central Station for a day of pavement pounding through Amsterdam’s gorgeous city center. Amsterdam is easily one of my favorite European capitals, the abundance of bicycles, flowers and trees has a distinctly Scandi feel. That, mixed with the ubiquitous aroma of marijuana and plethora of canals makes me think of Amsterdam as Copenhagen’s grungier cousin.
I spent hours happily meandering past museums, groups of teenage tourists, and enjoyed watching the super stylish locals whizz past me on antique looking bikes. I definitely want to revisit Amsterdam with Michael so we can explore the city together. This trip reminded just how much more enjoyable travel is with someone to share it with.
Vegan Junk Food Bar
I had lunch at Vegan Junk Food Bar‘s downtown location. It was PACKED, and there was a line outside when I arrived. It’s popular for good reason as their menu boasts a ton of perfectly presented sinfully unhealthy vegan fast food. Burgers, loaded fries, ‘kalamari’ rings, cheezy spring rolls, unicorn bread, hot dogs, cakes, icecream and numerous cocktails.
Trying to be good to both my waistline and my wallet, I opted for the caesar chik’n salad and a hot chocolate. Both were delicious and the hot chocolate came with a cute little chocolate from the ethical Dutch confectionery company, Tony’s. It’s also dog friendly, which was a joy for the customers but quite possibly the slowest form of torture for the dog who was giving his best puppy eyes to everyone and not receiving even one bite. To top off a great dining experience there were free boiled sweets to take with you, which I happily did.
Find Them Online: https://www.veganjunkfoodbar.com/
Address: VJFB DOWNTOWN – Reguliersdwarsstraat 57, 1017 BK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 11am to midnight
Bijs On Vintage
Located only 10 minutes walk from the central station, Bijs On Vintage is a must visit. It’s packed with label brands like Adidas, North Face and Nike. The overall style is very hipster and retro, so it’s perfect if you’re a lover of 80s and 90s fashion. The store is cozy and packed with both women’s and men’s clothing, shoes and accessories. The staff are warm, welcoming and friendly. They have two stores in Amsterdam, but I only went to the one mentioned below.
Find Them Online: http://www.bijons-vintage.nl/
Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 150, 1012 SJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: Monday 11am to 7pm, Tues-Sat 10am to 7pm, Sunday 12pm to 7pm
Episode was by far one of the biggest thrift stores I found in the Netherlands. It’s packed with clothes, from vintage Levi’s to faux fur coats. It’d be amazing for festival or event shopping, as there’s a lot of unique, glitzy, and colorful pieces. I also saw a lot of accessories, especially scarves, hats and bags. The staff are friendly, and the only thing I didn’t like was that there didn’t seem to be a huge range of sizes in the stack of Levi’s jeans. However, this is of course part and parcel of thrift shopping and if you’re a sewing whizz or plan to get some tailored, it’s a win.
Episode is a chain of vintage stores that can be found in the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Belgium. There are four in Amsterdam alone, I visited the one mentioned below.
Find Them Online: https://episode.eu/
Address: Berenstraat 1, 1016 GG Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: Sun-Wed 11am to 7pm, Thursday 11am to 8pm, Fri-Sat 10am to 7pm
I’d never been to Rotterdam before and it did not disappoint. I’d love to return in summer months as walking around in the cold was not entirely enjoyable and at times I felt very windswept 🙂 Just like Amsterdam, Rotterdam is easy to walk around and has plenty of canals. I booked a room at Hotel Rotterdam, which is super close to the Central Station and well located for sightseeing. It was clean, comfortable and my room had a bath, which I totally made use of. The staff were really helpful when I couldn’t connect to wifi and gave me the password to their network, which was much appreciated.
Plantastic’s Streetfood Kitchen
Plantastic was by far the best place I ate at in the Netherlands. I’m already dreaming about finding a way to visit Rotterdam again just so I can take my partner Michael with me. Asian Fusion is my favorite cuisine as it’s amazing for vegans and bursting with flavor. It was really difficult to pick from the all the delectable options on the menu, but I eventually choose Korean Fried Chickn and Japanese Ramen. I also treated myself to a Matcha Latte and was pleasantly surprised to find that it came with a small chocolate from Tony’s, which is a Dutch based ethical chocolate company. The restaurant itself has a lovely relaxed modern ambiance and the staff were exceptionally friendly. They also get bonus points for gifting me a free piece of their vegan snickers dessert bar when I paid.
Find Them Online: http://plantastic-kitchen.nl/
Address: Mariniersweg 64a, 3011 NR Rotterdam
Opening Hours: Closed Mondays, Tues-Sun 12–4pm 5–10pm
UPDATE: Now permanently closed 🙁 I presume due to COVID-19.
The Reshare Store in Rotterdam feels modern, cozy and inviting. You can grab yourself an amazing bargain, like Wrangler jeans for just €7! They have a lot of well-known brands like Zara and Cheap Monday, and everything is nicely arranged and well lit. The changing rooms are cute, and there’s even a coffee station! The ReShare Stores in the Netherlands are the second-hand clothing stores of the Salvation Army, and there are 11 stores dotted across the country. Interesting note – you can also donate clothes in store if you wish.
Find Them Online: https://www.resharestore.nl/winkels/reshare-store-rotterdam
Address: Zwart Janstraat 33, 3035 AK Rotterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am–5pm, Closed Sundays
The name says it all doesn’t it? Cheap Fashion has a really large selection of retro inspired threads. If you love a retro vibe, you’ll find plenty of great bargains here. They have a ton of accessories, especially bags are very season focused, more so than other thrift stores I visited. Since I was visiting in winter I saw bargains like faux fur coats for €15 and Levi’s jeans for €25.
Find Them Online: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Vintage-Store/Cheap-Fashion-384919718286869/
Address: Meent 25, 3011 JB Rotterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: Monday 12:30pm to 6pm, Tues-Thurs & Sat, 10am to 6pm, Friday 10am to 9pm, Sunday 1pm to 6pm
I was able to enjoy the Hague with free accommodation as I was house-sitting thanks to Trusted Housesitters. My partner and I have house sat a lot and it really is a fantastic way to travel, especially if you love animals like we do. I spent a fair bit of time catching up on work while I was in the Hague, and since I had access to a kitchen I made all my meals. However, I did get to walk around the lively city center and particularly enjoyed these two thrift stores.
Since I’m on a no spend year, I’m not buying anything that isn’t already on my ‘needs’ list. One thing that was on that list was a versatile scarf – warm enough for winter but still lightweight so I could use it as a cover up or shawl in the warmer month. I found such a scarf for €15 in Vintage Island. They have great selection of accessories, obviously scarves, but also gloves, bags and hats. They were well stocked with warm winter wear and the shop itself was cozy, tidy and everything looked to be great quality. Vintage Island is a chain store so you can also find them in other Dutch cities like Utrecht and Leiden.
Find Them Online: https://vintageisland.nl/
Address: Korte Poten 29, 2511 EC Den Haag, Netherlands
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11am to 6pm, Sunday 12pm to 5pm
The Reshare Store in the Hague was just as great at the one I visited in Rotterdam. This one was much bigger though, with a great variety of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. It is spacious, excellently organised, cozy and full of great bargains.
Find Them Online: https://www.resharestore.nl/winkels/reshare-store-den-haag-2
Address: Paviljoensgracht 35, 2512 BL Den Haag, Netherlands
Opening Hours: Tues to Fri, 10am to 6pm, Sat 10am to 5pm
Thanks for reading my vegan thrift shopping travel guide to the Netherlands! I also have guides for Budapest, Kosice, Split, Vis & Hvar, Vilnius, Zagreb, Krakow and Covent Garden. You can check them all out here.
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LESSONS FROM VEGANISM
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