Claire Parker Amsterdam

Name: Claire Parker

Occupation: Executive Creative Director, Design Bridge

Favourite neighbourhood: Rembrandtpark

What's the best thing about living in Amsterdam?

Its bohemian, nonconformist spirit. After living in places like Singapore or Sydney, I’m amazed that comparatively small Amsterdam represents 180 cultures. 

And the worst?

The litter! It breaks my heart to see the rubbish on the canals or in the parks. Clean up your act, Amsterdammers!

What’s your first memory of Amsterdam?

Cycling through the Vondelpark at night, a friend sitting on the back rack, on our way to the Blauwe Theehuis for drinks. It looked like a flying saucer, lights twinkling in the water, laughter wafting from its terraces. Possibly the magical, surreal moment I decided to move here.

Het Blauwe Teehuis (Blue Teahouse) in Vondelpark

What did you think of Amsterdammers when you first arrived?

You are all so tall! I am constantly looking up.  And don’t get me started on watching a gig at the Paradiso: I always end up staring at someone’s back. 

Do you have a favourite neighbourhood?

I love taking an early walk in the Rembrandtpark with my dog Bridie before the city comes to life. It feels like the countryside.

In what Amsterdam building would you like to spend the night?

The Felix Meritis building - such a fantastic cultural and scientific history, since it was built in 1788.  Imagine the conversations that have taken place in there over the years!

If you only had one day to visit Amsterdam?

As I discovered when I had a friend here on a 24 hour stopover– you can do a lot! Breakfast in the Jordaan, a stroll through the Nine Streets and flag market, past Amsterdam Lieverdje into the Begijnhof. Then Vlaamse frites from Vleminckx, washed down by a beer on the terrace of Café de Jaren. A walk across Waterlooplein to Het Rembrandthuis, and finally a hop onto a boat cruise through the canals, and over to Hannekes Boom for a glass of something fizzy while the sun goes down. 

The terrace of Cafe de Jaren is a popular summertime hang out in Amsterdam

What is your favourite Amsterdam hang out?

Festina Lente is an old and all time favourite of mine, especially if I can sit outside.

Favourite restaurant?

Toscanini. Maybe it’s the friends and memorable moments, but it also has consistently great service and food. Piles of langoustines… caramel panacotta...

Favourite flea markets?

IJ-Hallen is housed in two enormous old industrial halls in NDSM Wharf, so you’ll always come away with something – whether you were looking for it or not.

Any great local talent?

In a small shop back in the UK, I discovered a wonderful bag made by a Dutch artist, Leslie Oschmann, who lives and works in Amsterdam. She breathes new life into found objects by using vintage oil paintings salvaged from markets and auction houses.

Favourite art gallery?

I love to hear people talk passionately about their world, and Addie, from Gallery Vassie, used to be curator at the V&A, so she has many fascinating stories about photography history and techniques.

What do you think of the Dutch sense of humour?

Compared to our ironic sense of humor, the Dutch relish a bit of slapstick – with a cruel streak.