Travel, Landscape & Urban Design, Architecture

Going to Amsterdam? After you've done the usual, do this.

Terrasse of the remediated westergasfabriek.

I was reading this extremely boring article in the travel section of the newspaper the other day. It was about what to do on a weekend in Amsterdam. It was all the typical things: eat a pancake, walk around the canals, visit some old churches, go to the Rijksmuseum and maybe the Van Gogh Museum if you have time. Rent a bike and go through the Vondelpark.

Those are all nice things to do, but I feel like you don't really need to write them in an article. It just seems like a waste of paper to even print those 'suggestions' when any top 10 Amsterdam list anywhere in the world already explicitly states them, and has done for at least 30 years.

Here's a few suggestions for those who want to see more than just the canals of Amsterdam:

TAKE YOURSELF AND YOUR BIKE ON THE FREE FERRY ACROSS THE IJ TO AMSTERDAM NOORD

While in Amsterdam this past weekend, we went to see the new EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam Noord. It's a pretty spectacular waterfront building with a great cafe and some free public exhibition areas inside.

What I just realized: EYE (institute).... IJ (river).... EYE.... IJ.... ohhhhh man. They're pronounced the same! That is incredibly clever.

OK, you've made the mental leap across the harbour - press on!

NDSM WHARF & KRAANSPOOR

We biked through an old worker's housing compound and eventually made our way to another ferry port... but on other trips to the Noord we've hung out at Kraanspoor and the old industrial harbour side where you can find container apartments, an indoor flea market, and creative studios in the NDSM Warehouse. The Noorderlicht Cafe ensures you don't go back to the ferry hungry or thirsty.

CULTUURPARK WESTERGASFABRIEK

We took the ferry back across to Amsterdam Centraal and biked west along Haarlemmerdijk past countless charming storefronts that tempted us with cupcakes, coffee, high-quality footwear & vintage frocks. At the end of the street you come to the entrance to the Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek - a former coal-gas manufacturing plant in the west harbour turned public park.

The lands were abandoned and used for storage from the 60's, leaving highly polluted grounds. Remediation began in the 90's and currently the renovated historic buildings host things like creative studios, classrooms, a theatre, cultural event spaces, cafes and restaurants.

The landscape design was done by Gustafson Porter and seems to me a perfect response to the context of the industrial revolution and the notion that nature can be more than just a mental escape in the city - it can also become a living part of the infrastructure of the city. 

HANG OUT IN DE BAARSJES & THE OLD WEST

I swear, all the cool kids are doing it or wish they were doing it. There are numerous interesting cafes and restaurants along Admiral de Ruijterweg like Bar Speck, Fier, Radijs and who knows what else. There's at least one Saturday market on Kinkerstraat (Ten Katemarkt) and the neighborhood is all cozily bordered by Erasmuspark, Rembrandt Park & Vondelpark. Just wander. You will be happy.