The Unknown Amsterdam by Bike – Part 2

In the previous post, we biked from Haarlem to Amsterdam, stopped at the Westergasfabriek, took the ferry to Amsterdam North’s NDSM Wharf and dropped in at a big brocante place. This week, we are continuing our trip through Amsterdam North.

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A bit of pittoresk waterfront across from downtown Amsterdam

We had to cross a small set of locks, not unlike to the Hartwell Locks in Ottawa, to get to the next destination, the EYE Film institute, which houses a huge collection of movies in a fantastic building with stunning views on Amsterdam.

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Now there’s a bike and pedestrian bridge!
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Amsterdam EYE Film institute – photo Hubert de Jong

The building houses virtually all Dutch movies ever made plus lots of foreign movies, has screenings (obviously), collects film posters and organises exhibitions. It attracts 700,000 visitors a year (as a comparison, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa attracts 500,000 visitors and the Canadian Museum of history 1.2 million. I think though that you’d frequent the EYE film institute for its movie showings much more often than a war museum.

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The building is spectacular, and so are the views from the restaurant.
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Ferries crossing the IJ.

We ate our sandwiches at a view point at the Film Institute overlooking the IJ river with its ships, tour boats, yachts and ferries. The next stop was a place I had read about in a local newspaper (finally an advantage of speaking Dutch), a high end restaurant in a former hangar in Amsterdam North, aptly called Hangar. It is the last place to expect a restaurant, behind a car dealership. I can’t think of an equivalent location in Ottawa, but probably something like Bentley Road off Merivale, south of Hunt Club road. We only admired it from the outside: it kind of looks like a WW2 film set.

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Not your regular location for a restaurant. But Hangar is different apparently.

The days in the Netherlands are long in the summer, and we had lots of time left to cross the IJ river again to arrive at the Java Island, in the IJ river northeast of the city centre. The island is part of the Eastern Docklands. We really wanted to see it as this is where the Zibi project in the Ottawa river partly draws its inspiration from: walk and ped friendly, low car accessibility.

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It doesn’t really have that je ne sais quoi (green space), but it might come over time. There are green spaces on the island such as a linear park along the island’s ‘spine’.

The peninsula was created by dredging water at the end of the 19th century and was used for shipping services. In the 1980s, squatters, artists and the homeless had taken over many of the buildings in the area. In the 1990s the area was transformed into residential units according to a master plan by Amsterdam architect Sjoerd Soeters. Except for one building owned by port authorities, all the old buildings were razed. Notable architecture includes four small canals with post-modernist canal houses from various architects and cycle and pedestrian bridges by Guy Rombouts and Monica Droste. (Wikipedia)

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Another brand new design bridge, with separate bike and ped infras. The area did feel a bit clinical though.

From here it was a short ride back to the Central Train Station where we wanted to take the train back to Haarlem with our bikes on the train. For this we had to wait until after the rush hour. Karen had always said she wasn’t sure about cycling in downtown Amsterdam but here she was cycling through Amsterdam city centre. We stopped at the Science and Tech museum (aka NEMO) by famous architect Renzo Piano.

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The NEMO Science & Tech museum seen from the water
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The walk up to the roof of the Science & Tech museum
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Playfulness on the roof of the Science & Tech museum

The museum is built in the shape of a ship’s bow. I didn’t know it was built over the entrance of a highway tunnel, nor did I know it had a publicly accessible green roof with a cafeteria overlooking the roof. The food is nothing to text home about, but the views on the roof over downtown Amsterdam are great. The roof is more of a public park than a patio, so BYO food if you want: there are some water fountains so the kids can play if they like.

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Bike bridge connecting the NEMO Science and Tech museum to the central train station and library area

From the museum, it was a short ride to the train station over yet another attractive bike and ped bridge. We took a quick peek behind the station, where apparently 30,000 cyclists a day pass the shared space to the ferries. It is a sight to be seen. Of course we had to cycle through the brand new bike and ped Cuypers Passage underneath the 20 or so railways tracks, decorated with unique hand painted tiles. The tiles come from Friesland, from the same factory where the new National Music Centre in Calgary bought its thousands of tiles.  See a great write up (+ clip) of the Cuypers Passage by Mark Wagenbuur here.

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A continuous stream of peds and bikes to the ferries across the IJ river
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Delft Blue tiles from Royal Tichelaar in the Cuypers Passage at Amsterdam CS. Tunnel design by Benthem Crouwel Architects photo: Jannes Linders
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Calgary’s National Music Centre – Studio Bell has tiles from the same Dutch factory “Royal Tichelaar” as the bike and ped tunnel at Amsterdam Central Station (photo: Hans Moor)

Bringing your bikes in the train in Holland is not always easy. The elevators are slow and a bit too small, there are not always ramps on the stairs and you are not supposed to use the escalators with a bike. But I did it anyway. It is a bit of a tricky manoeuvre: you have to get you bike on the escalator and immediately turn your front wheel 90 degrees else the bike starts to roll back. If that happens it is really hard to stop and serious accidents can happen. I suspect that is why the railways aren’t keen when you try anyway. But hey, I am Dutch, so you ignore the rules instinctively.

The route (more or less) : https://www.route.nl/routeplanner?route=454093

Read the previous post here (part 1).

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