SIGHTS in Amsterdam:
In the past the focus was on gas here; today it is on art, creativity and culture. The location is as fascinating now as it was then. But today, visits of this brick building located in Westerpark are probably more frequent than in the past. You won't find a dominating art genre here, but you will find conferences, exhibitions, scientific panels, fashion weeks and get-togethers for creative people- and anything that inspires you. For instance a small cinema and big rock concerts. But if you want to just pass by here for a beer, it's just as fine. Artists who work here are not fond of closed studios, so you can visit the Westergasfabrik all day long: in the morning for a cup of coffee at Espresso Factory, for lunch at the baker's or for a stroll through the small galleries in the afternoon. You dine best at the Pacific Parc and afterwards you have enough energy for dancing, for instance at the Flex Bar.
Whether you like or don't like the taste of the famous Dutch beer with the green label and the red star, visiting the Heineken Experience is worthwhile anyway. On four floors you won't only be shown how the beer gets in the bottle but also how Heineken became the trade name it is today. There is an interactive adventure world catering to all the senses. The range of topics includes the individual production steps, the development and philosophy of the company as well as Heineken's definition of fun and entertainment. The fascinating show is accommodated in proper style in the building that once housed the old brewery. It is, in fact, more than just another brewery where you press your nose on smudged glass pane. You will also be able to taste the beer, of course, and almost forget the slogan: Enjoy with responsibility!
On vases, tiles or toilet seats - the focus is on sex here. The Sex Museum gives an overview of the most beautiful pastime in the world and its depiction. Exhibits range from phallus symbols in Antiquity to medieval morals, from the pin-up culture of the fifties to future visions on sex. In addition to paintings, sculptures and scriptures, you also see very bizarre objects, for instance a somewhat dingy toilet seat. But if you think that with what we have to do here is a tatty collection of adult magazines and perverted fantasies, you can't be more wrong. The three floors of the Sex Museum exhibit a sometimes serious, sometimes comic exploration of the topic that is usually not talked about so openly. This extraordinary museum offers a somewhat different perspective of sex, showing different developments in historical contexts.
EAT in Amsterdam:
After several days in Holland the latest you'll have had enough of mayonnaise and wrapped food. Then the time has come for dropping in the De Kas. Here, they are keen on fresh products coming directly from their own garden, field and green house. With devotion and green fingers, owner Gert Jan personally grows herbs, vegetables and eatable flowers and serves them on your plate. If you want to see with your own eyes where your meal comes from, you can go on a tour of the garden and polder from May to October. But you can also believe what we are telling you and immediately drop in the glass building of eight metres height that accommodates the fantastic restaurant. There, you will be spoilt for choice anyway. Piet Boon designed the dining hall but in fine weather the tables in the herb garden are in keen competition with it. If you want to experience an extraordinary evening, book the chef table. You won't miss out anything from there as you have a direct view of the kitchen, the cooks and the staff. You will be served the perfect gourmet dinner with appropriate wines for two to four persons.
In former times machines for the food industry have been constructed in these huge halls with industrial lighting. Luckily, as many other cities, also Amsterdam has some creative heads who use empty buildings and transform them into something new. That's why the former factory premises now seats up to 200 guests who indulge in fresh fish and seafood directly by the shore of the IJ river - making Stork the largest fish restaurant in Europe. All around it there are designers, artists and further people from the creative industries - as is typical for rededicated areas. The Stork is the border stone of the Campus where other companies rent spaces and organise regular events and cultural activities. And it's getting even bigger. Cube and Soluz and Interior Shock have been commissioned for the new development of a 30,000 square metre large area. To be completed within 15 years time. In Stork they haven't painted floors, ceilings and walls - being reminiscent of former times, but they put up cable drums and wooden pallets. The old, small windows haven been exchanged by large glass fronts. In this way, the terrace next to the water and the harbour are directly brought into the restaurant.
If you are not hungry you should take out your spouse to IJ-kantine - it's worth the unique experience. The restaurant, which lies to the north of the city, is easiest reached by ferry. The ferry is free and takes you out of the city to an old and fascinating industrial area. The restaurant, with its high ceilings and huge glass windows, is probably the district's most beautiful building. And of course you have to pay for it as neither the delicious lunch nor the long drink is cheap. But the sunset above the harbour makes up for it, especially on Sunday afternoons which have a special flair enhanced by live music. Apart from business people who hold conferences here you will also come across families. While parents wine and dine in the restaurant, the kids can play in huge sand boxes or in the kids' corner. Our tip: Those who get seasick can also come by car or taxi. There's free parking available.
SHOPPING in Amsterdam:
Ido, the enigmatic founder of the shop, started in 2001 with 90 inspiring square metres bound to attract creative, hip and talented people. The project was so successful that the shop soon needed a larger location and also a new name. The name 290 Square Meters serves as a good source of inspiration because it is much more than a shop. It is the venue of events, fashion shows, readings and similar events. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't offer great shopping opportunities. You'll find shoes, clothes, books, magazines, music, art - and all of it arty and exceptional. The labels include our Nordic favourites Wood Wood and Henrik Vibskov as well as Holland Esquire, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Minimarket and Surface To Air.
Even if you already know the colourful plastic bags, you will stare mouth open at the Kitch Kitchen Supermercado. Mexican plastic wherever you look; flowers, squares, fruits, colours. You will need at least one hour for browsing around. Too many items of too many shapes want to be bought right away. And there aren't only bags, shopping trolleys, laptop covers, saddle bags and manicure cases, but also seat reducers, convenient pads for dog bowls in the shape of a bone - and the perfect souvenir from Holland: the colourful saddle protection for bicycles. And if, in the light of so much optical overstimulation, you are crazy enough to feel like decorating your apartment on your own, you can buy the fabric from the roll here and do what you please with it. But beware: The fabric most likely does not do what your sewing machine wants, so buy a consolation bag as well - just to be on the sure side.
Jonett van Buyten and Cora Albers enjoy being talked to personally when entering a store. Jonett has made her own experiences with that while being a sales woman herself. She used these experiences with her partner Cora and applied them in their own concept store Maison NL in Amsterdam. Maison NL is a store for women by women offering clothes, shoes, jewellery, purses, living accessories, fragrances, vintage pieces and small pieces of furniture. You can also find garments for men and children but the customers are rather wives and mothers anyway. These are the ones who are known to be best and most persistent at shopping after all. That's also why the owners have precautionarily deposited some coffee cups in the store for a little small talk break in between - a smart idea! And afterwards the shopping spree can continue: through South Africa, India and Armenia. These are the countries where a majority of the goods that Cora and Jonett sell in their store come from. Some of these articles can only be purchased within Amsterdam at Maison NL, for other products that applies to the whole country.
STAY in Amsterdam:
The hotel lies closer to the airport than the city - but who cares about a 15-minute drive when one lives stylishly and in the future? Personal service is minimalistic. It's modern technology that reigns here. Citizens of tomorrow do not need human help when checking in. They just need a computer that - with the help of light and music - delivers the right kind of atmosphere to each and every guest. If you arrive stressed out and your mood changes to perfect in Amsterdam - you wouldn't be the first one - you can adapt to your room's atmosphere via Mood-Pad. Always handy: flat screen, W-Lan, soft beds with designer linen, rain shower, sophisticated lighting and a secret toilet. If you want to thank us for the tip, thank Vitra, Philips, Commes des Garçons and Viktor & Rolf as well for the fantastic design. The price for one night in the double room starts from 79 Euros.
How they manage to embarrass you here? By asking you whether something was wrong when you check out. Because you will for sure not have anything to complain about. The Roemerhotel, that is to say, offers everything you may wish for: perfect location at Leidesplein, 18th-century foundation walls with contemporary upgrade, exceptional service and a garden. The clocks seem to tick slower here, and that's no disadvantage in busy Amsterdam. It means you can relax. For instance over a cocktail in front of the fireplace or at one of the 23 rooms boasting dapper design and pastel shades. And you cannot only relax in bed, by the way, but also in your private Jacuzzi. The price for one night in the double room starts from 120 euros.
Multitasking skills have seemed to be quite trendy for a couple of years. At the moment, this trend moves toward the opposite direction again - but not for Ulrika Lundgren: she manufactures leather bags and cashmere cardigans, publishes a magazine and has recently opened her own guest house - the Maison Rika - with view on the Herengracht in Amsterdam. The former Vogue and Elle stylist is smart: she has designed the interior of the two suites in the hotel that is located in an old corner house directly opposite to her boutique. Each spreads over a whole floor and manifests her personal living style. She has put vintage pieces and white furniture on the black oak floor, and art objects by Sang Ming adorn the walls. The Gallery Boutique on the first floor with her favourite pieces also functions as the hotel lobby. There she hosts events with artist friends and colleagues from the newly founded Dutch Vogue. You might not be served breakfast the next morning there but she will provide snacks in the suite throughout the day. It's also the perfect spot to browse through the hotel's own city.