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.
Milk used to be processed here in the past, but then a bunch of hippies came along and staged quite a fuss. What began as spontaneous theatre, is today one of the major cultural centres in town. The Melkweg - you got it: the word means nothing else than milky way - started as beautiful location for spontaneous acting. That was more than 40 years ago. Despite its years, the Melkweg has a young and refreshing flair. Thanks to tough work and determination, the project has well developed. Today, the area comprises two stages, a cinema, several exhibition sites and a restaurant. There is a colourful and diversified programme. The Melkweg is a centre of music, film, theatre, photography and media art, it is a get-together for creative people, active artists and friends of art from all over Europe.
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.
SHOPPING in Amsterdam:
What sounds comfortable is not really comfortable. The focus here lies on the look. How you manage to walk or dance in these shoes is your problem. Since 1983 men have been spoilt with high-end products by the most acclaimed designers in the world. Sad ladies, however, remained empty-handed (or -footed) when just another impertinent guy came out wearing the hottest boots, trainers, patent-leather shoes, slippers or sandals. Since 2000, with the opening of the shop in the Leidsestraat, the girls' sufferings have come to an end. Now, all the great labels - Gucci, Prada, D&G, Lanvin, Galliano - and smaller labels - Dsquared2, Frankie Morello, Y-3, Cesare Paciotti - make shoe fanatics beaming with joy. The shops are all but uniform - so everyone finds his or her favourite shoes here. The price category, however, is a different story: Be sure your credit card will screech with shock. In the meantime, there are four shops in Amsterdam - and they are all worthwhile visiting: Koningsplein 7, PC Hooftstraat 80, Leidsestraat 10, Cornelis Schuytstraat 9.
Cindy and Frans love Amsterdam's Utrechtsestraat because in the ever-growing shopping street they can go shopping, have lunch and are close to their own store: Centre Neuf. It was opened five years ago, and the reason was Donna Karan. Which part did the American fashion designer play exactly? Well, the two have met twelve years ago in the DKNY store on P.C. Hooftstraat, that is the luxury shopping mile in the Dutch capital. According to Cindy they have become a good team and even better friends. Their similar taste in fashion and their understanding of service have probably contributed to that. They offer Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs and Acne in their 70s store - the pieces are presented in front of a brick wall and ordered according to looks. They have just opened a second store on the same street exclusively selling fashion by the Danish label Wonhundred.
Daryl van Wouw
You must not miss out on passing by Daryl van Wouw's. Not when you are interested in the Dutch fashion world, where Mr. Wouw is a big player. His success formula is blending street wear with high fashion. And, voilà, the result is wearable (and affordable), namely fashion with that certain something: a touch of urbanity and a dash of big-city style. Girls should rather focus on the dresses which are just as stylish as comfortable, with tight skirts and sophisticated wide tops. But men will also find something, a shirt with the famous headset print, for instance. And the real cool kids have their own small collection at hand: mini hoodies and shirts. But be careful with your clothes as Daryl is watching you! The not so humble designer has reserved some wall panels for his face, in between windmills and flowers watching clients with his direct gaze from the wall.
STAY in Amsterdam:
Don't tell anyone else: The Jordaan quarter is one of the best in town. The former working-class district turned into a favourite hangout for artists and intellectuals. Today, dreamers will adore its old-fashioned charm, and shoppers will love the hip stores around. The hotel is right here, in the immediate vicinity of the Anne Frank House. And right here you should check in if you are a fan of the authentic. The 17th-century Gracht house has been renovated to accommodate eight rooms, all of them of pretty, albeit plain interior. Don't go on a search for details, you won't find any. Just content yourself with being able to sleep in such a charming historical ambience. And believe us: You won't need more than that. The price for a night in the double room starts from 139 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.
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.
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.
The restaurant has moved into a former garage and repair work is still taken seriously here. When you arrive you're exhausted, hungry and tense; when you leave you feel fresh, wide awake and happy. Half of the work is done by the ambience: Cees Dam is responsible for the design, somewhere in between retro and future; lots of red, lots of mirrors, a straight atmosphere and innumerable white light bulbs forming circles on the ceiling as highlights. The fine-tuning is served with your meal: Master chef Joop Braakhekke's creations won't disappoint you. So, it's up to you to choose from the extensive menu. As celebs have taken to the place as well, it's not only the cutlery that glitters here. Regulars include fancy folk from the glittering worlds of art, TV, sports and starlets. The only thing not meant to glitter is the content of your wallet. Better have banknotes on you, coins are not even good for tip here.