Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Watergraafsmeer is a decent sized polder, located just a quick cycle south from the Indische Buurt, that was reclaimed from the water in 1629. Formerly located in the 'countryside' and stuffed-full with oversized mansions owned by Amsterdam's gentry; these days the city has swelled around the former collection of weekend-retreats, housing the city's young-and-hip families (and their older counterparts), gentrified houses, plenty of cafés, and one of the most stunning fountains in Amsterdam – especially when viewed at night. One mansion from the 17th and 18th centuries remains in Watergraafsmeer; the lovely Huize Frankendael – perfect for dinner, or lunch, for two. I can't wait to lunch on their terrace, on a (soon to come) sunny spring day.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
The sun becomes brighter everyday. The birds are beginning to sing their songs and the cloudy skies are giving way to blue. The sudden burst of sun this weekend brought a delight to my sun-staved soul; my balcony practically invited the reading of (quite) a few new magazines, among them Purple. I can easily spend all afternoon, like yesterday and today, lost within the pages of editorial content; the images, the articles, the graphics–ah, love. Outside though, in the real world beyond the pages, the trees are still barren, lacking any leaves, and lacking any sign of life–or, at least, any sign of new buds. The winter sun continues growing longer each day, and the shadows are shortening–silhouettes become ever more detailed and defined. Winter is on its way out, and I'm ready for it to be gone. For now, I'll stay here in the Indische Buurt, waiting for the clouds to depart, the sun to return fully, and the city to be bursting full, with spring-time blooms and deciduous greenery. The seagulls are returning, looking out over the rooftops that surround my humble home. What a wonderful weekend this has been. Spring, please come soon.
Warren Neidich is an American artist I found myself sitting next to on my flight from Amsterdam to Berlin. He was in this city on the North Sea, overseeing the final touches of his latest piece on Dutch soil. It's located on a tiny rooftop, just to the left of the Rijksmuseum – where Stadhouderskade and Ruysdaelkade intersect.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
All throughout Amsterdam are street lights, or street lamps – either way, hanging or fixed, the streets of Amsterdam are well lit at night. The juxtaposition between the two types of lighting – referring to that of the city center specially – often reflects if there is enough space for street lamps – if not, hanging lamps like those in the Jordaan seem to be the lighting of choice. When there is enough space for street lamps, the next question is… in what part of the city are we discussing? There are three types of areas in the city, as classified in accordance with Amsterdam's street lamps styles: parts of the city retaining their original street lamps, parts of the city that have recently been refurbished and bestowed with new 'old' street lamps, and, areas without 19th century 'original looking' gas-lamp-style street lamps. The last category is often very different throughout Amsterdam, and usually reflect the time period they we designed within.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Amsterdam's marijuana culture creates a very interesting sub-culture that's also very clearly present within the city. Diversity, tolerance, creativity; a free spirit mentality runs unbridled through Amsterdam's streets.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Three weeks ago I journeyed to the German capital for some late-night adventures. The trip marked my third visit to Berlin, and – like my previous visit – this one did not disappoint. I have only ever visited the city during the dead of winter, which skews my perception if it, just a bit. I, until I visit in summer, will permanently have the city sizzled into my memory as being a frigid metropolis on the edge of Europe – where Scandinavia meets the Continent. Because of these mid-winter visits, I have never seen the city in full bloom. I've yet to lay eyes on its (supposedly) luscious vegetation, and never seen the masses clinking beers on its sunny terraces. One day soon enough, I imagine. What I did see though, were mountains and mountains of snow, and thermometers lacking any abundance of mercury. The German capital was frozen to the bone, to the tune of -12C. Lucky, the SoHo House kept me warm.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
...just like that, the snow is gone! Last week Amsterdam was a frozen tundra. A white, but wet, sticky-mess of stunning beauty. It was magical. But also–quite literally–freezing.
Cycling hurt because, well, freezing wind hitting your face, is never fun. So for that early-to-mid February transition we just had, I was a proud taker of my almost always reliable, tram 3. We are the best of friends, me and 3. When I do take the tram, I'm offered 20 minutes to read. Or to zone out. Or to listen to music. Or to people watch. All options, are so nice. The alternative to not taking the tram, when the temperature is -4C, is cycling. And that means: frozen fingers.
Surprising yet welcomed; this week the birds began to chirp. Spring is near and you can really feel it in the air. Just like that, green is back; the sun stays up longer; the gloves, scarves, and hats on the city's cyclers, have come off. I am looking forward to the months ahead, when Amsterdam's canals come alive: the birds sing, the boaters boat, and the tourists begin their induced-state canal-side strolls. The city is coming alive; red wine is giving way to white.
I began 2012 just knowing that, with knowing how, this is my year. Life is grand – and the weather gives me great glee. Amsterdam – I have my eye on you now. You're no longer a stranger, and our roots run deep.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Purple Fashion is one of my favorite magazines, and one of the best that Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum on Spui serves up. Each issue's graphic system is designed by M/M (Paris), and each issue – all two of them per year – comes packed with a plethora of the latest in-the-moment-visual-candy; often making use of at least four or five different paper types. And that makes turning each and every single page, oh-so-fun.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Those familiar with the Hard Rock Cafe concept need no introduction to its mission: great food in a friendly and high-energy atmosphere; similar to spending an afternoon – or evening – with some of your closest friends, sharing strong drinks and cafe-classic food over endless music and entertainment. First started as a local pub/cafe in London in the 1970s, the 'Hard Rock' memorabilia that lines the walls of each began in 1979 when American singer Eric Clapton marked his stool with his guitar. The collection has multiplied infinitely since then. But that's just the first layer of what Hard Rock Cafe stands for. And for those willing to explore, there's more:
Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam has long been on my radar – its prominent location near Leidseplein makes it hard to miss. But rarely have I – in my effort to experience as much of this fabulous city as possible – found time to step back to the familiar American-gastronomic atmosphere that my local Hard Rock Cafe so well provides. What makes a global-concept so enjoyable is that that they offer up the known. And fond of the familiar doesn't even begin to describe a key trait of humans – we often reach for the known, as opposed to the new. Recently the enthusiastic team at Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam invited David and I for lunch; our table overlooked the ever-enchanting entrance to Vondelpark. But what struck me most about the interior was not so much the interior itself (this goes back to the known thing), but rather the high-energy that the cafe's team added to the interior. Servers glide effortlessly up and down stairs with full trays of cocktails hoisted high in the air, and the hard-rock music makes sure everyone's ears are happy. For those who stay longer, the rewards are clear: the Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam is more than just a centrally-located restaurant-café...
The Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam is evolving itself into a platform for community engagement–giving back to the oh-so-enchanting city that it sits within. Come for the drinks, stay for the food; but stay even longer if your looking to meet those those in the know, in Amsterdam. You never know who you might end up sitting next to, or where the conversation will go – as nothing is what it seems, at first glance.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
brunch, noun \ˈbrənch\
a weekend ritual involving the sharing of the first meal of the day with friends after a night of debauchery. Brunch can occur any time after noon and before 5 p.m. on either Saturday or Sunday and serves as a great way to catch up with friends over moderately priced food as well as bloody marys, mimosas or several glasses of champagne. Post-brunch activities often include napping or drunk shopping.
"Sunday brunch is like gay church"
The food is a mix of Canadian/American/Dutch/European – the cocktails get a kick from the super-fresh ingredients, the music is just right, and the service spot-on. The friendly atmosphere encourages passing the time and watching the more in-tuned and low-key international/local scene of Amsterdam waltz by. Let's call it an accessible SoHo House, but in Amsterdam. The mojitos, blood-marys, the breakfast burritos, scones, and the ginger tea's are, simply put, some of the best in the city.