Saturday 30 June 2012

The University District, Amsterdam

On our last day in Amsterdam we stayed around the University area as we did not have that much time before going to the airport.

As usual we started with Oudezijds Voorburgwal

interesting van

looking through my photographs made me realise that I keep photographing this canal

it's always nice listening to this clock chiming the hour

the bridge that leads to Staalstraat.

First stop, Droog. Droog, a concept in design that was founded in 1993 by Gijs Bakker and Renny Ramakers, defined a new approach to design by mixing materials and interacting with the user.  It adopted a minimalist aesthetic but also deployed humour.

'The criteria are flexible and shaped by developments in product culture and the designers' own initiatives'.

'The only constant is that the concept has validity today; that its worked out along clear-cut, compelling lines; and that product usability is a must. Within this framework, literally anything goes'.

Grauman's 85 bulb chandelier, an inspired example of lateral thinking is now regarded as an iconic object  of the 1990s. One cannot but smile at the verve with which the designer transformed an everyday object like the standard light bulb into a spectacular chandelier. Ramakers said that it is 'a comment on many things, plenitude, over-consumption, the pretensions that preset the profession'.



a closer look

This chest of drawers, constructed by Tejo Remy, which consists of  half a dozen wooden drawers tied into a bundle with thick cord, attracted so much attention in 1992, that Ramakers then editor-in-chief of design magazine Industrial Ontwerpen, was convinced that she had discovered  'a clear break from the past', a genuinely new approach to design.

Still on Staalstraat, the bridge over the Broenburgwal

the house on the right looks like it's about to fall down

the second Puccini chocolate shop, this one on Staalstraat

I resisted temptation this time and did not go in

I really like this area - it is very beautiful and peaceful, yet in the heart of the city

a houseboat

not a bad place for soaking up the sun

so peaceful and so bright and clear

we have come full circle and have reached Damstraat again

a closer look at those windows

there are four of these benches on the first bridge on Damstraat: this is  the only place in the city where I have seen them

a last look at Nieuwmarkt in the distance

another beautifully arranged shop window

here is the other window

the recently opened sweet and chocolate shop.

And I just had to finish with pictures of the canals

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Singel

On our third day in Amsterdam we decided to walk along the four canals from one side of the city to the other, but in the end we neglected  Keizersgracht. We started at our regular stop on Oudezijds Voorburgwal

across the Amstel

and to the flower market

and a riot of colour

such delight!




more pink



isn't that hydrangea gorgeous? such  an unusual shade of blue

as for the prices... they never cease to amaze me

On to Vijzelstraat, past this gorgeous Art Deco Pathe cinema

to the City Archives which were closed on Monday. The building was designed by K.P.C. de Bazel who was better known at the time as an artist producing graphics and glass, designing furniture and synagogues in the Netherlands. The building was inspired by the North American architecture of the time. It is a concrete structure covered with granite. The interior is made of oak, granite, iron and ceramic. People today call it after its creator - de Bazel.

the entrance is definitely in line the exterior

and then very light and airy

down the modern glass staircase

to the bowels of the building where the safery deposit boxes were kept when this building was a bank. Aren't those doors amazing?

Classic art deco

beautifully preserved

and a closer look.

Then strolling down Leidsestraat

and on to Leidseplein to have a rest, a drink and watch the performance of a hip hop group

the real star however, is the American Hotel, an art deco landmark

here is a picture I took two days earlier, without the awnings - you take your pick as to which you prefer

one more photograph from a different angle

one of the entrances

one of the bars

one more view.

The Ivy flowershop which is opposite the American Hotel and which has the most amazing window displays but the light was against us and they do not like photographs being taken inside the shop

the light was o.k. by the side window though

a closer look

along Herengracht

over the bridge

wishful thinking

past the Anne Frank house - the queue is not so bad today

view of a bridge

another flower shop


back on Herengracht. I took this photograph because I thought the black building was interesting - it is obviously an old building but the addition of the modern balcony and modern glass doors has enhanced it, I feel

and a closer look

at the end of Herengracht, we have reached our destination, de Belhamel, the restaurant for today's lunch

it is the most amazing place

the art nouveau interior is totally unspoilt.

It looks like nothing has been touched since the 20s. It looks like even the wallpaper might be the original

exactly the same decor in the toilets but it was too dark in there so I did not take any photographs

more seating upstairs

the bar at the back with its own entrance

and the vaulted ceiling. The bar looks a bit like a cave, does it not?

It is a warm, sunny day so we decide to sit outside. It is a very late lunch we are having, it is 4:00, so it is not surprising that we are the only people there.

The food is delicious, Michelin recommended, and at 48.00 euros for two people, not bad at all.

Our position is perfect - we are sitting right on the edge of the canal, in this case the Brouwersgracht

but we are also by the Herengracht which cuts diagonally across the Brouwersgracht

very close to this houseboat. It is perfect.

On our way back we walk along the Herengracht for a while

I can never get enough of the architecture

or the bridges over the canals

the attention to detail

which you see everywhere.


Aren't these purple shutters something else?

What about the roof of the house in the middle?

I love the imaginative naming of some of the coffee shops

We decide to start walking along the Singel now and the first stop is at Puccini's

We have almost reached Dam Square

this image is so typical Amsterdam

Caprese - my favourite Italian restaurant in Amsterdam: cheap, cheerful and always packed

The last stop was the Japanese shop on Spui which sells fantastic kimonos as well as some ceramics. I was intrigued by these bowls as I could not understand how they were made. In the end I decided that it must be black clay with crackle glaze, but I could be wrong.