You all know Amsterdam. The canals and the charming houses. Like the picture below. The coffee shops and the lively red-light district. The hordes of tourists. Swarms of bachelor & bachelorette parties. Buses full of kids on their annual school trip. One big pile of people all over the already saturated city centre. A misanthrope nightmare. This time, we discovered a totally different side of Amsterdam.
And I'll never stop loving it!
We were in Amsterdam on a mission. Some funny kind of cultural travel exchange, you might say. I was asked by a Dutch lifestyle journalist to arrange a bicycle weekend in my hometown Ghent, in Belgium. In exchange she made me an itinerary for her own hometown, Amsterdam. Not just any tourist route, but a bike ride through some of the most alluring streets in the city.
I took my friend Arnout with me, the father of my gorgeous godchild, Elle. We're bicycle brothers. For years now we've been talking about starting our own biking blog. If only we had more time. For this trip, we used some special biking gear. Scroll down to learn more about it. Our safe place in Amsterdam, was a cute little Airbnb, with a small garden in front of it. The interior was spot on.
Our map showed us miles full of potential charm & beauty. A perfect tour to try something we had never used before: E-bikes! The worlds fastest growing bicycle type and a nice environment-friendly alternative to move around in any city.
Our bikes were powered by the new Bosch Active Line & Active Line Plus engine. Don't get confused now. You still have to pedal with these beasts. The engine only assists you with that task, and gets you swiftly from nothing to 25km/h.
The best thing about these new Bosch systems is the modest size of the engine, which makes the bikes a lot lighter than their older siblings. It also made it possible for the bike developers to actually think about the design of their two-wheelers. The newest models even have the battery incorporated inside the frame. Don't you think they look awesome?
Our wheels came with a battery that gave us enough power to keep on biking for the full 48 hours of our trip. We never had to charge them. It also had "Nyon" on board, an all-in-one bike computer, with bike navigation & custom maps. Pretty easy to download them at home from your computer, or even on the road with your smartphone, using bluetooth. A lifesaver on a trip like this!
Kings of the north.
To get to Amsterdam North, you have to cross the water. Amazing, isn't it, how the best parts of the biggest cities are always at the far end of the water. I wrote this so many times before on this blog. It's a fact.
It's easy to get to that side of the river IJ. There's a ferry boat, free of charge. You just hop on it, with your bike.
Rough & refined.
Honestly, we had no idea where to find the hotspots of Amsterdam North. I had to use my social skills to get some intel. Apparently, one of the places we had to try, was right around the corner where we were checking our smartphones. Hotel de Goudfazant. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not a hotel. Nor a car workshop, although that's exactly what it looks like and probably was, at some point in the past. It's a superbe restaurant, in an amazing-looking hangar. Rough on the outside, but refined stuff on the plates, we were promised. We lunged into the open garage door and made a reservation for the evening.
Culturally there's a lot going on in Amsterdam North. And if you're into ... stuff (calling it junk would be pretty inappropriate) ... Don't go anywhere else!
Monstrous warehouses filled with rubbish or rather treasures? That's in the eye of the beholder, I guess. It's an enormous collection of recycled items. From industrial lamps to vintage kitchen handles, furniture or art, they've got a bit of everything.
If you're moving into a new house, and need something to give your interior that extra something, don't even think about it without going to Neef Louis. Oh. Remember to restrain yourself from buying big furniture when you come by e-bike.
Cruising with our e-bikes was so much fun, we didn't even give a f*ck about the rain.
Well maybe just a tiny little bit.
I'm not going to lie to you. We were unquestionably soaked to the bone, after a couple of heavy showers. We went back home to change and to get ready for a night filled with local goodies. Mediamatic is an inspiring space in a greenhouse, by the water. It's a research, art & design center, with food, drinks and even a microbrewery.
After the first day on an e-bike in Amsterdam, it was time to sit back at Hotel De Goudfazant and conclude that this was a remarkably surprising day. The regular Amsterdam trip, with the tourists, the noise and all the other irritations, made way for something completely different. Up north we found peace, inspiration, style & diversion. A whole new Amsterdam. Easily accessible by bike. After a superior meal, we were both so ready for whatever else was coming up.
After spinning the needle of our imaginary compass, we agreed to ride around the center of Amsterdam, not straight up north. After all, it's not that hard to go the extra mile with an e-bike.
A hot coffee is very welcome on these wet and chilly days in autumn. Loved my cup of comfort at Bocca.
Plant Power. & Love.
The moment you even succeed in making a plant shop look like a wondrous place to hang out, that's when you're winning in life. In love with Wildernis!
For our plant-based lunch, we went to Roots. A great example of how vegan food can be everything except boring. I would worship a place like this in my hometown. Our body filled with energy & our heart full of love.
Love for our bikes, because they showed us how to embrace all different sides of Amsterdam. Can't wait for another 48hrs!
Belgian musical hero Jacques Brel, made a song about this part of Amsterdam, back in the 60s. He never recorded it in the studio. Yet it's one of his most popular tunes. Covered by Edith Piaf, David Bowie, John Denver & many more. There are a couple of live recordings of the song, that will live forever.