Amsterdam City Blog restaurants, shops, people and life in Amsterdam

28Jul/140

Fun and wonder at Edelwise Festival

After the rain stops at around three, people of all kinds flock to Edelwise Festival in Rembrandtpark on Saturday the 26th for a dose of music and fun. The average age of Edelwise visitors is a little higher than at the usual dance festivals. But then, it is decidedly not like other festivals any way. It's not huge, with one main stage, one smaller stage and a secret stage. But there are a lot of extras, that twinkle like little gems, waiting to be discovered.

Edelwise festival 2014 main stage by day

Dotan is starting to play at the main stage when we arrive. I don't think I've ever been to a festival that had an actual band on main stage. Eventhough the music is good, and the vibe is mellow and lightly festive, it's all a little too laidback for me. Also, the sound leaves a little to be desired. Everyone's just standing around, talking, and it's a bad sign that we can actually hear eachother. Music from the other stages can be heard over Dotan's Stolen Dance.

Twinkling extras
There's big tents with living rooms set up inside, they're a hoot. Little shops with lovely festival trinkets and tote bags. Face painting, hula hoops, silent disco, a photo booth, there's loads to do! There's a puzzle shack, where you get locked in and can only unlock the door if you figure out the solution to the puzzles. There's table tennis, and at a small white tent with a big rainbow arch in front there is a wedding going on.

We decide to take a seat in the living room where there's silent comedy, everyone sitting around with headphones on, listening to Stefan Pop, who tells us absurd, funny stories with a big, infectuous smile (he's a regular at Toomler, I gather. It's in dutch, but if you can handle that, go! He's good!).

Festival trinkets at Edelwise stallsSilent disco at Edelwise Festival 2014Puzzle shack at Edelwise FestivalFood area at Edelwise Festival 2014

Food and surprises
When we go for food, pizzas are 4 coins, burgers 3, and organic fries are 1,5 coins (one coin costs 2,70, you do the math). And even in the food area there's entertainment. Pretty girls in tiroler-like outfits hand out bingo cards and there's prizes to win (a mad suit, sunglasses and more).

It's the kind of festival where you are surprised on a regular basis. A remote control airplane does stunts over our heads. A lilliputter on a mini motorbike zooms through the crowd at high speed. Someone with a soap bubble gun shoots random people.

Lukewarm
Back at the main stage, Kraak & Smaak have started their set. It's lukewarm at best, there are a couple of bodies moving here and there, but the crowd remains uninspired to dance. Still, with smiling faces all around, it's a happy scene. We're starting to think that this is it. A lovely day, calm and fun.

La Pegatina!
But then the lively guys of La Pegatina storm the stage and man, those Spaniards know how to party! All seven of them play and sing like their lives depend on it. People flock to the main stage and the crowd goes wild. The band gets them to dance along, sing along, take their shirts off: this is interactive music making.

La Pegatina at Edelwise Festival 2014The guys even do a rendition of "Er staat een paard in de gang" (there's a horse in the hallway), a Dutch carnaval classic, but then La Pegatina-style. Hundreds of people are singing along. Epic! They play with infectuous enthusiasm and humour. I'm dancing my ass off. This is the most fun I've ever had at a festival or concert. And all of their music is downloadable on their website (www.lapegatina.com)

Fun and wonder
Afterwards, there's a DJ with a live singer. There's an interlude with happy hardcore from the nineties, also with two live singers and a group of enthusiastic dancers doing the classic "hakken" dance. And veteran Joost van Bellen is the closing act on the main stage. But honestly, nothing is as much fun after La Pegatina.

Edelwise is not a festival that you have to go to, for this DJ or that band. It's not about the headliners. Instead, it brings you a day of fun and childlike wonder, in the gorgeous setting of Rembrandtpark.

Edelwise Festival 2014 in Rembrandtpark at night

15Jun/140

Edelwise Festival: quirky and fun

Edelwise Festival in Rembrandtpark, AmsterdamLast Summer I was working on my thesis at a company on the other side of Rembrandtpark. Every day I would cycle to work through this lovely park with its lovely ponds, trees and fields, and gorgeous views. But one day a big chunk of the park was fenced off, what was going on back there? Turned out Edelwise was organising its first festival, right in our back yard!

Edelwise hosts monthly drinks and a party at Het Sieraad in Amsterdam's hot borough in west: De Baarsjes. Arty, quirky and fun are good words to describe their activities. At these experimental Fridays you can expect anything from singing saws to a workshop learning how to play the ukelele to of course DJs and dancing later in the evening.

Edelwise festival extras
This year's festival promises fun stuff like ping pong, karaoke, and silent disco. Also, just like last year, you can tie the knot at Edelwise! Of course there's good food, and lots of music. DJs to be expected, among others: Dotan (live), La Pegatina (live), Kraak & Smaak and the ever fabulous (and newly married!) Joost van Bellen.

Fancy getting married for a day? You can at Edelwise Festival!

More info:
Edelwise Festival
26 July 2014
Rembrandtpark, Amsterdam

See you there?!

PS Very cool: there are (limited) free tickets available for people who live near Rembrandtpark. See the website for more info on free Edelwise tickets for neighbours.

Photo credits: Peter Bezemer

9Aug/134

Finding bliss in Amsterdam

Major changes have taken place in my life as of late. My contract at my job was not extended. I started my thesis research. I finished my last exam and no longer have to go to classes (yay!). And I've started taking yoga classes.

At one point, I was working, studying and doing thesis research at the same time. Needless to say that was ambitious and the stress of trying to keep three major balls in the air made the skin peel off my fingertips. So losing the job was both bad and good news. Finishing the last block of courses was inevitable and so now I get to focus on just one thing (well two, if you count looking for a job). After a couple of gruesome months, of doing too much at the same time, suddenly I found myself able to breathe again. What a relief!

I had been telling myself for ages that I needed to do more excercise. I had done Pilates by myself, and liked it very much, but couldn't find classes at times nor locations that suited me and so I abandoned the thought of excercise (for a few years).

yoga at Yagoy, Amsterdam West, image courtesy of Yagoy

A friend of mine suggested yoga. He was starting classes and invited me to try them together. I loved it, but the location was a bit of a hassle. I'm lazy at heart, so if it takes too much effort to organise going, then I'm very easily inclined not to go! Then I received a flyer (in my own mailbox! No effort involved there), for a place very close to home. Lots of classes to choose from. I had a stern talking to myself and went. And I've been going every week since.

Yoga to your liking
I love that I'm able to pick a class that suits me. I can switch days and instructors to my liking. If I'm feeling under the weather, I'll opt for relax yoga. But mostly I like to challenge myself and choose power yoga. And, having come to yoga out of a lack of something 'better' (strange choice of words maybe, but it simply wasn't my first choice. I hadn't expected it to be something for me). What surprises me is how much I enjoy going. I find that during those 75 minutes I work hard and through focusing on what I'm doing, completely let go of whatever else is going on in my head or body.

The fellow students and the instructors are so incredibly nice. Yesterday our instructor told us to be kind to ourselves. To challenge ourselves, but to be kind at the same time. She invites us to do things that I am not convinced I can do. But I do them and I am completely in awe of what my body can do. I can stand on my head!

A few weeks ago the same instructor told us to forgive ourselves. Now, I'm not into wishy washy spiritual mumbo jumbo. But this place suits me. The atmosphere suits me. And I love the people. I even love myself. Now all I have to do is forgive myself for not trying yoga sooner.

If you're stressed, try one of these:

Peter Hin yoga with Peter Hin at Centrum De Roos, Vondelpark;
or: Relax yoga at Yagoy, on the corner of Postjesweg and Hoofdweg.

And if you want to challenge yourself, try:
Power yoga at Yagoy.

26Jul/131

Former fire brigade HQ to become hostel

A few days ago word was spread that the former headquarters of the Amsterdam fire brigade on the Weesperzijde has been sold, and will be turned into a hostel. The complex is 5400 (!) square meters and is situated near the Amstel. Just look at the building, doesn't it look absolutely perfect to be hostel?

Location is also quite good. Within walking distance from the popular Club Trouw and Oosterpark. Club Trouw (open 'til 2015) is one of Amsterdam's most exciting clubs, with its raw atmosphere and excellent sound. For those that crave highbrow culture more than dance, the new hostel is also about 1 kilometer from the lovely Royal Theatre Carré (see pic below) and the Hermitage.

Royal Theatre Carré on the Amstel in Amsterdam

On the other side of the Amstel there's the Pijp, and the small but lovely Sarphatipark. Did you know that Mr Sarphati, alderman and doctor in the 1800s, was responsible for the abundance of parks in the Dutch capital? He also wanted to up the city's chique by building the majestic Amstel Hotel. Also within walking distance of the new hostel, a little ways up the Amstel.

Exploring Amsterdam East by bike
If you rent a bike, the location is perfect for an exploration of the east of the capital! The lively Dappermarkt, Indische Buurt, and lovely Park Frankendael are all within easy cycling distance. Or visit the Royal Artis Zoo and the Hortus Botanicus.

And when all that exploring has made you hungry, hop back on your bike and have dinner at Pompstation, a restaurant located in an industrial building, that still houses the waterpumps (if it rains really hard, you can feel the pumps rumbling beneath the floors!). If Pompstation is a ways over your budget, a great alternative is a classy burger from Burgermeester, across the street from Artis.

Build on the hostel is to start in 2014. Can't wait that long? See hostelworld for hostels in Amsterdam now!

4May/136

Favourite places in West

After well over a year of living in Amsterdam West, I've just realised that I haven't written a whole lot about the places I like to go here. That needs rectification! Because there are a lot of hip, new and happening places to go in West. Here's a list of favourites:

Cafe Zurich
Smack-dab on the edge of Mercatorplein. The exterior looks decidedly odd, it always makes me think of half a heart, complete with short bits of artery sticking out the top. But don't let that fool you. Inside it's lovely and homey, with a huge fireplace in the centre of the round space.

The staff is friendly, and the food is good (eventhough having dinner here is somewhat pricey). In the summer there's an enormous outside seating area. Also serves excellent lunch, with sandwiches and such for around 5 euro (affordable!).

Coffee and the menu at Bar Spek, Baarsjes, Amsterdam
Bar Spek
This is a new place on the Admiraal de Ruijterweg (right next to the bridge). There used to be another restaurant here (called 'In de Baars'), that we never got around to going to. But Bar Spek is fantastic. Levi and I have had dinner here and were welcomed in in the most friendly fashion.

The food is affordable and ok, if not overly fantastic. The pizzas are good though! Styling is fun and quirky, with a pig on the business cards ('Spek' meaning bacon) and the business ends of a few streetlanterns mounted on the wall.

Cook
This is a place a little bit off the beaten path. If you take the Vespuccistraat off the Jan Evertsenstraat, then take the first left. Cook is on the first corner, with a big outside seating area on both sides of the street. The inside has recently been enlarged. It used to be tiny, but now it's more than twice the size.

Cafe Cook in De Baarsjes, Amsterdam WestCook's got a great atmosphere, with a livingroom feel. None of the furniture matches, and the overall effect is homey, relaxed, ecclectic and clean. The staff is nice, but I've only ever had drinks here, I really want to go and have dinner here sometime soon!

Bar Baarsch
It's been a while since I've last been to this modern bar on the Jan Evertsenstraat. As a cafe it's incredibly busy on Fridays and Saturdays. I've had lunch and dinner here on occasion and it was good. I like that they have free wifi and games. It makes you feel welcome to feel at home.

Downside is that it can be too busy. I remember wanting to have dinner here on a Tuesday evening once, and not being able to find a place to sit.

So if you're in the neighbourhood: do drop by! There's plenty of good places to have lunch or dinner.

For info, go to their websites:
Café Zurich
Cook
Bar Spek
Bar Baarsch

31Mar/130

Hotel Arena: gorgeous and affordable

bedroom at Hotel Arena, photo by antidigital_daMy friend Jay came over for a visit from London with his girlfriend. She's allergic to cats and so they looked for a nice hotel somewhere, rather than staying with us in our flat. Besides, it was their anniversary weekend, so the idea of sleeping on a mattress on the floor wasn't all that romantic. They ended up in Hotel Arena in Amsterdam East.

Hotels in Amsterdam can be really expensive. Hotel Arena is a ways from the centre, but it's gorgeous! And surprisingly affordable to boot (Jay said he only paid 51 pounds per person per night, not bad eh?). We rented bicycles for Jay and his girl, so the distance from the city wasn't a problem and the weather was great.

Fun stuff in Amsterdam east
The hotel is close to Oosterpark and the Artis Zoo. But with bicycles at our disposal, it's easy to go anywhere really. So we went to the clothes market at Waterlooplein and had quiche and pie at De Laatste Kruimel (one of my favourites!) on Saturday. Jay and Sarah had a lovely dinner at Café Maxwell on Sunday. Levi pointed him in the direction of that little gem. Jay was so enthusiastic about the place, I'm dying to go there too now.

Jay told me to tip you guys this site for cheap flights to and hotels in Amsterdam. I've never heard of them before, but Jay's usually good about doing his homework.

Chandeliers at Hotel Arena in Amsterdam East, photo by antidigital_daBathroom at Hotel Arena in Amsterdam, photo by antidigital_daUpstairs hallway at Hotel Arena in Amsterdam East, photo by antidigital_da

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hotel Arena
's-Gravesandestraat 51
1092 AA Amsterdam, Nederland
+31 20 - 850 24 00

14Feb/132

I heart Amsterdam

A Valentine's day special! Most of these were photographed in Amsterdam, somewhere over the last two years. I had planned to do something like this blog last year, but I kind of forgot and didn't remember my plan until well into March... But here you go: hearts, hearts galore!

30Dec/122

Amsterdam Light Festival 2012

Aurora Borealis handkerchief floating over the Amstel, Amsterdam

Levi said he'd seen an item on Amsterdam Light Festival on local news channel AT5. Something about art and light. We looked it up on internet and so on the last Saturday evening of December we went for an 'Illuminade' walk. Right at the starting point, behind the Stopera (or Muziektheater, which is apparently the same building) we were met by this gorgeous lighted aurora borealis handkerchief, floating above the Amstel.

Aurora Borealis handkerchief over the Amstel, Amsterdam Light Festival 2012In and of itself, the netting didn't give off light. It was lit up by installations which were placed on boats on each side of the Amstel. While I was standing on the bridge, admiring it, the netting moved a little in the wind. Then the lighting changed and the installation turned green/bluish. Pure magic.

A little further along the route there was an installation that looked like an egg. From time to time, it gave of a slight mist, that would make it seem like the egg was disintegrating into lighted particles. Entrance into the egg was allowed and from inside, the view was amazing. Look up!

egg on the Amstel, Amsterdam Light Festival 2012inside the egg on the Amstel, Amsterdam Light Festival 2012

The entire route took us around 2 hours on foot, and ended behing Nemo, in the direction of Central Station. Highlights, besides the ones we already mentioned, were the 'light and lasting shadow' installation in the garden of the Hermitage, the 'snailtrail' in the Hortus Botanicus (mesmerizing combination of visual and sound!) and the 'projection project' on the Scheepvaartmuseum.

Sorry about the made-up names, but as it was the last weekend of the Illuminade walk, there was a long line at the starting point and we decided not to wait to get a booklet.

14Sep/123

Hugging cows, dinner at As and school

Time for a Friday list! What were the things I most enjoyed, what am I thankful for? My highpoint of the week was hugging a cow! Let me tell you how that went...

Sailing on teamweekend in Elahuizen, Friesland- We went on the very first company weekend last week. We could not have wished for better weather, it was amazingly warm and sunny. The destination was top secret until the very last day and turned out to be the tiny village Elahuizen in the province of Friesland. Day one included sailing, with a perfect picnic basket and perfect weather. It was followed by a barbeque with lots of booze and dress-up fun (the theme of the weekend was "Farmer wants a wife", after the popular Dutch tv show "Boer zoekt vrouw") and a party that was to last into the wee hours of the night.

Day two was my favourite though. Some of us very hung over and most of very tired, we got to choose between fierljeppen (jumping across creeks with a pole) and hugging cows. I opted for the latter and I found it surprisingly fun. They're big beasts, to be sure (a mature bull weighed in at 700 kilos!), but the cow I bonded with was a young one and she was so pretty and soft. Afterwards I felt completely zen. The whole experience has completely changed my outlook on cows. If you ever get the chance: I highly recommend hugging a cow!

- I had the chance to have dinner at Restaurant As a little while ago. The interior is quite unusual, as it's a round building and the design of the space is centered on the bar in the middle (the axis, so to speak, which is what "As" means). Nearly separate spaces have been created around the outer perimeter, with spokewise placed walls. The staff is extremely friendly. The food was quite good. A little unusual maybe, but very hearty. And the great thing is, the kitchen works with seasonal and regional and mostly organic ingredients. (As is located near Amsterdam Station Zuid, on the Prinses Irenelaan 19)

- But having dinner in with friends is also very nice, especially if my girlfriend Di brings me presents! Back from holiday, she presented me with a lovely set of bracelets. She could not have known that my silver bracelet had broken during our holiday in Italy, but it was a happy coincidence that she gave me these.

- The schoolyear has started. I'm up for what is hopefully my last year of studies. I didn't relish the thought of losing the freedom and all the free time I was so enjoying, but hey, it's started. The minor "magazine making" is great so far and I love the team that I'm in. Go team!

31Aug/124

A ring, theatre roulette and Voltt

Oh my, how fast August has sped by! And there were so many highlights in between the relaxing, what to share first?

- Let's start with love. On a sunny Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, Levi invited me to the Vondelpark for a picnic. He'd picked an odd place to sit though, because we usually sit somewhere else. I said to him when he explained where he was on the phone: "That's where you and I met, nearly six years ago!" And he replied with an ever so innocent: "Oh really?"

Turns out this was no coincidence. While enjoying luxurious bites from Opera Prima (Kinkerstraat, Amsterdam) in the sunshine, he suddenly produced a tiny box and proposed. Complete the picture with our song, champagne, dinner reservations and tears and you're there. I am now wearing a lovely silver ring with two lovebirds that he went to great trouble to find and just thinking about that perfect afternoon (well, the entire weekend, actually) makes me happy all over again.

Yes, I'll happily spend the rest of my life with you!

A glorious day at De Parade in Amsterdam- The Parade in the Martin Luther King Park is one of our favourite things each year. It seems to get busier each year, but we love the romantic atmosphere, the merry-go-round, the lights, the food and the joyous creativity.

We always try our luck with the shows and this year opted for Keet! (a hilarious trip down memory lane) and 3: The Garden. The latter was at times brilliant: a caleidoscope of movement, a well-oiled machine of six human bodies, and at times it was completely  incomprehensible (the spoken words? The body paint?). Intriguing to say the least!

 
A rare sliver of sunshine during Voltt Loves Summer festival at NDSM wharf in Amsterdam Noord
- And then last weekend there was the Voltt Loves Summer festival at the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam Noord. Gods, the weather was terrible. Slivers of sunshine wedged in between bouts of pouring rain. I made good use of my wellies and  rainponcho (Halfords, E2,50). We enjoyed Robag Wruhme in the tent and thought Gaiser Live at the main stage was the absolute shit!

- Of course something as abominable as the weather cannot ruin a festival if you have friends who make the day worthwhile. We had a great time!

- Just yesterday I had dinner and went to a movie with my friend Robbie, who I hadn't seen in a while. I had such a lovely time, I'm immensely thankful that once in a while I get to connect with people I care about. Thank you.