Monday, January 3, 2011

One way to Amsterdam

Today, January 2, the sun is shining and I must get my vitamin D fix. So I decide to ride to the Tropenmuseum in east Amsterdam (an anthropology museum focusing on the former Dutch colonies). One of the advantages of being in Amsterdam is that the bike network is so brilliantly laid out that a trip downtown is as pleasant as any out to the hinterlands.

Still chilly on Jan 2 but the bike paths are clear of snow.
Now I'm taking one of three principal routes into the city center from my home in Zuid-Oost (southeast). This one is perhaps the most direct. I head north up the Gulden Kruispad, then turn left and follow a path alongside a suburban complex. It is cold and I'm riding against the wind but wrapped in a wool sweater, sweatshirt and down-filled jacket, it's not bad.

Toward the end of the path the suburbs end and I come to a field cut through by a frozen stream. This is just below the Weespertrekvaart, a long shipping canal. On the other side of the canal are warehouses, a factory and food franchise. The path ends at the more substantial Strandvlietpad (here the bike paths have names just like the roads), where I turn right, then through a graffitied tunnel underneath Provincialeweg, the dividing line between Zuid-Oost and Diemen.

Heading west toward Amsterdam

Emerging on the other side of the tunnel, I climb up to the canal which traverses a lonely industrial zone: the lower end of Diemen. I follow the Weespertrekvaart for about half a kilometer; along the opposite side of the canal, ice patches cling to hills of dirt. Then I cross under a railroad bridge and continue along the canal, reaching Diemen's residential area.


Farther along, the Diemerbrug crosses the canal and the path continues on the other side of the canal, along the thoroughfare called here the Hartveldseweg. On the west side of the A10 it's called the Middenweg. Now there are more riders on the path, businesses, neighborhoods. On the left is the Nieuwe Ooster Begraafplaats, the vast cemetery where the designer Boudewijn Ietswaart, developer of the Balduina font, was cremated on the last day of 2010.

Diemerbrug: the bridge to the municipality of Diemen.

Half a kilometer past the cemetery is a big park with a greenhouse: the Park Frankendael. I detour into this park, which I've never investigated before. It's lovely and there are a fair number of people out, walking dogs, pushing babies or just strolling. The expansive park has broad paths and long, curved, body-contour benches. On the south end, by the Nobelweg (an alternative route into the city) are a series of tiny houses; some of these look over a frozen stream that forms the park's margin.

Park Frankendael
I then continue west along the Middenweg through a busy shopping district, now adorned with Christmas lights, to the Transvaalkade, surely one of the prettiest places in town to reside, with a row of arched facades facing a peaceful canal flanked by strolling paths. Past this line you enter Amsterdam Oost (East), once a center of Jewish life, and the boulevard changes its name to Linnaeusstraat (after the Swedish botanist who developed binomial nomenclature, a system for naming plant and animal species). On the north side are stately houses and trendy cafes like the tapas purveyor Pata Negra, with a "coffee shop" called New York tucked in; on the south the beautiful Oosterpark. Just beyond stand the towers of the Tropenmuseum, now featuring an exhibit on the color red and its significance to cultures around the world. Certainly that color is significant to Amsterdam culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment