Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weesperzijde route

Another way to Amsterdam, a somewhat more scenic route that parallels the previous one to the south. I ride through a nicely landscaped apartment complex to Metro Ganzenhoef, then continue south behind the bank of African import shops and hairdressers, through the plaza where the street market is held on Saturday (dormant today, Sunday). Past the plaza, the path skirts a block of modern attached brick houses. Clara Zetkinstraat curves west and feeds into the Kelbergenpad. This meets the north-south Strandvlietpad at one of those perfect housing complexes overlooking a canal with ducks (pictured, above). I pause there and observe three African women in traditional garb, strolling arm in arm on this chilly, sunny day, cyclists occasionally zipping past. This is an immigrant neighborhood but hasn't got the slightest trace of blight.

Westward ha!
(I should point out here, parenthetically, that these Amsterdam routes are the result of an extensive trial-and-error process. Unlike some of the countryside rides I've described in previous posts, these urban routes are sometimes ambiguously marked and there are a number of alternatives. I don't possess the greatest sense of direction. Many an evening I thought I'd had the route worked out, then ended up riding off along some lonely canal for miles before consulting the map. The route in this and previous post are the most direct and interesting ones I could work out so far. But of course I'm still discovering new ones as I navigate this great city.)

A tunnel goes underneath the Daalwijkdreef to enter the Diemen neighborhood. At the T with the
Zilvermeeuwpad: Weird architecture makes good landmark
Zilvermeeuwpad is an odd apartment building whose facade is studded with green bars. (It has served as a landmark for this turn on my various night rides home.) Here I jog left, then continue west alongside the Bergwijkpark (bare trees, wooden bridges). Now I'm on the Reigerpad, which parallels the highway, and the bike path feels like a highway too. The tendency is to fly through this section. Mopeds zoom past me--yes, these mini-motorcycles are permitted to share the bike paths in Holland but that's another issue.

Day or night, this woodsy stretch is a pleasure.

I land at a residential patch of Diemen, then reach a cycling crossroads: west to Amsterdam Centrum, east to Diemen-Zuid, south to Amsterdam West and Amstelveen. The path then winds delightfully through a woodsy section (which remains well lit at night).

Weesperzijde route to Amsterdam Centrum (ANWB map)
At the far end is a zigzag exit and a tricky crossing, with cars often whipping around a bend. Most cyclists time it just right, and I managed to today. Then it's a short uphill stretch and over the Weespertrekvaart, a shipping canal.

Strange bike fellows
On the other side, I turn left, then descend to follow the canal's north  bank, and immediately go beneath the A10. The broad canal then stretches west--warehouses and factories line the opposite bank, recreation areas and a community garden below to my right. In the distance rise the towers of Amstel station office park. Crew teams use this section of the canal to practice. This is a fun, somewhat contemplative stretch of the journey; it goes on like this for about a kilometer. If I check out the other cyclists coming in my direction, they are invariably smiling, regardless of the weather.

Weespertrekvaart, good stretch for a sprint
Reaching those prominent towers, of companies like Philips and Delta Lloyd, I go through a tunnel beneath the railroad tracks (which lead to Amstel Station), around a traffic circle, then cut right through the office park. This whole sequence is seamless; the path is designed for forward movement.

Royal Philips headquarters

Crosstown traffic
The fietspad cuts diagonally through the office park. Exiting on the west end, I reach the intersection with Mr Treublaan. There are always cyclists backed up at a red light here; when it changes they move en masse to the next section of Weesperzijde, which runs alongside the Amstel into the center of town.

Amstel light

Cold ride down Weesperzijde
The route continues along Weesperzijde, a city street but almost exclusively used by cyclists, with just an occasional car or taxi--the latter routinely ignore the many cyclists in their midst. Skirting the Amstel, Weesperzijde is lined with handsome brick residences, terrace cafes at the base. It's a favored brunch spot. Many boats, including some cargo craft, are docked along here, and there's a rowing center. With bicycles streaming alongside the broad waterway, there is no lovelier place to ride on a Sunday afternoon.

I take a left across the Amstel at Centuribaan, a major thoroughfare into Amsterdam. By here the bike paths are pretty busy. Many ride with kids or mates seated on the rear rack. No helmets. One beautiful middle-aged woman has a small black dog in her front basket. A teenage girl chomps on a banana as she pedals against the wind. And so on ...  a pageant of humanity gliding past on two wheels.

Crossing the Amstel


  1. Ahh, the Weesperzijde! Wonderful! Spent many Saturdays there enjoying the occasional good weather by the river. The portuguese restaurant over there is also quite good for a drink (or amĂȘijoas).

  2. Which Portuguese restaurant? Must try it.

  3. So very pretty - I would like to visit one day! I like the first photo very much.

  4. Well, PaddyAnne that's kind of the idea--I want people to see how nice it is and come visit.