Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Amsterdam-Noord pt 2

The itinerary for my cycling tour of north Amsterdam was determined by the locations of the QR codes installed by the Amsterdam Tourist Board. I am not a tourist -- I live here -- but I'm always willing to learn more about this interesting town. Having cleared the lower part of Noord, which is usually as far as anyone gets, I pushed onward.
 (note: original date of this entry: Sept 16, 2012)

I spotted another QR code at an unlikely point on the west side of the highway, flanking Noorderpark: Buiksloterdijk. It marks, I suppose, the location of an ancient dike but it isn't clear where... alongside the highway? The path through the park is typically delightful: a row of poplars along a reflecting pond, numerous cyclists, intermittent bright sunshine.

Later,  I find myself in the Vogeldorp (bird town). It was originally a village of "emergency homes," in response to overpopulation of Amsterdam in the early 20th century. A cluster of cute little oblong brick homes with wooden tops. Between there and Vliegenbos park stands the Museum van Noord, housed in a tiny ex-bathhouse though I did not look inside since a little celebration of some sort was going on.

Amsterdam Noord - Part 2

Along the Nieuwendammerdijk is an extraordinary agglomeration of small low houses of brick or painted wood. Some appear to be below street level. There are galleries along here, and on Meerpad a bike shop; crazy guy named Van Gogh who boasted of his €11,000 Cannondale. CafĂ© 't Sluisje is a deeply cozy pub alongside the lock. They serve a soup of the day; today it's pumpkin soup.

Continuing up Nieuwendammerdijk, small dike houses, each unique in its way, whether because it sits creakily at odd angles or is painted a deep royal blue. Then left on Nieuwendammerstraat to the Tuindorp Nieuwendam, like the Vogeldorp a neat little village of tiny brick houses with gabled gateways between buildings at the start of the street. Not that impressive really except perhaps in its Dutch orderliness. I found the QR code west of the Purmerplein. Seeing it gives a sort of grabbing-the-gold-ring sensation and it gives the route a sense of purpose.

A turn on the Schellingwouderdijke opens an unexpectedly pastoral vista along a small lake, reeds, herons. This is the real joy of this ride, the decidedly rural character of Noord. 

At the end of the motley row of white cube houses, I reach a harbor with many ships and yachts and distant views to an arched bridge and the Amsterdam "skyline" -- it ain't much, god bless it.

Oranjesluizen, shipping gate

Turning right at the edge of the harbor, I come to the Oranjesluizen, a network of locks and sluice gates on the IJ -- I watched a ship being channeled through. Bicycle access is across the tops of the gates, closed during this process. It appears to connect Noord to Zeeburg.

But instead of crossing over to Zeeburg, I rode back toward the center. Adri Doorneveld had recommended a restaurant called the Hotel De Goudfazant. It stood by itself at the edge of a lonely warehouse district, facing the IJ, occupying a cavernous hangar with vintage cars on risers and a ping-pong table. The restaurant was already busy by the time I arrived with amazing entrees being conveyed from an open kitchen: oysters, lobsters, stewed fish on a bed of baby potatoes, hens on trays. Similarly tucked away amidst the warehouses along the river was the more refined Stork, ensconced in a huge old warehouse with faded paint on exposed brick walls and steel beams along the ceiling. Seafood is the specialty there too. I had snow crab legs with lemon mayo and watched the freighters roll by in the darkness.

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