To get there is a fun little trip - Noord Amsterdam lies across the IJ - the harbor where the Amstel meets the sea inlet. There are free ferries running every half hour across the IJ and they're free so a quick trip through Centraal Station to the backside and a 15 minute ride out to the old docklands. Then, you just walk through the old factories until you come to the one that looks like it could hold about 2 dozen 767s without any problem... there's a tiny door built into some huge hanger doors and you are in some dystopian playground. The place is so big it can't be described - imagine a building that could hold and assemble all the component parts of the QE II and then allow enough space to put the whole thing together -indoors.
You can just walkabout and marvel at the old machinery and the building - but the real attraction is that the area inside has been repurposed into offices, galleries, studios and design firms. Basically, someone erects these basic steel frame structures and then studios are built inside of them, quite creatively. Some of the studios are 3 floors high and still are short of the roof! Some are like canal houses, some ultramodern cubes; some are fabricated completely from found objects and materials, some high end materials and execution. They fill about half the space. The other half still allows for chariot races by 18-wheelers or small gatherings of 1,500 or so.
This place was a sweet dream - everyone needs one! Over half of E.A.S.T could've fit in this one building! So, we spent a good amount of time feeling Mad Maxly, then a quite lovely lunch over at the IJ Kantine, then back across the harbor. Had a sweet afternoon at the Amsterdam Historisch Museum where you can see over 1,000 years of interactive history - from the founding of the Dam on the Amstel to this year's Metro-line expansion. And, we ate a bit more, did some window shopping, took a walkabout in the Canal Ring and then turned it in for the night.
Having a blast - wearing shoes for 15 hours a day is a challenge and I've taken to wearing Tom's as evening wear. It's chilly, but not cold; it's rained once that was a drag.
Night before last we ate at the Gebrs. Hartering, where we got there so early that we had the attention of both of the brothers, one as server and the other who brought out the 700gram dry-aged rib steaks for us to marvel at... Some oysters to start, lovely well-prepared food presented with the appropriate amount of show, but still comfy and fun... And some great Dutch hospitality.
The time has been good - its been great to have no agenda but food, fun, museums and chillin'! I'm still in love with Amsterdam and this has been the perfect transition, once again (I came here shortly after retiring from my last gig - as my boy, Bob, likes to say "it's a great place to get your head together!"
Give thanks and praise!