NDSM Wharf and Haarlem
We decided to try the €11 hotel breakfast which turned out to be really nice. A selection of meats, cheeses, eggs, salad, pastries, fruit juices and fresh coffee. The best part though was the selection of breads on offer, the Dutch whole wheat bread was delicious.
This morning our plan was to visit NDSM Wharf, a short ferry ride away from Amsterdam Central. As we walked along the main road (Damrak) leading towards the station the shops lining the street all seemed very familiar.
Actually Primark came in quite handy as my wife had been looking for a small handbag.
The arched passageway known as the Beurspassage on Damrak has been turned into a stunning artwork by artist duo Arno and Iris.
Beside Amsterdam central station there's no end of bike storage facilities. We had intended on hiring bikes during our time here but never got around to it.
Amsterdam’s ferries provide free connections across the River IJ for pedestrians, cyclists and mopeds. Many of these ferries can be found directly behind Amsterdam Central Station, providing a frequent and free service across the water to and from Amsterdam Noord.
We only had to wait 15 minutes until a ferry arrived to take us over to NDSM Wharf. On the short journey we passed the banks of Noord with A'Dam Lookout, a 20 storey building with rooftop restaurant and bar. Next to it was the distinctive building home to Eye Film Museum.
We hadn't really done much research on NDSM Wharf so didn't really know what to expect when we got there. As we approached the skyline was filled with cranes and we could make out some really huge warehouse buildings.
As the ferry pulled into the dock we passed a derelict submarine. Apparently the Soviet Zulu submarine had been brought to Amsterdam to serve as a party location. The project didn't turn out as they'd hoped though and now it's waiting to be scrapped.
Sexyland is an art project on NDSM. The wooden clubhouse offers the opportunity to organise your own acts or party. Every day of the year someone else owns the club with club nights varying from a poetry night to a cd release.
After the glorious era of Dutch shipbuilding was gone, the empty buildings at NDSM were squatted in the 1980s. In recent years though craftsmen and artists have converted the NDSM wharf into a breeding ground for creative talent. It's a fascinating place to walk around and you never quite know what to expect around the next corner.
Shipping containers inside the main warehouse are now home to talented designers and creators.
Some of the old machinery can still be found inside the warehouse.
With most places opening at midday we were a bit early so we decided to explore the surrounding area and come back a bit later.
We walked along the slipway and found some old trams. This one looked like it had been converted into a cafe, it wasn't open for business yet though.
Right next to the trams is Crane 13, it's been converted into a hotel and offers 3 luxury hotel rooms. It's also possible to bungee jump from the arm of the crane which an hour or so later we saw somebody do, it looked like great fun!
We stopped for a glass of wine at Café Noorderlicht. The brunch being served here looked amazing, we'd already eaten though.
Café Noorderlicht is on the waters edge and has an outside seating area with swing chairs, an open fire pit area and even an outside stage. It offered excellent views of Amsterdam in the distance and yes, I was getting carried away with wine glass reflection shots!
We had another good look around the dock area before returning to the NDSM warehouse.
It had gone midday but almost everything was closed still, I guess they're quite relaxed about opening times here.
Something that was open though was the Fuse Exhibition which was high up in the warehouse on a huge concrete platform.
The Barbie Peepshow was open too.
Just pop €1 in the slot and enjoy the show!
You can leave a message if you like.
Before leaving the warehouse we had a good look around. There's multiple levels to explore and although nearly everything was closed there's still plenty of things to look at.
Back at the ferry port we waited for the next ferry back to Amsterdam Central. In the distance you can see Botel, a modern floating 3 star hotel. Towering above the top deck of the Botel are five distinct Loft Letters, spectacular designer rooms each conceived and decorated by a different international designer.
Back at Amsterdam Central Station we caught a train West to Haarlem where we'd be staying tonight.
There's some amazing architecture to be found here too.
Our first port of call was Grote Markt where I couldn't resist buying a waffle topped with chocolate sauce and strawberries, delicious!
Next we checked into Niu Dairy Hotel which was conveniently located right next to Patronaat, the music venue we'd be going to tonight. The hotel was modern, spacious and well equipped with everything you could possibly need including bluetooth speaker, Rubik's cube and a giant beanbag. A double room for one night here cost us €104.
We had a few hours before the gig so we took a look around Haarlem. One of Haarlem's most distinctive sights is the De Adriaan Windmill, Unfortunately the original Windmill burnt down in 1932 but it was eventually rebuilt and completed in 2002, 70 years to the day it was destroyed.
Haarlem also has a network of canals and each of the bridges crossing the canals has a name.
Next we stopped off at Vanveg for a bite to eat.
Two curries with rice here cost €14, we choose the Yah mani and Rundown stew.
The Rundown stew contained black carrots, mushrooms and broccoli, it was deep purple in colour and very fragrant with a lime and coconut flavour. The Yah Man curry was much spicier and contained beans, corn, plantain, peppers and sweet potato. Both excellent curries with really impressive flavours.
We went in search of some cocktails but the only ones we could find cost €5 each and they tasted like they had very little alcohol in them, quite disappointing really.
The view of St. Bavo Church across the street did at least mean we'd picked a nice spot to have a drink though. Afterwards we made our way to Patronaat as it was about to open for tonight's show which was the reason we were visiting Haarlem.
The support band was Starfish, a Dutch reggae rock band. I'd never really listened to any of their stuff before tonight but really enjoyed their set.
The band we were here to see were next on stage, Jaya the Cat. They always put on a great live show and tonight was no exception. We had a great time and the crowd here clearly did too, a top night!
After the show there was just enough time to grab a doner kebab, essential after a few beers.
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Day 3 - Westerpark