Amsterdam mini break

Saturday

My daughter has moved to Amsterdam to work. She and her boyfriend have rented a flat on Haarlemmerdijk which is near the centre of the city. The road is in a busy neighbourhood with lots of independent shops and interesting architecture.

With a bit of anxiety I agreed to have a go at riding a bike around the city. It’s great fun but a bit scary. I wasn’t brave enough to try pedal brakes. The Dutch have different rules than the ones that I am used to and drive on the right. This morning from the flat window I saw someone riding a bike – holding a bunch of flowers, a coffee in one hand and a couple of bags in the other.

For my birthday I was treated to a posh boat trip around the canals (cushions and cocktails) we arrived at the dock a bit early so we went for coffee at #IvyBros- I can really recommend the hot chocolate and Jon reckoned that the coffee was a 9/10.

The coffee shop looked a bit like a game lodge with lots of skulls and interesting decor. ( loo was spotless)

The boat trip was fab- it was hot and sunny and we lolled around on cushions drinking gin and tonic as we ducked under bridges and listened to interesting commentary. The trip was run by #friendshipamsterdam

I learnt about ‘dancing houses’ that were built along the banks of the canals. They have wooden stakes as foundations. The stakes mean that the houses move. Some present at quite alarming angles.

The boat trip and the coffee shop are in the redlight district. I found the girls in the windows and doorways disturbing. There is the oldest church in Amsterdam, a kindergarten and ladies standing in windows right next to each other.

Sunday

We went for a cycle around Westerpark. There is lots of different playparks, ponds and paddling pools. We stopped at De Baakers Winkle for coffee.

The menu illustrations were fab

The buildings in the park are all very similar designed in redbrick with lots of patterns

Winkles is light and airy over three floors. We sat outside in a lovely covered garden area.

Before lunch we rode back to Haarlemmerdijk and wandered around the street window shopping. ‘Lost in Amsterdam’ recommends the area for shopping ( http://www.lostin.com)

I particularly like all the roof details and a tiny old cinema called ‘the movies’

We also wandered around Haarlemmerplein where someone had parked wooden bikes

Inside a bedding shop I found some interesting paper mache shapes illustrated with Indian line drawings

Door detail from the square

Monday

Last day today and I got to wander up and down Haarlemmerdijk. So here are some more detailed pics. There is a noticeable amount of wisteria growing up and around buildings. I would like to come back when it’s in flower

I have noticed lots of stained glass and art nouveau tiles when I was cycling around over the weekend. I managed to find a few tiles and a mosaic.

The old wooden doors are fab too

I also noticed quite a lot of different metal work on doors ( I have exceeded the data allowance for this post ….)

In-between the blocks of houses on Haarlemmerdijk there are lots of plants and bikes – it makes the city feel very green.

I really enjoyed my trip. Though I have to say the Dutch cycling rules are quite tricky- one is supposed to give way to the right …… Cyclists seem to rule the roads , particularly when there isn’t a pavement – so it’s a bit alarming being a pedestrian as well. I think it’s fab and wish there were more bikes instead of cars everywhere.

Brussels 

Feb 11th 

We visited Brussels today to wander , and visit the Magritte museum. Jon and I liked the humour in Magritte’ s surrealist paintings , particularly how he named the images for example 

Two coffins sitting on a walk  – a beautiful late afternoon 

The Breast – a pile of houses 

A stroke of luck – a pug in a suit looking over its shoulder 

I must give my paintings more interesting names 

 Jon also  noticed that he has a particular penchant for 3D balls 

For example 

Voice of space https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/2593

The Memory https://www.wikiart.org/en/rene-magritte/memory-1948-1

There are Magritte motifs around Brussels 


Museum shop , station panels and an advert 

After the museum we visited a trip advisor recommended coffee shop  Kaffa Bar which had 8/10 coffee and 9/10 hot chocolate and a resident bulldog called Marcel. 

Later we wandered around looking at shops and architecture 


Grote Markt 

Shops in the Galeries Royals Saint Huber designed by Jean Pierre Cluysenaer

Cathedral 



When we got to the cathedral I was very struck by a modern building  near by that echoed the the cathedral architecture .  When we approached the area there were lots of tree branches obscuring the view – the modern building had glass etched panels of branches , steel structures repeating the steeple and concrete  buttresses . 



I have searched for about 10 mins on the Internet ( Google fail) but I can’t find any thing about the architect 

Segway warning 
It snowed lightly all through our trip – I was wearing boots, gloves , hat and a scarf – anyone who knows me ( I wear flip flops in November) will realise how cold it was . I noticed a woman in her twenties on the station platform – she must have had very cold wet feet