Waking up in ClinkNOORD Amsterdam on our first full day in Amsterdam I felt ready and refreshed for the day ahead. A quick breakfast downstairs, a team-bonding “WTF?!” as we all collectively found out Kylie Jenner is allegedly pregnant, and we were off to meet the Clink team for a briefing as to the activities the day held in store for us.
As most visitors to the city tend to stay central, the team wanted to share with us some of what Amsterdam Noord had to offer. Being less frequented by tourists, it’s a real treasure trove of relatively unknown attractions and experiences, and we were going to spend the day finding out about them.
With my phone and camera at the ready, I was in full tourist mode and ready to find out more.
The A’DAM Lookout Tower
Situated right next to ClinkNOORD itself, this was our first stop of the day, ascending 20 floors in the glass-roofed lift which offers a light show as you travel skywards.
Stepping out through the doors on to the top of the tower you are met with the most breathtaking 360º views of the city. Looking across the river to Amsterdam Central Station, down the length of the waterway as far as the eye can see, or over Noord itself, the sky endless and the horizon never seeming to come.
I took about 570,000,000 photos while I was up there, trying to capture some of what I was seeing, but nothing could do it justice. It’s truly beautiful.
As well as keeping your eyes busy, there’s other bits and pieces to occupy you while you wander around up there. Information boards, a horse sculpture (with steps so you can climb on it), a higher viewing platform, and Europe’s biggest swing which takes you out over the edge of the building, allowing you to see Amsterdam in a way few others do.
I’ve popped a photo in here of Haydy enjoying herself on the swing as I bravely stood and took pictures of her.
Tickets for the A’DAM Lookout Tower are priced at €12.50 for adults and €6.50 for children. You can have a photograph taken of you while you’re there by the onsite team, which I think were around €10.00 each, but don’t quote me on that, my memory isn’t what it used to be.
Canal Cruise with Pure Boats Amsterdam
My biggest fear – cripplingly so – is water. I am terrified of it. So when I found out in the morning briefing that we would be going on a boat, my adrenalin started pumping and I started panicking internally but I kept telling myself that I’d already been on the ferry that takes you to Noord, so it would be fine and I should just embrace the experience.
Then I saw the boat.
It was tiny.
I text Ben and my family, hyperventiliated a little bit and then tried to distract myself by taking photos of the surroundings for Instagram. None of those photos ever made it on to social media because apparently, when I’m in a state of fear, I lose the ability to frame a shot.
However, I reminded myself I’m a strong, independent woman, and shakingly stepped onto the boat where the Pure Boats Amsterdam team, James and Geertje, introduced themselves and revealed the boats on-board bar. A welcome sight for me as I was, by now, visibly shaking. Haydy handed me a beer and we set sail.
As were were going to be exploring the canals, we first had to cross the river Amstel, which FYI is bloody wide and pretty choppy when you get hit by the wake of a bigger passing boat. I stared at the bottle of beer in my hand in an bid to distract myself, but when the boat tipped to one side (probably minutely, but I felt like we were capsizing) I gripped Haydy’s thigh and tried desperately to focus my attention on a nearby (massive) seagull.
Haydy, to her credit, completely ignored me which is exactly what I needed.
Before we knew it, we’d left the massive river and its even bigger seagulls behind and we were cruising, smoothly, with no bumps or rocks or jigging at all, along the canals of the city.
Ironically, pootling along on the water, looking at the beautiful buildings and the even more beautiful house-boats was actually my favourite part of the day. It was so relaxing and I could easily have spent another couple of hours on there than we did.
The boat trip itself isn’t the cheapest you’ll find in the city being €50.00 per person or €250.00 if you want to book for a private group of up to 12 people, but it was such a nice experience and I’d definitely prefer this laid back, more friendly, personal experience to getting in one of the large tourist boats that you see doing circuits around the waterways.
Fear conquered and with breakfast burnt off by my incessant worrying, we were off for lunch at De Ceuvel.
Located on the site of an old shipyard, it’s full of quirky bits and pieces, acting as a creative and social hub for anyone who wants to visit. The on-site café, where we had our lunch, serves amazing, locally sourced vegan food and put on a real spread of goodies for us, all served with some homemade lemonade.
Not being a vegan, I was unsure whether I was going to enjoy the food, but it was honestly so good! We had a soup to start which was made with coconut milk and had a slightly spicy taste, followed by a salad (which I had to forego due to the caramalised nuts it had in it) and then thick, chunky bread with a Hungarian paste and a spicy sweet potato spread on top. These were both so good and I could definitely eat that sweet potato recipe every day for the rest of my life and not get bored.
After lunch, having spotted a dog in the distance, we trotted off to go and find it and see if it wanted to be our friend. It did. It was a ‘she’ and ‘she’ liked having her tummy rubbed. I’m ranking her 8/10, down-marked for not wanting to come home with me.
After making friends and establishing the dog didn’t want a new owner, we went off to explore. The site houses lots of grounded boats, all of which have been repurposed into offices and work spaces and are joined together by a winding jetty that allows you to walk through the greenery and along the water.
Full of good food and post-dog-stroking happiness, we set off to explore NDSM.
An old ship-building site, NDSM is very industrial, with lots of open (concrete) spaces and old warehouses, which are now used by creative types to showcase their art.
The streets in NDSM are literally lined with colour – walls, bollards, plant pots, containers – all of them bright and sharing a message.
After strolling around the streets taking photos of all the many things our eyes were being treated to, we went into the big warehouse in the centre of NDSM, which houses yet more art and colour.
I’ll be honest, a lot of it went straight over my head and some things I saw I was unsure whether were actually art or just something that had happened to have been left there (I know, I’m uncultured, sorry) but the one thing that I did get and had to take a look at was the Barbie Peepshow.
Possibly the strangest thing I saw all weekend, you popped a Euro into the coin slot in the wall and took a look through the little window, the other side of which was several Barbies, a Ken Doll and a horse getting up to all sorts! Like I said, strange, but an Euro well spent!
Just down the road from this, and before we began our walk back to the hostel for the evening’s activities (and having walked 25,000 steps giving our little legs cause to complain) we stopped off to look at the famous Anne Frank memorial artwork.
I was pretty annoyed that the bottom part of the wall has been painted on by other people as this piece feels like it should be afforded a little more respect, but I guess in an art district pretty much any space is up for the taking, and honestly, with my poor grasp on the meaning of art, perhaps I’m missing the point of the more recent additions altogether.
This was definitely my favourite painting of the day and I couldn’t help but wonder how Anne would have felt, back in 1945, if they had told her there would be a 780ft tall picture of her in Amsterdam and people would still be visiting it to pay tribute to her 72-years later. I hope she would have been happy.
Having run out of time to explore more, we began our walk back to ClinkNOORD, which only took about 25-minutes but allowed us to see a little more of the area, passing glass-fronted family homes, small local businesses and a rather spectacular boat.
If this was what we managed to squeeze into about 7-hours, I can’t imagine how much more Noord has to offer that we didn’t get to see! I will definitely be returning one day.
* In Association with Brand *