A Club Hop City Walk in Amsterdam: From Nord to West to Zuid to Ost

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Can you see Amsterdam by foot? Yes, you can. The evidence is clear.
Must you see Amsterdam by foot? No, you can take a tram, bus, taxi or bike.
Should you see Amsterdam by foot? Yes, sights are super and walking is healthy.

It is morning. Air is cooler than yesterday and it is cloudy. Nice walking weather.

The Club Hop route map as seen on the KLM Amsterdam Sneaker page: 10.6 km in approx. 2 h 13 min. Around 20.000 steps done just in time (including photo stops).
Club hopping? Yes, best done at night, I know … maybe next time.

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Today is ‘cheat day’: I could walk to the starting point, but to save time – as this is only a short trip – I take a taxi to Westergasfabriek. A former gas plant, now arty area, cafes and a tivoli in green surroundings.

Later in the day it is probable crowded. Now there are only a couple of snack bar guests and mothers strolling with prams.

    

From Westgazwerk I walk south-west along the main road. Residential and commercial areas on one side and on the other side a green area with runners and dog walkers.

I walk towards the city centre. It is a walk without any particular sights or attractions; flats in red bricks and small super markets and shops …

However, the walk gives a peak into the everyday in Amsterdam and that is nice and very far from ‘touristic’. Also you see things, you would not see if you were only in the center – and get some extra exercise.


Traffic sign: Alcohol prohibited and above that sigh: Smoking cannabis prohibited!
Is Holland maybe the only country in the world with a traffic sign like that?

If you take a closer look, you see many interesting things: Superman lives in Amsterdam.

Gradually there are more and more canals and tiny bridges to be seen. I am back in the Amsterdam city centre.

Arty details are everywhere. A stone cat moving up a brick house wall in Leidsegracht.

Are the bikes in Amsterdam like those in other countries? Yes and no. They have two wheels, but many, many colours … and there are an abundance of different bikes from 80’s mini-bikes over state-of-the-art road racers and mountain bikes to city bikes.

Creative builders: I walked out the same way I walked in. I walked out the same way I walked in. Stairs are art. Poetry is art. Stair-poetry is two-in-one street art.

How many canals and bridges can you shoot before you get bored. An almost endless amount. Water draws viewers (and photographers).

Predictable photo opportunity, Rembrandt Plein, where I had no success in getting af ‘solo’ photo of the great painter … when the Chinese tourist finally stopped filming after 10 minutes an Italian guy rushed in front of the monument.

I pass Club AIR Amsterdam. Holland is the country, that put truly electronic dance music on top of the charts with super clubs and parties and DJ’s such as Tiësto, Armin van Burren, Hardwell and Martin Garrix. Great music (mixes) also for fitness workouts.

Now heading eastwards to the docklands. Behind the naval museum, there is an area with residential and company buildings and old warehouses.

An organic building; Architectuurcentrum Amsterdam. A great ‘figure’.

Het Scheepvaartmuseum and a ship from yesteryear marks the ‘entrance’ to the dockland area with Kattenburg, Wittenburg and Czaar Peterbuurt.

In one of the old buildings you find Amsterdam Roest, the walk destination. It is a bar with live music and a relaxed atmosphere. The bar do not open until 12 o’clock, so a visit inside has to keep for another time (Google maps/earth: Dockland area).

On the way back to the city centre and hotel. More photogenic old buildings.

Amsterdam also has an Art Hotel near the central station. I put my footprint on the door mat: I’m not lost, I’m exploring! (Jana Stanfield).

Yet another ‘smokery’, rokerij, a coffeeshop … next to a cannabis shop …

The Dutch are progressive and fit. Apart from biking all over the place, I see many – adults – on scooters, skateboards and this balance-challenging motorized ‘wheel’.

Back in the hotel with the tile-clad reception desks. A cool detail among many. Initially the idea was to build a new hotel, but instead 25 old buildings were bought and restored.

After a lunch break. Back on the beat. A walk in the small streets in the city centre. Among others the Nine Streets, De 9 straatjes, an area with many shops with art and clothes.

          

Walking along the Damrak to the Central Station. It is crowded, full of locals and tourists.

The three crosses seen everywhere in Amsterdam, on stalls, benches, dustbins and T-shirts, are part of the city crest, however, their exact origin is unknown.

I could have walked past it, but saw a photographer lingering. I looked in and discovered a passage, Beurs Passage, with maritime mosaics from floor to ceiling.

The last looks on the streets, alleys and souvenirs of Amsterdams; an exciting city with everything from old-school til new-school.

    

A massive queue obstructs the pedestrian traffic. What is it? Something exciting?
To some probably; It is fries! Voted nr. 1 Holland Fries …

Amsterdam has to be the place in the World, outside of Italy, with the most Vespa’s. They are everywhere.

At the Central Station. Buying a train ticket. A friendly greating from the light panel.

The last glimpse of Amsterdam; Schiphol Airport. It is almost time for take-off.

Mission succesful. On the way back in the Cityhopper I note, that approx. 60.000 steps later, I have seen quite a bit of Amsterdam, knowing well that there is much more to see.

Iamsterdam.


Trip by kind invitation of KLM.

City Walk in 36.000 Steps: Amsterdam Sneaker Sightseeing

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

As seen on film! The scene in the reception might as well have been choreographed. It is going to be a good day!

06:30. I am heading full speed for the breakfast restaurant with map and papers in hand. But. What. I have forgotten my pen. I walk towards the reception desk. There are three men behind the tile-clad desk. One behind and one at each side. All three are well-dressed in dark suits.

They are in the middle of a conversation, but stop talking as I approach.

I ask the ‘middle man’ behind the desk “Do you have a pen, I may borrow”.
In a split second three arms shoot towards me, each with a pen in hand.
This event is perfectly synchronized and without any hesitation. Fantastic.

Sometimes small things or movements make the biggest difference.

The breakfast holds another surprise. Apart from a nice and colourful buffet with juice, fruit, muesli, nuts, bread, cold cuts, cheese, marmalade and more, you can order hot dishes. I can’t help it: I order a pancake (I think).

Then! I get a plate with four pancakes and fresh banana plus chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Surprising, naughty but nice, however, more than a morning pancake.

After breakfast my sneakers in Dutch colour are ready for walking.

At the KLM Amsterdam Sneaker page I have found the map Recreational Walk.

So my first move is to walk from the hotel to Vondelpark, the starting point.
I hit ‘Start’ on my Polar heart rate monitor (I am half Finnish).

Plant! You aren’t going anywhere!

Vondelpark. It is hard to tell from this photo, but the park is full of people and dogs.

Leaving the park and walking north-east I spot these amazing bronze reptiles.

The flower market is a surprise. Not only flowers, but bulbs in all sizes and shapes.
“We ship all over Europe”.

Across from the Central Station you find the Tourist Information in a separate building with a cafe, ticket counter and a toilet (loo) … decorated with a.o. Dutch houses.

The walk includes a ferry ride, but it is no problem: The ferries leave only minutes apart, a ferry ride only lasts 3 minutes and it is free. From the Central Station you go to the northern part of the city. More to see looking up and down and all around.

The walk goes through a residential area and ends at Nieuwendammerdijk. An idyllic area, where people relax in the sunshine outside a café.

I join in and take a short rest after this walk of 13.9 km, expected at 2 h 50 minutes: But it lasts longer due to more than a few photo-stops.

Then I head back. I walk for about one kilometer, but then jump on a bus back to the Central Station. I am (there) again …

From there I sail again and am ready for the Mighty Museums walk of 4.1 km, expected 50 minutes, from the EYE Film Museum to the Stedelijk Museum – or the other way around.

The EYE Film Museum is in an impressive, odd-shaped building, worth seeing (visiting).
In the building next to it, Lookout Amsterdam, at the top of the building you find two swings; you can have a swing with a view.

Walking back through the city full of art and street art. The only way is up!

Art is everywhere. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

In the museum part of town you will find the famous and formidable Rijks Museum.

One should dedicate a full day for visiting and seeing the works of the many famous Dutch painters. Not only Rembrandt and Van Gogh. There are many more; my favorite is Emanuel de Witte (1617–1692), his (architecture) paintings are outstanding.

The legendary Iamsterdam sculpture is almost non-stop full of tourists photographing each other or taking selfies.

There were no room for me at the Iamsterdam letters, so I settle for a ‘selfie’ at the mirror-sculpture by the Stedelijk Museum.

After the museum route I am ready for the Design Stroll, which starts close by the Stedelijk museum. This is a walk of 5 km, expected 1.2 h.

Starting point is the super-shopping street Peter Cornelisz (PC) Hooftstraat: Prada, Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Dior, Max Mara a.o. Excellent for shoppers or window shoppers.

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Moving on I see more interesting items for those interested in jewellery, watches and art. You will find goods in all sizes and price ranges.

The most elegant pedestrian sign I have ever seen – in glittering blue and silver-white glass mosaics.

Amsterdam of course has a Tulip Museum and many, many tulips.

A balcony with a giant butterfly. Party is imminent. Below are more unusual facade decorations.

This walk ends – after plenty of designer-boutique-window-shopping – in Harlemmerstraat. It is late in the afternoon and time to head back.

Clogs in all sizes, colours and materials are expected.

Almost back at the hotel. A gallery window speaks: And at the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling. A suitable quote.

With a full mind – and an empty stomach – I opt for the easy solution. As I am on my own, today I will skip solo dining at a town restaurant; I go to the hotel Restaurant Jansz.
And enjoy a delightful dinner at the candlelit table by the window.

My choice: Tuna tartar with wasabi (some like it hot), Morano spiced salmon with couscous and for dessert strawberry creme brûlée. Delicious. The wine, too:
White wine Touraine (sauvignon blanc), from Loire in France, and red wine, Baron De Ley (tempranillo), Rioja Reserva, Spain.

Cheers!


Trip by kind invitation of KLM.

Aalborg to Amsterdam travel: A Holland sneak(er) peak

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Third time lucky! Twice I have been in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport lately. But only in transit. Now it is. Travel destination: Amsterdam.

The occasion? KLM has a march campaign ‘Amsterdam sneaker’. What is this about? Well, the airline is based in Amsterdam, Holland, and boasts, that the Dutch capital is so ‘compact’, that it can easily be experienced by foot.

To stress that they mean it, KLM has even produced a walking shoe, a sneaker, designed to get around in the city …

During march KLM have an Amsterdam Sneaker auction with sneakers including trips – and the full amount from this  auction is donated to UNICEF.

A good cause. I am happy to hop into a pair of sneakers, thank you, KLM, to investigate!

Wednesday afternoon. Aalborg Airport in northern Denmark. First a cup of coffee.

Shopping? I have a hard time resisting the Champagne family. But have to. Not because of the price of course, DKK 17.999 (more than 2000 EUR) for the ‘head of the family’ containing 15 litres, but because of lack of space in my carry-on luggage …

It is almost time. The Cityhopper arrives – gets ready – and we leave on time.

The online magazine Holland Herald matches my shoes. Or is it the other way around?
A coincidence? I think not!

Food is nice. On board food, too. When it is tasty, that is (not always the case). This serving was unusually delicious – and not just because I was pretty hungry.

I won’t get tired of a view like this; beautiful clouds seen from above.

A short flight of only 1:05 h. And so we land on time in AMS, Amsterdam Schiphol.
With a medium-sized aircraft you are not always stepping out right at the gate door.
But it is o.k. Here you get a ride in a solar powered bus!

Taxi or train? Taxi approx. 30 min., 42 EUR. Train approx. 10 min. 5 EUR. That settles it. I buy a ticket and find my way to the platform.

After a short train ride you arrive at the busy Amsterdam Central Station.

Immediately when you get out into the streets you realize that Amsterdam is a bike city. There are bikes everywhere. And hundreds of bikes are parked around the station.
There is even a bike parking house.

It is now evening and I find a map on my iPhone to guide me on my walk to the hotel.
I get a bit of night sightseeing as I find my way through a ‘red light district’ with many small cafés and ‘coffee’ shops …

In just 10 minutes I reach the hotel, Pulitzer, situated down a small alley alongside one of the numerous canals. Beautiful.

After a quick snack and a cup of herbal tea it is bedtime for bonzo.

Goodnight.

Hamburg, Germany? Well worth a visit or two or three or …

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photo: Henrik Elstrup

Was?! Haven’t you been to Hamburg, yet???

Recently my husband and I asked a couple of friends if they had been to Hamburg, and they answered “no”. This was surprising as we reckoned all Danes had visited Hamburg, the second city of Germany with 5,1 million inhabitants (metropolitan area).
This metropolis is only about 3-4 hours away from most cities of Denmark. 

We are great fans of Hamburg (Henrik has worked there), so our friends got a massive dose of PR: One of the World’s most visited concert cities, a must-visit for music-/musicalfans, modern art enthusiasts, foodies and fitness freaks.
When we met the next time, our friends had already been there and agreed:
Hamburg is great! 

Hamburg tripping

Short trip or extended stay? Week 7 and 8 and november are great times for visiting Hamburg, because 1) there are no German holidays at these times, and 2) at most other times of the year the hotels in Hamburg are (almost) full!
Talk about a popular city.

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Hamburg Trip Insidertips

Elphi

Must-see: The new concert hall Elbphilharmonie, opened on 11.1.2017. Price cirka 789 mio. EUR). A former warehouse, now mounted with a gigantic wavy glass top, luxury hotel and Europe’s longest escalator. Spectacular both from the outside and the inside.

Unfortunately most events are sold out, so you should not reckon with going to a concert in the near future.
Fortunately you can visit for free; everybody can visit the The Plaza, the public viewing platform, from where you have a super 360 degree view of the city and the harbour.

Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg

Worlds largest model railway with fantastic miniature displays of famous cities and landscapes (Miniatur Wunderland photo: Rome by night).
Exciting for kids and adults alike.
Miniatur Wunderland is situated in an ‘attraction’ of its own: historic Speicherstadt, which along with the Kontorhausviertel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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HafenCity

The area, located on the Elbe river island Grasbrook, the former Port of Hamburg, holds a mix of residential and office buildings, hotels, shops, restaurants and coffee shops. The buildings represent old and new architecture interspersed with water and green spots.
A walk is free and full of interesting sights and experiences.

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St. Pauli

St. Pauli has a long tradition as a recreation and amusement centre and is known for its famous red-light district, the Reeperbahn (the sinful mile).
In the area there are also lots of bars and music clubs amoung others the Star-Club, where Beatles’ career took of (learn more on a Beatles tour).

Photo shows a cool attraction: The Elbphilharmonie Pavillon with 20 horns, not with Beatles hits, but diverse orchestral music.

Hamburg horn

Canal tours

Canal tour? Yes, Hamburg is full of rivers, streams and canals, which are crossed by around 2.500 bridges, more than all of the bridges in Venice, Amsterdam and London together! This creates an amazing city environment, also seen from the water on barge tours by day or lights cruises by night.

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I am looking forward to going to Hamburg. Again. Soon.

Read more:

www.hamburg.de

Wikipedia/Hamburg

Stay Healthy on the Road: 3 Snack Tips for Long Distance Driving

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Going for a long drive by car? For business or pleasure, job or holiday? Then take care. Not only can driving, sitting for hours on end, (and the traffic) be harmful to your health. If you enjoy snacking in the car, this could lead to unwanted effects.

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Apart from gaining weight, if you drive often, too much sugar too fast results in low blood sugar shortly after and this can lead to:

  • Fatique
  • Lack of concentration
  • Mood swings

The first two very dangerous, when driving; should this happen, stop immediately and have a rest, a 5-10 minute power nap . The last could lead to anti-social quarreling, if you are on a drive together with others, family or friends, in the car …

For many people driving equals snacking as a nice passtime on the road. But it is all about habits and actually you do not need snacks for your drive.

Top snack tips for extended driving

  1. Put something nice without calories into your head instead:
    Listen to music or an audiobook. Play a word or numbers game. Talk/stories.
  2. Instead of chewing drink a water-based non-sugary drink: Water with added taste. Herbal teas with fruit flavour, liquorice- og chocolate tea a.o. It tastes delicious and satisfies your craving for sugar. Drink it hot or cold.
  3. Do you need to chew (have nutrients)? Make your own tasty whole-grain sanwiches filled with something you like (protein, e.g. eggs, meat, almonds or peanuts); should taste nice, satisfy you, and keep you full for a long(er) time.

Special tip for drivers

A special and important long-drive tip. A tip which may prevent you from eating too much or getting too tired. A tip which may help prevent blood cluts (which is a risk factor, especially for adults and the elderly, when you sit for too long).

Have a rest area rest every or every other hour. Get out and move about a bit..
Hop, jog, twist, shake your body. Or if you have time, do a short (7 minute?) workout.

Have a nice drive.

Fitness and Exercise: Yoga versus Not Yoga?

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Too difficult, too time consuming, too strange? Yoga versus not yoga? It doesn’t have to be either or. Yoga can be a lifestyle or it can be a frequent or less frequent supplement in your training or sports regimen – adapted to your personal needs.

So the choice is not difficult: Yoga.

Yoga can be anything from breathing exercises and meditation over stretching, balancing and resistance training to daily physical, mental and spiritual practises.

You decide how and how much or how little.

Yoga_versus_not_Yoga_Marina_Aagaard_Blog

For years I thought, that yoga was too demanding and time consuming. Now I practice it fairly often and when travelling it is a very nice and easy way to keep fit and well.

Have you not tried yoga yet? Give it a go, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Sun salutation A for beginners

Sun salutation B for intermediate level

Holiday fitness: Get Fit, Keep Fit or Boost Your Fitness

By Marina Aagaard, MFE
Holiday fitness? A hot topic right now. So here are five fab methods for fitness and exercise on your holiday; for the super exerciser, the recreational exerciser or the (almost) physically inactive …

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Get fit on holiday

Not fit or healthy at all? Then this is for you:
You have to start somewhere / sometime and your holiday is as good as time as ever.
If you are used to doing nothing exercise-wise, then start with just a little bit every day:

1. Move a bit more; than you do during every day living, walk and stand more, take the stairs, not the elevator.

2. Add extra activity; use every excuse to move a bit further than normally (e.g. go to the ice cream store at the far end of the beach).

3. Go for walks: Take a lovely morning or evening walk and get some extra free sight-seeing at a time, when it is nice and quiet.

4. Try out exercise or sports activities: Use your holiday to try some brand new activities, not only for exercise, but for new experiences; e.g. aqua aerobics, hiking, badminton, zumbafitness, (water)bikes, canoeing, etc.

5. Eat healthier snacks. Holiday is holiday, but leave out or replace the most severe calorie-loaded temptations by other alternatives, so it is possible to keep your present weight on your holiday. Also it pays off to “neutralize” the side-effects of steaks, drinks and ice cream with exercise …

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Keep fit on your holiday

Are you used to being fairly healthy and doing some exercise, e.g. 3-4 times a week? Lucky you; you have many options for keeping your fitness level, while on holiday.

1. Maintain fitness with a single bout of high-intensity training: Have an all-out holiday – also from exercise – but with one workout in the middle of your holiday week, a workout with high intensity (heavy/fast) or maybe moderate intensity and long duration.

2. Train short and sweet (hard), time-efficient, with circuit training: Do 2-3 workouts on your holiday, with intense circuit training.

3. Train as usual, but with variation: Train as you are used to, 3-4 times, but with novel exercise variations in your usual program.

4. Train more, but in different ways: Be extra active all through your holiday, but with complete different activities; horseback (or camel) riding, water polo, beach volley, kayaking, hula hooping, rope jumping or lap swimming.

5. Eat strategically. Holiday is holiday, but should you choose to accept … a fattening snack, then combine with an intense workout on the same day (before or after) and be a little more healthy the next day.

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Boost you fitness on your holiday

You are used to working out, either very often og very intensely, and you want to improve your fitness? When away on holiday, locally or abroad, there are sometimes special opportunities, which you can take advantage of.

1. Increase difficulty (and/or intensity). If you are used to running, then run the same distances, but under more difficult conditions, in the sand on the beach or in rugged terrain (watch out for obstacles)

2. Increase intensity (or duration). If you are used to cycling, then cycle the same distance under more difficult conditions; harder terrain, e.g. in hills or mountains or go for extra long rides in new surroundings.

3. Train with other equipment, in different ways. If you are used to resistance training, then work out as hard as you can facilities allowing at your holiday hotel/resort; gyms with other equipment than you are used to, or old, worn facilities with only basic equipment, benches, bars and dumbbells etc. or outdoors with racks, bodyweight, logs or stones (e.g. try throwing exercises).

4. Give your body diverse challenges. Replace 1-2 regular workouts with parkour or obstacle course racing (on proper courses or at playgrounds): Overcome obstacles, do balancing and lift, push and pull yourself up and forward in different ways.

5. Give your body and your mind some variation. Push yourself with different activities involving other muscles than usual; open water swimming, sailing, SUP, inline skating, climbing, rappelling, table tennis, formal dance, soccer.

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Bonus tip
Exercise should be followed by quality sleep and adequate recovery; speed up recovery by having a massage, hammam, thermal bath, jacuzzi, sauna or other wellness activities.
Try it on your holiday; your body will love it (check out: Global Wellness Travel Guide).

Happy holiday!