By SHERYL LOVENKRANDZ
Although Amsterdam is famed for its canals, clogs and liberal attitude towards sex and drugs, those who are prepared to delve a little deeper will find out why Netherland’s capital city was once described as the “Reigning capital of cool” by the New York Times.
So let’s do as the Dutch do and get our bicycles primed and pumped for a super-quirky, whistle-stop tour of Amsterdam’s unconventional tourist hot spots.
The Tree in a House
Bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase bringing the outside in, the “tree in a house” is located at 120 Scheepstimmermanstraat, in the former eastern docklands area, location easily accessible from docklands Amsterdam accommodation. It pays homage to a time when homeowners were given creative license to indulge their design fantasies; wielding a paint brush with all the wanton abandon of a kid in a sweet store.
Architect Koen van Velsen is the mind behind the strange abode, building an entire house around a 10-metre acacia tree in 1920…who said green living wasn’t possible?
Getting off the well-pounded tourist trail is always a sure-fire way to uncover a few hidden gems, no matter where you are, and this is definitely true when it comes to unusual things to do in Amsterdam.
Acting as a veritable oasis in the heart of a bustling city, the of Zon’s Hofje, which takes its name from the hidden Mennonite church located here in 1650, houses several hofjes. This is a Dutch word for a courtyard with almshouses around it – which were traditionally built for widows. The hofjes also have a network of hidden gardens; the perfect place to get away from it all after a hard day sightseeing.
Now occupied by students, the Zon’s Hofje can be visited at Prinsengracht 159, open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm.
Those who thought the only time they’d be visiting a pharmacy abroad would be for an emergency remedy, think again! The Lairesse Apotheek proves that the words culture and chemist can sit happily in the same sentence.
Located at De Lairessestraat 40, as soon as you step into the Apotheek a world of wonders awaits you; from the wall of green Plexiglas drawers used to house medicines and glass cases representing the Mendeleïev periodic table of the elements to the images of ginkgo leaves across the floor,
If you are keen to indulge the mad scientist within on your visit to Amsterdam, the Lairesse Apotheek is open Mon-Fri 8.30am-6pm and Sat 10am-5pm.
The Statue of the Little Woodcutter
It may only be a branch with a statue of bronze woodcutter on it, but YouTube videos have gone viral for less. If the rumours about Queen Beatrix creating the anonymous piece of art are true, a visit to this little hidden artwork is definitely worth a visit. If you can’t find it, here’s a little tip: try going to Leidsebosje, Stadhouderskade 12.
The Dark Restaurant
The latest dining trend to sweep through Europe is “dining in the dark” and those who want to have their taste buds thoroughly tickled will love the out-there eating experience at Amsterdam’s Ctaste restaurant (Amsteldijk 55).
Served by blind or visually impaired waiters, diners munch an array of tasty cuisine in a pitch-black dining room – letting their taste buds do the talking.
Sheryl Lovenkrandz is an energetic travel enthusiast who has travelled the world and learnt a lot from her adventures. She loves to give travelling advice and she currently works as a freelance travel blogger for Loving Amsterdam.