Vrankrijk is the historical squat of Amsterdam, situated in the heart of the city. Founded in the late 80′s, it was a place for live music, dance parties but also a political home for people who were looking for orientation off the mainstream.
Now, after being closed for several years, the Vrankrijk has been re-discovered by a new generation: a mix of squatters and hipsters so don’t be scared of the snake, you are invited too!
I am lucky that the social enterprise JO Cadeau that I founded has its headquarters (and to be honest, only quarters) in this amazing building by Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck. It is an anti-squat arrangement; you pay very little and rent a space in a building that would otherwise be empty or occupied by squatters. It is great. It is in the city centre, in the old Jewish neighbourhood. The only disadvantage is that you can suddenly be ‘kicked out’ when the building is sold.
For lunch I love to go out to get some bread and nice Dutch cheeses that we eat all together (interns, freelancers and ourselves) in our office. When outside, I look at the cyclists. It is a diverse scenery at the Plantage Middenlaan. Check it out:
We are having some lucky sunny weather so far this fall. Two days in a row of lovely sun and blue skies. And more to come this week, right? Maybe I need to find some yellow pants to celebrate….
On a Saturday afternoon at StarBikes, I met up with Pete Jordan, author of In The City of Bikes, to talk about his book, Amsterdam, and of course, cycling. In The City of Bikes is a memoir-like historical fact book telling the story of Amsterdam’s cycling history and culture. It takes you back to the 1890s, through the Nazi occupation, and to the city still filled with bikes we know today.
How long have you been in Amsterdam?
I came to Amsterdam in 2002 to take a one-semester-long urban planning course. 11 years, 8 apartments, and 4 bikes later, I’m still here. I blame the bikes.
Your book is all about the history of cycling in Amsterdam. What’s your favorite bit of history?
I found the war years (WWII) incredibly interesting. Amsterdammers showed a massive amount of resistance to the Germans. And it was something everyone could do: lolly-gag on their bikes in front of an impatient, waiting, honking German car.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
I was enthralled by all the cyclists from day I arrived in Amsterdam and I started asking around for books about it. To my surprise, I found nothing. Cycling is so normal in this city that no one has bothered to write a book about the topic!
And the best or worst thing about cycling in Amsterdam?
I’m still amazing that it keeps growing! Look at the Haarlemmerstraat, the best street in Amsterdam. You’d think all the cyclists going every which way would cause complete chaos–but in fact, it works. My least favorite is tied between the tourists and scooters. Yesterday I saw 2 tourists collide in front of the Rijksmuseum. It’s comical, but also just dangerous.
Any other plans with the book? A sequel? A photo exhibit?
The Dutch version of the book, De Fietsrepubliek, has an excellent photo section unlike the English version. I’m planning to extend the gallery into a book on its own. Now the website is also up and running, and I also offer private tours based on the book. And I’m working on a guide book for cycling tourists that will be out next year.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
A while ago, I started collecting all these loose, often broken bike parts from all over the city. In no time at all, I had almost every piece I needed for a whole bike. I wanted to put all the pieces together, but then I realized: a bike made from broken parts is just a broken bike. So I threw them all away.
For more information about Pete Jordan, his tours, and In The City of Bikes, head to www.cityofbikes.com
Anyone up for short Dutch lesson? I already told you at the time what was an “Opa“. Now let’s talk about the “Oma”: it is the grandma. You may think I love old people, and I do. But I am not the one who invented the expression “Omafiets”. “Fiets” means bike in Dutch so “Omafiets” is a grandma bike. And trust me the Omafiets is the fancy old classic that most of people in Amsterdam are riding on.
Born in Afganistan in the 80’s, Massy and his family moved to the Netherlands more than 20 years ago. As a child he discovered the Dutch culture, he learned to cycle straight away and felt in love with this way of moving around. He likes the feeling of being independent on his bike, to be free to go everywhere and to breathe the fresh air.. He never went back to Afghanistan but he is pretty sure the bicycle is not as popular as it is here !
Massy is living in Utrecht. A few months ago, a friend inspired him to start a new business. His friend was selling ice creams on his delivery bike.
He couldn’t stop thinking this idea was very good and would be much appreciated by all the Amsterdammers !
So he just started with one of his mates a new company on wheels : bikeexpress.nl (site still under construction)
They have 2 ice cream delivery bikes, one is mostly cycling in Amsterdam North, while the other one goes around Amsterdam East. They offer our most beloved flavors : vanilla (in pole position !) strawberry and chocolate, or pistache, or lemon, etc
Massy loves selling ice creams. The reason is very simple: he is happy to make people smile. It is related to what makes him happy in life : « to help people in every way I can help ». He is already doing so since a long time as he has worked many years for Amnesty International and other NGOs. He also initiated this nice project ofoundation.nl. Massy’s dream is « to have a positive influence in the development of the human kind ».
I was happy to meet Massy and to taste his delicious ice creams while enjoying the Oosterpark with my little baby.
Let’s see what he will offer us in the winter : broodjes, soup ?
“I never plan to take pictures, I just bring my camera everywhere and then funny situations happen or special people pass in front of me and I take pictures. To be honest, I am quite a lazy photographer.” Amsterdam Cycle Chic is talking with Julie Hrudova a Czech born photographer living and working in Amsterdam. Julie made an Amsterdam Street Diary with her photos that in a few months will be exposed in the Amsterdam Central Library (OBA). “I like to photograph people, animals and kids. I focus on details; on expressions on faces, on reflections and shadows.”
Cycling in Amsterdam
Julie was born in Prague. When she was 10 years old she moved with her parents to Broek in Waterland a picturesque village north of Amsterdam. She remembers her first visit to Amsterdam: “I was overwhelmed by all the cyclists and when a few years later I started cycling in the city I found it quite difficult. There are certain unwritten rules; you can’t definitely go too slow and you have to indicate very well when you want to cross a street.” Now Julie loves to cycle and she cycles every day: “It is a moment to relax, to reflect on my day. I do not like to cycle along the canals, I prefer to take long straight streets. Then I don’t have to think and I can go fast.”
When Julie visits her family and friends in Prague she also takes pictures: “Dutch and Czech people have very different expressions on their faces. I think that Dutch people enjoy life and relaxing a bit more on their boats, in cafes and terraces, whereas Czechs are often exhausted due to tighter work schedules and pressure. I like to observe these differences. Further on, it is fascinating to see Prague transforming from a grey city of decayed buildings I used to live in into a popular tourist destination of shiny cars, billboards and luxury shops. When I’m there it always strikes me how much it has changed.”
Amsterdam Street Dairy
“The Amsterdam Street Diary is a photo diary of Amsterdam. The pictures tell a story, about Amsterdam, the people and the change of seasons. I think, being Czech, I still look at the city as an outsider, so I notice details of typical Amsterdam life that Amsterdam born people probably won’t see.” One of Julie’s favourite areas in Amsterdam for photography is the Red Light District: “It is fascinating to see the contrasts in that area; the beautiful old houses and canals, the raw and sad atmosphere and the combination of people born and raised in Amsterdam with the sightseeing tourists.”
Julie’s Amsterdam Street Dairy will be exhibited in the OBA in September for three months. On Amsterdam Cycle Chic we will post a few of the cycling pictures of her diary.
Our friends from the Cycling with… blog went for a cycle with Julie. Check out the great result!
Same bridge, same bike, same sun … bu different cycle chicsters!
The Dutch take picnicking to a whole new level. Once the sun comes out, it’s like entire kitchens are brought to the park! And the best way to get to the park is of course by bike! The Vondelpark was packed with picnickers this weekend. Where were you picnicking this weekend?
What a weekend it’s been. The sun is shining, people are happy and out on their bikes all the day long. This is the time of year when I just can’t get enough of this city. And Queen’s Day has yet to come! Let’s hope this wonderful weather keeps up for Tuesday.
Paddy and Philip from the blog Cycling with… went for a cycle with Job Cohen, former mayor of Amsterdam. On a sunny day, Job told them a lot about the history of Amsterdam, about living cities and about interesting things that happened during his time as mayor.
Job Cohen was Amsterdam’s mayor for more than 8 years, he was the first to wed a same sex couple and he was awarded with the title European Hero by Time Magazine.
Imagine: you are with two people, you have one bike, and you want to go to a friend’s birthday party. What would you do? You could of course leave the bike and go walking, go by car or take a tram. But you can also be inspired by these Amsterdammers and go together on one bike.
We show you five different ways to share a bike (also called doubling). No special seats or cargo bikes needed!
Sitting on the back carrier is the most common way to cycle together. Men normally sit with one leg at each side
This is the version that women like best.
A very popular way amongst Amsterdams youth. (Don’t try this with a heavy person).
For a good view. Like this son on the back of his fathers bike.
Not a very clear picture. They went too fast and I don’t see this way very often. We actually do not know why you would do this. Maybe when the person cycling doesn’t smell too good, or you prefer looking at the streets instead of looking at a back?
There are a lot of other ways to cycle together on one bike (sit on the crossbar, on the handlebars, or on the saddle). Take a look at more pics in this Cycle Chic Republic post.
Now, after being inspired by these cyclists from Amsterdam would you take a bike together?
You probably already noticed it on our blog, but to have a crate on the front of your bike is really trendy in Amsterdam! Hardly any cute baskets in the streets just cool and sturdy crates, in different colours, sometimes branded or full of stickers. What do you think of this trend?
Easter started with snow this year. Luckily the sun soon came through and turned this Easter Sunday into the first real day of spring.
In Amsterdam people of all ages cycle. Last week we saw ladies with their babies on bikes, we have seen young kids cycling and trendy students. This week we show you chic cyclists with grey hair. Aren’t they stylish and fit? I guess cycling keeps you young!
Who doesn’t like a blonde on a bike? Nice flowing hair. Great upright posture. Can’t go wrong.
Beware of the ultimate art of keeping balanced on your fancy bike: riding a slippery and snow-layered surface, steering your bike with one hand, while carrying wooden planks on your shoulder (probably to build a sauna at home, or something: man is it cold these days in Amsterdam!!)
I’ve seen tons of adorable kids on or with their sleds these past few days and I keep thinking…where are they going? If you haven’t noticed, this city is really flat. Like really flat. Where are the hills for sledding?!
The cold and white feeling we missed for Xmas is in town since a week, Amsterdammers love it and keep on cycling very chic!
Now they have released a new bicycle interview, with Alexander Klopping (a tech freak and gadget expert, known from the popular tv show ‘De Wereld Draait Door‘) and Ernst-Jan Pfauth (a Dutch journalist and blogger, known best for his columns on technology in nrc.next).
We encourage you to join Alexander and Ernst Jan on their Sunday cycle through Amsterdam, to see how they met via Twitter, to hear them argue about the demise (or not) of traditional journalism, and to learn some cool Dutch cycling tricks.
The mission of ‘Cycling With…’
“Today’s cities face big problems: polluted air, obese citizens, and social exclusion. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: the bicycle. ‘Cycling With…’ believes that by sharing stories of inspiring people on bikes, we can encourage cities to take pro-cycling action. So we have embarked on a mission to film 100 ‘Cycling with… documentaries’. And to show the world how gloriously easy, fun and sexy a bike ride can be.”
If you want to help, please sign up for their newsletter now.
- Visit the ‘Cycling With…’ blog for more videos
Most people in Amsterdam are stylish: green parka for him, red lipstick for her. So it goes for these hipsters and they seem to be quite serious about their looks!
I guess some people are really happy with their Christmas presents! Look at her, she is reading her book on the back of a bike, I just had the time to read the title: “Congo“. Now I know which book I will ask next time I receive a present..
Meet ‘Miss fair fashion’ Marieke Eyskoot: her mission is to make fair fashion normal in the Netherlands. “For me fashion is a way to celebrate life. I love it! But it should also be nice for the people who make it. I can’t enjoy clothes that people made in terrible working conditions.” For many years people have asked Marieke where they can buy fair fashion, what to look out for when shopping, easy things they can do for a more ‘fair lifestyle’ and if a fair lifestyle isn’t too expensive? Those questions made Marieke decide to write the book ‘Talking Dress- Vertelt je alles over eerlijke kleding (en lifestyle)’ that was recently published.
‘Talking Dress’ is a guide –written in Dutch – to a fair lifestyle in the Netherlands and Belgium. The book shows you the way to your own fair fashion lifestyle. Ranging from shopping tips to DIY-tricks, from washing instructions to swapping ideas, from clothes to accessories, beauty products, food and even marriage: Talking Dress makes it easy (and fun!) to do good and look great at the same time.
We love Marieke’s book and know that she uses her bike every day, so we asked her for an interview. We met in the lovely fair lunchroom and boutique ‘Beter & Leuk’ on the Eerste Oosterparkstraat.
Marieke and her bike
“This interview is a tribute to my bike. I bought it second hand in 1996 for 100 guilders and I have cycled it daily through the streets of Amsterdam since then.” The frame is from 1967 and it is a classical black Gazelle Dutch bike. But after more than 40 years some essential parts can’t be repaired anymore. So Marieke has to get a new bike. The decision of which bike to get was an easy one; “A Roetz bike of course!” Roetz’ bikes are sustainable and fair bikes made in the Netherlands. (Read more about Roetz on our blog).
“I love to cycle and I use my bike every day, to go to my office, to meetings, to go out and to go for cycles in the weekend. I like to go fast on my bike. It is a great break every day to cycle in between the many meetings, phone calls and long hours behind a computer. The movement, the wind or sun and just being outside for a while make me feel relaxed. When I pass bridges I always slow down a bit, to enjoy the beautiful city and look at the water.”
“I can still clearly remember the moment I learned to cycle. I was with my father practising in the street where I grew up. I was cycling and he was running beside me, holding me. Suddenly I heard him quite far behind me shouting ‘I am not holding you anymore!’ and from that moment on, I could cycle on my own!”
- Order Marieke’s book ’Talking Dress’ (19,95 euros, free shipment in the Netherlands).
- Marieke co-organises MINT, the fair fashion section of international fashion tradeshow Modefabriek