Within just a few weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit two cities a part of which had undergone a stunning metamorphosis from run down and ugly to becoming the hottest place in town.
The first was Lausanne Flon and the second, last weekend, Amsterdam Noord.
I stayed in the Moevenpick Hotel Amsterdam next door to the Cruise Ship Terminal.
The hotel is an ideal starting point for a visit to Amsterdam Noor and the more famous and touristic center of town with its over 20 museums, canal trips and town houses.
The Dutch love bicycles, art in any form and certainly know how to have fun.
Amsterdam Noord is a lively example of this life style, combing the urban with creative art and modern architecture.
To get there, I took the ferry which departs from the bottom of Central Station and takes you across IJ harbor in two or three minutes.
The ferry is free and carries only bicycles and pedestrians, no cars. No seats either, you stand and watch the first landmark, A’DAM tower approach.
The building has an observation deck, a revolving restaurant and Europe’s highest side swing.
Just watching people on the swing, flying fearlessly over the edge made me dizzy.
Once on it though, it’s great fun, you enjoy the view and the frisson of excitement.
Next door is the NDSM building.
Once a wharf it now has a skating ring, cafes, restaurants and a lot more.
A few steps away you find the futuristic building of the EYE Film Institute.
It’s a museum dedicated to everything to do with film making and also features three open air screens.
I loved the EYE restaurant on the ground floor with a view across the harbor and as far as the Cruise Ship Terminal.
The food is very good, imaginative and nicely presented, although the service is a bit slow, but who cares.
I wasn’t very hungry, so I had a creamy fennel and sweet potato soup with five spices, coconut milk and roasted almond.
Very tasty and for €7.75 you get a big bowl which was quite enough for me.
The Durch are a coffee loving nation and the coffee I had to finish my meal was great.
Even the rest rooms are connected to film, because the lockers in front of the doors all carry pictures of film stars.
Amble further along, mix with the young crowd, on foot or riding bicycles, and head for the Pekmarket, a flee market with all kinds of beautiful trinkets which make nice gifts or souvenirs for yourself.
At night it gets even livelier with live music, discos, all night cafes and nightclubs.
No trace of Amsterdam Noord’s industrial past remains.
I visited as part of a press trip, invited by the Holland America Line.