Oosterdok Detour

By Elenna Garman


You’ve made it to Amsterdam’s Central Station in one piece; so now what?  Your instincts might tell you to follow the swarms of tourists heading towards the Damrak, the most commonly tread path that leads to the heart of the city.  But what if you threw caution to the wind, and chose instead to explore a less predictable side of Amsterdam?  You just might find yourself taking an immediate left (east) as you leave the station, embarking upon an interesting and unusual area of town know as Oosterdok. 


A great way to begin your sightseeing in Amsterdam is to stop by the fabulous and spacious new public library (http://www.oba.nl/).  This impressive structure opened July 2007, and is just a few minutes walk from the station.  Head to the 3rd floor to browse a selection of Amsterdam guide books and make a plan for your trip, and check your email for free between 10am and 10pm, 7 days a week.  Be sure to make a stop on the 7th floor for a snack at Le Place, the library cafeteria that offers tasty pizzas made to order, and a great view of the city skyline.  This new community space is a wonderful addition to the city of Amsterdam, for both tourists and residents. 


Don’t get too comfortable, as Nemo awaits (http://www.e-nemo.nl/)!  This distinctive green building houses the country’s science center, packed full of entertainment and education for the whole family.  For only 2 euros you gain entrance to the crazy roof-top deck which includes a free beverage of choice. 


Don’t forget to indulge your Pirates of the Caribbean fantasies (no, I’m not referring to Johnny Depp) aboard the VOC replica ship that is temporarily docked next to Nemo.  Take a trip back to the Golden Age of Amsterdam’s East Indes Trading Company, and explore this vessel that made long journeys across the Indian Ocean.  If your timing is right you can even observe a reenactment of the cannon loading and fire, on Wednesdays and Sundays.  Wander through the captain’s cabin, dining area, and the hold, filled with sustenance sufficient for 330 people over the course of 8 months.  Popular imports during this time included cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, mace, tea, and china. 


If you have an entire day to devote to this area of the city, wander a little further east and check out some contemporary and innovative Dutch architecture on the island area known as Oostelijk Havengebied, constructed in the late 1990s (http://www.oostelijkhavengebied.nl/).  This area of Amsterdam feels so new compared to the historical city center, and is an interesting visual treat.  On your way back towards the city, stop in for a bite to eat at Jamie Oliver’s famous restaurant Fifteen (http://www.fifteen.nl/ ).  If you still have energy after this busy day, you deserve to be congratulated! Treat yourself to a night of dancing at one of the areas hot spots; spacious and fun Panama night club (http://www.panama.nl/home.php ), or the elevated and trendy Club 11 (http://www.ilove11.nl/?/site ).  You will be sure to fall asleep knowing that you took the sightseeing road less traveled.