A’DAM Toren Amsterdam: Icon under construction

Every city has an iconic landmark. Berlin’s Brandenburger Tor, Paris’s Eiffel Tower or Rome’s Coliseum are all beautiful and recognizable, but these days they mostly serve as backdrops for the requisite tourist selfie. They’re also somewhat cut off from the real life of a city.

As urban dwellers, our participation in the life of these iconic structures is limited. We can’t really know them intimately—run our hands over their bones, poke around in their guts, or watch them grow. What would it have been like to see them as they were being built?

Short of traveling back in time, that’s not really possible. Or is it?

A'DAM Toren Amsterdam The Making of a Landmark

This is why I couldn’t miss out on a very special Instameet organized by the IGersAmsterdam community. To mark Dag van De Bouw (National Construction Day) on June 13, IGersAmsterdam offered 20 local Instagrammers access to the construction site of A’DAM Toren Amsterdam, the city’s newest landmark.

Rising 22 stories high, A’DAM Toren Amsterdam was the former headquarters of Shell, located along the IJ river across Amsterdam Central Station. When Shell moved to their new headquarters, the building designed by architect Arthur Staal—known as Toren Overhoeks, or ‘Diagonal Tower’, for its 45-degree angle to the river—was open for redevelopment.

Concepts were bidded out, and the choice was made: to make the tower into a creative hub, and to finally build the iconic observation deck that Amsterdam never had. Born of a four-way partnership among creative individuals, the vision was brought to life by architects Claus & Van Wageningen. Renovation of the tower began in July 2014 and is scheduled for completion in April 2016.

A'DAM Toren Amsterdam under construction elevator

The plans for A’DAM Toren sound amazing. The tower’s main draw and crowning glory, quite literally, is called The Crown. Sitting on top of the tower, this structure will contain the Lookout: a diagonal viewing deck on the 2oth and 21st floors, with a 360-degree panorama of Amsterdam.

A'DAM Toren Amsterdam observation deck view from The Crown

There is nothing like this in Amsterdam. You can see clear across the city to Schiphol airport, even on a characteristically cloudy day. For convenience, nothing beats the accessibility to Central Station which is a five-minute (free!) ferry ride away.

The Crown took nine months to develop and a mindblowing three days to install. Three days! That’s first world construction for you.

A'DAM Toren Amsterdam shooting view of Central Station

What was fantastic about this Instameet was that we got to climb even higher than the Lookout—right up on the rooftop of the A’DAM Toren itself, which isn’t open to the general public, not even for National Construction Day.

The Lookout will also contain a bar and restaurant on the 20th floor, a revolving restaurant on the 19th floor, and…. a giant swing on the very edge of the roof. Say whaaat?! I have a mild-to-moderate fear of heights, but I. Cannot. Wait.

A'DAM Toren Amsterdam windblown hair

What’s better than going to a super cool, limited-access location? Going there with a bunch of fun, friendly and talented photographers! No need for selfies here—it was so easy to just make friends and hand them my camera or phone. I think the last time I had so many nice pictures taken of myself was at my wedding.

A'DAM Toren Amsterdam Instagrammers on roof

In the company of fellow ‘grammers, nobody twice about lying down on steel beams or taking a picture of your feet dangling off the side of the building. Who says its lonely at the top?

But wait, there’s more to A’DAM Toren Amsterdam than the view. Come and see, after the jump.

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Instagramsterdam: November

In these pictures, Amsterdam looks so still and peaceful, doesn’t it? November is when the city starts to calm down. The summer crowds and the last bargain-hunting travelers from shoulder season have left, leaving the city pristine and quiet.

It is for this reason that I’ve begun to love November. We’ve had a beautiful one this year, with a surprising bounty of the crisp sunny days that show off this city’s beauty.

Instagram Amsterdam November 2014

I usually hate going to the city center, particularly the touristic parts around the Red Light District. These areas are dirty, seedy, crowded, don’t reflect the real Amsterdam, and have nothing to do with my own life as a resident of this city, so I avoid it whenever I can.

But surprise, surprise! November has made me rediscover the city center all over again. All but one of my favorite Instagram pics this month were taken in exactly the areas that I hate so much. Heading into winter, the city center sheds some of its touristic grime, revealing the true beauty of some of Amsterdam’s oldest and most historic parts.

Amsterdam’s cycling lifestyle has helped me appreciate this city and this season so much more. I’ve found true pleasure in pulling my bike off the road, parking it for a few minutes and soaking it all up. You can’t do that when you’re stuck in a subway or in a car in a traffic jam! Those few minutes can simply transform the morning rush.

What have you been posting on Instagram this November?

Instagramsterdam is a blog series rounding up my favorite Instagram posts about Amsterdam every month. For me, it’s a way to appreciate the little things I enjoy about living in Amsterdam, and to embrace my adopted city a little bit more.

If you haven’t yet, come FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM

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Instagramsterdam: October

Instagram Amsterdam October fall

What I will remember about October:

Long walks in Westerpark with Tala in the crisp air and changing colors of fall.

A turning point in my career—taking on new jobs from local clients that kept me busy the whole month, making little breaks such as coffee with a friend even sweeter.

The gloom of misty mornings and rainy days pushed away by sudden bursts of sunshine and blue skies.

Turning 33, of course.

Did I mention those fall colors? They’re worth mentioning again.

November means longer nights, cozy cuddles on the couch, and buckling up for the arrival of winter. But for now, let me enjoy these fall pleasures while they last.

Instagramsterdam is a blog series rounding up my favorite Instagram posts about Amsterdam every month. For me, it’s a way to appreciate the little things I enjoy about living in Amsterdam, and to embrace my adopted city a little bit more.

If you haven’t yet, come FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM

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Instagramsterdam: September

Wait, what? September’s over already???

Instagramsterdam September 2014

Seems like I wasn’t here for much of September, no? Here meaning both Amsterdam and the blog.

After Tuscany I took an unintended blog break to get life back on track. I worked a lot on my career and it really paid off. I got my second Dutch client… and it’s a big one. (I popped open a bottle of Heineken to celebrate, wink wink!) Right now I’m working my butt off to make sure that they’ll want a repeat performance from me. Ah, the life of a freelancer. Wish me luck!

There’s so much about Tuscany that I still want to share. At the same time, I have a backlog of posts about life here at home that’s growing longer and longer as well. Life is pulling me offline, and I’m so glad you don’t hate me for it.

Glimpses of daily life in Amsterdam continue on Instagram. This week, you can get a double dose of me as I’m on Day 3 of my takeover of the @sisterMAG Instagram feed. It’s been a lot of fun and a bit challenging too, thinking for a different audience.

I’ll be back soon with my little (blog) hoard of Tuscan treasures. See you in a bit!

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Instagramsterdam: July

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m on Instagram a lot. Rather than feel like I have to catch up on so much blogging backlog, I love posting quick updates on Instagram.

Instagramsterdam is a new blog series rounding up my favorite Instagram posts of the month about  Amsterdam. For me, it’s a way to appreciate the little things I enjoy about living in Amsterdam, and to embrace my adopted city a little bit more.

For you, it’s a way to see glimpses of daily life in Amsterdam—hopefully, to get to know the city the way I know it, and see that it’s so much more than the tired stereotype of weed and wooden shoes. I also want to introduce you to some of my favorite Instagrammers from Amsterdam and beyond.

Instagramsterdam July 2014-8

I didn’t spend much of July in Amsterdam, but there were some beautiful moments nevertheless.

July was all about blue skies and fluffy clouds, a rarity in this land of overcast and gray; yummy, summery meals at the Neighbourfood Market; stolen moments to lie in the grass and read a few pages of a new book; rediscovering the city on my new bicycle (it’s that orange one in the foreground!); finding a new place to work on the water; and simply enjoying being home after a long trip.

Now August begins, the last month of this wonderful summer we’re having. Let’s make the most of it.

P.S. If you haven’t yet, come follow me on Instagram!

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