Destination: Amsterdam

Koolhaas on Museums and Their Impact on Cities

Rem Koolhaas sat for an intriguing interview with Artforum that touches on museums’ influence on their communities. Here he is talking about the current state of Amsterdam and its big museums:

But Amsterdam is now a really interesting case, because it’s kind of a reverse Bilbao. They’ve closed two of Amsterdam’s major museums for eight years—the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum—both to be enlarged and “prepared for the twenty-first century.” The Van Gogh Museum has remained open, and recently the Hermitage opened a very successful satellite, but the effects of those two closures on the city are devastating. It’s lost its mission and its culture, and the absence really made the entire city suffer. The whole artists’ “scene” withered, because there were no major outlets you could hope to show in, nor outlets for systematic inspiration or interaction with significant art. In fact, it’s a very serious political issue: Simply the closure of two museums has diminished the status of the city internationally in a way that has many people dismayed and pessimistic about whether it might ever recover. So in some cases, you wonder whether “Bilbao” might actually be a necessity. It’s certainly legitimate for cities that aren’t “major” and have no “major” histories to try to use architecture to enhance their reputation, but when it’s being applied to the self-image of major cities like Rome and Moscow, it becomes counterproductive. It’s as if these cities are losing their confidence and self-respect.

(Via Coudal)


Happily Adrift in Airworld

On his love for the places so many hate, from Amsterdam's Schiphol to Doha International

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The Worst Hotel in the World

Frank Bures reflects on the hotels we love to hate -- and the book celebrating one of them

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Travel Song of the Day: ‘Amsterdam’ by Jacques Brel


The Virtue of European Tolerance

Exploring Europe, exploring travel as a political act

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Travel Song of the Day: ‘Amsterdam’ by Peter Bjorn and John


Parking Fees Around the World

The Economist has a great chart on parking fees around the globe. Among the highlights from its report: “European cities have some of the highest daily parking rates, with Amsterdam and London coming out on top. Tokyo is the most expensive place to leave your car outside Europe.”

Cheap travel tip: You’ll find great rates in Chennai, India. Um, road trip!

(Via the Idea of the Day blog)


What’s Become of the World’s Red-Light Districts?

red-light district Photo by FaceMePLS, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by FaceMePLS, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Wallpaper slideshow looks at how red-light districts in Amsterdam, Singapore, Sydney and seven other major world cities have been cleaned up. Or, as the story’s intro describes the transformation of Times Square in New York City, how they’ve reacted after after being given an “urban colonic.”


My Worst Hotel Rooms

My Worst Hotel Rooms Photo by Pear Biter via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Pear Biter via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Lists are in the air lately, so I decided to get in on the action. Herewith, my four worst hotel rooms, lifetime. I won’t name names, because I’m a gentleman. And also, because the parties in question might hunt me down and throw tiny bottles of shampoo at me.

Singapore: I was at the edge of Singapore’s Chinatown, which, as it turns out, is also the edge of Singapore’s red light district. Not that I caught on—I thought all the scantily-clad women peering out from cracked front doors were zealous about saving the environment and keeping that AC indoors. My hotel room here was easily the darkest I’ve ever stayed in: a deep red and purple color scheme lit by one dirty window overlooking an airshaft. The only outlet was in the middle of the wall above the bed. 

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Looking Back at the Bed-In

This week marks the 40th anniversary of John and Yoko’s first bed-in, at the Amsterdam Hilton. The couple spent their honeymoon, from March 26 to 31, 1969, inviting the press to visit them in their hotel room, where they sat in bed and talked peace. (A second, more famous bed-in took place in Montreal in May of ’69 and resulted in the recording of “Give Peace a Chance.”)

If you happen to be in Amsterdam this weekend, check out a few ongoing commemorative events there, or—for a virtual commemoration—head over to Yoko Ono’s ImaginePeace.com for photos, video and reminiscences. You can also follow Yoko on Twitter; she’s had the anniversary on her mind. Yesterday she wrote: “I never liked ringing the service bell because it often made me realize that there was nobody at the other end.”


Five Great Pod Hotels

Five Great Pod Hotels Photo courtesy of The Pod Hotel

Travelers can save big bucks at pocket-sized pod hotels. Jennifer Plum Auvil offers her top picks.

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Best Cities to Drink Coffee

coffee cafe REUTERS

Terry Ward takes a look at seven of the best cities in the world to sit and sip

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Morning Links: Venice Cokes Up, an Epic (Paper) Plane Video and More

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Amsterdam Cracks Down on ‘Cannabis Cafés’

Amsterdam Cracks Down on ‘Cannabis Cafés’ Photo by shelleylyn via Flickr (Creative Commons).


Photo by shelleylyn via Flickr (Creative Commons).

While we’ve covered the growing conservative tide in this notoriously liberal town, it now seems that mood has yielded the decision to close nearly one-fifth of Amsterdam’s marijuana-selling coffee shops—specifically those deemed too close to city schools. The decision has—not surprisingly—stirred controversy. “We don’t think it’s very useful,” said one school principal. “Children will get their drugs if they want to anyway.”


All the Flowers in Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal Photo by Neil Rickards via Flickr, (Creative Commons)

Friday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Lynne Friedmann recalls a visit to a Dutch flower market when it seemed the whole world was grieving.

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