Wednesday, June 15, 2011

overall impressions

My plan is to regale bore you all with a day-by-day account of my two-week journey. And I will do that... as soon as I have pictures. 

You see, shortly before the trip I bought a fancy (well, fancier than my old one) new camera for the trip. I had it fully charged before going, and that one charge lasted me 5full days of use. Unfortunately, when the battery died I soon learned that the "universal" USB plug adapter I brought would not charge my camera. Very disappointing. All was not lost, though, as my friend Franklin - an awesome amateur photographer with a very (for real) fancy camera - agreed to share with me his pictures of the time we were together. So of my 14day trip, I will only not have pictures of about 4days. All in all not bad. Anyway, I gave Franklin my memory disk, so he's loading up pictures and will be mailing it all back to me shortly.

Independent of that hiccup, here are my overall impressions of each city:

Edinburgh: Fantastic, old-world vibe. Upon first driving through town on the bus you realize that this is a modern city with all manner of convenience, but it just feels historical, you know? Stone everywhere. What I consider to be distinctly British (er, should I say Scottish?) architecture. And just the past. The city is divided into 2main sections: Old Town and New Town. New here is relative as this part of the city was built in the 1700s. It's a great city to visit because you can basically walk everywhere, which I did. A bus-ride in and a train-ride out. Otherwise, all on foot. And if you like history*, a great place to go. Also, if you're entering a restaurant, just sit down at an open table (this applies to England and The Netherlands as well)... Standing there waiting to be seated makes you look like a tool. Whoops.

Likes: Edinburgh Castle; Scottish accents; history
Dislikes: Princes closing palaces (more on that later)

London: Everyone I know that has gone to London has loved it. I now get it. Part of me thinks it would be great to live there - temporarily. And you know what? I don't have a job, so I may look into that (don't take me too seriously, but I may). London has this great combination of history while being a vibrant city with all sorts of attractions. What struck me the most was that this city - whether planned or not - is a excellent example of making a large city seem small and manageable. Add to that all of the parks, and it's just great. Some of my favorite times were just taking a book to read out in Hyde or Greenwich Parks. I felt like a local. The public transportation system is great, making getting around a breeze. And it's close enough to other cities that I was able to see a bit of the English country (e.g., Bath, Oxford, Eton) as well.

Likes: The old stuff; the tube; the "vibe"
Dislikes: The prices

Amsterdam: I didn't know too much about Amsterdam going in (I was planned out by that point). My overall impression though is: EH. There's of course some cool stuff there, and yeah, it has that whole "history" thing I raved about above, but... it just didn't do it for me. Maybe because it was at the end of my trip and I was burned out, but it just wasn't that exciting. And there were too many people. It felt a little claustrophobic.

Likes: Anne Frank House; canals; architecture
Dislikes: Number of people; tacky, "boardwalk" feel in some areas

And that's all I have for now. Pictures to come!

*Side note: I'm fascinated by history. I once considered getting a second master's degree in history. Not that that would make me any more marketable right now - another "academic" degree - but the stuff is enthralling.


  1. History was always a possibility for me, right after Theatre and English Lit. I compromise by reading historical fiction and watching costume dramas in film and on TV. But nothing beats actually walking around in historical venues, realizing this or that event happened ON THIS SPOT xhundred years ago--way too cool.

  2. I can't believe your camera battery only lasted 5 days! What a bummer, but that is awesome that your friend took pictures. It sounds like you had a fun trip, I can't wait to see pictures. Also, I find it strange/funny to had "Likes" and "Anne Frank" in the same sentence, haha.

  3. London was really fun (I spent about 4 days there I think), but sooo expensive. By that point in the trip we were poor and used to doing things the cheap way, but it's hard to do many things cheaply in London. Especially lodging. But that would be really fun to live there! I'd come visit.