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09 May 2006 @ 08:45 pm
Travel notes  

  • Bring good walking shoes.

  • Things are relatively findable by address in Amsterdam. It's tougher than Seattle, but easier than London (and far easier than anywhere in Japan).

  • Queen's Day feels more like Bumpershoot than Mardi Gras.

  • Don't take pictures of the prostitutes - it's just rude.

  • Rembrandt's paintings are much better in person. The old coot did some absurd things with the textures of the paint.

  • Try a Dutch Witbeer. With a lemon slice. And an implement of lemon-slice destruction.

  • Saving a little money by adding 12 hours to your travel time may, just barely, be worth it.

  • Go to the Pancake Bakery.

  • In Paris, things are broken by default. Ticket gates for trains are not designed for travellers with luggage. Lines are ridiculously long and the locals WILL cut in front of you. The water closet costs money. Inanimate objects will hit your head. Everybody seems to accept that everything is broken. In short, France hates you. Skip it.

  • Belgium didn't look bad, from the train.

  • Finding a Hot Dog on Friday wasn't a problem. It was the best hot dog I'd had in years. The Dutch know their munchies.

  • Sexy women's boots are plentiful in Amsterdam.

  • The Best Irish Coffee Evar includes a flambe step. This was after we had a round of lovingly-crafted Mojitos. Does anybody remember the name of that place?

  • We gave intentional, memorable bad-but-plausible translations of some streets. This helped our navigation, once we were able to think in terms of "War Moose", "Old Pig", and "Rad House".

  • For sleeping on the airplane, it's hard to beat a window seat. Wall to lean against = good.

  • If you love poking around "nifty" churches at all, find Our Lord in The Attic.

  • Do you know what they call a "Quarter Pounder" in Amsterdam?

  • High-quality fresh-squeezed orange juice is addictive.

  • Skip the Continental Breakfast. Stop by a bakery.

  • Some ATMs will only accept SmartCards. Most people don't take Visa.

  • Amsterdam can make you FEEL lost, even when you aren't.

  • Don't bring a pedometer. You REALLY don't want to know how much you will walk.

  • Just use English. Just about everybody in the Netherlands has better English than your Dutch.

  • A pocket notebook or even a pad of sticky notes for writing down things you stumble across can be invaluable for finding things later.

  • Argentinian Steakehouses. Yum.

  • I love the feeling of walking to everything. I miss that about University life.

  • Free wi-fi is only found in "coffeshops".

  • While I can see the good done by being so open about the sex trade, the Red Light District seemed full of the same facial expressions seen in mainstream porn - "Just another day at McDonalds."

  • Even Coke-cola tastes better outside the United States.

  • Bicycles have the right of way - except on Queen's Day.

  • You will get over the stink in a day or two.

  • Beer is cheap. Water is expensive. Drink more beer!

  • They were reworking the cobblestones of the sidewalk in front of our hotel. Pry up stone -- adjust sand beneath to level -- replace stone. This way the cobblestone is adaptable to situations that crack or warp sidewalk.

  • A pitcher of Red Bull and Vodka seems like a baaaad idea.

  • Our hotel had us leave our room key at the front desk whenever we left. This kept us from losing the key and (presumably) made it easier for them to coordinate housekeeping.

  • Amsterdam is full of old buildings with steep staircases.

  • The sex museum is decidedly underwhelming. I expected so much more.

  • Sure, stop in a coffeehouse and imbibe once or twice. Just don't waste the bulk of your European vacation like that.

  • We saw a building that looked Old, and screemed Architecture and History. We walked to it, and found a restaraun "In de Waag". No notes or signs about what De Waag was, so I had to look it up after we returned home.

Fireball of 3fireballof3 on May 10th, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC)
Did you eat in that restaurant? It looks hella cool (and hella 'spensive!)
While travelling Europe for 3 months I walked THROUGH a pair of relatively new boots. By the time I got home the soles were paper thin.
Travelling in Europe is made easier by the "giant backpack" action rather than luggage. That, and the giant backpack (so long as it's full) makes a convenient seat when needed.
Many of the things you mentioned here I knew, but would never remember to tell someone before they left for Europe - things like naming streets yourself helps you find things and that beer is better to drink than water and so on.
Stupendous Manfarmalloc on May 10th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC)
I have brewed a Wit beer. It is a great style.