Thursday, February 08, 2007

London Wrap Up

Well, I finally made it back to balmy San Francisco. I never realized how warm a winter can be here till spending a few weeks in London. What an ice box. Here is a link to the whole mess of photos I published. Sorry for the lack of order but I really wanted to get them up and announce the pages.

London. What an amazing town. So much history and so beautiful. Great food. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. So much to see and do. If I were to recommend a few things to visitors I would say that you have to go to the Tate Modern, get a great meal at Chimes in Pimlico and bring your walking shoes for taking several days and exploring.

Amsterdam Weekend

With the extra time that I’ve had with this UK trip, I decided to take advantage of the cheap flights to mainland Europe and booked myself a weekend in Amsterdam. I’ve never been there but remember hearing two different stories from people that have visited. In high school, it was tales of “cafes” with menus of dozens of different types of marijuana and windows in the red light district with semi-clad women selling sex.

More recently, people tell me about the beauty of the canals, architecture, food and museums. I decided I should check it all out and see for myself. The flight itself is just over an hour from London and reminded me of how easily I can get to LA from San Francisco (but at about twice the price). I’ve read about how easy it is to get around speaking English and it is true. The strange thing for me was how similar Dutch is to English in terms of the cadence, gestures and intonation. It was as if everyone were speaking English but with different words. Very odd. And then when someone spoke to me in Dutch I responded in Spanish. I’m not sure what happens in my brain but it seems like when I hear a language I don’t understand, I instinctively respond in Spanish. It really didn’t help any.

I landed Saturday morning and headed off on a 8 hour walk around the city. The tiny streets of the old central city are lined with canals and tall 3 to4 story builds. It is difficult to keep your bearings without being able to keep on eye on the sun. As I walked farther out towards the zoo and main parks, it seemed the streets widened and straightened out.

A co-worked arrived at about 8 PM and we headed to the sordid red old town to check out the cafes and famous attractions. I left Sunday around sunset and I’m not sure what to think. I’m guessing that I ended up in the tourist part of town, seeing all those tourist things, the city itself had some amazing sites, buildings, but for some reason it left me feeling unsatisfied. Maybe in Spring, with the flowers in bloom, maybe getting into the countryside more…