Friday, January 31. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Initial impressions of this place:
Although the Rotterdam and Amsterdam are only an hour train ride away, the vibe is very different here in terms of:
1. Architecture. Both cities have beautiful architecture. However, whereas Rotterdam is home to modern, geometrically interesting buildings, Amsterdam's structures are coloured with history - even simple buildings, like apartment buildings or shops are full of character. At the same time, because many of the roads are similarly structured: tall narrow houses surrounding a canal, it's much more difficult for a directionally challenged individual like myself to find their way around Amsterdam than a Rotterdam.
2. Tourism. Souvenir shops, photo-ops with oversized clogs, and giant cheese stores line the streets of the busier downtown streets. Rotterdam, on the other hand, with its bi-weekly market and many art galleries, also has its fair share of attractions, but without the same touristy feel. In many ways, I actually prefer Rotterdam, as I feel like less of a tourist and can more easily call it home.
3. City bustle. In Rotterdam, most shops close at 6PM (save for Fridays). Once the shops close their doors, the city becomes very empty. Sometimes, when walking home with friends after a late night, the city streets kind of remind me of the setting in a post-apocalyptic zombie film... without the overturned cars, blood-stained streets, and, well, the zombies. What I'm trying to say in this poorly thought out comparison is that it's very quiet here after shops close. Meanwhile, Amsterdam is very much awake even after the stores close. But, again, this is likely a function of its more touristy nature.
However, in the analysis that has been compiled thus far, after a solid three hours in the city, I did identify a constant:
These are the bikes parked at Amsterdam Centraal station.
There are a lot of them.