November 11th, 2010


(no subject)

Greetings from Cologne, where (unexpectedly) it's Carnival day for 11/11; throngs of people in costume were out in the streets, drinking and generally being merry. (Until it started raining, at least.)

I feel several million times better after getting the hell out of the UK. Packing up went without too many hitches. I took the overnight ferry from London to Amsterdam; I was expecting a large-ish boat, but this thing was a small cruise liner, with a couple of restaurants, a mini casino, etc. Also, unlike my apartment, my room had hot water. (Three weeks after telling them about the boiler going kaput, there's still no sign of them replacing it. I figure that's probably sufficient cause to break the lease legally. If not, they can eat a big bag of dicks.)

Amsterdam was quite nice. I really enjoyed the Van Gogh museum; the non-Van Gogh artwork they exhibited fit in quite nicely with the rest of the aesthetic. The basement exhibition of quasi trompe l'oueil was kinda meh, but everything else was quite nice; I'd gladly go back. The red light district wasn't quite what I expected; it's a bit more spread out than I figured it would be. It was also quite interesting to see who they had on display for Saturday night (their prime hookers, I guess) as compared to Sunday night (their third or fourth stringers, looked like.) Had some quite nice Sichuan food at the somewhat-oddly named "Mandarin Sichuan restaurant", where little Mandarin-ness was present. Not in the red light district, but in the Canal Ring, I found 't Arendsnest: a bar that specializes in beer from the Netherlands, with around 30 of them on tap, and around 200 in bottles. (They go as far as to list which Netherlands beers they do not have, due to limited production or the like.) Failed to eat rijsttafel, as pretty much everywhere required at least two people, as well as requiring reservations. Oh well.

From Amsterdam, I went to Duesseldorf. The modern art museum K21 wasn't bad. Walking around old town was OK, but nothing really to write home about. The best part was probably going to the various brauhausen and trying each place's version of altbier: they give you a 200mL glass of beer, and keep on bringing you more until you stop them. I can't say I was feeling the gemütlichkeit, though; the people weren't overly friendly or welcoming (although someone on the street did graciously ask me if I was lost, after seeing me stare at my map in the rain.) Supposedly the city is arty and full of nightlife and whatnot, but I didn't really see it. Also, nobody serves lunch until noon, which is rather annoying.

Yesterday brought me to Cologne. Why Köln? Three main reasons: it's a decently large city (about a million people), it's a big train hub (with a direct train to Paris, my next destination), and I wanted to try some of the Kölsch beer in its native habitat. They also do the "bring beer 'til you stop" thing. There don't seem to be terribly many tourist attractions here - but that's OK, as my feet welcome the (relative) break. Tomorrow I'll probably go wander around the student area a bit more, and perhaps go to one of the spas here - and then in the evening, take the Thalys train for Paris.

All in all, even with my feet utterly killing me and not being able to speak the language, I'm really quite enjoying myself; that I've eaten better in the past week than I had in the nine months in London doesn't hurt, either.
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