A whirlwind tour of Amsterdam and Berlin

By | February 4, 2011

Once again, I didn’t give myself nearly enough time to get to know, understand, and enjoy Amsterdam or Berlin. I should have spent at least one week in each. Instead, I was left knowing the thin shells of the cities. Fortunately, I was able to explore Amsterdam with Steve and Matt, both of whom I met in the Paris hostel. As for photos, there was never any sun to be seen, just an overcast, gray sky. With skies like that, black and white seems to capture the view the best. I tried to manage the best I could with color, though..
What I got from Amsterdam is that it is a major tourist destination, something like the Las Vegas of Europe, and it seems that a decent chunk of its economy is entirely based on tourism. Many of the Mexican towns that I visited were also tourist towns, and were suffering immensely. The Dutch seem to have been able to create a good balance between tourism and the rest of the economy, as even though it is now winter and not the peak of the season, and the economy is surely suffering some in Europe, everything is still running like a well-oiled machine, unlike Mexico.
Berlin is just massive—entirely too massive to spend only 2 days here. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to meet anyone at the hostel with which to sight-see. I did meet some nice people, but there is a massive bar & club scene and everyone I met was really into it. It’s can be a lot of fun, but there’s a tendency to party until the wee hours of the morning, sleep-in halfway through the day, and then repeat. Being winter here, that doesn’t leave much, if any, daylight to enjoy the city. I found myself touring the city by myself, but really enjoyed it. I didn’t even visit any museums, just wandered around for 2 days, and still had tons left to see.
Probably the single-most impressive aspect of Berlin to me was the Berlin Wall. I remember as a kid watching the live t.v. broadcasts of the fall of the Wall. In history class as well, we learned about its collapse, but the depth of its impact didn’t really sink in until I came here. The construction of it more-or-less arbitrarily divided the city and country for nearly 30 years. Coming from the U.S., it’s really hard to imagine how something like that could happen.
My next stop is Prague. Once again, I’ve only allowed myself 2 days to explore this Bohemian city. I’m sure it won’t be enough time.