Impressions

This morning, I woke up in Amsterdam. Currently, I’m writing from London. Europe is so small that you can be somewhere completely different in a few hours, and still feel completely natural about it.

Our final full day in Amsterdam was spent wandering around once again, doing what I do best. It was another day of such blessed weather that we just wanted to keep walking and walking. It didn’t matter where we went, everywhere was just as nice. Since the previous day we had walked around the Jordaan neighbourhood, this time we went around the Amstel area.

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At Rembrandtplein, there were a bunch of people enjoying the same sunshine as us!

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I absolutely adore Amsterdam. It’s modern, it’s multicultural, and everyone speaks English. Well, it seems like everyone at least understands English in most places around Europe (except France), but in Amsterdam, I’m pretty sure we’ve encountered the highest number of actual English-speaking people.

The only thing is that unlike Frankfurt, Amsterdam does not have a skyline. As a semi-city girl from the outskirts of Vancouver, it always seems like there’s something missing if there’s no skyscrapers… but aside from that, Amsterdam really is beautiful. I just couldn’t get enough of it. And it’s definitely worth another visit sometime in the future!

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So moving on, I finally experienced my first short-distance inter-Europe flight this morning, when we flew to London Heathrow from Schiphol. Walking through the intercontinental departure hall was really something different. We walked past so many pilots and air stewardesses – way more than in any of the other airports I’ve been in. Also, everybody has a small carry-on sized luggage, as opposed to large full-sized suitcases. You can tell that most of these people are here for business rather than vacation.

Before even landing in London, I could already tell that London is really something. The aerial view from the plane lets you see how massive of a city this place is. It just spreads and spreads…. and not to mention, our plane reached London quite early, but because of all the air traffic at LHR, we had to stay in the air for half an hour before we could land. While we were still taxing to our gate, I was able to spot five(!) other planes in the air, all waiting to land… and there were probably more than I didn’t catch with my naked eye too.

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Then, we land, and get to the border. We actually have to pass through customs, unlike the rest of the European Union, where all their borders were just open. And it’s not just a stamp, either… the English are serious about their security! So, my first impression of this country is that it really strives to make a statement. They drive on the left when the rest of the continent drives on the right. They use a different currency, different outlets, different conventions. They definitely do not want to be part of the ‘norm’, whatever that may be.

Then, after a day spent in this city, my next thought is an exclamation at how much Hong Kong resembles London. Of course, I know Hong Kong was an English colony, and a lot of their conventions are therefore taken from the UK. But I’m not talking about just the driving or the outlets. Look at the bus stops, road signage, even subway announcements on the Tube that say “please mind the gap between the train and the platform”, which is word-for-word with the MTR announcements. I used to think that Hong Kong was very distinctive because of these features, and now I realize they’re just copied.

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So as for my travels, we did the things a normal tourist would do. We went up to the Sky Garden, and took a few pictures. From there, we walked over to the Tower of London/Tower Bridge, and took a few more pictures.

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We couldn’t let it stop there! So we went up the London Eye for yet more pictures. I was actually expecting a huge line for the London Eye, but it wasn’t bad at all! We probably lined up for half an hour at most. Plus with the nice weather out, it was a much more pleasant experience compared to our queue in Paris.

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Just like the Seine in Paris and the Main River in Frankfurt, London has River Thames running through the middle of the city. It’s amazing how these cities all have their similarities, and yet are all vastly different in terms of architecture, style, and culture.

Three more days in London… we’ll see what else I can uncover about this city!

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