church in square:
la defense (a planned business community and shopping center, conceived in the 60s and built over the past four decades):
notre dame de pentecôte (wholly different than the one I visited earlier in the day):
inside the other notre dame:
Beyond the neon red lights and the sweet smoke wafting from the coffee shops, I found a beautiful small city with magical row houses set upon canals and a people as open and friendly as one might hope. The last city on my itinerary, I was a bit tired but found my first bit of hope in a fellow traveler. Within minutes of checking in, I began talking to an Aussie who was also travelling through Europe for his first time. After ordering a bit of dinner from the hostel’s bar, we journeyed out across the city. The red light district was jarring. I’m accustomed to women soliciting on the street or on craigslist; yet, here prostitutes, perch in storefront windows as if some sort of candy. More disturbing was just how many storefronts had their lights on but the curtains drawn. Despite the tapping on the glass, we made our way across town to a bar where we sat, talked, amd watched people as the effects of the brownie I ate earlier began to kick in. Walking back we noticed swans swimming in the canals. This is my perspective:
My second night in Amsterdam I stopped at Paridiso to catch Cymbals Eat Guitars play a show. The venue wasn’t super-crowded and the fans seemed eager to listen to the music. Before and after, I stopped at a local bar and chatted with a bartender about life in Uganda vs. Amsterdam. A great conversation and one of the highlights of my trip. The Van Gogh museum was also pretty hip.
The openness and acceptance of the Dutch people is astounding. At times, they seemingly just look the other way, as with the sex tourists, while, as with me, sometimes they just greet with open arms. fantastic. Oh, and all the bikers and bike lanes just rock.
A church crowded between houses:
On Boxing day I fled the warmth of Uganda for the frigid civilization of Europe. In three weeks I traveled to London, Manchester, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. I stayed with a sister and a friend and met a few new ones at hostels along the way. Most of my time was spent eating copious amounts of food and darting in and out of museums. One can find the most pretentious in Paris and the best curated in Amsterdam, although I feel that the Tate Modern does indeed deserve an honorable mention. None compare to the collection of Pop Art and Impressionism at MOMA/NYC. I found myself drawn to the street art in Paris and Amsterdam, however. It shows how a city landscape can evolve. Sometimes the beautiful overtakes the ugly and just as often that beauty is marred.