Sep. 7th, 2012 05:56 pm
skew_whiff: (raising hell)

I am so elated I could honestly almost cry.

It is not because the internet service provider I signed up with made with the goods at last, mind you, but because after waiting all morning for a phone engineer that never came, I finally cracked, and have now struck a deal with the guy living next door to me that I'll use his wireless and pay half the share.

I really should've done that a month ago and saved myself the bother, and I don't look forward to the rigmarole of calling TalkTalk's appalling call centre and cancelling the whole shebang, but FUCK IT I AM BACK. GOD, INTERNET, I HAVE MISSED YOU.

Anyway. Amsterdam, for the record, was amazing - rather expensive, much more so than Berlin, so I had to tread carefully - but exactly what I needed, a relaxing stay in a beautiful city in which, for once, nothing went wrong. (Asides from occasionally getting confused by the barriers on the trams and missing my stop.)

I spent a lot of time just wandering around admiring the architecture and being amused by tourists - like the bunch of Germans who startled me on the train by barking 'Fahrkarte bitte' at me as they entered my compartment (I only wish I had enough German to have told them they were reminding me something out of The Great Escape; they were amused that I knew enough just to get all flustered and actually start reaching for my ticket), and the weird American guy who came into the cafe where I was eating breakfast to ask where he could go to buy a joint. I mean, jeez, bro, at least wait until after lunch.

I saw several museums, including the excellent Verzetsmuseum, which is about the experience of the Netherlands and its people during WWII - the stuff about the war in Europe and the Dutch resistance was fascinating, but what I was really impressed by was the little sub-exhibit about Dutch-occupied Indonesia during the Pacific war; it's a subject on which I know precious little, and I was particularly struck by the awkwardness of the situation in which mixed-race Dutch-Indonesians found themselves in after the war, not necessarily welcome in their home country or in the Netherlands.

I also ate exceedingly well, and came home with a bag stuffed full of cakes and Dutch gin. Including a packet of these biscuits, which made me burst out into entirely inappropriate laughter in the shop. It's not the name so much as the name with the exclamation mark afterwards - it just seems so incongruously jolly.

Talking of BoB, Webster was entirely right in that the Dutch do all speak English (and wrong about Van Gogh being born in Nuenen; he lived there, but not as a child), to the point that the signs in Schiphol airport actually have the English words for things first, above the Dutch ones. It's really easy to come by English-language books and newspapers, I passed an event where the University of Amsterdam were holding free outdoor lectures in English, I went to see a film which was in English with Dutch subtitles (and watched Top Gear on BBC2 in my hotel room)... it's a little odd, but certainly convenient.

So, yeah. It was amazing, and I recommend it to anyone. You do have to keep a keen eye out to avoid being run over by bicycles, but asides from that, it's a wonderful city - prettier than Paris, friendlier than London, good food is in abundance and it's easy to get around. I could honestly see myself living there one day.

But in the meantime - it's good to be home. Have I missed much?
skew_whiff: (raising hell)
So, I'm back. Been back since Friday, and returning to work has made me really appreciate how much I needed the break - I won't call it a rest, since most days I walked so far that my feet felt like numb hooves by about five in the afternoon, but a change of scene and pace was fantastic, and I really enjoyed myself.

Berlin is a beautiful city, for the record. It's cleaner and calmer than London and Paris, and the city centre is dotted with breathtaking architecture from a variety of time periods. It's the perfect place for a fan of 20th-century history, because there's so much of significance, and the city's tourism trades pretty heavily on the legacy of the Cold War and the Wall. Beer is cheap, the urban rail system is speedy and convenient, there are countless excellent museums on all sorts of subjects, and you are never more than about 100m from a branch of Dunkin' Donuts. Which I found mildly confusing until I remembered, of course, Germans love coffee and baked goods. (And who can blame 'em?)

So, yeah, I loved it, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

That's the short version. I pondered various ways to write it up in more detail, and in the end, I think the simplest way is to write up the sort-of diary of notes I kept while I was there, written down pretty much as they came to mind - with links, photographs, and more extensive explanations, because otherwise it wouldn't make much sense.

Read more... )
skew_whiff: (raising hell)
Caught the train back to my parents' house today. The journey was fairly smooth and the train stations less busy than I was expecting, though the combo of an early start, a long walk to the station and no caffeine did cause me to have a nap of Odinsleep-like proportions after lunch.

Still, I'm awake now, and looking forward to a well-deserved break. I'm down here in the sticks over the weekend, and then off to Berlin on Monday. If you'd like a postcard, now's the time to say so - if I sent you a card at Christmas, I'll already have your address; otherwise, PM me with your info. No doubt I'll probably be back by the time the cards actually arrive, but it's the thought that counts, right?

In the meantime, it's April already and I've only finished one fic in this entire year, so I'm intending to get seriously stuck into some writing this weekend. With that in mind, prompt me!

It's been forever since I did a ficlet post, but you know the drill - give me a fandom and/or some characters, and some kind of starting point, and I'll do the rest. Any genre, any rating, any 'verse. Fandoms: Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Changi, M*A*S*H, Captain America, Horrible Histories (actually, cracky historical RPF in general), anything else you can talk me into.


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