Amsterdam and Paris: Walking Cities
Before I left for this trip, I had mentioned that Terrence and I knew that walking was going to make up the bulk of our exercise efforts while abroad. Well, OH HOLY NIGHT, it sure was. We walked our socks off. We walked everywhere we went except for a few tram rides in Amsterdam and two Metro rides in Paris.
What we noticed about both cities, was that one sees so much more and takes more in when walking. (although, at some points, after walking all day- I thought if I took any more 'in' my brain would explode)
We started out in Amsterdam and were just thrilled with the old world charm of the city. We walked up and down the 9 streets, (a vintagey shopping area), through Dam square, over by the Pijp, (a more local hangout for University students) through the street markets, all over the museum district, through all of the museums, out around Leidseplein where most of the nightlife is situated, and then around our hotel which was in the southern part of the city.
Again and again we were charmed by the buldings, shops and houses, all huddled together and lined up along the canals. Like a family, they all resembled each other, but yet were slightly different. A friend of ours, Michael, that we met in Amsterdam, explained that the tops of the buildings were all different, because historically the different shapes of the housetops served as 'addresses' for the mailman. Which may or may not be true, but we liked the story very much.
That said, we had the opportunity to meet some amazing, friendly , interesting new friends and make plans to see each other again. While also enjoying some exceptionally healthy food and getting in some great exercise.
While we did all of this walking in freezing temperatures (LITERALLY- 0 degrees Celsius) the locals were much braver by biking nearly everywhere. Indeed, there are MANY more bicycles than cars in Amsterdam and one is hard pressed to find someone who is overweight. (Imagine that)
Paris, a 3 hour train ride from Amsterdam, was everything everyone always says about it- and better. We met with no rudeness, instead all of the French we encountered were extremely friendly and we were able to dispose of our limited French because EVERYONE SPOKE ENGLISH. (In Amsterdam, too. Everyone seems to be FLUENT in Holland)
We wished we could have visited both cities in Spring or Summer in order to better see all that they had to offer, and especially to spend hours wandering around the streets of Paris (which was just too cold. While we did spend hours walking, we were always on a mission to get to the next sight)
We saw everything, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees, The Eiffel Tower, Invalides, The Tuileries, The Louvre, The Musee d'Orsay, the Royal Palace, The Arc d' Triomphe, and we frequented many macaron shops (Laduree is the LIVING END), brasseries, and sipped and talked and smooched over bottles of wine in cafes.
We fell in love with the beauty and the elegance of the cities around us and remembered why travel is so important to our relationship, our minds and a good way to stretch our legs. We also realized how much we should be out walking our own city, Houston.
And sooooo.....we resolved to go on some long walks and discover more of the marvelous sights, shops and attractions to have a better relationship with our home city.
Take a walk today! xx