Europe – planes, trains, and no automobiles

August 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

I was recently able to spend three weeks in Europe – two weeks working in London, and one week traveling to Brussels and Amsterdam. I haven’t had a lot of long work engagements outside the states, but it really helps get a more global view, and in my case, getting some insights around our international audience.

London was ready for the Olympics, so it was a great time to go. Everything was running smoothly, lots of additional wayfinding, everyone was ready for the eventual onslaught of travelers and tourists.

Contrasted to the suburbia campus I work in here in Southlake, TX – the densely populated London office offered fascinating tube rides and walks into the office daily. A selection of probably 50+ pubs, restaurants, and food stands within a five minute walk, and a chance to see 100+ year old landmarks everywhere.

The age of the city really stands out when you’re used to living in something that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Visually, the rich textures, the materials used to build, the craftsmanship of the stonework – I wanted to photograph every building.

I was there to test a product with some UK travelers, and try to discern any regional differences between our audiences. It was interesting to hear about where and how UK travelers go on vacations (aka holidays or city breaks).

After work – because it’s light out until 10:30 in London, I’d go waking, and exploring. There is so much to see, that I would always find myself thinking “just one more block”, and end up many tube stops away from my hotel. During the weekend and nights I was able to see a large amount of the key landmarks (seen below).

I think if you had seven full days, you could make a great Europe trip out of flying into London, staying 2–3 days, taking the train to Paris (we skipped Paris this time), then taking a train to Brussels, then ending up in Amsterdam for a eventual flight back to the states.

Here are some of the highlights we saw, in photos:

London – probably 2–3 Days

    V&A – British Design

    Tower Bridge
    Tower Bridge
    Tate Modern
    Tate Modern
    Oxford Street Shopping
    H&M
    Harrods
    Harrods
    Hamleys (toystore)
    Design Museum
    Bauhaus Exhibit (Barbican Center)
    Bauhaus
    Transportation Museum (the tube)
    Transportation Museum
    Many Pubs
    Pubs
    Notting Hill
    Notting Hill
    Flower Market (Colombia Rd)
    Flower Market
    British Museum
    British Museum
    St. Paul Cathedral
    St. Paul
    The Shard
    The Shard

Brussels 1 Day

    Comic Strip Museum
    Comic Strip Museum
    Tintin Shop
    Tintin Shop
    Grand Palace (Square)
    Grand Palace
    EU
    EU
    Horta Museum
    Mann Pis
    Mann Pis

Amsterdam 2 Days

    Dam
    Dam
    Nine Streets (Shopping)
    Nine Streets
    Rijks
    Rijks
    Skinny Bridge
    Skinny Bridge
    Van Gogh Museum
    Van Gogh Museum
    Anne Frank House
    Anne Frank House
    Flower Market
    Flower Market
    Boat Ride (Canals)
    Canals
    Rembrandt House
    Rembrandt House
    Bikes
    Bikes

If you’re wondering about the photos, I ended up using my 4/3 camera – a GF3 – almost 100% of the time I was there. Not only did it perform like a champ in almost all situations, but I felt less like a tourist with the smaller camera, and people didn’t seem to care as much when in areas that claimed “no photography”.

I could live in Europe and explore every street, every alleyway, and every landmark for the rest of my life, and I’d be as intrigued as the day I started.

If you’re interested in seeing more – I have 1000+ photos from my trip here on flickr.