A little late, but I wanted to describe my spring break experiences traveling to Amsterdam (for 3 days) and Paris (for 5 days).
First and foremost, the inhabitants of the small, canal based city of Amsterdam were some of the friendliest, most welcoming people I have experienced in my travels to foreign countries. This probably has something to do with the fact that almost all Dutch people are fluent speakers of English. Not having any sort of language barrier enabled my family and I to travel conveniently, with the aide of many friendly natives and to experience as much of authentic Dutch culture as possible. Naturally, we did engage in a few EXTREMELY touristy activities; taking a canal tour of the city, visiting Anne Frank’s house throughout the holocaust, as well as visit the infamous I AMsterdam letters. These activities were amongst my least favorite of the trip.
The most enjoyable moments of my trip were wandering the local streets, away from the overly commercial areas; far from tourists snapping photos of every object and structure in sight. We wandered into local, low-key art galleries, small dutch pubs, as well as tried a variety of different native cuisines off the beaten path.
I had a much different experience in my few days traveling through Paris. In a city with so much culture and art, it was hard to avoid the overly tourist destinations considering it was my first time exploring the city. This is not to say the sites I saw were not remarkable; I frequented various museums housing priceless pieces of art, the daunting Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as the Lourve. While each day was packed with walking through different neighborhoods visiting all these neighborhoods, my family and I experienced a much different culture in Paris.
The native Parisians were extremely direct with their requests which was interesting and refreshing, but at times came off as rude. Moreover, many native parisians were utterly dismissive or condescending to us traveling Americans. No doubt, this had something to do with the language barrier between the natives and my family. Even the simplest monetary transactions proved immensely difficult.
Whereas the dutch embraced our American nature, the Parisians were decidedly defective. Presumably this has something to do with the global perception of Americans as rude, fat elitists. Maybe next time I travel abroad I’ll brush up on the local languages – perhaps that’ll improve my experience.
Despite this observation, Paris and Amsterdam were both amazing places to travel to. Both cities contain hundreds of years of visible history; noted in the preservation of art a well as the antiquated architecture.