Holland, Antwerp, Cologne, and Copenhagen

I had the opportunity recently to spend some time over in Western Europe on a business trip. Most of my time was spent in an office in Rotterdam, but I’m not one to pass up an opportunity like this, so pretty much every free second I had was spent checking out all the interesting spots I could find within a reasonable train ride. I also took some liberties in booking my flights so that I was able to bracket my work week with some fun weekends, including a 12 hour layover in Copenhagen to start off my trip.

I arrived around 6 AM after my relatively quick flight from Boston. Technically I guess it was an overnight flight, but it left Boston at 5:30 PM so I didn’t get much sleep on the plane. Luckily Copenhagen has some pretty good coffee. So I hopped on the train and headed into the city. I probably got there around 7, and with it being Saturday morning, that meant I pretty much had the entire city to myself for a few hours.

Photography-wise I decided to switch things up just a little bit. I have been shooting Kodak Portra pretty much exclusively for the past 6 or 7 years now. It’s a great film, especially for scanning and printing, but I wanted to try something different. On this trip I decided to shoot Fuji Superia film in both 200 and 800 speeds. I was very pleasantly surprised with the results and think I’ll be sticking with these films for the time being. I’m also planning on trying out some 400 speed Superia, and maybe even a couple rolls of Provia here and there.

I love drinking coffee, and I love taking pictures, but it’s not easy to do both at the same time. Especially with an old manual film camera which pretty much requires using two hands.

This is one of my favorite times to take pictures though so I had to make do.

I think a lot of these were art galleries. I’m not sure if the graffiti was an intentional part of the design aesthetic, but I thought it was pretty cool either way.

Not sure if this was an actual video store with blacked-out windows or just some random abandoned storefront with some graffiti on top.

This is why I love shooting touristy areas in the early mornings. A few hours later and this street would have been packed full of people.

There were quite a few bikes here, but nothing even close to what you’d find in The Netherlands.

Architecture was really great too. Lots of super old mixed in with the super modern.

For instance right across a small canal from that building was this one.

And then of course there’s the iconic Nyhavn district. Google ‘Copenhagen’ and you’ll get picture after picture of this street and canal from every angle imaginable.

For good reason too. So after spending a good half day here, it was time to head back to the airport for my quick connecting flight over to Dusseldorf. I arrived pretty late and only planned on staying there for the night, but found an awesome outdoor festival along the Stadtgraben, so I ended up hanging around there for the first half of the day sampling some of the awesome food and scenery.

After lunch I had a bit of time before I needed to get to Rotterdam, so I stopped by Cologne for a few hours.

I didn’t venture too far into the city, but did get a chance to check out the Cathedral and accompanying bridge as it was right outside of the main train station. This is the quintessential Cologne view you’ll find on all the postcards and travel brochures.

Officially named the Hohenzollern Bridge, it is affectionately known as the Love Locks bridge for all the locks people have adorned it with over the years.

It’s mainly a rail bridge though, and is actually the busiest of its kind in Germany.

I only had a couple hours here, just enough time to check out the Cathedral, take a stroll over the Rhine, take a breather, and head back for my train out to Rotterdam.

I’ll get to Rotterdam in a bit along with the rest of my pictures from Holland, but on one of my evenings after work I hopped on a train to Antwerp. I had been to Belgium before, but not Antwerp, and I only had a crappy digital point and shoot with me so I wasn’t feeling very inspired while shooting with it. I hated my pictures from that trip, I don’t think I’ll ever travel without film again.

This was the main train station, Antwerpen Centraal. As I arrived it was raining a little and the station was really cool, so I took my time and wandered around it a bit before venturing outside.

On the way here I met a girl on the train named Loes, who took this picture of me.

She was meeting her boyfriend here, so after we arrived I was off on my own to explore.

The rain had all but stopped by the time I left, but I did bring my rain coat so I was able to keep myself and my camera reasonably dry.

I sort of just followed the main road out of the station and headed towards the river. Before long I found myself in the Grote Markt.

I probably spent about an hour here just wandering around. Then I got some Belgian fries and did my best to get lost.

Before long it got pretty late, so I headed back to the train station to make it home to Rotterdam for work the next morning.

The train station here actually consists of 4 different levels. My train here arrived on the top level, but my train back was leaving out of the basement. Really cool.

This was the view from my hotel in Rotterdam.

One night there was this strange orange glow far off in the distance in two distinct locations.

It was pretty late at night, definitely past midnight. I have no idea what it was. If anybody has any idea please let me know, I’d love to know what caused this. I believe it was coming from the north and northwest.

Back in the city during the day I came across these cool tilted cube houses situated over a main road.

While I was in here checking it out there was a tour group walking around, probably part of some kind of architecture tour. I wonder what it’s like to live in one of these.

I also wonder what it would be like to sit in one of these with two other strangers. They were in a few places downtown.

At night while wandering around, I found a really cool street called Witte de Withstraat. If you ever find yourself in Rotterdam I highly recommend stopping by here, especially at night. Lots of cool bars, restaurants, and a vibrant arts scene with lots of public modern art installations.

For instance, this air conditioner igloo.

One place I stopped by after work in Holland was The Hague. It was pretty cool, and even reminded me of Boston in a lot of ways. Which was a good thing, since I love Boston.

There were a lot of cool shopping streets here.

This was one of the places that really reminded me of Boston. The area around the Binnenhof was really cool.

These street lights were cool too. I think I saw some like them in Copenhagen too, but they were everywhere here in Den Haag.

This is another area that really reminded me of Boston. I got lost just walking around this neighborhood full of old brick buildings, and almost could have fooled myself into thinking I was in the North or South End of my hometown.

The Chinatown was really cool here too. During the day it was unassuming, but then at night the entire district was lit with these red lanterns.

Once my work week was over I decided it was a good time to head up to Amsterdam for the weekend. My coworkers mentioned that there was a cool city called Utrecht along the way, so I decided to stop off there for a bit. I didn’t get started until late as we were having a bit of a happy hour at the office, so the sun was already setting by the time I got here.

I didn’t want to arrive in Amsterdam too late so I only spent about an hour here. I stayed mostly around the train station area so I undoubtedly missed most of what they told me about.

It was still pretty cool nonetheless. I’ll have to spend more time here next time I’m in the area.

So before it got too late I made my way over to Amsterdam. It was night by the time I got there, so I pretty much just kept my camera in my bag, checked into my hotel, and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Now this wasn’t my first time in Amsterdam, but it was my first time in Amsterdam with a camera I didn’t hate, so I was pretty excited to take pictures here.

This guy works at a pretty great coffee shop I went to called Back to Black. I had googled around for good actual coffee shops, and after reading about a few I decided to give this place a shot. I walk in and he’s at the counter. When he asks me what I want, I’m not really one to go for anything fancy when it comes to coffee, so I say “I’ll just take a regular filterkaffee.” He looks at me like I have two heads. He repeats my order back to me “A regular filterkaffee..” He shakes his head for a second and says “Man, we don’t do anything regular here” and started laughing. Was pretty funny. So he told me to relax, grab a seat, and he was going to take care of me. Maybe 5 minutes or so later he comes to my table with one of the most delicious cups of ‘regular’ coffee I’ve ever had.

We started chatting a bit, and he saw my camera and started asking me about it. I don’t think he had ever shot with an old SLR before, so I showed him how to focus and set the exposure so he could try it out. So then he went outside and took a picture of me through the window, and here it is. He’s definitely a quick learner. So I sat here for a while, enjoying my nice window view out over the canal before heading back out for the day to explore the city.

I love how a lot of the old buildings here seem to be resting on each other for support.

Almost like they’re just tired from being so old.

And here’s the Dam Square. There was a lot going on here. Lots of Dam cool buildings, a Dam tram, and I saw quite a few Dam tours showing around the Dam tourists.

Then once it got dark I of course headed to the Red Light District.

The canal was really beautiful at night. It was pretty busy in the heart of the old city, but there were plenty of much more quiet places if you wanted to get away from all that.

But then again, this is where all the fun is.

And that’s it. It was a very fun week and a half, but also very busy. At the end of it when I was back at work on Monday all I could think was “Man, I really need a vacation after that.”

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