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 A small selection of  comments and images from a couple of big city experiences and photos,
More images on instagram :   http://www.instagram.com/briansphotography/ 

Train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is not a long journey. Certainly worth the effort.

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Amsterdam station while we wait for our train

Departing and travelling through essentially rural land, farms interspersed with small villages and farm cottages and buildings. Can’t help but be impressed by flatness of land which is divided not by fences but irrigation drains.

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Dutch rural landscape through train window

Rotterdam is a delight. I reckon a must do, if you’re visiting this part of the world especially if historic and modern architecture is of any interest. Could have done with a few more days there, but hopefully we got to the main points of interest. But did encounter a couple of surprises.

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Inside the spectacular Market Hall – Markthal

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Mural ceiling in Markthal, Rotterdam




Any interest in architecture, especially modern and quirky, will be piqued in this city.


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Markthal large glass building ends reflect surrounding urban features,

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Calypso, a building including more than 200 apartments, shops, and parking.

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Corner of Inntel Hotels black building








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Famous yellow Cube Houses

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Four buildings each with unique design characteristics


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Street scene with white Swan Bridge and background buildings across river

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Erasmus or Swan white cable stay bridge with two unique buildings.

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Rotterdam’s old port area in front background towering buildings.

Public art plays a big art in the Rotterdam urban landscape. There are some 200 pieces on permanent display around the city. Here’s a couple.

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Cascade, an sculpture of old cans and and flowing human figures stands 8 metres tall.

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Brightly coloured geometric sculpture near Erasmus Bridge. Black front view of Inntel Hotel building.

Scam alert!

An interesting experience, that could have become frightening, saw us approached by well dressed man asking the name of the area we were in at the time. He persisted with his enquiry then out of the blue two tall also suited men arrived from nowhere, said they were police, had swingers around their necks intended to convey some official role. They asked for our passports. Uh oh. Immediately we started to move away with me saying we didn’t believe them. at this they said OK, and walked off. A scam to watch out for.

So for the next day and some relief from the city walking and such intrusions we head to the Kinderdijk area and the windmills so synonymous with the Netherlands.

There are other scenic aspects of Rotterdam worthy of ones time to enjoy too.

Gardens, historic buildings, museums, galleries and the river combine to make this amost interesting city.

And like the rest of the country, bicycles and ubiquitous, but here’s what apparently happens if you lock yours where you shouldn’t. Rotterdam Holland-4-2

Note the little sign on post above the handle bars!

Speaking about security, on our last night got a message from our foreign affairs ministry advising extreme caution. There had been a terror alert for the city and a rock concert for some American band with the stupid name of Allah-Las cancelled. Saw little of no evidence of the problem on way to the station. Guess this is just part of life for now.

Advice if travelling to Rotterdam and have any interest in art and architecture, allow more time, or run everywhere. For m, much of the fun of  travel is all about the unexpected, the things that catch you and the things that go wrong. Well not much has here, but here’s a travel travel tip for Rotterdam. Our hotel is part of a chain, large modern property. It’s as hot as hell and I can’t find the aircon control. Ask at reception only to be told, oh no you’ve you’ve booked a standard room. You’ll need to upgrade for to have that. Now I know why it’s called airCON. Bit like Air New Zealand, they are stripping services and then offering them back at additional cost. Huh, conned again.

Rotterdam by train to Berlin-15 (2)Back to the train, en-route to Berlin. Orderly crops in rural Holland. Interestingly, to me anyway, about the time we crossed the border the orderliness of the Dutch landscape became a disheveled rural outlook. This smoothed scene from the train disguises the real look.Rotterdam by train to Berlin-22

In a couple of stops we are joined by Andreas.

A doctor in zoology it turns out, who is very helpful confirming Anne’s plans for Berlin and adding a few ideas as well.

Berlin, graffiti city. Its everywhere. Why its put up with I cannot workout. Great shame.The city presents us with a series of contrasts, the old and new, the historic and the ultra-modern, the historic and the graffiti vandalism and amazing memorials and museums relating to WW2 and the fall of Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

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Memorial to holocaust and surrounding buildings

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From a hole chiseled by an East German, a symbolic glimpse of the other side, now part of a museum display.

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From an audio visual of the time of the wall. Graffiti even then ever present on the western side.

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Brandenburg Gate

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Friedrichstrasse looking toward railway over-bridge along tramlines.

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Projected light-show

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Projected light-show






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The Spree from bridge on Freidrickstrasse. Berliner Fernsehturm TV tower beyond church dome.


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Amazing modern architecture including Sony Centre on right. Image does not show the real intricacy of the these amazing buildings.

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Incredible dome over atrium and public space in Sony Centre.

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Most of so-called street art is not up to this standard. Many unused doorways have been attacked, or if your view is different “enhanced”. A good one.

Another must see if you visit Berlin is the town of Potsdam, about 45 minute train ride away. Believing we were headed to a little town that we could take in in a few hours we trained there. Really a few days would have been the proper option. It’s population is about 170,000, its is another film centre and has some amazing castles or the like, with significant Nazi SS history. Well worth an allocation of a lot more time than we gave it. Wish we’d known more before going.

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Potsdam’s own Brandenburg Gate.

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Potsdam’s Film Museum building

Diners in Berlin courtyard

Diners in courtyard of Oranienburger Strasse Berlin. The buildings and courtyard were left derelict after reunification until some arty types got the property put under control of a sympathetic owner and then set about enlivening it with businesses, galleries and restaurants.

For our final night we strolled 2-4 k’s to the Potsdamer Platz area for dinner in the Sony Centre and some more night street and architecture photos then by the Gate and Reichstag again

Leaving Berlin, the realisation that the number of museum, memorials and galleries collectively deserve a reasonably long stay. As always there so much more to see.

There’s so much about war and the wall you could fill a week or more just an that, and there’s so much more. Got to walk part of museum island yesterday and see what could only be called a huge exercise in propaganda last night as we passed the Reichstag. Billed as a light show in the government area (images above “projected light show” captions) it was a series of speeches by important governmental people, some English sub-titling indicated a high level of _”look what Germany has achieved and how great we are” Ra-ra stuff for sure.

Standby for the next missive. Prague, Vienna, Salzburg before back to Germany.

Just watching an item on the Coffin Club. No real reason to mention this other than its on BBC and the club is an NZ club. Embarrassingly corny.