Random Notes from First Few Days in Europe

  • Bruges was a terrific little town, frozen in time about 400 years ago.
  • Bruges has this sort of computer-game type retail economy, seemingly based on just 3 products:  Chocolate, Beer, and Lace
  • The Lace Museum in Bruges was amazing. I would never have gone on my own, but having been dragged by my wife, it was truly fascinating.  I don't know if I had ever thought of how lace was made but it was more complex than I might have guessed.  There was a local lacing club (for lack of a better word) meeting upstairs and we got to watch a bit of the process.  The examples of extraordinary lace in the museum were simply amazing, I had never seen anything like it.  Likely way more fine and delicate and detailed than you have ever seen.  The machines, which knit clumsier lace products, were also quite a thing to watch in action
  • After Bruges, Amsterdam was an unbelievable contrast.  Despite being a tourist town, Bruges was quite quiet.  Amsterdam is... frenetic.
  • People have written many times about the bicycle thing in Amsterdam, but one does not really get a feel for it until it is actually experienced.  Coming out of the train station there was a storage area with literally thousands of bikes.  Bikes were everywhere.  One had to watch every step to make sure one is not hit by a bike.
  • Amsterdam has some kind of weird Logan's Run things going on -- zillions of people in the street, but they are all under 30.
  • As a libertarian, I love that Amsterdam has legalized marijuana and prostitution.  But as the only city in Europe that has effectively done so, it does create a problem in that it has become to Europe what Las Vegas is to the US.  Its streets are full of bachelor parties and drunken college kids.  The town has a lot of old-world splendor with its stately canal houses but it loses some of its charm as a visitor only casually interested in partaking of the debauchery.


  1. Tanuki Man:

    The making of lace is "tatting." So I venture to say it was a Tatting Club.

  2. Seekingfactsforsanity:

    Any thoughts about the "sad and angry eyes" or "human trafficking" in Amsterdam (and yes, I know the government has said they are doing all they can do to stop it!)

  3. stevewfromford:

    Bruges is extraordinary but what surprised me was how much truly vile graffiti there was on those lovely medieval buildings! Way beyond anything I've seen stateside. Kind of a shock.

  4. sch:

    In London twice, 2012 and last month, both times RR stations packed full of bikes in designated areas, upwards of 1000 at Paddington.

  5. ErikTheRed:

    Actually, the lace museum sounds interesting... adding to my list...

  6. Arrian:

    This is an interesting story on sex trafficking by someone who did his Ph D thesis on it: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/why-the-anti-trafficking-movement-ignores-the-voices-of-sex-workers/