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Old July 10th, 2012, 07:53 PM   #421
Tiaren
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The two maggots? XD
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Old July 11th, 2012, 01:48 PM   #422
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Read what I wrote. You will have a hard time finding coffee house type of cafés in France.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 01:55 PM   #423
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Fact! I'm in Paris right now and finding a place that offers a wide variety of coffee is quite a challenge. Actually, it's pretty much only Starbucks that's easy to find and that offers more than just coffee and coffee with milk. And they're cheaper too (contrary to back in Belgium, where Starbucks is way more expensive than your average coffee house).

In Berlin, on the other hand, coffee houses are simply EVERYWHERE. And they're cheap

So sure, Paris has lots terraces and bars, like oh so many cities and countries throughout Europe do, but I wouldn't say it has a specifically outspoken coffee culture.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 02:08 PM   #424
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This thread is very interesting and entertaining. Thank you very much for your photos and the infos!

If someone is interested to see how the Hauptbahnhof (main station) of Cologne looked before WWII, HERE is a photo.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 02:13 PM   #425
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I would say France has a Café terasse culture, and the concept of coffee house is considered aberrant, the same way many Europeans consider the concept of a mall (american style) aberrant, compared to downtown shopping areas.

There are tons of american style malls popping up everywhere in europe, in belgium anyway, and I don't really like it.
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Old July 11th, 2012, 02:43 PM   #426
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What do coffee houses have to do with malls? The discussion was about what places have a coffee house culture that predates Starbucks etc. (and after which modern coffe houses are modelled).
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Old July 11th, 2012, 04:16 PM   #427
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What do coffee houses have to do with malls? The discussion was about what places have a coffee house culture that predates Starbucks etc. (and after which modern coffe houses are modelled).
I was making a parallel

The thread is not about coffee houses BTW
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Old July 12th, 2012, 01:13 AM   #428
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Sorry this trip report dragged out so much towards the end - personal commitments :-)

But in looking through the trip report hopefully you can get an idea of what a fantastic trip it was for me. I had never before considered going to this part of Europe, made the decision to go there sort of at the last moment, and am absolutely glad I did. It was a fantastic experience that greatly exceeded my expectations.

Paris was bigger and more spectacular than I expected. I think I got a good sense of what it is like but I am also aware I barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer.

Lille and the French countryside (and people!) were awesome. Lille I didn't get to see nearly well enough and going back is a priority. It really is as spectacular as northern England, just with a more difficult to understand language :-). And the warmness and helpfulness of the people throughout France forever changed my idea of what France is like.

Belgium is truly amazing. A year ago this was a country that was barely on my conscious at all. Sure, I knew there was a country called Belgium but I knew literally nothing about it. And typical of some Americans I looked at it, saw it was small, and thought what could it possibly have to offer. I simply couldn't have been more wrong. I saw only a quarter or a third of what the country has to offer but it was amazing. Its industrial history rivals that of northern England, even if I didn't get to see the same quality of museums. But what it lacked in museums it made up for in living and breathing industry. Ghent has more industry than I've ever seen in a small city. Even Brussels, a city of European bureaucrats, has factors surrounding it, and Charleroi was love at first sight.

Moreover, while the old canals crisscrossing England were a most pleasant surprise the WORKING canals crisscrossing Belgium whre an even more spectacular sight, if not as much of a surprise.

Belgium definitely needs 3 or 4 weeks of time to even come close to doing it justice so will definitely be going back. But I really must do something about my lack of French language skills before returning.

Finally, I just dabbled in Germany, too little to form any significant impressions. But I will be back there in the future too.

Thanks to all who have patiently followed this trip report and have given me much invaluable information, historical background, new perspective, etc. You have truly made writing this report almost as enjoyable, and possibly even more informative, as the trip itself.

Much thanks to all and cheers.
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Old July 12th, 2012, 06:24 AM   #429
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I think to say I was turned against it is a little too strong. Remember, I was only in the city about 5 hours so I can't claim to be familiar with it in any meaningful way.

However, I was there long enough to get a first impression, just as I got a first impression of Liverpool within a couple hours of being there, and it is fair to say it was "blah". That is, not good, not bad, just blah.

And in thinking of it for a couple of minutes the answer is obvious. Liverpool has lots of old historical buildings as do Manchester and Leeds. Paris had plenty of old historical buildings and so did Lille. And Ghent and Brussels certainly had some amazing old buildings.

But apart from one spectacular one Cologne didn't have anything that I saw. 80 years ago it may have had lots, but not it has very little. WWII did the place in.

So while it was indeed a friendly place (though not as much as Liverpool) it didn't have the authenticity I like in European cities as it didn't have the old buildings and landmarks which are what lend an air of authenticity to a city.
Just "blah" ? Cologne has just one spectacular ? Are you drunk or something?
Dude you seriously have to take a look at some american cities which are lacking a pedestrian zone or even one spectacular at all! You were talking about that you hadn't enough time to see Liverpool or Cologne but surely can tell that Liverpool looks better?
Well from my point of view I can say from your pictures that Belgium has historical architecture but these buildings look to me not well maintained, dirty and dark. The cities are kind of squeezed together whereas Cologne and Aachen have a lot of green space and crowded, clean pedestrian zones and tons(!) of historical buildings.

Last edited by Avalanix; July 13th, 2012 at 08:18 AM.
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Old July 12th, 2012, 11:03 AM   #430
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Actually Ghent has one of the biggest pedestrian zones in Europe And Bruges, Antwerp, Mechelen and recently even Brussels have extensive pedestrian zones. Brussels has a lot of big parks and most buildings in downtown Ghent and Antwerp look pretty decently maintained. It's not all that bad across the border
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Old July 12th, 2012, 11:41 AM   #431
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@600West218 Thank you for your nice and interesting thread and also for your personal comments. I find it always interesting if pictures are supported by an individual point of view.
I would not care so much about Avalanix critics (I bet you were not drunk ), he has an impolite way to express his opinion. But maybe Cologne should be explored more.
But I share your opinion. I was in Cologne only one time and only for 3 days (so maybe not enough to have a complete view), but I definitly also was not impressed by this city, and yes I also found it "blah". But I have to say, that this "blah" is maybe also impolite, so maybe thatsway Avalanix's reaction. My negativ impression of Cologne is architecture-wise, maybe other things like nightlife, art ect. are great. For me definitly one of the least beautiful big cities in Germany I have seen. Some great churches (one world famous), but in a surrounding which is not that great. For example the Strasbourg Cathedral with its surrounding impressed me much more than the realy big Cologne Cathedral - surrounded by, well what you described "blah". By the way Cologne Cathedral is realy big - and this is definitly massiv impressiv and everyone who is able should see it, but I think is has not the nicest proportions of the many cathedrals. But everyone has its own taste. I have not been in Aachen, but from your pictures I am also a little bit disapointed by this city. - If you like industrial monuments I would recommend the Völklingen Ironworks (Völklinger Hütte).This one realy impressed me.
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Old July 12th, 2012, 01:34 PM   #432
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Thanks 600West218 for a great thread, looking forward to reading about your next travels! Will you be doing one about your own hometown/region at one point?
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Old July 12th, 2012, 02:51 PM   #433
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Thanks 600West218. Actually, I was just about to ak you to make a summary of the trip . I'm glad you enjoyed our region so much and I already cannot wait to see your thoughts about future trips.
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Old July 12th, 2012, 03:09 PM   #434
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I guess as far as 600west is concerned, Cologne is closer to american cities and he was looking for european exoticness I guess
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Old July 13th, 2012, 01:09 AM   #435
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Actually Ghent has one of the biggest pedestrian zones in Europe And Bruges, Antwerp, Mechelen and recently even Brussels have extensive pedestrian zones. Brussels has a lot of big parks and most buildings in downtown Ghent and Antwerp look pretty decently maintained. It's not all that bad across the border
The biggest pedestrian zone in Europe is named Stroget and is located in Copenhagen. Regarding to that I haven't seen any photos of Ghents pedestrian zone neither of any parks. Guessing from the photos Colgone or Aachen buildings overall are looking cleaner to me. But I'll tell you if I have visited Belgium someday.


And I would not care about Coihaiques opinion as well since he's obviously trolling around and trying to downplay my arguments since I obviously hurt his east german feelings.
So you've been to Cologne ? Well what have you done there ?
Cologne cathedral is one of the most famous ones in the world way more impressive and way better "proportioned" than the strasbourg munster. But I bet as well you haven't been to Strasbourg you haven't visited Cologne too. Which is also indicated by this "Blah" sentence from you:
Quote:
My negativ impression of Cologne is architecture-wise, maybe other things like nightlife, art ect. are great.
Cologne one of the least beautiful cities ? You obviously didn't came much along in saxony did you? Chemnitz's just 150km away from you.

Quote:
I would not care so much about Avalanix critics (I bet you were not drunk ), he has an impolite way to express his opinion. But maybe Cologne should be explored more.
But I share your opinion. I was in Cologne only one time and only for 3 days (so maybe not enough to have a complete view), but I definitly also was not impressed by this city, and yes I also found it "blah". But I have to say, that this "blah" is maybe also impolite, so maybe thatsway Avalanix's reaction. My negativ impression of Cologne is architecture-wise, maybe other things like nightlife, art ect. are great. For me definitly one of the least beautiful big cities in Germany I have seen. Some great churches (one world famous), but in a surrounding which is not that great. For example the Strasbourg Cathedral with its surrounding impressed me much more than the realy big Cologne Cathedral - surrounded by, well what you described "blah". By the way Cologne Cathedral is realy big - and this is definitly massiv impressiv and everyone who is able should see it, but I think is has not the nicest proportions of the many cathedrals. But everyone has its own taste. I have not been in Aachen, but from your pictures I am also a little bit disapointed by this city. - If you like industrial monuments I would recommend the Völklingen Ironworks (Völklinger Hütte).This one realy impressed me.

Last edited by Avalanix; July 13th, 2012 at 01:26 AM.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 01:46 AM   #436
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Thanks 600West218 for a great thread, looking forward to reading about your next travels! Will you be doing one about your own hometown/region at one point?
Funny you should ask. I had that idea recently and have been doing a fair amount of exploring of off the beaten track interesting places in New York City and State.


Sooooo, I finally started a thread on it today which I will keep updating as I explore.

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showth...8#post93224678

There won't be fancy, artistic, or even particularly good photography - lots of it comes from an iPhone. But hopefully it will be of interest to some.

As far as next trips go Spain is where I am heading in September. I am planning to take break from the industrial stuff and sort of relax, enjoy some nightlife and see some regular touristy stuff. But that could all change if I accidnetly wander across a canal or factory
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Old July 13th, 2012, 04:11 AM   #437
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Cologne one of the least beautiful cities ? You obviously didn't came much along in saxony did you? Chemnitz's just 150km away from you.
Well I wouldn't call Chemnitz such a big city (I spoke about big cites and thought about cities +500.000). But interesting that you feel the need to point out Chemnitz and compare it to Cologne. - Well - so you like Cologne - thats your right and like I said tastes are different, but I can tell you that in my opionen Leipzig and Dresden (even if both cities are only half as big as Cologne) are both far more beautiful than Cologne (again architecture-wise -- if you want you can now say the cliche: the people of Cologne had to pay for it - I would say more important is they made terrible decisions after the war - even worse then in Dresden and there was nothing like Neumarktverein in the closer past and so on, but there are also some good newer developments, so I hope Cologne can get better and better - I wish this for all German cities). And Chemnitz is realy one of the cites seen as least beautiful in Saxony but it is not worse than many cities of the same size in North Rine-Westpfahlia. Have you been in Gelsenkirchen?
By the way I have been 3 days in Cologne only for city-seeing and two 2 in Chemnitz for the same reason. How much time have you spend in Chemnitz, I would not wonder if you never have been there. But I agree Chemnitz has less to offer than Cologne - Wow - who had thought that.
By the way I have also been in Paris and Lille - and in my opinion - if you come to Cologne after Paris and Lille it is realy possible that someone is disappointed by Cologne, especially if you like historic architecture, which is not single great buildings, but an overall picture of a city. The cathedral of Cologne is realy stunning - I never denide this, but believe me or not after knowing Cologne cathedral is the biggest and most impressive church in Europe, had heard about it even at school again and again and find it everywhere I was even a littel bit disappointed by the cathedral. But yes - Cologne Cathedral is one of the most important landmark of Germany - everyone knows this - but I say it again - in my view the surrounding is realy not great. By the way I only supported the "blah" of the person who made the thread (which was very interesting by the way) and you called drunk because he was not so impressed of Cologne like you seem to wish.

Last edited by Coihaique; July 13th, 2012 at 04:45 AM.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 05:49 AM   #438
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Sorry this trip report dragged out so much towards the end - personal commitments :-)

But in looking through the trip report hopefully you can get an idea of what a fantastic trip it was for me. I had never before considered going to this part of Europe, made the decision to go there sort of at the last moment, and am absolutely glad I did. It was a fantastic experience that greatly exceeded my expectations.

Paris was bigger and more spectacular than I expected. I think I got a good sense of what it is like but I am also aware I barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer.

Lille and the French countryside (and people!) were awesome. Lille I didn't get to see nearly well enough and going back is a priority. It really is as spectacular as northern England, just with a more difficult to understand language :-). And the warmness and helpfulness of the people throughout France forever changed my idea of what France is like.

Belgium is truly amazing. A year ago this was a country that was barely on my conscious at all. Sure, I knew there was a country called Belgium but I knew literally nothing about it. And typical of some Americans I looked at it, saw it was small, and thought what could it possibly have to offer. I simply couldn't have been more wrong. I saw only a quarter or a third of what the country has to offer but it was amazing. Its industrial history rivals that of northern England, even if I didn't get to see the same quality of museums. But what it lacked in museums it made up for in living and breathing industry. Ghent has more industry than I've ever seen in a small city. Even Brussels, a city of European bureaucrats, has factors surrounding it, and Charleroi was love at first sight.

Moreover, while the old canals crisscrossing England were a most pleasant surprise the WORKING canals crisscrossing Belgium whre an even more spectacular sight, if not as much of a surprise.

Belgium definitely needs 3 or 4 weeks of time to even come close to doing it justice so will definitely be going back. But I really must do something about my lack of French language skills before returning.

Finally, I just dabbled in Germany, too little to form any significant impressions. But I will be back there in the future too.

Thanks to all who have patiently followed this trip report and have given me much invaluable information, historical background, new perspective, etc. You have truly made writing this report almost as enjoyable, and possibly even more informative, as the trip itself.

Much thanks to all and cheers.
Try out Poland one day too.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 06:07 AM   #439
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Try out Poland one day too.
I definitely will. I just hosted some people from Krakow and it sounds great.

The main deterant to those places though is the language barrie. Even on this trip language was a problem.
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Old July 13th, 2012, 07:47 AM   #440
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Well I wouldn't call Chemnitz such a big city (I spoke about big cites and thought about cities +500.000). But interesting that you feel the need to point out Chemnitz and compare it to Cologne. - Well - so you like Cologne - thats your right and like I said tastes are different, but I can tell you that in my opionen Leipzig and Dresden (even if both cities are only half as big as Cologne) are both far more beautiful than Cologne (again architecture-wise -- if you want you can now say the cliche: the people of Cologne had to pay for it - I would say more important is they made terrible decisions after the war - even worse then in Dresden and there was nothing like Neumarktverein in the closer past and so on, but there are also some good newer developments, so I hope Cologne can get better and better - I wish this for all German cities). And Chemnitz is realy one of the cites seen as least beautiful in Saxony but it is not worse than many cities of the same size in North Rine-Westpfahlia. Have you been in Gelsenkirchen?
By the way I have been 3 days in Cologne only for city-seeing and two 2 in Chemnitz for the same reason. How much time have you spend in Chemnitz, I would not wonder if you never have been there. But I agree Chemnitz has less to offer than Cologne - Wow - who had thought that.
By the way I have also been in Paris and Lille - and in my opinion - if you come to Cologne after Paris and Lille it is realy possible that someone is disappointed by Cologne, especially if you like historic architecture, which is not single great buildings, but an overall picture of a city. The cathedral of Cologne is realy stunning - I never denide this, but believe me or not after knowing Cologne cathedral is the biggest and most impressive church in Europe, had heard about it even at school again and again and find it everywhere I was even a littel bit disappointed by the cathedral. But yes - Cologne Cathedral is one of the most important landmark of Germany - everyone knows this - but I say it again - in my view the surrounding is realy not great. By the way I only supported the "blah" of the person who made the thread (which was very interesting by the way) and you called drunk because he was not so impressed of Cologne like you seem to wish.
We obviously don't talk about the same cities then if you really ever visited them.

Chemnitz is out of competition here either it is Gelsenkirchen or -not to think- cologne.
I absolutely don't care what you think because you are just trolling around. Cologne has large variety of architectual styles and plenty of historical buildings. A blah simply doesn't give Cologne it's justice. No sorry, this is completely nonsense!
You know, I know it, 600West knows it.
By the way! I recommend you to visit this thread which shows that Cologne has indeed very nice hictorical buildings which were left out by 600west:

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1410376

Cologne has much more to offer than Ghent or Lille in terms of lifestyle as well as in architecure. I would NEVER say that someone would be disappointed from visiting Cologne because he has been to Paris or Lille. Köln is a really nice city just as Ghent or Lille just much bigger.

Last edited by Avalanix; July 13th, 2012 at 08:22 AM.
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