Many European cities offer some kind of a visitors pass – a one-day or multi-day ticket that gives you access to major attractions, public transport and some discounts. I like these visitors passes as they allow my to do what I call “museum runs”. You see, I’ve been in so many museums that I sort of lost the patience for the slow strolling around that for some reason is the normal pace of museum-goers. It hurts my feet to shuffle around from one prolonged gaze at a painting to another. That’s why I sometimes revert to the museum run.
European cities usually have their (numerous) museums packed into the compact city centre or a convenient museum quarter. The high density of museums and the public transport access given by the pass allow me to squeeze as many museums as I can handle into a single day. On such a day, I do “cherry-picking” – in no way do I feel obliged to see the whole collection of a particular museum, but I rather head straight to the section or exhibition that I find interesting, skipping the rest. This way, and by walking in a normal pace (considered sacrilegious by the other visitors, judging by the dirty looks they always give me), I spent an average of half an hour per venue, and I can go to up to 10 museums in a day.
The fun part of a museum run is that I get to skip all those badly painted Madonna’s with baby Jesus (who is always painted as a 4-year old rather than a newborn), and focus on the stuff that I like. And get a varied museum experience, skipping from Indian painting of the 19th century to a tram museum to modern installations exhibition. I mean, I enjoy seeing Indian paintings of the 19th century, but after half an hour they become more of the same. So switching themes helps me to stay sharp in my consumerism of culture. And if a museum is boring, or not what I have expected – I just skip to the next one, without hard feelings.
On my museum runs I often shut myself from the world outside by playing some high-bpm audio content in my headphones. The music helps me ignore the other visitors (especially handy on Sundays) and I can also concentrate more on the visual perceptions – museums are mostly about seeing, not hearing.
The museum of crazyness in Haarlem – also free with the museum card
Since I live in a country with the highest museum density in the world, the opportunities for museum runs are endless here. With an annual museum card, I have free access to most of the museums and I’m doing my best to put it to good use. I’m not a multimillionaire, so I can’t buy a Rembrandt or a Vermeer. But I pay the taxes that sponsor the museums, and I have the museum card so its just as if I own them – I can go see them every day. Which reminds me – I should check on some of my favourite paintings. And since I live in a small European country, they’re not too far away.
Filed under Europe, Travel
“See Petra and move on” was the motto of the Jordan leg of our round-the-world tour. However short the visit was, the three days spent in Jordan were long enough to comprehend the fact that we have left Europe – for real. The Petra entrance fees made the situation clear enough – 50 JD (55 Euro) for foreigners, 1 JD for Jordanians. From now on we were a walking ATM, and The White Man’s Burden was upon us.
This far out, even the English language becomes exotic
In Jordan, even being a statue is difficult for women
Despite the tourists crowds, Petra is an excellent place to experience what I call “The National Geographic feeling”
The message to those leaving Europe is loud and clear
Venturing beyond this point without a guide was dangerous. Needless to say we ventured beyond and returned safely. Actually, we’ve only seen this sign after we came in from the trail that starts beyond that point. Not that seeing it beforehand would have stopped us.
We were now in Asia and next stop was India, where the guidebook’s advice “try not to look like a tourist” was exactly as ridiculous as it sounds and where every legend and every tale ever told about India proved to be true. For good and for not-so-good, we were not in Europe anymore.
A recently graduated friend of mine has just started a new job. She’s getting lots of money, but she has a minor problem. Since she has some 5 weeks of paid leave per year, which is quite poor by European standards, there’s just not enough time for her to spend that fat pay check (she’s doing her best though). Me – I don’t have such problems. As a university employee I have more than 8 weeks of paide leave per year. Adding the days leave I haven’t spent last year, I have more than 10 weeks of vacation to take in 2012!
So far I’m planning to spend two weeks volunteering at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and I’m going to Israel to visit my family and friends (and have a vakation) for two weeks. Then there’s the so-called Collective holidays, which are days everyone’s supposed to take leave together so that the university can be closed. This is being done in order to make a “bridge” between an official holiday happening on say Thursday or Tuesday and the weekend. The collective holiday is then on Friday or Monday. Christmas and New Year’s day are both on a Tuesday this year, and I will probably take the rest of the days between Christmas and New Year off as well, and have a winter break.
This all still leaves me with some 5 weeks of vacation to spend. And a tough problem – what to do with it? Since the PhD salary is OK but not great, I need a budget destination. Luckily I am not chained to the summer holiday, so I can go off season. Travel tips anyone?