How about Glastonbury in Somerset, England?
I went there recently and thoroughly enjoyed my stay. The evenings at the top of Glastonbury Tor were amazing and inspiring, especially at sunset. LOADS of people gather there at that time, singing, playing instruments, drinking and smoking all sorts! It’s a REALLY creative atmosphere, with people from all walks of life up there. The trek up the (what seems like hundreds of) steep steps is worth it for that view and company, and it gets easier the more times you go up it!
The atmosphere in the Rifleman’s Arms pub is also great, a traditional English pub with a friendly family atmosphere. It’s great to go there an hour or two after sunset. They have live bands playing, BBQ’s or other great food and a few lovely local brews on tap.
There was another pub I came across (possibly called the king george, I don’t quite recall) which had murals all over the walls, including one of the Glastonbury hillscape crossed with Lord Of The Rings in the skittle alley part of it! It was just at the corner of the highstreet, opposite the hemp shop. Fraid that’s as descriptive as I can be!
The shops on the highstreet are also filled with really bright decadant hippie/pagan stuff!
Glastonbury Abbey ruins are beautiful and well worth a visit, and the Chalice well gardens are a really peaceful atmosphere that I could happily sketch/paint in for hours!
I stayed in the Isle of Avalon campsite and everyone there was really friendly, helpful and chilled out… Glastonbury really is the most chilled out place I’ve been except Amsterdam!
Hey I would say check out Ireland. If you are specifically looking in the area of the Netherlands I would also say Germany. Not too far away…
All through Europe there is much more need for internet and computer design and it is much more diverse.
Well I lived in a place called Almere and it has crazy architecture. Very original. Other than that, I dunno. Holland isnt really a “counter-culture” place, it’s pretty conformative in that aspect. I guess if you lived in the country opposite of Amsterdam, out with the farms (haha), it’d be the most “count-culture”ish.
I have to agree with Qussa — Rotterdam has more of the contemporary art & design energy you’re looking for than Amsterdam. I recently lived there for a year and had a solo show at a gallery there. There are lots of good galleries, such as Cokkie Snoei, there’s a really good annual open galleries/open studios event, lots of great museums, the Grafische Lyceum (a media college) and the Willem de Kooning Academy (art college), and one of my favorite art collectives — the Atelier van Lieshout.
Some good things about the Netherlands in general: The Museumjaarkaart is an astounding deal — entrance to about 500 excellent museums throughout the country for less than $50 a year. Being able to bicycle anywhere in the flat South Holland is a joy. You can easily ride from Rotterdam to beautiful Delft in less than an hour, even on the clunky old one-speed bikes most people have. You can do all of your grocery shopping by bicycle. The train system is amazing; you can be in Amsterdam in an hour by train, and you can take your bike with you on most trains! Leiden is a fantastic old town with lots of museums and a disproportionately large college-age population. Some of the food in the Netherlands is good and cheap (frits! falafel!) Plants and flowers are plentiful and cheap. Most people speak some English, and some better than you or I. Good bookstores with a lot of English books.
Some not so good things about the Netherlands in general: the weather pretty much sucks — at least compared to San Francisco — for about half of the year. Older Dutch people tend to be suspicious of Americans. There’s a surprising amount of petty crime (theft, vandalism, etc.). The proliferation of chain stores is depressing. Living in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood, as I did, can feel unwelcoming, if not hostile. Being a vegetarian is tough unless you’re willing to eat lots of frits and falafel, and cook for yourself (much less being a vegan like me).
Some good things specifically about Rotterdam: The arts and design scene really is lively. Some of the museums are especially interesting. For a city that was badly bombed in WWII, Rotterdam still has some very charming neighborhoods, such as the Avenue Concordia and the Oude Binnenweg. The library has an amazing music and video lending library (they charge a nominal fee), so you can copy CDs and videos, if you computer can handle that. There’s a number of large parks, such as the Kralingse Bos, that offer a country getaway within the city. There’s a huge outdoor market every week with hundreds of vendors of everything from vintage stuff to specialty olives.
Some not-so-good things specifically about Rotterdam: Conformity is everywhere. Anyone who looks different is going to stand out. I only wear vintage clothes, and I often wear sunglasses out of doors in the daylight. I got jokingly called a “terrorist” more than once, because of the sunglasses (the Dutch would rather squint), and I definitely stood out in the vintage clothes. Rotterdammers have a reputation for being hard-working and no-nonsense compared to the Amsterdammer’s reputation for being sophisticated and lighthearted. Think of Amsterdam as San Francisco and Rotterdam as Chicago. It just doesn’t have the charm of Amsterdam. However, if you don’t mind riding the train to Amsterdam for a charm fix, this won’t matter as much.
If you have any specific questions, I’d be happy to try to answer them. Good luck!
think Utrecht would be a nice place to go it’s kinda creative in a way, i can’t really describe it you just need to go there and see it for yourself.
Are you looking for cities in the Netherlands specifically or any such a place in general?
Personally, though the schools are good in Holland I’ve gotten the feeling that perhaps it’s not quite developing enough to be good inspiration for art. Then again it might be. When coming all the way from S-Africa as well I think it will definitely give enough of a contrast. Maybe it’s more than alive enough to be inspiring.. Amsterdam and it’s close by Utrecht are at least beautiful.. And there are plenty of young people there.
Some of the most interesting places for artists have still been places where a lot of development was going on. Places with a relatively gray recent past but a bright and brilliant future. Places which were cheap enough to support them but weren’t going to stay that way.
If you are looking for such a place in Europe.. perhaps Berlin is the place to go?
In the Netherlands I would say Rotterdam.
Generally speaking – perhaps Prague?
Hey. Well nearly 3 years later and living in Europe the best places I hear about again and again are Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam. I however have heard so many amazing things about my hometown Johannesburg that I will now be moving back there to become a part again of the incredible energy, entrepreneurial spirit and buzz of a young growing city filled with opportunity. Hope you will all come to visit.
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