Holland and Belgium

Trip Start Jan 16, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, March 7, 2013

Early Friday morning I boarded a ten hour bus and ferry trip to see the two great countries of Holland and Belgium. I made good use of my time on the bus and slept up until we made it the French border, where I got my third stamp in my passport! The ferry ride over was extremely nauseating, I think a boat that big should not move that fast. It was then a short five hour ride to our final destination of lake land hotel in Monnickendam Holland. Monnickendam (say that five times fast) is a small town approximately twenty five minutes outside Amsterdam. The little town of Monnickendam consists pretty much of one Main Street that was absolutely picture perfect (I didn't get any pictures though cause I forgot my camera when we went for a walk). Even though we had gotten in at a late hour and had been traveling all day a group of us decided to go explore the city of Amsterdam at night. We took the public bus into central station. I have to be honest and say that this trip to Amsterdam was a lot less pg compared to the one I took with Esther and Walt when I was younger. This time I actually experienced the red light district at night with all its happenings, instead of during the day. We walked around the streets, talked to locals and enjoyed the vibrancy of the city at night. The next morning was a bus tour through the outskirts of the city. We saw a windmill that was inspiration for Rembrandt's landscape paintings later in his life. Then we had the rest of the day to ourselves in the city. We set off to find the big iamamsterdam sculpture to only fail miserably and get lost in the rain. At this point I had to get on my way to meet Alexis (another family friend of Rita's). I successfully directed my friends to the Anne Frank house and then found my way to the Amsterdam museum where I was to meet up with Alexis. On the way we bumped into the cheese museum. The places smelled so bad from the outside we knew it must be good cheese so we went in to see if they had free samples. And by luck they did! We pigged out on free samples for a couple minutes and went on our way. Our original plan was to sit down for a cup of tea when we met up but Alexis thought it would be better for her to show me around while we were together. The beginning of our little tour was a garden and buildings that used to be a nunnery. All the buildings had the most wonderful gables on them. They were all so decorative and special looking. The church that its in the square was very simple and plain, perfect for the environment it was in. We kept walking and came to an exhibit part of the Amsterdam museum. It used to hold just 17th century painting of the civil guard but now has modern paintings accompanying it. On the floor there was a rug that had a square representing every country in the world. Each pattern was supposed to give off the feeling of the country it represented. No big surprise the American square was red, white and blue. When we left there we bumped into the miniature iamamsterdam sculpture. I had to take a picture with it! As we continued our walk Alexis told me about the work she does as a professor, teaching about the criminal justice field. I found it really interesting what she does and she was super helpful on giving me tips about people to talk to. Next we walked around the nine streets. There are three major canals that are intersected by three streets. This makes up nine streets all together and each has a different name. The intersections are so close that each street is really only a block long, as soon as you walk a couple feet your or different street. Finally we walked back and met my friends at a cafe near the Anne Frank house. The rest of the afternoon we walked around Amsterdam. I saw a holocaust memorial, some canals, a super cool candy shop and a lot of bikes. I was so tired that after dinner I went upstairs and went to bed.
The next day we took our tour bus to the city of Brugge in Belgium. The city of Brugge is very small and has very little street signage. We had four hours to explore the city before we needed to be back on the bus to go back to London. Of course I had to have Belgium waffles and chocolate while being in Belgium. Our first stop was waffles and it was so good. I don't think I'm going to be able to eat American waffles ever again after that! We had a wide selection of chocolate shops to choose from. We choose the old chocolate house and I restrained myself and only got one piece of chocolate. The streets of Brugge are cobble stone and the way around it mostly on horse and buggy. The problem with no streets signs is that it makes it a whole lot easier to get lost. Michelle and I were lost for the last hour and we walked around aimlessly looking for some kind of landmark. We did stumble upon the famous cupcakery De Proeverie tea room. Because I had only had one chocolate I treated my self to a cinnamon cup cake that was to die for. The bus and ferry ride back to London was a tough one with all that sugar running through me but I made it back in one piece. I think this easy weekend trip was a good start to my spring break full of fun and traveling!
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