I’m a little bit behind! School has definitely kicked up a notch and I feel like every weekend comes and goes so quickly without giving me time to reflect back, but I will try my best.
My trip to Amsterdam was a quick one – and I definitely want to go back next semester. I loved the canals that ran throughout the city (especially the houseboats…literally boats that are houses that decorate the canals!), the fact that everyone rides bicycles everywhere, and the funky/hippy/liberal personality that Amsterdam offers. Yep, I checked out the red-light district…but in the middle of the day. The Amsterdam Red Light District’s grungy and grotesque reputation definitely is there for a reason and I’m glad I wasn’t walking down it in the middle of the night. We saw a lot of interesting shops and people, took some funny pictures, and got out of there! I also checked out a couple “magic mushroom” and “herb” shops – an underground “coffee shop”…all that. Just because I could. Don’t worry – I didn’t participate, just had a good laugh at all the people enjoying their freedoms. ☺
Our time in Amsterdam was limited because we didn’t have a hostel to stay at for the night. We thought that there must be at least one hostel available in Amsterdam, but we couldn’t find ONE. So – we had to rush off to Brugges, Belgium to spend the night. Since we had limited time in Amsterdam, I decided to forego the museums. A couple people in my group went into the Anne Frank House, the Van Gough Museum, and the Rembrandt museum. When I go back to Amsterdam, I will definitely check out the Anne Frank Museum – but my friends that went to Van Gough and Rembrandt weren’t impressed…so I’ll save my 10 euro and go to the Louvre!
After visiting Amsterdam, I have come to the conclusion that after college, I want to live in a city where everyone rides bikes. Even through the sudden rain showers and sunbursts, people were on their bikes. It seemed that if you had a car in that city you would just get frustrated from people getting in your way!
Brugges, Belgium was a quaint town. We arrived by train at 11:30 at night with only a name, phone number and an address of a possible hostel we could stay. No map. Luckily, a man on a bike (see? Bikes are awesome!) came by and asked us if we needed some help finding a place. He actually used to work at the hostel we were trying to find and he pointed us in the right direction. What are the chances?! Brugges might be a small town, but there are a lot of little streets – it was really easy to get lost, but we managed to find Snuffle Hostel. Good thing the bottom floor was a bar that was open until 2 – so someone was still working the reception and they had open beds! Brugges definitely was more alive in the morning – all the bakeries and chocolateries were open, even an open air market. One afternoon in Brugges is more than you need – it was a very touristy town…but I’m glad I went. The people in Belgium are very sweet and accommodating to tourists. I’ll be hitting up Brussels in December with Jackie – so we’ll see how I feel about a bigger city.
As for last weekend, I was in Normandy, France. November 11th is Veterans day in the United States, so we thought that it might be cool to check out the beaches of Normandy and the American Military Cemetery so that we could actually be on American soil on Veterans day. There was a lot of history in Normandy to check out, including the long Tapestry of Bayeux, and then of course all the d-day stuff. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but it was interesting nonetheless. I was just with my friend, Kenna for half of the trip (we met up with more people on Saturday). It was good to travel with just one other person. I got a good idea of what it is going to be like in January when I’ll be just Jackie.
Probably my favourite part of the trip wasn’t actually seeing Bayeux or the beaches of Normandy, but hanging out at our hostel and meeting backpackers. I was inspired by all their stories. Three Australian guys were telling me about their adventures in Europe. They just decided to pick up life, pack it into a backpack and get jobs in Europe while at the same time travel around. Another Canadian girl, who ended up sleeping in the top bunk on top of me, is a graphic artist who just wanted to move to London for a couple years and work over here while traveling. She brought up a good point that it is a good idea to work in London so that you can make the pound and then your money will go a lot further when traveling (and supposedly there’s a special thing for Canadian citizens where it’s really easy for me to get a work visa for 2 years in the Netherlands, the UK and Australia!). These people were seeing things, meeting other backpackers along the way and just going from one adventure to the next. It just made me realize that I don’t have to be settling down or growing up too fast after college. I learned that as for making plans, you can’t really plan too far ahead because you have no idea where life will take you. All I know is that I plan on enjoying being young while I’m still young!
But more about France…I love France. We were done in Bayeux and Normandy earlier than we thought so we decided to head back to Paris a couple hours early and ended up quickly checking out the Eiffel Tower. (Can you believe that?! This is a typical weekend for me!) It was my first time seeing the Eiffel Tower in person – and it’s magical! I never really thought that it would be as cool or awe-inspiring as it was…but I was wow-ed. I can’t wait to be spending more time in Paris. It’s such a HUGE city (with quite the metro system!) – and it will definitely be putting my French to the test. Already on this weekend, I had to argue with the woman at the train station to get our free metro passes (free with the Eurail). I was kind of pleased with myself when I was able to get my message across – even though I really struggled. Oh well. C’est la vie!
Well, I’m off to Praha in the Czech Republic next weekend! As much as I love France, I can’t wait to be going back to Eastern Europe ☺