So let me start by apologizing for my last blog post. For some reason Amsterdam had me in a really bad mood for the first few days so I wasn't exactly in the best state of mind to write about our trip. Luckily, our third day was much better than the rest and at least left me with a good taste in my mouth.
We decided to get a cabin outside of the city, thanks to a tip from our good Frankfurt friend Christina. It was almost 45 minutes outside of town on the train and in the middle of the Amsterdam Bos, which basically means forest. It was beautiful out there. We had a little chalet to ourselves (the first night we haven't had roomates all trip). After we checked in in the morning, we went back to the city to rent bikes.
If you didn't know, Amsterdam is the bike capital of the world. Seriously. Bikes are everywhere and there are even bike lanes everywhere, complete with stop lights just for the peddlers. We got the bike for about three ours and started tooling around the city. It went back and forth from being tons of fun to absolutely terrifying. Intersections were the scariest things ever. Cars, people, trains and other bikes are all over the place. And of course they all know what they're doing, while we are just hoping not to crash or get run over.
We finally got down to Vondelpark and rode there (no traffic!) and took a little break to sit by the lake. I definitely like the park side of Amsterdam much more than the city. We then went over to Museumplein, a cool little park with the Van Gogh Museum and Rijkmuseum. It also has this massive statue that reads "I amsterdam." Of course we had to take pictures with that.
For dinner, we decided to go cheap and buy food at the grocery store. We got meat, cheese, bread, a massive sausage (Thomas' idea, which he came to regret) and a bottle of wine for just over 10 Euro. Pretty good deal if you ask me. We took this all back to the cabin and had a nice little dinner in our chalet. We realize that we haven't been eating full meals all trip, so if we ever get anything more than a snack we're pretty happy.
Our last night in Amsterdam was pretty relaxing and was exactly what I needed.
The next day we had a train from Amsterdam to Bruges, a little medieval city in the northern part of Belgium. Let's be honest: the only reason we cared about going to Belgium was the beer. And it was totally worth it.
It's a really tiny town (takes less than 30 minutes to walk across it) but it is super touristy. The first thing we did was wash clothes, which was very necessary. It was starting to get ugly. After that we enjoyed a few beers at the hostel bar during happy hour. What is great is that even the cheap beer in Belgium is amazing.
After a few more drinks, Thomas dove into his sausage. He was like a homeless man on the staircase just chomping away. He ate it again the next day. Then his stomach turned on him. But he still claims it was a good idea.
Fun sidenote; fries were apparently "invented" in Belgium. No lie. And they have all kinds of little fry stands there. I'm pretty sure all two meals that I ate there were fries. And they love to put mayonaise on there. Lots of it. They gave me a little tub of fries and about two pounds of mayonaise. It was delicious. I was glad that I got the mayo fries here since I missed out on that in Amsterdam. It just kept reminding me of the line from "Pulp Fiction:"
VINCENT: But you know what they put on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup?
VINCENT: I seen 'em do it. And I don't mean a little bit on the side of the plate, they fuckin' drown 'em in it.
So true. John Travolta doesn't lie. My fries drowned. Many times over. But they were delicious.
This morning we had to catch our train at about 1 p.m., so we decided to check out a church in town that has Michaelangelo's Madonna and Child in it. It's one of the very few pieces of his that made it out of Italy. The church was absolutely gorgeous and massive.
We barely made our train to Paris. When we got off to switch trains in Lille Flanders, we saw cops walking up to us. Out of the dozens of travellers who were unloading off of the train we were singled out. He comes up speaking French and I give him my classic "I have no clue what you're saying" look, which I've perfected over the past week and a half. Finally he realizes we speak English and ask for our passports. By this time, three other cops are standing around us looking us over. They look at our passports and start talking to each other. The only word we understand is Americans. I can't quite figure out what the connotation is. "Do you have any knives?" "Uhh, no." "Drugs?" I actually laughed. Why the hell would we have drugs, and if we did, why would we say yes? "Ha...no." Then they let us off. I'm not sure what made him key off on us. I guess I just have bad luck with bored cops when I travel (Texas...).
Despite that roadblock we made it to Paris unharmed and got to our hostel. We found out that on Friday's after 6 p.m. you can go to the Louvre for FREE! You know how much we love free stuff, so we jumped all over that. I never realized how huge the place is. It has three wings and each one is absolutely massive. And the pyramids outside were awesome. There's so much art in there it's overwhelming. And I don't really know art, so it all started to look the same to me, except for the obviously famous one. Of course, we had to go see the Mona Lisa. I've always heard people say that it is kind of anticlimactic. They're right. It's a pretty small painting behind a glass case. I understand why it's famous and it was amazing to see, but I just expect it to be more grand.
We wandered around for a little while longer until it closed at 10. We found the metro back, had our ceremonial doner (this one was terrible), and headed back to the hostel, where I'm abusing the free internet.
As I type, I'm putting pictures on the computer. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get them on Facebook, but we'll see if my computer wants to cooperate. If it does, I might try to add some to the blog posts also.
Tomorrow we're taking another free walking tour, then who knows what. We do have to change hostels, so I'm not sure if I have free internet or not. I think so, but who knows.
We're just over half way done! I really can't believe it. It's flown by!