Monday, July 22, 2013


last but not least (definitely not least!) of my benelux excursion: amsterdam, the netherlands.  what is there to say about amsterdam?  EVERYTHING.  EVERYTHING IS TO SAY ABOUT AMTERDAM.

i loveloveLOVED amsterdam!  now, i did make friends straight away so maybe that makes me biased as they were quite spectacular and i really want to go visit some in scotland, but it was beautiful! the weather was just as bad here (except the last day - sun!) as all the others with rain and not quite warmth, but i loved this city.  the canals and the buildings - adorbs!

hostel: i stayed at the st. christopher's at the winston (a hostel).  this place was amazing!  it included towels, the rooms and ensuite bathroom were impeccably clean, and the attached restaurant gave us spectacular food and bev discounts and 2-for-1 deals.  if you are going to amsterdam, definitely stay here!  the atmosphere is lovely and great fun!

transport: i walked everywhere - again, there are trams, but unless you're going a fair distance, you can really walk anywhere.  walking also give you a better opportunity to take in the buildings and canals and awesomeness that is amsterdam!

food: i had most of my meals at our hostel - which were excellent - though we did hit up a chinese restaurant in china town (tasty) and a bagel shop for hangover cures one morning.

communication: more english speaking.  everyone.  all over.  englishenglishenglish.

sights: i did a canal tour - there are a bajillion different options with the same prices etc. - but i went with the "see amsterdam" company located next to the anne frank house.  i ended up being the only person on my cruise which made it more awesome as my driver turned off the automated voice that describes everything to give me better details about the city.  other than that, i walked around.  i wanted to go in the anne frank house but the line was legit over an hour wait.  ain't nobody got time for that!  after the cruise is when i befriended a canadian guy at my hostel who then introduced me to his 4 new scottish friends.  we went to a museum and got to see some cool van gogh paintings (like that yellow flower pot one and that smoking skeleton one).  mainly though, we just walked around - in and out of street markets, in and out of the red light district (which, btw, is a must see!), etc. etc.  such a beautiful city!!!

nightlife: spectacular!  my friends and i wandered to different places, but had an excellent time!  lots of dancing and drinking (obv).  i was there on a thursday and a friday, but i feel like amsterdam probably has a great scene other nights, too.  one night was more chill and we even got to chat with some locals who were really nice and friendly!  


cool houses + house boat

my new friends!

also my new friends!


street market




Sunday, July 21, 2013

rotterdam and its crazy buildings

next stop: rotterdam, the netherlands.

i know, i am beasting out these entires.  how?  how does she do it? how does she write these so promptly when usually she keeps us guessing for weeks, months even, at a time?  i'll tell you how.  magical elves, that's how.  and glitter. 

hostel: i stayed at the ROOMhostel.  it had recieved excellent reviews online but i was a little nervous when i got there and people were, as at the rest of my hostels, not very social.  the first night, i didn't care and i passed out - i was exhausted from antwerp shenanigans and didn't even hear people coming or going in that room.  this hostel was a nice than brussels but maybe a little ghettoer.  this gave to its charm; i ended up befriending two americans in a band (it was just the two of them though) who invited me to their show where i also got to interact a lot with the hostel employees, all super nice.  also, this place had a DOG.  spectacular!  one negative: the ladies' room ran out of TP nonstop and it took way too long to get it replaced.

transport: while there is a tram system running all over, i just walked everywhere. it was easier (and cheaper) that way.

food: i went to a few places that were recommended somewhere on the internet or by the hostel.  little/larger cafes - all excellent!  one thing, however, annoyed me - although i think this is a "problem" all over europe.  a "large coffee" was more like the size of an espresso, except it wasn't espresso - it was coffee.  i like my coffee venti sized, pls.

communication: again, english everywhere.

sights: i did a river cruise as well as a self-guided (free) architecture walking tour.  the cruise probs would have been better if the weather weren't shit, but i got to learn about the city and see a bajllion shipping crates (no, seriously - a bajillion).  the architecture is cray there and definitely worth seeing!  i didn't go inside any place, but there were some tours available. 

nightlife: i was there on tuesday and wednesday nights - there was bar stuff going on, but not much.  my band friends attracted quite a crowd to a very tiny bar, but i think most people said those aren't really happenin' nights.


cube houses

the red apple

this one



Saturday, July 20, 2013

i love antwerp! i even bought the [obnoxious touristy] bag to prove it!

ok, my next city was antwerp, belgium.  not gonna lie - i was really excited to get out of brussels.  it didn't hurt that the weather was beautiful!  i got to antwerp and when i got off the tram was all smiles.  for real.  lots of creepy smiles.

here are things about my stay:

hostel: i stayed at the antwerp city hostel (a member of hosteling international).  it was super clean but also the equivalent of sterile.  SO much concrete.  SO MUCH!  here, however, i made some bffs.  second day i met a girl from brazil staying with me and we ended up having a drink together that evening which turned into us befriending two other solo travelers, two guys from italy and [french] canada.  all of the other guests were strangely doing work on their computers and in meetings - we were like, F that.  other than these, the hostel was in an excellent location and very easy to get to and from and nearby everything!

transport: i took the train and then the tram to my hostel, but i really could have walked from the train station to the hostel.  the tram runs all about but was pretty unnecessary.  antwerp was very walkable.

food: less exciting, though my food was good.  i had some pizza, ice cream from a truck, waffle from same truck, and the usual - BEER.

communication: everyone spoke english.  every menu was available in english.  easy.

sights:  i pretty much saw it all, but mostly from the outside - the schelde river, the 't steen castley thing, the grote markt, and the cathedral of our lady (which i paid to go in - student price FTW!).  i appreciated the architecture here more than in brussels even though i'm not sure of any striking differences; i think perhaps i just liked the city and the atmosphere here more and therefore liked the sites more.  antwerp is a small city however; you can do the whole thing in a day.

nightlife: i was there on sunday and monday nights so not too much going on, but my new friends and i made it out to a karaoke bar on monday which was quite hilarious as they offered songs in nearly every language!  one rando was particularly awesome having an incredible voice and singing songs in 5 different languages!


the schelde

't steen

cathedral of our lady


Friday, July 19, 2013

brussels, belgium

ok, so i guess i should get on with the other cities of my benelux excursion before i need to blog about my spain trip so that's my new goal - write these and publish them before i leave on 26 july!

let's get going.  my next stop, after a 3 hour train ride from luxembourg city, was brussels, belgium.

hostel: i stayed at the brussels hello hostel.  it happened to be under construction on the ground floor while i was there, but this didn't impede my stay in any way as my room/showers/toilets were all on the first floor.  i didn't have great roommates - two girls from canada who seemed to be having a great time but were only interested in each other, one chinese girl who didn't speak, and a spanish girl who was constantly whistling like a bird to call to her male friend staying in another room.  whistling girl was the most obnoxious of them all.  the bartender and her friend were really nice though and i spent both evenings chatting to them.  annoying, though - my room was directly above the bar and the music was SO LOUD.  sleep?  i guess i'll try that some time.

transport: i had no issues using the metro - very easy to use and very easy to access the whole city.  i did a lot of walking too which maybe was not the best idea - some areas were what i would consider sketch and as i was travelling alone, i felt quite uncomfortable at times; it's hard to tell where to go and where not to go on a map.

food: dear god, BELGIAN WAFFLES.  i nommed the crap out of these guys - only 1 euro + extra for toppings everywhereeee!  also, fries.  FRIES.  MORE FRIES.  really tasty and cheap and thus easy access.  restaurants were another situation - most places only had one veg option, veg lasagne, and no chicken option.  also, one place i went in wasn't serving food... even though it was "dinner time" and they had their menu out on the side walk.  i felt like the most awkward of turtles so i just had a beer and got fries afterwards from a truck.

communication: everyone spoke english, but a lot of menus weren't available in english so i did occasionally have to ask what stuff was.

sights: lots of walking.  my favorite place, as touristy as it was, was the grand place/grote markt.  i felt comfortable there amongst my fellow selfie-snappers and waffle stand queuers.  it was also beautiful!  there weather was shite - i had to buy an extra hoodie because i thought i was going to die - which may have contributed to this being my least favorite city.  the architecture was cool, but nothing that caught my eye.  i also went to a gueuze brewery - the cantillon brewery.  while it was in a less than ideal neighborhood, it was pretty cool to learn about their special beer making magic that involves letting every spider live and never clearing cobwebs.  i even bought myself a tshirt and my bf a pint glass!

nightlife: didn't do anything here, but the canadian girls seemed to be enjoying themselves.

grand place


obligatory peeing boy statue pic "manneken pis"

enjoying beer.  i look creepily happy.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

¡solamente nueve días a españa!

yo sé, yo sé - necesito escribir como las otras ciudades que vi en europa - pero ahora, ¡solamente puedo creer de mi viaje a españa!  este viaje es diez años en el haciendo.  así, voy a decir vos.  (y mis apologías si mi español no es perfecto.  no he tenido un clase de español en ocho años pero he estudiado en el internet con "livemocha," mi sitio favorito para aprender lenguas.  es como paseando un bicicleta, ¿no? jajaja.)

la saga: en mi escuela secundario, en mi clase de español, se suponía que íbamos a viajar a españa en 2003.  hemos pagado y dos o tres meses antes del viaje, la escuela nos dijo que no podemos ir.  porque hemos pagado, decidimos que viajaríamos el próximo año.

en el próximo año, 2004, más estudiantes decidieron ir a españa con nuestra profesora.  entonces, la escuela - ¡la escuela! - nos dijo otra vez que no podemos ir.  una amiga de yo luchó la escuela y podía tener su moneda del viaje.  yo y los otros decidimos ir a españa con tres padres de los estudiantes.  ¡todo estuve bueno!  o nosotros pensamos que sí.  en madrid, fue bombardeos en los trenes una semana antes de nuestro viaje.  todos nuestros padres no estaban feliz.  también, la compañía de viajes no quería ir a españa durante ese tiempo.

decidimos ir a perú.  fue un viaje magnífico pero ahora, diez años en el futuro, todavía no he ido a españa.

ahora, mi amiga jenn está estudiando en alicante, españa.  en nueve días, iré a barcelona y en trece días, ¡iré a alicante!  ¡va a ser muy muy MUY bueno!  también, vamos a ir a granada, málaga, tangier (¡en morocco!), y madrid.  ¡estoy muy excitada!  el sol, las playas, las ciudades, y in viaje con una amiga - ¡excelente!

vale - necesito hacer trabajo del laboratorio.  ¡solamente siete días de ciencias más!