Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Break Days 2-4

I’m writing this on a high speed train on my way to Munich (I’ll post it to my blog later) We’ll have to stop in Frankfurt and switch trains. It will be an 8 hour train ride and we are relived to finally be off our feet for most of a day. But first things first, the second day in Paris was just as fun as the first. We kicked off with a free hostel breakfast of baguettes with butter and jam (baguettes are a true French stereotype…along with small dogs and bicycles). We met James again and he took us to the triumphal arch and the Louvre. The Louvre was fantastic, although we kind of had to rush through it. I got to see the Mono Lisa along with so many masterpiece art and statue works it was overwhelming. We finished at the Louvre with a walk around its medieval foundation which was actually found relatively recently when they went to dig a foundation for the pyramid (I really regretted not having recently watched the “Da Vinci Code” a movie which features lots of things in the Louvre and was therefore referred to many times by James). My favorite story from the Louvre occurred during an excavation of a well in which they found a crown and have very little idea as to how it got there (My imagination suspects a person of royalty getting frustrated and chunking their crown down the well in front of everybody in a fit of rage.
On the way to the Triumphal Arch We decided to be nice and wait for Emily to “shop” along the street “Champs Elysees” which is apparently very famous for extremely high end clothing and purses…I am not one to really care. James walked us to the train station where we thanked him profusely for taking us around Paris. Paris would have definitely not been very fun without a fluent French speaker…they have attitude problems there, it’s definitely an accurate stereotype (note that all stereotypes have exceptions like Julian a funny and very awesome French guy who lives a flat above mine…although he is from Nice not Paris). Anyway we completed everything we desired to do in Paris a few hours ahead of schedule so we picked up our bags from our sketchy hostel’s baggage room and walked to the train station to catch a ride to Brussels.
Brussels Belgium was fantastic. In case you didn’t know “French Fries” were actually created in Belgium. Our hostel was just about perfect for a Youth Hostel. Unlike the very sketchy Paris hostel we stayed in this one had everything conveniently laid out and clean. Brussels is considered the Capitol of the European Union. This became apparent as there were many different languages that we ran into and most of the signs had at least three languages on them. We set out that evening and found a famous pub (Greenwich) where people play chess. Scott and I won a game each as we tasted some wonderful Belgium beers. (Emily just came along for the ride since her attendance at North Greenville University doesn’t allow her to drink and she wasn’t that interested in a chess game).
*Currently* We’ve just made it through our Frankfurt train switch. We met some very interesting people on the train. One lady was an artist who showed us some of her work. She is currently renovating a small opera in some small town in Minnesota. Her life goal is to get the building self sustaining and live in it teaching art. The man she was with explained the physics of why our ears hurt as we went through the tunnel going 277 kilometers per hour(it has to do with the air pressure created on the outside of the train causing pressure on the inside). We also realized we were sitting across from a man who probably had recovered from a stroke because it took him a while to find his bag (we thought a guy from Iraq had stolen it for a moment) and he was very slow. *End Currently*
In Brussels that night we also visited the stock market building, went to a small market and visited Grand Platz(sp?) which is a beautiful plaza in Brussels. Our night in the hostel was excellent and they even served a very nice breakfast the next morning which included all kinds of cereals, fruits, OJ, ham, bread and jam (mocha/hot chocolate machine included). That morning we met fellow CLAM student Helena at the Mannekuin Pis which is a famous statue of a child peeing. She showed us to the triumphal arch and found us some real (and amazing) Belgium waffles on the way. I got one smothered with real fresh strawberries and white chocolate. Helena had to leave us at the Arch which I liked more than the one in Paris. We hopped on the metro, grabbed our bags from the hostel and on our way back to the train station we bought some fantastic chocolate. We had spent the day before hunting for some good chocolate. Of the Brussels chocolate shops Scott said “Chocolate shops in Brussels are just like Sam’s for lunch you can go in and get your fill of samples” and he’s right. We had went to Chocopolis and got several good pieces of chocolate each (which we have just finished eating on this train…we figure we’ll find more in Germany and Switzerland so we made room for it). After Chocopolis we booked it to the station where we caught the 5:10 train to Amsterdam.
We got into Amsterdam around 8:30 and went to find our hostel. So we find the address and ring the bell for the hostel. We are greeted by an Arab sounding black man who looks like someone who should be playing in the NBA. We had to climb one of the steepest staircases I’ve ever been on to get up to the check in desk and then we climbed another to get to our room. Please picture this scene. It’s me Scott and Emily standing in our room’s (Scotts and mine) doorway we are still holding up our very heavy backpacks and luggage staring foolishly into the room (Scott and I are both very strait). In the room (Scott booked all the hostels so I blame him) is a double bed. On each side are pillow cases, they have big dark red hearts on them, the comforter on the bed is half passionate dark red with another huge heart on it. In a large and well scripted font the words “Rose of Love” is sprawling out before us on both the pillows and the bed’s comforter. It took us a good minute before we could actually laugh about this. Except Emily who died laughing and went to find her room.
We went out and explored some of Amsterdam that night. This included riding a huge “swings on wheel” fair ride that took me and Emily a good ten stories up and swung us around for a scary, but beautiful 360 degree view of the city. Scott decided that he had just eaten and liked his feet on the ground. We also appeased Emily by going by Anne Frank’s house. Afterwards, we made our way back to the hostel and fell asleep to voyage in our dreams on our rose of love (please laugh here as there was nothing we could do about it).*On a side note (and I'm very proud of this) Scott bought a Euro/UK electricity converter and, to say the least, it didn't work so he gave me permission to tear it apart. I found that an internal connection piece was missing, so we MacGyvered it using a metal piece that was holding part of it together to make the connection. We snapped it back together and plugged it in and had to break it open twice more to get the steal peice flat enough to make the connection well....but after 20 minutes of messing with it we got it to work (college kids in Europe...rock on). *Ok so I can finally tell you about this morning. Today we caught a bus out to some tourist trap Holland area. We got to tour a windmill that was/is used to crush peanuts to get the peanut oil out (which can be used for deep frying and other such applications). We unfortunately didn’t have as much time as I would have liked there, but we got to see some ducks along and a wooden shoe production museum. We bought some delicious bread from the bakery museum (mine was lemon Scott got cinnamon) and enjoyed the beauty of the canals and green fields that surround them. Then we caught our bus back to the train station and after letting Emily buy a ticket we hopped on the high speed train to Munich...we’ve enjoyed some beautiful German countryside, some interesting people, a stop in Frankfurt , and some rain bows that brought with them some rain. Our hope is to get to Munich and take one more short train ride to a village where Scott’s uncle’s old college roommate will hopefully pick us up and let us invade his (and families)home for the next two days. (Sorry the blogs are days internet and computer time is putting a dampener on things, but I'm doing my best to catch up).

1 comment:

  1. great pics! I want some belgian waffles like that!!