Holla Holland!

Unlike Prague, I did know a few things about Amsterdam/Holland/Netherlands: weed is legal, wooden clogs, tulips, and wind mills. As you can guess that really doesn’t appeal much to me, and Amsterdam was not on the top of my list of must see places. However, Amsterdam is such an adorable city. It’s cobble stone everywhere, and EVERYONE rides there bike. By the central train station, there’s a 3 story parking garage…for bikes!

The pond in the center of town is frozen, and everyone was ice skating. Dutch people are super nice, and thankfully all speak English. The breakfast place near where we were staying, Bagels and Beans, was great because we could grab a bagel before heading off for the day. They had fresh squeezed orange juice, and I thought I was in heaven because I had a cold. I don’t even like orange juice, but the Vitamin C in Amsterdam is delicious:) We went to the Heineken Factory, Van Gogh Museum, and walked around the city taking it all in.

I’m really not much of a beer drinker, but the Heineken Factory was so much fun! It was super touristy, and I loved it…so many photo ops. We got two and half glasses with the tour…but I opted out of one of glasses to get my dragughtmaster certificate haha πŸ™‚ I failed the first attempt with too much foam…I guess bar tending isn’t in my future.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the Van Gogh museum, but it was neat to see some more of his artwork. We saw a few of pieces in the Museum de Orsay in Paris. I think it’s kind of ironic that Van Gogh’s most famous painting (arguably), Starry Night, isn’t in the Van Gogh Museum, but is in New York.

I got my picture with the Amsterdam letters! Dreams do come true! haha I think it’s so ridiculous that they put this monument in the city…but I love it.

I hope to visit Amsterdam before I leave again, it’s only 45 min. from London. I would love to go back and see Anne Franks house, and maybe take a ride out to a tulip field or wind mills, I think that would be fun!

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from paris to PRAGUE

I honestly had no idea what was in Prague, and really only went to celebrate a friends birthday. Nonetheless, I loved this city, it was really beautiful. I feel that it’s impressive that I can say this when it was only 15 degrees out at its warmest while I was there. It was REALLY cold. I had two things on my agenda while I was there: visit Prague Castle, and see the John Lennon wall. Unfortunately, I did neither. Fail.

I did go on a three hour walking tour, and almost thought I was going to die from the cold though! I survived…or as I like to think, I’m adapting. Thank goodness the tour guide was awesome…but I don’t think there’s enough layers in the world to stay warm when the temperatures drop to below 10 degrees.

Note: I was in Prague for a shorter amount of time than the other girls because I didn’t want to miss the Superbowl. So, they did Prague Castle the second day…and I watched the Giants win another Superbowl!! (They did have a six hour flight delay, and didn’t get home until 7 a.m., and one of them was a Giants fan…All’s well that ends well.)

Learning about the history of Prague was really funny. As they haven’t really had control of their own country until recently (or I think they do at least). The tour guide said his grandfather has lived in 7 “different countries” without ever moving. He also said that his two siblings and himself were all born in different territories, and they were all born in the same hospital.

The cold severely messed with my memory, or ability to listen, but some of my favorite things I did take away from the tour was…

The picture of the Astronomical Clock (the clock and astrology sign wheel on the tower) is supposedly “the most disappointing tourist attraction in Europe”. This really upset the city, so they decided to jazz it up by having a trumpet player, and windows with little characters that come out ringing a bell every hour. (However, for some reason I don’t remember, it wasn’t working while I was there). The tour guide didn’t understand how this could possibly have ranked worse than Stonehenge. I thought that was pretty hilarious…as Stonehenge is just rocks that nobody knows how they got there…and they’re in London.

Also, the really scary statue with the hood, and no face, I don’t remember what it’s significance was. But two people have tried to climb into it, and both were unsuccessful and had to be removed with medical assistance.

We also stayed in the best hostel/hotel? I don’t know what it was, it was more like a hotel than a hostel, but we found it on hostelworld.com, and it was quite inexpensive. It was so nice and cute though! They had the BEST breakfast. We were obsessed! πŸ™‚

Everyone’s pretty friendly, and the city is gorgeous, I’d love to go back when the weather’s warmer some day πŸ™‚

I’m a Tourist, and I couldn’t care less!

Yes those are the words Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire sang out as they ran around Paris to the Eiffel Tower. You might want to care a little bit, because the French are not exactly big fans of Americans…it’s true. But, it was so surreal standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. You see it in pictures your whole life, and it’s so big you can’t stop looking at it. Although you can go on it, it’s REALLY tall…I was perfectly content just looking at it, as I had no desire to be on it before, and the people looked awfully small all the way up there.

As much as I wish I could download each image individually, it just takes way too long! But if you’re in Paris and don’t feel up to going to the Louvre, then go to Museum De Orsay, it’s awesome! I saw Monet and Van Gogh paintings that I’ve only seen from the glossy pages of my text book, or draining slides of a powerpoint. In person it’s so much more grand!

Images above include the famous shopping street, Champs-Elysees, with the original Louis Vuitton. And I couldn’t resist capturing the absurd gated Abercrombie and Fitch that looked like it was in a palace with a line out the door? I don’t understand. At the end of the street, there was the Arc de Triomphe. Natalia Vodianova (translation: girl in underwear and bra) was on the back of every bus! She is after all a supermodel and the world of fashion, so I thought that was pretty cool.

The Notre Dame was cool, but I’m not too keen on gothic style architecture. So, naturally I thought the Β Sacre-Coeur Basilica in Monmarte was more beautiful. We went on Sunday and got to walk through the church during a ceremony. I couldn’t take pictures inside of course, but the inside was beautiful too!

When I go back to Paris, I’m dying to see the Palace of Versailles, as I have an obsession with Marie Antoinnete.

Day Trip: Oxford

Woke up early and decided I wanted to go to Oxford, but I wasn’t sure how to get there/what to do there. So, Addi googled, and we found out we could catch a bus there round trip for 13 pounds at a nearby tube stop. So off we went!

While on the bus, with wi-fi of course, I googled “what to do in oxford.” I found a 2 hour walking tour free of charge that got great reviews, so we decided to catch the tour at 2. You’ll find these tours a lot in Europe, and they’re great because it’s usually students who give the tours, and you tip at the end based on how much you enjoyed it. This was the Footprints tour, and I highly recommend it, it was great!

I didn’t know but the University of Oxford is actually not one school, it’s made up of 38 different universities. In addition to learning about the schools and such, we saw the building that the Harry Potter dining hall is in, and the hospital scenes are in. πŸ™‚ Apparently the wooden door, with the weird little elfish creature, inspired C.S. Lewis in The Chronicle of Narnia and the series The Lord of the Rings. Also Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland in Oxford!