Day Sixteen & Seventeen: Listy McListerson*

*Young House Love reference. They’re sort of my favorite.

Monday and Tuesday were about meeting deadlines and staring at a computer screen until I actually felt dizzy, so let’s make some fun lists instead of recapping work!

Things I didn’t expect to do in Belgium.

  1. Eat raw meat. One of the other interns introduced me to the “American sandwich,” which you would think, you know, is a peanut butter and jelly or something. Nope. It was this literal RAW MEAT PASTE mixed with chopped onions and topped with lettuce (usually topped with fries). And you know what? I ate the whole damn thing. I think I had skipped breakfast that day.
  2. Ice my ankles. One weekend-day of wandering around with my reef sandals on, and boom. Elevated, iced, drugged. Seriously, none of my shoes are comfortable enough for long term walking, and I don’t even see tourists in sneakers. The young ladies of Europe must be trained from a young age to walk on cobblestones in heels, because even with a few years of stumbling through Quincy Market under my belt, I’m doomed here.
  3. Develop a sense of direction. It may be limited, but for those of you who know me and how easily/frequently I get lost and/or use my smartphone (even when I drive to the same place every week for months), this is something of a Big Deal. Mayyybe it’s because I don’t have a car, or GPS, or any support besides a quick Google Map check before I go somewhere. And it’s not like I can always ask for directions (see next list).
  4. Use my phone! If you have Viber or What’s App and my number, I can text you and send you absurd emoticons anytime. Expect something like this (Roo is another favorite blogger).
  5. Feel weird about telling people where I’m from. Not weird as in sorry-I’m-from-the-US weird, but my whole life the answer has been Boston or New England. Now it’s like, I’m from the US. And I’m a minority here. That’s weird.

Things I learned in my first two weeks.

  1. Just because I can ask for directions in French doesn’t mean I have a darn clue what they say back to me.
  2. Dresses > skirts > dress pants > jeans > shorts with tights > shorts > sweatpants.
  3. Calcified water is the devil, and my hair is pretty sad.
  4. Quality Belgian chocolate has a similar cost/weight ratio to printer ink.
  5. Stay updated with your news, always. People will ask America questions and say sorry for America things and you need to know what they are talking about. So far that’s been Snowden, Keystone XL, fires in Arizona, and Obama’s visit – I was the happy one to share the news about DOMA. 🙂
  6. Always carry an umbrella. As long as you have it, it won’t rain.

Things I thought I could live without but really miss. (Or, things I took for granted in the US.)

  1. Sweatpants. Disregard above statement. I need warmer sleep clothes but I want to spend money on nicer things to bring home… so I found a cheap blanket or two instead.
  2. Please excuse the moment of vanity but the other 90% of my makeup and hair products. But I only need like two or three more things.
  3. Sunshine, but this is getting significantly better. “In Belgium, the summer comes on Saturday.”
  4. A clothes dryer. It’s frustrating to have to time your clothes washing appropriately with the weather, so I haven’t washed things often. Fortunately I brought more than enough to wear, and if I’m stuck I can bring them to a laundromat.
  5. More books in English! They’re expensive here, so I’ve been trading/borrowing for reading in my free time.

Things I’m OK leaving behind. 

  1. Eating dinner before 830 PM.
  2. Leaving work before 6PM.
  3. A smartphone. Really.
  4. Expensive wine. 🙂
  5. My car (but only in this context, because I love and miss you Leopold and don’t you forget it.)

To finish up with my crazy amount of pictures from the Netherlands, these are from Annika’s adorable little city Utrecht:

the netherlands from the train. i could get used to that. mostly unedited photo, too, it was that bright outside.

the netherlands from the train. i could get used to that. mostly unedited photo, too, it was that bright outside.

the dom is the highest church tower in the netherlands

the dom is the highest church tower in the netherlands

the canon saint of the dom.

the canon saint of the dom.

i lit a candle, i hope there's no rules against lighting protestant candles as a catholic, haha.

i lit a candle, i hope there’s no rules against lighting protestant candles as a catholic, haha.

i was so proud of myself for remembering all the religious relics were destroyed as part of the reformation. which instantly made this the oldest thing i've ever been in the presence of.

i was so proud of myself for remembering all the religious relics were destroyed as part of the reformation. which instantly made this the oldest manmade thing i’ve ever been in the presence of.

inside the dom

inside the dom

i love the cat sneaking through the old garden. annika said this place isn't usually open to tourists, so he probably watches over it in our absence.

i love the cat sneaking through the old garden. annika said this place isn’t usually open to tourists, so he probably watches over it in our absence.

Day Fourteen & Fifteen: Amsterdam and Utrecht

I should preface this whole post by saying Dutch is a crazy language, and now I really want to learn it.

After a lazy start to our Saturday, Annika and I first went to a small cafe near her apartment. The area is not touristy enough to have English translations on their menus. I ended up going with a goat cheese and honey sandwich, which ended being toast, an entire carton of goat cheese, and a little honey. But it was SOGOOD.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmhm.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmhm.

Until I got a stomach ache half way through and had a sugar high for the rest of the day. #worthit

We metro-ed to Utrecht Centraal, where we caught a high speed train to Amsterdam, only half an hour away. I brought all the rain gear I could and BEHOLD we had a beautiful sunny day. I love when that happens. Annika took me to the top floor of the bibliotheek (library) for a great view of the city. There was a super sweet gentleman playing piano on the first floor (it was up for the public to use, sort of like the ones hanging out in the city in Boston), the design of the place was unreal, and the view was spectacular. An unconventional first stop in a city but a great choice.


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Since we got a late start to the day, we decided a canal boat tour would be the most efficient/awesome way to see as much as of the city as we could. We happened to find a great deal in the visitor’s center when we first arrived  – we got cheaper tickets, to leave whenever we wanted, and they came with a free coffee and food. The girl even switched the coffee to chai for us, you’re wonderful. The company was called LOVERS which made our trip even more memorable, haha. I didn’t see any lovers on our boat. Our table-mates were a mom and her two daughters; the mom promptly passed out cold on the table for an hour, haha. Her daughter kept taking pictures of her with an iPad, which was excellent.

The tour was great, because they explained what we were looking at – the statues on the tops of some buildings (often Neptune), why there are hooks on the facade of the buildings (for a rope and pulley system to get merchandise in and out of the stores – now for moving furniture out of the house – because the stairs are too narrow to bring things up), where the famous homes are (Anne Frank especially), and what the canals names were (I liked the ‘Gentlemen’s Canal’ personally). The announcements were translated into SO MANY languages – we heard at least dutch, english, chinese, indonesian, german (?), and at least two others.  Our captain was a little odd and made a few unplanned stops (?) but aside from that it was worth the money spent.

It wouldn’t be Amsterdam without visiting the Red Light District, so we walked through but most places were closed until the evening. We passed quite a few bachelor parties, with the grooms-to-be all dressed as something absurd. Usually a beer wench, sometimes a terrorist. Yes really. I didn’t get a picture, sadly. And sorry, no space cakes or coffee house visits, I know you’re wondering. 🙂

After some shopping and picture-taking we headed back to Utrecht. I was really proud of myself for remembering a recipe for sausage, peppers, and onions pasta (Bob I hope you’re reading that!) and it turned out DELICIOUS with bratwurst. After a few glasses of red wine we were in no shape to go out that night, and happily so. More late night talking and dreaming of traveling together. Hopefully very, very soon!

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[i was aiming for the name of the boat – ludwig van beethoven – so this picture really was just a happy accident]

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[flag of the netherlands]

[amsterdam centraal]

[amsterdam centraal]

I took way too many pictures, so in the interest of your computer’s sanity…. more Amsterdam photos after the jump!

 

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french quarter architecture, new orleans, louisiana.

french quarter architecture, new orleans, louisiana. royal street is lined with lots of shops and galleries for the tourists, but all i could pay attention to was the buildings themselves, especially above eye level. the building on the left has an example of the cast iron porches constructed through the late 1800s. the building on the right demonstrates the wrought iron that usually predated it.

french quarter architecture, new orleans, louisiana. royal street is lined with lots of shops and galleries for the tourists, but all i could pay attention to was the buildings themselves, especially above eye level. the building on the left has an example of the cast iron porches constructed through the late 1800s. the building on the right demonstrates the wrought iron that usually predated it.