I Feel Guilty…For Being Busy Having Fun

I feel guilty that you guys have only read my pissy rant and haven’t heard any of the good stuff we’ve been experiencing. There’s been so much that it’s hard to keep up with, and I’m not gonna lie, some experiences are sweeter when you save them for yourself…like gelato. 😋

Let me reach back in my memory and start at the beginning of our time in Rome.

Pre-mature P.S.: We got a new Airbnb and it’s awesome.

Colosseum

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The almighty Colosseum! This was the first thing we chose to see for many reasons – the first being it’s an actual stop on the tram route. This was especially cool because it marks the third New7Wonders of the World that I’ve seen (others are Christ the Redeemer, also seen with Shan O, and Petra. Who knows, maybe I’ll hit all seven before I’m 30 😊). In short, it’s just as big as you’d imagine, and being in its presence is a breathtaking experience. I think Shan and I will spend one of our last days taking a tour of this kick-ass historic community gathering place.

New Artwork Among the Old: Lapidarium

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We found this horse and scratched our heads – we hadn’t heard of this one before. After some quick Googling, we found it’s part of a traveling exhibit that’s making a very relevant statement – “we all come from the same place”.

This horse is one of 43 as created by Guastavo Aceves, and together the collection speaks to the omnipresent issue of human migration and Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis. Funny thing is, Aceves began this show eight years ago, before the crisis we are familiar today became as complicated as it is. To read more about it, I encourage you to check out this article from The Guardian.

The Arch of Constantine

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Not too far from Lapidarium stands the Arch of Constantine. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I‘s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the largest Roman triumphal arch. Though dedicated to Constantine, much of the decorative material incorporated earlier work from the time of the emperors Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138) and Marcus Aurelius (161–180), and is thus a collage. Thx Wikipedia.

Forums of Rome: Augustus, Caesar, Trajan, Nerva, and the Roman One

While walking down Via dei Fori Imperiali, one is surrounded by gorgeous ruins that once stood as forums. It’s hard to imagine how these structures stood before they crumbled, but the remains are still a fascinating sight to see.

Here’s a little something I found by the forums that made me laugh:

Capitoline Hill

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Rome’s “Capitol Hill” is another beauty I’ve dreamt about visiting since seeing it in the movies. When you walk through the gate and onto the steps, you’re told not to sit anywhere on or inside it – that’s a real bummer when the entire structure is comprised of what seems like a thousand steps. My calves were a-burnin’ 🔥 but the nuggets of information scattered throughout and incredible views from the top make it 100% worth the breathlessness.

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View from atop the cordonata
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Panorama numero uno
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Dos
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Tres

Trevi Fountain

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Ahh, the cornerstone to every RomCom taking place in Rome. As you may already know, there are a few myths surrounding the famous Baroque art piece when it comes to tossing coins into the water. The first one is an older legend, whereas the second two are attributed to the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain.

Throw one coin over your right shoulder, and you will return to Rome one day.

Throw two coins, and a new romance will come your way.

To throw three coins will lead to marriage.

Needless to say I dumped my whole purse in there.

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I’m not ashamed! All of the money in the fountain is donated to Caritas, an Italian charity. And according to BBC News in 2006, an estimated 3,000 euros was collected each night.

All of these sights were seen on our first active day here (after we caught up on sleep from our night without it). Of course we ended that day with pizza – pizza is the best way to end any day! And I’ve eaten it a bunch of times since then…I’ve got some pictures to prove it. But I’ll save that for a blog post entirely dedicated to the delicious food we’ve consumed since stepping on Italian soil.

Until then, wish us luck on covering everything we’ve missed in the two days we have left!

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✌🏼

Not Exactly How I Pictured It

I’d like to start this post by saying that I am not as mad or complainy as the rest of my words may suggest. I was tired, aggravated, and trying to channel my inner gonzo after reading Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”. Trust me, I understand every hiccup is part of the adventure 😁 Now I hope you enjoy this mess from the comfort of your own, fully-functioning home.

Feb 9th – 7 pm

“Ehh…we have a slight problem.”

I stood there rubbing my eyes with my fists because I woke up sixty seconds earlier from a sleep coma caused by the purest form of laziness. I had my hood pulled over my bed head and an annoyed look on my face. Staring back at me was the guy in charge of management who was wearing a blue vest – the same one who checked us into our disaster of an Airbnb just 6 days prior. What could be so big of a problem that we needed to be disturbed at 19:00?

“Yes?” I croaked.

“Your keetchen water has been leaking into the apartment downstairs and we have to move you tonight. I am so veddy sorry”

My puffy eyes glared back at him. “Like, right now? Is that what yesterday’s obnoxious 8 am construction was for?”

“Ehh yes I am so sorry about this. Eet is a problem that is out of our control.”

Shannon caught wind of the conversation and leaped from her comfy setup of being buried under her laptop and Giants blanket.

“Wai-hey-hey-t. We have to pack up all of our shit and get out of here right now. To where, exactly?” I think she thought it was a joke at first.

“We can go with your theengs or we can check it out first, huh?” he proposed. Our current place was barely functional, let alone comfortable, so we weren’t opposed to an upgrade if we were in store for one.

I locked the dead bolts behind me. I didn’t bother throwing on a jacket because the house of condominiums was only so big, so I figured we weren’t going very far. Of course I was wrong. Number one rule of travel is don’t expect ANYTHING, unless you’re at a 3-star hotel or more. Because when you’re paying only 20-something Euro a night to stay in the “up-and-coming” neighborhood of Rome, you have very little to fight back with when shit doesn’t go your way.

We followed Blue Vest who took us out the gate of our building and down the dimly lit, siren-echoing street. He said the place was not much further and an upgrade in his opinion. Smaller but nicer, apparently.

We turned the corner and headed up a hill, every step further from the tram station that was our portal to the Rome that we came here to experience. Behind another gate was the door to our new place.

“You have a terrace and a garden,” he said with pep in his voice. It’s February. When the sun doesn’t shine, it’s freakin’ cold. I could care less about dead plants outside my bedroom. Shannon was a few glasses of wine deep so she was buying everything he said. I wasn’t. I couldn’t. Something about the 8 am construction we weren’t warned about made me question the management here.

With a key and a strong push, Blue Vest popped the door open to a loft that was definitely rented out to couples. How do I know that? 1. It was tiny as shit and 2. There was only one bed! Oh yeah, did I mention our first place was a 2-bedroom with only one clean queen-sized bed? It was assumed we were sharing a room even though our Airbnb request blatantly said BEST FRIENDS. Here we were again with one bed and a saggy couch covered in horses with a view of Marilyn Monroe posing on another couch. Awesome.

We looked at it and left – there’s not much to see in a loft. We walked back, now cold AF, and faced the fact that our next twenty minutes would comprise of us shoving all of our belongings and then some into our suitcases to haul them back to the loft we walked from.

“Does it have a washer?” Shannon asked. Cleaning your clothes is a major concern when you only have three outfits to rotate between. Plus our last place had one.

“Ehh no but I can wash your clothes for you.” I’m sorry but the image of Blue Vest handling my Victoria’s Secret panties was not something I felt comfortable with. I’d rather have a garbage bag full of my dirty shit to take to Florence with me than risk having my clean stuff handled by this guy who was breaking this terrible news to us. No grazie.

Regardless of the washer we weren’t going to have, we packed our shit. Another man joined Blue Vest to help us with our things and they reassured us it was okay because they had a car for us to transport us and our things. That changes everything!

“Eets only for two nights until this problem ees fixed,” said Blue Vest. I cringed at the thought of moving again.

When we got back to the loft, they unloaded our things from the car, filled the toilet bowl with water, and began to dust. This place hadn’t been used in a long while and you definitely could tell.

“What’s the WiFi password?” Shannon asked because that is our literal lifeline to the rest of the world. It’s how I’m sharing this story with you now. Without it I am completely isolated aside from the person who’s been by my side for the past month, who is practically an extension of me.

The two men exchanged some words in Italian. Blue Vest made a phone call to find the answer. He said he would go back to the management office to get the keys to the place next door to find out. While he did this, Shannon and I sat on the couch refreshing our WiFi waiting for something to show up. Nothing did. There is no WiFi here…great.

When he got back, we discovered it worked out on the terrace. It’s currently 50-degrees Fahrenheit outside. I’m pretty fucking pissed at this point. We got the password and he left before we could bitch any more (I don’t blame him).

“Byeeee ladies!”

So, I’m writing this from the saggy horse couch while Shannon sits on her laptop at the rickety table on our 10×10 patio. The door is open and she’s drunk and singing “Rock the Casbah” while she makes the best of a bad situation. To follow suit and flip my mind from being stuck on negative, I walked to the kitchen sink to pour myself a glass of water and take a calm-the-fuck-down sip. To my surprise, there was water all over the ground trickling into the cracks of the tiles. I don’t think we had even used the sink yet but the cabinet below it was leaking everywhere. Oh, and we have no paper towels. Shannon is sending Blue Vest a video of the proof while I’m sit here steaming mad, not sure what to do about the current situation.

A hotel sounds extremely sexy right now. I’d go almost anywhere in the city – at any cost – so I didn’t have to be here anymore. But, my best friend is drunk and laughing it off, and finding another place would require me to join her on the freezing terrace to hook up to the WiFi. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I can guarantee you I’m not dealing with this shit at the moment. Blue Vest is on his way back so let’s see what he proposes to be done.

*A whole bunch of bullshit later* – Feb 10 – 10:17 pm

We were told we had to stay in this new place for ten more days which is not fucking happening so we found a new place we’re moving into tomorrow. We were invited out on this Friday night by Blue Vest (out of pity I’m sure) but can’t take him up on it because we have no hot water in the shower and I went on a run today for the first time in months!!!!! Oy.

We’re able to check into our new apartmentat 1 pm, but first, we have to go back to the management office to collect the money we paid for the tourist tax. Whether or not we get the rest of our money we paid for the nights we won’t stay here is TBD – we have yet to hear back from the guy who owns the property via Airbnb. Blue Vest told us he’s in the hospital for a heart problem…yikes. Not good news when three of your properties are experiencing major issues. Luckily my friend Chris got me the email of one of Airbnb’s executives – shoutout to you, Chris – so we will get our money back eventually…somehow.

To fill you in on what we’ve been doing outside of our apartment…

That post and video are still coming soon. Shitty WiFi means problems uploading pictures and videos, so we’ll have those for you when we can work out of an Airbnb that sticks to its promises (knock on wood). Until then, I hope you enjoyed the rant I recorded on Shan’s iPad from the comfort of our second place in Rome. Time to hit send from the terrace – ciao!

✌🏼

Little Ol’ Me Traveled to Italy

Yes, we’re in Rome – finally! I’m already missing Amsterdam for several reasons, but nothing compares to my excitement for a new adventure.

Traveling Here Was a Bit of a Pain in the Ass

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The Night of No Sleep

Let’s flash back to February 3rd when I shut my laptop after finishing the last post. Shan and I headed into the city center one last time to say goodbye to the friends we made at our favorite bar, Café het Dwarsliggertje.

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Lucas, Shan, me & Razvan

I didn’t drink because I knew we had to leave our apartment in Zuid at 4 am to catch our plane at 7 am – our airline sent us an email warning of congestion at airport security (ugh) so we had to get there extra early. That didn’t stop Lucas and Razvan from pouring us tall Heinekens! It’s not easy refusing free beer in Amsterdam…Shan was polite and drank a few.

Hours of conversation and listening to ABBA flew by and before we knew it, it was 00:10 – we had to catch the last metro to Zuid at Centraal Station by 00:30 🙃 Damn the person who stole my phone – that was my watch, too!

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Day or night, Centraal is a beaut

The rickety and slow tram #4 took forever to get to the station and of course we missed the last metro. Our passes weren’t valid for the night bus, which is an alternative way to get to Zuid, so ya girls took a $35 Über to get to the apartment (am I supposed to hate Über? oops). It was 1 am by the time we got back – mind you, we still had to clean the place to leave it in decent condition.

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Somehow we scrubbed everything and shoved our belongings into our suitcases. Three hours later we were at the airport and off we went.

Arriving in Roma

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From the Fiumicino Airport we bussed to Termini Station (half the price of taking the Leonardo Express train), which is around where our Airbnb is located. We walked a half hour with our tiny-but-heavy suitcases to the house I’m writing this from.

The first thing I noticed about the streets was not people laughing while eating pasta and drinking wine in cute outdoor restaurants, but spray paint…everywhere. And trash. I didn’t take any pics of it but I’ll surely have to so I can show you what I mean.

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My face walking out of Termini seeing graffiti and garbage

I was kind of disappointed, honestly. Though I kept telling myself to erase all expectations of our destinations, I had Rome on a picture-perfect pedestal thanks to Lizzie McGuire and every other movie that puts a filter on this city.

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That means you too, Mary-Kate and Ashley

I was definitely getting ahead of myself because I’d yet to see the city center, and I’m the genius who decided to Eurotrip in the middle of gloomy winter.

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I’ve realized that I need to wait a while before throwing my hands in the air and becoming flustered – new places take time to adjust to. I’m in freakin’ ROME. ROMA. ITALIA. EUROPA. UNA FANTASTICA VACANZA, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!

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Relatable Song of the Moment

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Though the message is about soaking life into your soul and not through the camera lens, I can’t help but hum this when I reach into my pocket for my non-existent phone every time I want to snap a quick pic. I’m telling myself there’s a silver lining to not having a computer in my hand every second of the day #NoCameraPhone #NoChoice

Shoutout Time 🕣

I’d like to take a minute to shoutout two people I couldn’t live without – Shaun aka Kreayshaun Ondabeatz & Julie aka my boyfriend aka Joolay. I miss the days I’d wake up and run with a blanket over my head into your beds to talk about life or ice cream or whatever was the most important thing going on that day. I miss you both and you are the Gordo & Miranda to my Lizzie 😘  #baci

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Overall, Rome has been quite the ride so far. I’ll be posting about my first trip to the city center along with all of the other great experiences we’re having. Stay tuned!

✌🏼

So Long, Amsterdam

It’s February 3rd and today we dropped off ~80 lbs of our stuff with one of the people who’s helping us “figure it out.” Her name is Lindsay, she’s one of my cousin’s best friends, and she’s offered to help store a lot of the extra crap we brought that we totally regret packing into our suitcases. It feels good to have less things to be responsible for and keep track of. Shoutout to Lindsay & Stefan for making our lives a thousand times easier!

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Wus Good

Our last night in Amsterdam creeped up on me. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been MIA because I’ve been doing a little extra housekeeping with myself and my belongings. Not only did I have to part ways with the items I didn’t want to say goodbye to in the first place, but we’re still planning the rest of this weird trip we’ve embarked on.

No, we’re not staying in Amsterdam like we first thought…for now. BUT, I am not going to ignore the option of coming back for grad school in September. It’s something I’ve been tossing around in my head, and I think missing Amsterdam in a few days will make me want to do it more. I’m not making any decisions yet…I still have some time before that.

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Used my time and money wisely @ Caffe Milo

Because this is our last night in Amsterdam before we leave our apartment in Amsterdam-Zuid, I’d like to catch you up on some other tourist activities we’ve done before I go on and spoil where we’re heading next.

I Ate a Pannekoek

This week, Shannon found out she has a friend who’s killin’ the travel life and his name is Kevin. He’s in Europe networking to build his career and knocking out a degree at the same time – shoutout to you Kevin for putting in work! What better situation to meet up with him than to get pancakes, right?

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We found Pancakes.Amsterdam using iamsterdam.com, which has been a really good guide for us on this month-long experience. Pancakes is located right by Centraal Station and is ranked #2 on the Top 10 Pancake Restaurants in Amsterdam. The dish surprised me because I didn’t quite realize what a pannekoek was before we got there.

My idea of a pancake is the classic American flapjack stack…or even the teeny ones Shan got that day at Albert Cuypmarkt. Both are sweet and fluffy. As you can see from the picture below, Dutch pancakes are a lil different from what I’m used to.

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Traditional ham & cheese pannekoek, just like the one I got

Pannekoeks are thinner than an American pancake, thicker than a crêpe, and bigger than the plate. I would say it had a sort of hash brown consistency (though it’s not made of potatoes) and it came in sweet or savory. At Pancakes.Amsterdam, popular styles are with ham and cheese, bacon and cheese, ham and apple, or bacon and apple. The sweet and savory is not my favorite combo, so I stuck with something I felt comfortable with.

If you’re wondering, I just about ate the entire thing. #ShanVsFood

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The Smallest House in Amsterdam

Thanks to a YouTube video with 15 of A’dam’s hidden gems, Shan O discovered the narrowest house in Amsterdam. Though there are a lot of slim buildings in this city, none compare to the little guy that holds the record…unless it’s not really the smallest house in Amsterdam but they bought a very clever trademark…hmm…🤔

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Guess the dimensions of that thing.

Just guess.

Have a guestimate in mind?

Ready for the answer?

2.02 meters (6 feet 8 inches) wide and 5 meters (16 feet 5 inches) deep.

Wtf! How could somebody live there? Who thought that was a reasonable size for a home in the first place? It looked crazy cramped. I really wanted to see how uncomfortable it was to be inside of, but it was closed. ☹️

Proost!

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Let’s play another guessing game – guess what’s inside of that building called Wynand Fockink? ⬆️

If you’re not familiar with Amsterdam or the Dutch, then your mind probably went to a dirty place. The rest of us know it’s a famous distillery that serves the oh-so famous Dutch gin aka genever.

“Genever is the juniper-flavored national and traditional liquor of the Netherlands and Belgium, from which gin evolved.”

-thx Wikipedia

I saw this place on Anthony Bourdain’s 24 Hours in Amsterdam: The Layover, in the YouTube video mentioned earlier, and had a few others suggest this tasting. Let’s be real, Bourdain alone makes it worthy of experiencing.

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Here’s a cheesy stock photo of some young twenty-somethings drinking genever the proper way. It’s traditionally filled to the brim, so it’s custom to bend your butt over to sip genever to ensure it won’t spill when you pick it up – making the taste of strong alcohol last longer with baby sips – yum!

Shan, Kevin & I tasted two genevers: one that resembled vodka and one that had something fancy involving bourbon. We all decided on the bourbon. As I gave my full glass a tiny taste I tried to stay down a millisecond longer so I could get the repulsed expression off of my face before anyone saw. I genuinely don’t think it tasted bad, but my body reacts to all kinds of hard alcohol like I just ingested the nastiest thing in my life. Somehow I made it through the entire tiny cup.

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A’dam All in All

Being able to immerse ourselves into Amsterdam to the degree that we have has been a mind-blowing experience. It’s given me space to have crazy fun, to learn more about myself, and to remember how extremely grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve been #blessed with.

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Tying back to the fact that we left our stuff with a friend in Amsterdam – we’re coming back for them! There are still some things on our to-do list (like Keukenhof) and I can’t wait to knock em off in late March/early April before we leave the Schengen Area.

Now you’re probably wondering where we’re going next…

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We’re Going to Rome!

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At 4 o’clock in the morning we’re parting ways with Kevin and Amsterdam, and we’re leaving for the beautiful city of Roma.

Why Rome?

For the reasons we loved Amsterdam! It’s rich with history, culture, and places to be discovered. Beginning the moment we arrive, I’ll try my best to share our adventures in Italy with you.

Ciao!

🤗

And if you’re wondering why there aren’t more pictures from me/my phone, it’s because it got taken at a nightclub in Rembrandtplein. I’ll never see it again 😢 but I’ll try to be better with the actual camera from now on for more pics!

✌🏼

Bustling Through Brussels

 

 

Day 1 Continued

Alright, so Manneken Pis was underwhelming and we hit up La Grand Place within the same first hour. Several waffle places nearby lured us in.

Les gaufres de Liège sont les meilleures

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We effed up and didn’t get whipped cream on our waffle (still good though).

Our waffle was delicious. We haven’t had Nutella in our apartment in A’dam for the longest week ever because we’re trying to be somewhat healthy and penny-pinching, so this was a gorgeous thing that happened. We cherished every bite that was eaten with tiny forks while listening to people speaking French all around us. La perfection.

I noticed there were a LOT of people with waffles – not just tourists. Not only on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue de Chêne (where Manneken Pis is located), but everywhere else throughout the city. Brussels flexes their best features proudly.

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Next Stop, Chocolate

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Can’t stop eating chocolate rn.

We stopped in to get some chocolate right by the waffle places because the shops were literally everywhere and I felt like I had no self-control. I don’t regret it one bit. We ended up stopping in Planète Chocolat where the woman who sold us our goodies didn’t speak any English. All the more authentic, right? We walked around munching on it while wandering aimlessly and loving it.

Funny thing about this picture of chocolate here…there was a disco ball right by a nearby memorial. Similar to Amsterdam’s Light Festival, Brussels had its own art on display to the public.

The disco ball was positioned right next to the lookout that has an elevator branching off of it so you can take to get down further into the city. I’ve never seen one before and had no idea it was a thing that cities did.

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Beer…Duh

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Shannon and I ended up wandering without WiFi into Delirium, which is apparently a hotspot in Brussels. We enjoyed a nice sampling and a horn while we were at it.

Afternoon drinks turned into dinner at some place with weird meats and cheese. I took a gross video of the bouncy bologna but I’ll do you a favor and keep to myself.

Later at night we found ourselves at Le Coq where we met people from the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. I kept wondering what they thought meeting Americans was like.

Our friend from the Netherlands told us we were lucky to have found the one Dutch guy in there because the French were more likely to keep their comments to ourselves. He was open, nice and very honest with us. I appreciate all of those features in a person – especially a stranger. He also introduced me to the Belgian beer Chimay Blue that ended up getting me fairly drunk and very emotional about ordering pizza.

Day 2

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The next day was weird because we woke up in our Airbnb that was kind of an uncomfortable place to be. Like I mentioned in my last post, there were weird cats…so weird that in the morning, one of them pushed so hard on the door what he/she opened it. Keep in mind that I normally love cats, but these freaked me out. I had never stayed in an Airbnb private room before – I’ve usually had a respectful amount of place to myself. I really like that amount of space and would not want to do a sketchy private room again. Lesson learned.

We fixed our weird wake-up an awesome brunch. Peep my pic that’s getting lyke sew many notes on our tumblr taken @ Peck 47.

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Cute AF

Idk why but Shannon really wanted a milkshake, so we went on a mission to find one. She found this place called Jat’ Café that was near the Royal Palace, another tourist checklist item, and we walked across the city.

Jat’ Café

This café has great taste in music and this incredible thing called sweet coffee. I’ll let the portrait mode to the talking.

We sat and soaked in Brussels on a Friday afternoon with the rest of the day ahead of us.

The Royal Palace

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The Royal Palace is the official home of the King and the Queen of the Belgians.

We admired the enormousness of this building for a while and watched some of the guards stomping back and forth before heading off to the park across the street.

Side Note

SO many army men were walking throughout the streets. They carried huge rifles, and they were there because of the terrorist attacks that happened not too long ago. Just thought I’d share that observation.

The Rest is History

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Shanneken Pis!

The rest of Day 2 was spent killing time before the bus because we didn’t feel like spending money on a museum while we’ve got Netherlands museum passes for another week, though I was curious about the Musical Instruments Museum and Comics Art Museum. Who knows, maybe we’ll go back for longer in the future while we’ve still got time in Europe.

Fun fact: Brussels is the comic strip capital of Europe. There are large comics painted all over the city.

All in all, we had an excellent time in Brussels. The weather was kind, the food was to die for, and French confused me the entire time. By Friday night I was more than ready for my home away from home in Amsterdam.

sloppy-waffleSpecial shoutout to The Sloppy Waffle of Newington, CT for killing the Liège waffle game back home. I’m grateful to have had Belgium waffles back home and was pleasantly surprised to find I haven’t been missing out on the real deal.

A 360 Look at La Grand Place

Want a closer look at La Grand Place? Here are two 360 videos filmed in the center of the square. The difference between day and night is quite astonishing, and both are beautiful in a different way.

La Grand Place During the Day

La Grand Place at Night

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We Arrived in Brussels

Here’s what we checked off the Brussels tourist list thus far:

Manneken Pis

Why is this the main attraction of Brussels? What makes this special?

The answer is we don’t effing know. We walked up to this bad boy with no expectations and found a tiny statue of a boy peeing with barely a description as to why.

Here’s what we learned from the info provided: The little statue was erected at the end of the Middle Ages when the city of Brussels was in the process of developing a public water supply network up until the mid-19th century, this fountain played a vital role in the city’s drinking water supply system. The original stone statue was replaced in the 17th century. Then a bronze model was commissioned by the municipal authorities from the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder…interesting…

La Grand Place

The Grand Place

Of course, we went to the Grand Place of Brussels. It’s a cornerstone of culture, history, and food (on paper). Does it surprise you that we immediately bought chocolate, a beer tasting, and a waffle right afterwards? HELL NAH!

Sadly, we walked the streets of Brussels like it was Amsterdam and expected a bar and a tattoo parlor on every block, but instead we found normal buildings…like corporate buildings and stores with clothing we can’t afford. It was then and there we decided to make this mostly about the food

We haven’t ventured far beyond our boundaries yet. But until we do, I’ll be petting the weird black cat that’s in our AirBnB that’s more like a hostel than a hotel.

Thanks!

✌🏼

Life is Precious

You haven’t visited the museums in Amsterdam until you’ve been to the Anne Frank House.

Anne Frank House

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I wasn’t allowed to take pictures or use my cell phone inside, which I get. But I did wish I had a notepad to record some of the quotes that were sprinkled throughout the house where Anne and her family went into hiding from the Nazis. I’ll share some of my favorites at the end of this post.

I don’t think there’s any true way to prepare for an experience like this. You start reading and transform into the observer – putting your own problems behind you in order to understand something bigger than you will ever have to face in your lifetime. Your heart aches for the hour you spend reading about Anne’s legacy and watching those who knew her speak about the kind of person she was.

For example, Otto Frank, her father, was filmed saying that the Anne on the pages of her diary is a different Anne than the daughter he knew and loved.

As someone who was once a teenage girl filled with angst and confusion, that allows me to try to place myself in Anne’s shoes. Obviously I can’t imagine the true horror and agonizing pain that she endured, but a special place in my heart ignites when I reflect on the things she had to say.

She was kind, sophisticated, and true to herself. She knew her words would carry weight if they ever had the opportunity to be read by the rest of the world. I respect that on so many levels.

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On display was her final diary preserved in a glass box, like the picture shown above. Original parts of the bookcase used to enter the annex were also maintained for visitors to see.

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My experience walking through the Anne Frank house provided an opportunity to recognize the things I am grateful for – I have freedom, support, and have found acceptance everywhere I’ve been so far in my life (knock on wood). Things are this way because others have fought for them to be.

My Favorite Anne Frank Quotes

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“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”

“People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion.”

-Anne Frank

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The 411

I woke up this morning and practiced meditation for the first time in a long time. Rather than chasing sporadic ideas of what I should do next, I want to let the true answer materialize once I’m ready to listen.

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I got some mail from my cousin Jill (whaddup Jilly Cat!) who was inquiring about some of the things mentioned in a post last week that are due for some updates, like:

  • The apartment search
  • Job search
  • Other travel plans

I will try my best to answer those questions!

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Gulp

Truth is, Shannon and I haven’t figured out what we’re doing yet. We’re in an AirBnB that is up on January 29th and haven’t secured anything beyond that point. Stupid? Maybe…

The thing is – I like not having a plan. Last week I almost had a heart attack thinking about the job I left and the security it brought me. I wanted to get on the next flight home and beg for my cubicle back because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing out here. Though I may not know exactly what the plan is for tomorrow or next week, I’ve begun to surrender into my big, comfortable chair of not knowing.

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The more I discover about this city, the more I love it. Amsterdam emits eccentricity, acceptance, and love; which vibrates off its towering buildings and into the hearts of its inhabitants…not to mention everyone we meet encourages us to stay here to find happiness like they did. We’re making friends and content…what could be better? Oh right…making money would be nice!

Knowing very well this will hinder our bank accounts, we’re going to turn our adventure into a Eurotrip. Not the kind where you stay two days to go snap pictures of famous buildings and hop on the next train, but something similar to what we’re already doing. We’ll plop ourselves in a city of our choice for an extended period of time and really get to know our surroundings. Why? We’re growing fond of this place we’re temporarily calling home. I want to ride this feeling as long as I can, wherever I can.

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A Lingering Possibility

Another interesting tidbit we learned from our favorite bartender, Lucas (owner of our favorite bar – Café het Dwarsliggertje, aka Always Opposite), is that we are eligible for a Working Holiday visa in Australia which lasts up to a year. I could go there, potentially get a job in social media/marketing, and keep this adventure moving full speed ahead while developing the skills I wish to perfect.

For now, I’m enjoying today – we’re going to the zoo! I promise to check in with more info on our decision-making process once we have updates on progress or factors influencing our choices.

Letting go and living in the moment feels good.

Thank you for reading our blog and traveling this journey with us. Your support means everything, and it is a solid staple in our success.

So I put my hands up
They’re playing my song, the butterflies fly away
I’m noddin’ my head like, ‘yeah’
I’m movin’ my hips like, ‘yeah’
I got my hands up, they’re playing my song
I know I’m gonna be okay
Yeah, it’s a party in the A’DA(M)

-Miley Cyrus, kind of

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Have you done a Eurotrip and have any suggestions of places we should visit? Stories you want to share? Maybe we’re waiting from a sign from you! Comment below and share your experiences with us 🙂

We Made a 360 Video

We’ve mentioned Rembrandt Square/Rembrandtplein plenty of times since we’ve been here. It’s a beautiful bustling area 30 seconds from our apartment.

One of our favorite things to do is to see the square at night. It’s got history, pubs, restaurants, and gay clubs! Have a look at the area for yourself.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with 360 vids: When you’re watching the video, use your mouse to click and scroll around 360 degrees in any direction. That way, you can view what we’re seeing first hand!

For those of you who are VR savvy: Pop your phone into your goggles and come meet us in Amsterdam! What are you waiting for?

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