Spontaneity on a Sunday

My day started around 10 o’clock on this Lazy Sunday.

I crawled into my little sister’s bed because we always take turns doing that when we’re home. Waking up generally sucks, but doing it with another person helps take the edge off. This is how I feel about most “adult things” – yeah, I did just say that waking up before 10 am is an adult thing, because it is. Thank god there were donuts to make it even easier.

fullsizeoutput_1dc1
Shoutout Brooklyn Bakery Co

Another thing my sister Britt & I like to do is leave the house as much as we can. In fact, I think that’s how we got into hiking in the first place. Where else can you go for free when you have nothing planned ahead of time? Today we decided to go to the Riverbound Farm Sanctuary located in one of the corners of Cheshire, CT. It rained for the past few days, so we figured the water would be more wild than usual. And it’s one of the least intensive walks in town – we’re a little tired, okay?

Here are some pictures of the place that I’ve posted over the years:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can see, I’ve been here many times. You see that white house in the back of the outdoor classroom? Unbeknownst to me, it’s been a Quinnipiac Valley Audubon Society building all along. When we pulled up to the sanctuary today, there was a giant white sign saying “OPEN”. Apparently, today is Open Day.

IMG_0347

Sitting at a table were two members, maybe even leads, of the Society. They welcomed us, encouraged us to sign the guest book, and asked if we came here often. I explained how it’s one of our regular spots but the Audubon had always been a mystery. I proceeded to comment on the bridge that fell last year, the remodeled butterfly garden and the purple wildflowers that came and went. I felt like I had to prove how much I really like this place to these folks – they are the ones who take care of it, after all. We especially bonded over the mystery person who leaves walking sticks for others to enjoy.

💜

A post shared by Shannon McCormick (@shmaaac) on

I learned that the man is the person who rotates the signs in the trailhead that tell you the wildlife you should look out for depending on which month it is. The woman was well-versed in the speaker events that happen each month, as well as the bird-watching groups that operate in the spring. I was intrigued over everything they were saying, but in the back of my mind I knew I wouldn’t be around to enjoy what they will soon be offering. I’m about to move in like, a week…I think. Maybe Monday, maybe Tuesday, definitely soon.

After a little more talking, Britt and I began to explore the displays.

IMG_0336IMG_0337IMG_0341

IMG_0332
Which one’s your favorite?

IMG_0330IMG_0346

There’s so much more that I didn’t capture, and I hope all of you who are local to the area take a chance to visit the trails or headquarters so you can soak in the information, nature, or participate in the events to come. This place being open was a pleasant surprise, and it ended up making for a lovely experience before a peaceful stroll in the woods.

I hope you all have a happy and pleasant Father’s Day! I’m about to go stuff my face with my family.

✌🏼

Additional note: PLEASE pick up after yourselves, people. At my favorite bench I found a t-shirt, a giant Arby’s cup, wrappers, and multiple types of broken cups (glass, ceramic, etc.). Quit the shit, and don’t litter.

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

FullSizeRender.jpg-1.jpeg
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.

brag.gif

Next Stop, Chocolate

fullsizerender-1
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.

CD500D1C-ABC8-4ED5-B847-671E8B345EA8.jpg

Beer…Duh

FullSizeRender-3.jpg

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

hungover.gif

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.

Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 12.59.08 AM.png
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

FFD3E30B-6785-44C2-B1B8-8987774521E8.JPG
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

A17FF4FE-2347-4D49-BFAC-8A6E6455F2F2.jpg
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

✌🏼

From a Temple to the Moon

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

He Hua Temple – Fo Guang Shan

We found ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to find in Amsterdam.

Located in Chinatown, the He Hua Temple is a hidden gem among the skinny streets that pretty much all look the same.

8895dfd9-bca3-4169-9821-9d7dcbc32e39-1000
Established in 2000

We only went in for about ten minutes – ten peaceful minutes. The incense relaxed our minds as we soaked up information like the reasons why this temple was built in the Netherlands:

  • To spread the Buddhist concepts, also by means of cultural exchanges and activities;
  • To help to develop talents, skills and good qualities of people by means of good education;
  • To stimulate positive developments in society by means of charity projects;
  • To purify heart and soul of all people by giving them the opportunity of learning to practice Buddhism.
Cited from http://ibps.nl/he-hua-temple/

IMG_2525.JPG-1.jpeg

Amsterdam Noord

FullSizeRender-10.jpg

To get to Amsterdam Noord (North), one must take a free ferry by Central Station to cross the itty-bit of water that rests between the two land masses. Why is there no bridge? According to Anthony Bourdain’s tour guide in the Amsterdam episode of The Layover, he thinks “they” used to ship the crazy people and criminals over there hundreds of years ago. I guess they didn’t want them coming back…who knows. I admit the change in transportation was quite refreshing and welcomed by our aching feet.

By now I’ve read many blogs and tourist sites – only some of which mention Amsterdam Noord. Though we’ve only experienced two of its main attractions, I already recommend taking a day trip to see what it has to offer.

A’DAM Lookout

IMG_1362.JPG

In order to get to the top of the Lookout, the price of regular admission is‎ €12.50. I promise it’s well worth it if you like a gorgeous view. Included in your ticket is a free photo, like this one:

img_1589

The building features a sky deck, Europe’s tallest swing on the sky deck, and an indoor lookout spot which doubles as a bar. Oh yeah, there’s a Gibson throne, too 🎸👑

img_1365

Here’s some pics from the sky deck:

More shots from the indoors where it was warm:

Nestled on the opposite side of the bar were TVs and headphones full of info about Amsterdam. Here’s what I found to be the coolest tidbits:

Fun facts about Amsterdam & The Netherlands

  • There are more bikes than people.
  • 10,000 bikes are fished out of the canals a year.
  • As one of the most diverse cities in the world, it’s home to over 175 nationalities.
  • Holland was the first nation to legalize gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.

daaamn.gif

Perhaps the most incredible part of the city is the way the sun sets over it.

Eye Film Museum

When the sky grew dark, we headed over to the A’DAM Lookout’s next-door neighbor, the Eye Film Museum. There was no exhibition at the time, but we were able to experience the bottom level for a few hours where we indulged ourselves with some fun facts about – you guessed it – film!

Flipbook

You can make your own if you want to pay like €6 for it – we didn’t.

Artifacts

The artifacts on display represent the evolution of film – from stereoscopy to a zoetrope to a Mitchell to an iPhone 3 (which was the first smartphone to be able to record a quality video) and all that’s in-between.

mitchell camera.jpg
Fun fact: George Lucas used a Mitchell VistaVision High Speed #1 to film Star Wars.

360°

FullSizeRender.jpg-3.jpeg
This is blurry but whatevs.

I was really hoping to see some 360 videos in here, but instead found a bunch of clips from monumental films that showcased the development of genres and styles of different cultures. Still cool.

Speaking of 360, I will have a VR video for you folks soon 😉

Private, Comfy Pods

There are little nooks where you can sit down and watch some of the most famous Dutch films of all time, which range from 10 minutes to an hour in length. We chose Zoo by Bert Haanstra (1962) – a silent film that still managed to make us giggle through a subtle string of events.

The Green Screen

Last but not least, there was a green screen that we had waaay too much fun with. See for yourself!

We used the green screen until the museum closed at 7 pm because that’s how much fun we were having.

After heading home, we slumped in our seats and didn’t move for seven hours. There’s no better way to end an adventurous day than brain-dumping it into a blog post until 3 am!

✌🏼


Are there any views that leave you in awe? Movies that move you more than others? Comment below to share them with us! We’re always looking for recommendations 🙂