Monday, June 22, 2009

London Called...

Well here we are back from London. I am beyond exhausted. It was a really fun experience for both of us. We did not push ourselves as hard in London as we did in Paris. We were able to use the underground and the double deckers with our day pass, so we hopped on at every opportunity. Since our Paris bike tour was such a FANTASTIC experience we decided to go with the same company in London. Although the tour was not as advanced as the Paris tour we still were able to see the main sites such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abby. If I had to make one comparison between London and Paris it would be that Paris has an epic history and London's history is inspired and hilarious. those people were crazy about their punishment for crime!

The food in London was exactly what I expected. Salty, heavy and by the end exhausting. I don't know how the Brit's are not as fat as the American's with their diet. By the last day we were pretty much stuck on sandwiches. Pret was a nice sandwich shop that was on just about every corner. I think we ate there three out of the four days.

If you go to London SEE A PLAY!! More so SEE AVENUE Q! That show was hilarious from beginning to end. I am a huge theater fan, let alone musical theater so it was really a treat! Not only that but since we are students (I still have my ID and I'm going to abuse it till I am old enough for the senior discount) we got 39 pound seats for 20 pounds! Such a bargain!

Our accommodations were beyond amazing. We have distant relative that own a cozy bed and breakfast just outside central London. We were able to stay there the first two nights. On our third night we were supposed to stay with Emlyn's fraternity "brother" but decided against it seeing as he lived an hour away from central London and we wanted to spend our last day site seeing. I think this might have bothered her friend but we really appreciated his time will us during the first couple of days. This decision did leave us homeless at 7pm so we began to frantically wonder the city in search of boarding. The fluster was quickly eased by a pint of cider and the decision to book a 42 pound hotel based on some pictures off a website. When we arrive at the station we realized our hotel was smack dab in the middle of NOTTING HILL!! This is not to mention the fact that we charmed the pants off the clerk who in return booked us in the room with a park view! Good ol' McGovern smile :)

London is like the LA of Europe. The fashion, music and culture has a bit of the same feel. I felt the people were much more friendly then in Paris. I am going to make my best efforts to return for the Summer 2012 olympics with Marissa. It has been an ongoing dream of ours to volunteer at the summer olympics ever since 2004. We need to make it finally happen! 2012 is our year I can feel it!

Sorry this post is so wacked out in format but I am going off pure memory and lack of sleep. I think my jet lag for the return trip kicked in last night. I tossed and turned till 5:30 am!!! Maybe even past that because it began to get light outside and the birds started to chirp!! Do not know what my deal is. I have had an amazing time here in Europe and really do cherish all the memories.

On Thursday we board the plane at noon and arrive in LA around 6:45 PM. We will spend a few days schlepping around LA to the beach and such. Then Sunday we head to San Diego to move Emlyn into her new apartment and celebrate her 21st birthday! From there I drive back up to Sacramento just in time for a wild 4th of July celebration! Really looking forward to seeing all my Sac friends and continuing a great summer!

Stay tuned for the Australia part of the blog, beginning around July 20th! Thanks for following!

Much Love,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We'll always have Paris

Hi bb's!

I know we are terrible at this whole blog thing but you will have to bear with us because we are having such a wonderful time!!

Leaving Paris on Saturday afternoon kind of broke my heart. Yes, I was extremely exhausted and ready to return to Belgium to a home cooked meal but I really left a piece of myself in that city. I felt at home in Paris. I don't speak a lick of French and trust me, with the way I destroy the accent, I didn't even try. But I really felt at home in that city. It is so alive and just as magical as I ever imagined it to be. Unlike Los Angeles (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE LA!!) Paris is spot on exactly the way it is portrayed in films.

On Wednesday we took the Thalys train from Brussels to Paris. This was not how we would have normally traveled because it took half the time at probably double the cost. But thanks to Annemie we were able to leave Belgium at 9:30 and be in Paris before noon!! Upon our arrival we took the metro directly to our hostel in Montmartre. For those of you that don't know, Montmartre is the neighborhood of Paris where Amelie was filmed. It is also where the Moulin Rouge is located. Although it is a bit outside the vicinity of the main attractions, I really enjoyed the true bohemian feel of the area. From the first evening we spotted a local bar around the corner from our hostel that we ended up returning to the following 2 evenings.

The first day we were there it rained. No, understatement. It poured. In fact, all of the clouds in Europe realized Emlyn and I were in Paris and had a huge party over the city. The best part about this is that we had a 4 hour bike tour planned in the evening. We crossed our fingers all day that it would let up by 7 pm. As we finished the last bites of our dinner at 6:30 is suddenly stopped. We were so excited as we rushed to the North leg of the Eiffel tower. Only to find that at exactly 7 pm the clouds unzipped their pants and broke the seal. I mean seriously. We stood there laughing at the absurdity of the situation. The guide said that we had the option to cancel or postpone the tour. But being the adventure seeking idiots that we are, we chose the remain and see where the evening took us.

I will leave it there as it is 1:15am and we leave for London at 8 am. I will pick up where I left off. Since pictures were Emlyn's commitment, I will leave it to you all to harass her for them. Goodnight and I love you all :)


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lost & Found in Translation

Emlyn mentioned that I would fill in some of the gaps she left open.. So here goes:

Amsterdam was truly fantastic. from the moment we stepped off the train and out of the station I thought it was going to be very difficult to find my friend Collin. He was coming in from London and us from Belgium. My worries were settled when I heard a familiar voice:


From there we hopped on a tram straight to our first ever hostel. It was great having Collin with us. He had been to Amsterdam a few months ago for ten days so he was a pro. The weather was amazing the first two day. This of course allowing me to catch some ray in Vondel Park!

The Van Gogh was something that if I have the opportunity I could verbally describe from the first to the third floor in detail to each of our McBlog `Followers`. Until last week I can say that I did not appreciate art outside of photography. It had never spoken to me before. But the opportunity to stand 3 feet in front of the original Starry Night was breathtaking. The love and emotion that I felt from these paintings was comparable to nothing I had ever seen.

I think what I liked best about the city of Amsterdam were the stark contrasts. From the rich culture, history and museums to the seedy Red light district and the smoke filled coffee shops. If you ever find yourself in the Red light district after 10 PM bring your Ipod, crank up your favorite playlist and walk past the windows filled with some of the loveliest (and less fortunate) ladies of the night. It’s an experience.

Oh yeah and for Me Lady Marissa, yes I did listen to pimpin´ all over the world just for you! Me misses you so much 

On our last day we woke up to freezing (cali freezing so probably 65 degrees) weather. Just as we boarded the tram to the train station and said our goodbyes to Collin it began to rain. Perfect timing. In less than 3 hours we were back in Leuven with Annemie. My aunt is one of the warmest human beings you will ever meet and on top of that she insists on creating an atmosphere to match her personality. The first evening her and our uncle Marco, another remarkably warm soul, took us to their friend’s restaurant in the city.

Coming from serving in a corporate run restaurant this experience was a real treat. We sat for two and a half hours (Imagine that DG crew! How the efff would we turn tables like that?!?!?) and dined on a three course meal that was prepared AND served by the same person. Why you ask? Oh, because the one server they had for the evening called in sick!! You can really tell when a meal is prepared with love like this one was. Yummy :)

The next day Annemie took us around Leuven. She showed us some of the spots her and our mom used to hang out. Such a cool feeling to be in the same place my mom was at my age. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the terrace filled market place and then off to a cafe for a Belgian hot chocolate. In the evening Annemie and Marco prepared a delicious Tuscan inspired vegetarian dish. After dinner, while Marco stayed behind to do the dishes (such a gentlemen) Annemie took Emlyn and I on a walk. It was cut short by my fascination with the cows grazing in a field. I immediately hopped the fence and approached them to the best of my farm animal knowledge. I must have looked like a caveman approaching a Toyota Prius. Upon our return to the house we watched a fantastic British film (Swimming Pool) and then when everyone else was fast asleep at 1 am I watched Across the Universe. Hey, I have to fit it all in somewhere!

Yesterday we took a 1 hour car ride to the much anticipated Brugge (Flemish spelling). Brugge was a bit like the novel Da Vinci Code or the films Slumdog Millionaire and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You had to have seen or read them before you heard the hype. While I was extremely fascinated by the historical buildings and AMAZING churches, I guess you could say I was expecting a little more. I think I will be criticized for this statement, but please be gentle. It is just an opinion and I am entitled to it :)Also a quick note for those of you that don´t know Slumdog was my favorite film last year. Wasn`t bashing it at all.

We left Brugge a little after 5 pm to Lokeren where our cousin Hanne and Aunt Hilde live. Here we have been able to do some relaxing and catching up. Since we see our family in Europe so little it has become customary to pull out the albums from past visits. This time we took it all the way back to 1986 when my Oma came to visit for my birth. I hope I look as hot as my mom did when she was pregnant with me!!

One thing I can say about the trip as a whole is that is isn´t what most American youth have or will ever experience. In the first week Emlyn and I became frustrated with the trip. The lack of planning, money escaping our already empty hands and missing out on what was happening back in California without us. The combination of these elements among a few other (hormones) are all things that typical American youth will go through. But something that I did not realize until last week is that a trip to Europe is something very different for us. For us coming to Europe is coming home. Our family is here. A part of our culture that is unfortunately seldom tapped into is here. To be able to walk the streets and eat in the shops my mom did at my age is something that I cannot describe. After I came to this realization it seems as though everything changed.

Tomorrow afternoon we go back to Tienen to stay with our Oma and Opa. We will hang out and do some reading for our trip to PARIS on Wednesday!!! So excited! We will also add some picture from the past week tomorrow evening. Until then, take care and keep checking the blog next week as I have decided to bring my laptop...Just don´t tell Vinz or Hubert.

Note: That last sentence was for our followers whole watch LOST...just like watching an episode of LOST if you don´t understand a political, pop culture or religious reference GO LOOK IT UP :)

Hugs and Kisses,


Friday, June 5, 2009

Pics continued

After long last...

Well here we are safe and sound backinBelgium. Now in Leuven with our Aunt Annemie and Uncle Marco, we are enjoying the "cozy isolation" of their beautiful home in the country. It is not really in the country, but it feels like it with the river next to it and the cows grazing next door. This is such a beautiful, green country with somany new things to see.

Well, now more about Amsterdam!

The first day we arrived and very very easily met up with Lauren's friend, and ourroommateforthe week, Collin. We hopped on the tram through allthe hustle bustle with our GIGANTIC suitcase and made our way to the hostel. Of course Lauren likes topack like an LA chic girl, sowe were lugging around this full duffle bag for only a couple days of travel. Yes, people were staring. So we made it to the hostel, named The Flying Pig in uptown, right next to Vandel Park which we saw from our bedroom window and very near the museums. We were planning on moving to the downtown hostel, but after such a great night in ourroom we decided to stay. Turns out, we had to get switched rooms since we did not have a reservation, and we ended up with a dugeon upstairs with a window that didn't open, a drippy gross common toilet with a flooded floor, and a roommate that snored as if he were dying. Good thing we only slept there.
But why worry about the romm, we are in AMSTERDAM! The next day we went to the Van Gogh Museum and it was truely spectacular. I mentioned to Dad that it was a really wonderful geeling getting to see each of the real brushstrokes he once made. It made me very excited for the rest of the museums on our trip. We spent the whole night walking all through the cityand viewing the canals. I could not get enough of them. We spent such a great deal of time just walking and soaking in the city. The way I really wanted to experience it. One day we went into the grocery store and bought cheese, wine, chocolate, salamie, and from a bakery a fresh baguette and we went and spent several hours in Vandel Park. So relaxing, so serene, and so perfect. One thing that was really funny was the bikes, they really do have the righ of way there because seriously they are crazy! I wanted really badly to rent one and have a go at it myself but Lauren and Collin were to afraid so it did not happen. Next time :) Collin was also a great travel buddy being an Amsterdam traveler already. He was a good help for us on our first trip out and lots of fun to be with!

Overall I had an overwhelmingly AWESOME experience. I hope to go back again one day soon!

So tommorow we are off to Brugges with Annemie and Marco and it is something I have been excited about for a while! After we will go to visit our Aunt Hilde for two nights and then soon on Wednesday OFF TO PARIS!!!! 4 days and 3 nights, and quickly followed a couple days later by 4 days and 3 nights in LONDON! We are both excited, anxious, relaxed, and ready for more adventure.

Always with much love,

ps: there is so much more, maybe I will let Lauren fill in the gaps after she is done lounging and watching Across the's what she does.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ding dong

Also one more thing, we saw Ding Dong the ice cream man in Tienen yesterday...and he remembered Lauren and I!!! CRAZY!!


Hi all!

Lauren and I arrived in Amsterdam today!! Words can not describe this city it is amazing! Bikes everywhere, crazy drivers, beautiful buildings, amazing CANALS, delicious frites (fries), and so so so much more. We have had a very very long day of walking and are off to bed soon. I just wanted to come on very quickly to say that we are doing well and are safe and warm in our hostel - The Flying Pig (Uptown). There is a much more lengthy blog to come, but for now we relax. Also the internet is terrible here is difficult. That is all for now!

Much love,