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,