A Travellerspoint blog

August 2009

Cologne

sunny 26 °C

View_from_..factory.jpgCologne has been really fun! I got in on Wednesday, set up camp in the room and met Gabrielle, from Quebec. We set out exploring the city, took some photos... including one of the resons why I love Cologne:
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...got some Starbucks (it had been a while!) and then attempted to get dinner. Ordering vegan in Germany is proving quite difficult! Especially with the language barrier; even though the majority of people speak English, it’s still difficult. I couldn’t even order a side of fries at the place we had dinner because they just didn’t do that! So Gabrielle got dinner there and I just had a few beers and went to the supermarket afterwards. It’s all good, but I have a feeling I won’t even want to try to order food in the next couple of countries! Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary? Good luck!
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Later on Thursday night, Gabrielle and I went out hunting trying to find some different beers to try. It’s weird because every restaurant or pub has one kind, and they serve it to you in these skinny, tall glasses and it’s usually anywhere from 1-2 euros for one. Like we asked the first place what they recommended, and they were like, “Uh, Fruh! It’s all we have!“ So we hopped around a few different pubs tasting different beers, until we found the beer museum, which was just a pub, but it had lots of different beers! I had a cherry beer and a really, REALLY yummy grapefruit beer. Very fun!

I think I’m on a bad streak of hostel mates… We got back to the hostel to go to sleep, and one girl was already asleep and two Belgian girls were in the beds across from us yapping excitedly in French. Well, they continued to do so for at least half an hour while all the lights were off and 3 of us were trying to sleep. It was really bad! Like it wasn’t even whispering, which is equally annoying, but they were having full conversations at midnight, in the dark! I was like, take your conversation into the hall or the common room or something! Finally the girl next to me told them in basic French to be quiet, and they mostly were after that… until we were all awake at 5:30 am to them getting ready! They get out their flashlights and proceed to do their makeup and straighten their hair in the room. Like, use the bathroom or something?! I “shushed” them twice and they were whispering loudly and rattling around and stuff, like I would never do that. They opened all the windows and the girl next to me like got up and shut them right in front of these girls. It was pretty ridiculous. Gabrielle told me in the morning (because she could understand what they were chatting about) that they were going to line up for a concert at 6 am and were talking about it and all excited. I guess they were really young girls who obviously had no common sense or consideration for others! I wanted to be like, in a hotel you can do that and talk in the dark and whatever, but you’re in a hostel with other people sleeping! Like go out of the room! That’s what the common rooms are for, and they have bathrooms for getting ready in.. gaaaa! So frustrating only because I would never do that. And there’s a certain level of respect and consideration in a hostel that these girls just didn’t understand. They did the same thing this morning at 6:30, opening all the curtains and letting all the light into the room and talking and whispering for about half an hour while they got ready, probably for an early train. I had to get up and close the curtains like, have some respect! I could go on but I’m probably boring you to death!

Yesterday I got up and ready and Gabrielle and I climbed the 509 steps (or something) to the top of the Dom Cathedral. It wasn’t even that bad of a time going up, but we got great views of the city. Going down made us a little dizzy, but it was fun. Calves are a wee bit sore today, though!
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We had a really good lunch at a Thai place, really cheap, and really good and vegan! Finally! Then we said goodbye as she had a train to catch to continue on with her trip, and I made my way to the chocolate museum! Seeing as how I missed, like, 3 along my journey so far I thought I’d better do it, and it was really fun! You learn about the history or the cocoa bean, and then you go into a mini Lindt factory and watch them make chocolate! The whole place smelled SOOO good, and I definitely got myself a souvenir afterwards!
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I then continued to wander around the city, made dinner, and met Cameron, a really nice guy from Aus on a 2 year (!!!) round-the-world trip, so we had lots to talk about. We went out and had some beers and chatted, it was really good.

Today I’m off to Nuremberg to stay with Max for 2 nights; he says he’s got plans with his friends tomorrow night in town so that should be fun!

Posted by kmcveggie 02:07 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

I Hate Bikes, Officially

rain 15 °C

Today got off to a grand start. I walked into Dam square and rented a bike so I could make my way to the sort of southern part of Amsterdam that I hadn’t seen yet. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t stop me, and I found the Heineken Brewery, my first stop, without a problem. The Heineken Experience was awesome! I figured it would be just like the Guinness tour, it was the same price, but it was ten times better. There were actually people throughout the tour who talked to you and did demonstrations and answered your questions. One up on Guinness right there! It went through the history of Heineken, all the brewing stages (we even got to taste a sample of one of the stages the beer goes through called wort; it was really sweet and weird!) Then we went into like a motion room where we were brewed! Haha, it was cool though, we got splashed with water and tumbled around and stuff and got to see the process from the inside out. Then we learned how to taste the beer, saw old commercials and propaganda, and finally got to the bar at the end. Unlike Guinness, you get 2 free beers at the end, as well as a pretty generous half-pint in the middle of the tour. Very cool and I’m glad I went!
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After that I attempted to go to the Van Gogh museum, but the queue was huge and I couldn’t be bothered to wait in it. I then attempted to find Vondlepark, but took a wrong turn and ended up off my map in the pouring rain. After a couple of tries asking for directions, I finally got onto the right street when the chain fell off of my bike. Great. Two construction guys helped me fix it, and after about 15 minutes it was back to normal… for about 2 more streets when it fell off again!! So I’m pretty frustrated at this point, and I hopped on the tram to get myself back to the station when the tram guy starts yelling at me in Dutch to get my bike out of the tram. I had to ask people if he was talking to me, then I got off. I’ve seen tons of other people bring their bikes on in other cities! So I get off and ask a couple of people if I can take my bike on the bus, and they just stare at me. Didn’t even shake their heads or look away or tell me they couldn’t speak English. I even asked a group of girls around my age and they just stared! I was like, “THANKS.” So now I’m pissed, and completely back to hating Amsterdam and I tried to get a cab and he said he couldn’t take my bike, so I told him it was broken and asked him how I could get back to Dam Square and he said walk. So I freaking did, all the way back to Dam Square, half in tears, stopping for lunch on the way as it was 2 and I hadn’t eaten since 9 and I was starving and angry! These guys asked me to take their picture as I was locking up my bike and I was like, “NO I’m busy,” which now I feel badly about but that’s how frustrated I was. Especially since I had to walk this stupid bike through really busy streets where everyone walks super slow and doesn’t move out of your way, or just stops in the middle of the street to look at their maps. Cool! I was sooo tempted to ditch it in the canal, but all I could think about was how they had a copy of my visa as a deposit, and I think the charges would have been worse than this walk. Once I finally made it back to the bike place I explained what happened and they didn’t charge me for the rental so that was really nice of them, but I was still mad so I stormed back to my hostel and put on some mellow music and just laid down while I relaxed lol. I didn’t know I had this kind of temper!

Last night, plans with the 2 Amsterdammers that I met back in Revy didn't work out, so I had an early night yet again. Today I'm off to Cologne, Germany, and Friday I get to see Max in Nuremberg!!

Posted by kmcveggie 23:07 Archived in Netherlands Tagged bicycle Comments (2)

Amsterdammm

sunny 26 °C

Wow, neglecting the blog a little! Don’t worry I’m back on track, this one might just be a bit long..

On Saturday I got up early and went for a jog around the park in Rotterdam and the port, saw the swan bridge, etc. Felt good to be out and about so early! Had breakfast at the hostel (they had vegan nutella!!) and walked to the train station to do a day trip to Den Haag. Now, I’m not sure if it was the mood I was in or what, but I wasn’t all that into exploring and getting lost, so my trip was short. I didn’t even make it to the beach! But oh well, save it for another trip I guess.
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Yesterday I made my way to Amsterdam fairly seamlessly, and my hostel was a 5 minute walk from the station, which was awesome. I got into Amsterdam not feeling 100% (still) but determined to walk around and at least see a bit of the city that day. I couldn’t check in until after 3 and it was only 1 so I ditched my stuff and walked around. Little did I know my hostel is smack in the middle of the red-light district, so there were stoners and girls EVERYWHERE. Everyone in Amsterdam is high at around 1pm. I mean everyone! So that was a little disheartening as I knew I probably wouldn’t relate to half the people here, unless they came for Anne Frank and the Heineken tour. Cool. Anyways, walked around nonetheless, feeling relatively safe during the day, even though it’s one of the most dangerous streets in Europe! (Don’t be afraid parents, I’ll be fine.)

I went to Madame Tussauds, as I missed out on it in London, and this one was cheaper too. It was pretty good, definitely a good way to kill time anyways. Got to see some (wax) celebs! Haha.
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At around 4 I went back to my hostel to check in. WELL, I get to my room and could hardly make it across to my bed without stumbling on shoes, perfume, and girly crap. It was everywhere. I assumed either the girls who were there were living and working there and set up camp, or were just all together and didn’t care about their shit. I literally had to put my backpack on my bed and sleep with it because there was no where to put it. There were smokes and “mushroom truffle” wrappers and other misc. getting-high objects around the room, so I knew these girls were having their version of a good time. I wandered out again, finding dinner and taking pictures, then spent the rest of the night having a drink at the hostel and calling it in early.

4 am and the lights go on and a group of 7 40+ British/Scottish/Irish ladies stumble into the room and start singing various tunes they’d heard that night. They all sounded like they’ve been chain smoking since they were 3, and were obviously drunk/high/whatever. They didn’t even notice I was there until I rolled over 10 minutes later and were like, “Oh, sorry love, it’s just we’re all togetha an’ didn’t know we’d be sharing’ a room.” I was like, well you are so go to bed! They didn’t, and half an hour later while they were still singing away and chatting, one lady was like, “I must have a cigarette!” and I was not having it. Grumpy as hell, I grabbed my computer and headed out to the lobby to waste time while they went to bed and the room aired out. I went into the lobby and the guy was like, “Sorry you can’t be in here,” and I said, “Oh, sorry, it’s just the old ladies in my room are smoking and it bothers my throat,” knowing full well the reception guy said “NO smoking in the rooms as our smoke detectors are highly sensitive.” Needless to say they got in trouble, and I’m a major tattletale! When I went back into the room they apologized and said they were going to bed, which they did over an hour later after more singing and reminiscing about their evening. Awesome.

Today was much better though; I got up bright and early, trying my best not to wake those super considerate and respectful ladies, only slamming the door on my way out. I hope that gave them all a startle, but somehow I doubt it. They made me really angry! Anyways I walked over to the Anne Frank museum and even though it was only 9:30 am there was already a 15 minute queue. But the museum was really good, very simple and told Anne’s story quite well. You actually walk through the building that the Frank’s hid in during WWII, which was cool as I thought you would just see it from behind a glass wall. Very eye-opening; I can’t imagine what it will be like to see Auschwitz and Dachau.

I had passed a big shopping center on my way to the Anne Frank House, so I checked that out afterwards, which was a bit of a disappointment. But good in a way as I wasn’t tempted to buy anything!! I am learning, and the bank balance is a little startling, so I’m trying to smarten up on my little habit.

I then joined in on the NewAmsterdam free walking tour, which of course, was amazing! The tour guide was a bit perma-fried, but I guess that goes with the city. But he did take us through some cool spots in Amsterdam, and made me see it as much more than just a place for tourists to get high. Actually, I learned a lot about weed on the tour! I learned that most Dutch people hardly smoked the stuff, as it’s so readily available that they get bored quick. Also, even though the coffee shops are legal, they have tons of rules, like no smoking cigarettes in them (wtf?) and lots of little technicalities. Also, it’s legal for them to sell you weed, but it’s illegal for them to buy it off of anyone. So when asked where they get their stuff (because they can only legally grow very little of it) they say something along the lines of, “It magically appears on our backdoor every morning.” Haha, how messed up is that? But our tour guide explained about how much revenue it brings in, what with food consumption because of all the high tourists, how the government gets their taxes, and how millions of dollars are spared from law enforcement normally needed to patrol the use of weed in other countries, and it did make a lot of sense. Maybe something Canada should think about? Not that I’m all for it or anything!
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When I got back into my hostel I crossed my fingers and opened my door expecting the hurricane to still be there, and it was SPOTLESS! I actually went, “HAAAAWWWW” like the clouds had parted and the cleaning angels had come down and got rid of their mess, when I noticed two girls napping and promptly stopped! Haha, little embarrassing. Not too long after, 4 more girls came in and the other 2 woke up, and after telling them my horror story from the night before we realized we were all Canadians! Such a great turn-a-round. We all quickly made friends, and me and Julia and Amanda, the girls who were napping, went downstairs for a drink and then wandered around Amsterdam, including some of the red-light district, as the girls were leaving the next day for home and wanted to see as much as they could.
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Now I’m off to bed and going to see more of the town that I judged at first, but am letting it grow on me.

Posted by kmcveggie 13:34 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Rotterdam

semi-overcast 18 °C

So here's a photo from the Dutch game we played the other night..
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Doesn't really say much but it was really fun. Anyways yesterday Laura and I got up and ready for our day out in Rotterdam. We rented bikes from our hostel and biked around the city. I have the SOREST bum from biking but it was worth it, it was so much fun! The roads here are totally set up for biking, we always had our own lane and lights it's so cool! If only all cities were set up lik this, then everyone would bike around! First we went up the Euromast, which was basically just an expensive view. Then you go up in this sitting room and it spins you around and up the mast, so you see a lot. It made me a little dizzy lol, like it didn't spin that slow! But it was cool. Next we went to an art museum, which was something else. Remember how I don't get art? I REALLY don't get art. We first climbed this rope/net thing and watched these CRAZY weird movies that I swear are only for people who were high. So weird. Next there was a big like, jelly fish thing set up in a big room. I really don't get art. There were tons of well known artists though, like Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and a ton more that Laura went crazy over. I didn't get most of it, like there was a ton of Surrealism art that just was so weird, I just don't get it. Yesterday was a very espensive day, and this museum totally wasn't worth it to me, but it was amazing to Laura. Different people I guess!
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We had sushi for lunch, then we went to the Tropicana swimming center, which was basically an escape to the tropics in a pool, with waterslides and a 'waterbaan' and tunnels and heat lamps, it was cool but super expensive. We only stayed for just over an hour but it was fun.

Then we went to a huge health food store, and I got some stuff to make dinner, and I pretty much just relaxed after that. It was a fun day, but I just cannot bring myself to go out lately, what with the weed everywhere, cigarette smoke (when I JUST got my voice back!) etc. so I had a good night in and an awesome sleep. Off to Den Haag today!

Posted by kmcveggie 00:48 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Antwerp the smelly, and Rotterdam the friendly!

sunny 24 °C

Sorry I haven't been on here posting but there's not much to say..

My travel to Antwerp was fine, besides it being really hot and sweaty with all my stuff in tow. Couldn't find the damn hostel because it doesn't have a sign or directions to it on their site, then when I got there it was discusting; gross kitchen, smelled really really bad, you have to buy linens to put over the really dirty beds, it was just nasty. And the staff were alwayss around, but really not much help. Cool. I changed and went out exploring, but it's such a big town I don't think I saw much. Long story short the only thing I took away from Antwerp were bug bites all over me! That are very itchy and annoying and... ya the girl next to me had them too so I'm pretty sure they are bed bugs (good old wikipedia informs me) which is freaking nasty. I've been writing bad reviews for them on all the sites I can so as to prevent more people from having that experience!

Anyways now I'm settled into a very nice hostel in Rotterdam for 3 nights. Yesterday I only went shopping, but all of the store workers were really friendly and all said hi to me and it felt so good to actually have service again! Cool. I met a girl from Kenya last night and 2 guys fom Italy and a guy from New York and we played this traditional Dutch game called Slingo, I think. It was really fun, and Laura (Kenya) and I are gonna go exploring rhe city today!

Posted by kmcveggie 23:40 Archived in Belgium Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bruges and Beer and New Friends

sunny 27 °C

Wow, I’ve been having an amazing time in Bruges! But I’ll start at the beginning…Last night was a pretty early one, I had a few “kriek’s” or cherry beers with Sergio, a guy I met from Austria who was also traveling by himself. The beer was amazing; it was more like liquid candy than anything! Bright red, fairly cheap, very delicious. I think if I lived here I would have one every night for desert it was so yummy.
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This morning I got up at a decent hour, had some cereal and vanilla soy milk (sooo yum, the brand of soy milk over here [AlproSoya] is TO DIE for) and then went about touring around the city some more. It is really, really tiny, and before long I had realized that I saw everything that I needed to yesterday, minus the chocolate museum that I gave up on finding. But I continued to wander, especially because it was a beautiful day out and I had my camera this time.!
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Then I set out on finding lunch. I tried 3 different grocery stores, all with nasty “fresh” produce and meat-filled salads. Yum. Then I asked where a sushi place was, and the clerk led me to one that was closed Mon/Tues. Great. I ended up at a local fast food place thinking that I may as well get fries seeing as how I’m in Belgium, but they had a veggie burger and salad that was far too overpriced, but at least I got some veggies. The burger had ketchup on it too and it was delicious! I am a changed woman… anyways so that was all good. I then set off back to my hostel, changed into my bathing suit, and tanned in one of the many parks near my hostel. It was heaven as I nodded in and out of sleep and wiped the sweat off my forehead; I’m finally getting a summer! Only took till mid-August but that’s ok now. I tanned for a few hours, then remembered I should do my laundry as there’s a Laundromat next to my hostel and I don’t know if I’ll get as lucky in the next couple of days, so I did that and read.

As I was organizing my stuff in my room, I met Josh, a solo Aussie traveler, and then later I met Sarah, another solo Aussie, both on the BusAbout tour. Sarah invited me out to dinner with her other BusAbout friends, and after googling the place and finding that it had veggie options I joined in! We met up with her friends: Brooke from Aus, Kerry from near Ottawa, and Annette from Germany. Very fun girls night out! And I ended up having the best meal I’ve had over here. Huge baked potato, salad, fresh green beans, and a tofu/eggplant/pepper stew over rice. OH MY GOD so good, and any tofu-haters out there would so be conformed by this dish it was amazing. We ate and talked and had such a good time! We then went out to find a bar to get a drink at, and of course when you’re looking for something you can’t find it, but we ended up in one just down from our hostel, with the friendliest bar owner I’ve ever met. We ended up meeting back up with Josh and the bartender pushed our tables together and took us into the back and showed us his 460 different kinds of beer, including apple, raspberry, pomegranate, banana, chocolate, coconut, Jesus, and many more. Most of us had the coconut, which was an excellent choice, and Sarah had the Jesus, which is apparently named after, “Jesus, we got it right!” because it’s so good, and 10% as well. Sarah had a sip and was like, “Oh my god.” and the little old bartender was like, “No, JESUS!” it was so perfect. I had an awesome night, minus the fact that I actually can’t talk and won’t be able to tomorrow. The bar was like a hotbox of cigarette smoke and I left before everyone else just because it hurt to breathe. I fully appreciate the laws in Canada against smoking inside, they are literally saving peoples lives I bet. Thanks Canada!
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Posted by kmcveggie 15:33 Archived in Belgium Tagged food Comments (0)

Bruges

sunny 22 °C

Bruges is beautiful! I just had to say that first. Such a cute little town full of canals and ancient houses and buildings. I remember researching Bruges at home and being so excited about it, and now I know why. It is very cute, very picturesque. Meera and I didn’t get here until after 1, but we still saw quite a bit of the town, and we went on a little boat cruise around the canals. Unfortunately I forgot my camera at the hostel (locked up safely, but still) so I didn’t get to take any pictures on this beautiful day! But we had fun. Got lost and had some pretty rude service, but saw lots of chocolate shops, beer shops, cute houses, horse carriages (wtf?) and dogs. Apparently Bruges people love their animals. Even stopped to pet a baby border collie, which was probably the highlight of my day. Fun! There were lots of cute shops so I think I’ll be making my way around those tomorrow, as well as the chocolate museum and the fries museum that we missed today. I still have no voice (since Paris.. Not sure if I mentioned that) and there are no smoking laws in Belgium. Cool! Everyone around me is smoking it’s not good for the throat. I so appreciate the laws in Canada now! Anyways hope everyone is doing well at home!

Posted by kmcveggie 11:50 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Brussels!

sunny 20 °C

Chocolate_.jpgToday in Brussels was a complete 360 change from yesterday; in other words, I had a great day! Meera and I went exploring Brussels, which is quite easy by foor. We saw many cathedrals and churches, the “peeing man” fountain/statue, we ate fries (I had mine with ketchup, new experiences all around!) had chocolate, and explored some more. We wandered around the most beautiful grand market square, and had a great day with decent weather.
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After sightseeing pretty much the entire city, we went to Mini Europe, and family park with tons of Europe’s most famous landmarks, all at a 1:25 scale. It was amazing! I totally loved every second of it!
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We then headed back to our hostel, where we found our new roommates to be a German mother and her 5 year old son. Awesome... we went and got a beer at the pub around the corner. The boy is seriously creepy, very sixth-sense-esque, and stares at you constantly. Meera couldn’t even go into the room alone haha. When we got back to the room around 11, the boy sat straight up in his bed and watched us grab our stuff, and shushed us. Uh, cool, 5-year old. Guess what? This is what happens when you stay in a hostel! Anyways, we’re off to bed now and going to Brugges in the morning.
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Posted by kmcveggie 15:02 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Ahhh, Paris

sunny 28 °C

Well, the last couple of days have definitely been an adventure! Beginning with Thursday, when I got into the lineu for the Musee d’Orsee and thought I was going to vomit, then I slowly made my way back to my hostel and slept/read the whole day away. I think I was just very run down, but it was not very fun.

Friday, feeling much better, I met up with Tierney and we went shopping down the streets of Paris. Not sure what district we were in or what streets we were shopping on, even though she told me, but it was good and fun and definitely therapeutic! Had tons of fun with her. Went back to her apartment to heat up some real food, then made my way back to the hostel to get ready for the pub crawl. I was supposed to meet up with these two guys, Nick and Brad, from Arizona, who were staying in my hostel and who Tierney had met in Greece. She told them what room I was in and they were supposed to come get me and then we would head off together. I was down in the computer room and these two guys were asking these girls about a pub crawl. So I flag them over and I’m like, “Hey guy’s I’m Kelsey. You’re Nick and Brad?” They were like, um, we could be..? Kind of looking at each other funny so we talked about the pub crawl and they totally weren’t Nick and Brad, but I had made some new friends! Kevin and Mike were from Calgary. Then we went outside while they all pre-drank and met some of there others roommates or whoever outside, Graham and Chris who were from Winnipeg. So it was fun getting to know some new Canadians, and we were literally getting up off the stairs to go to the metro when two guys pop out of the hostel and turn to me and are like, “Are you Kelsey?” I was like “Nick and Brad! Meet Kevin, Mike, Graham, and Chris.” So our big group made it to the hostel, and good thing I was there to navigate as these boys would have never made it on their own lol. But seriously. So we got to the pub crawl, met up with Tierney and hade a pretty good night out. Met up with a group of English guys, met a guy from Calgary who works for the National Bank of Canada, and some other people along the way as well. Was overall fun, I had a few more drinks than I would have liked, and definitely swore off alcohol this morning for about the hundredth time in my life. Seriously, it doesn’t like when I drink more than a couple a night. But that’s ok for me! Said bye to Tierney, making plans to shop Seattle sometime in the relevantly near future, and Nick, Brad and I found a metro to take us home… that wasn’t actually running past 1:30 AM. SWEET. We then tried getting a cab, most of which didn’t understand my alcohol-induced French, so I was like this is freaking great… The boys didn’t seem too worried but I was! I wanted to be in bed! I then saw two buses, and one said “Bibogney” on it, which is the direction of the metro line that I take back to the hostel, so I hopped on with two very skeptical guys, paid our fare, and assured them we’d get home soon, which we did! I was actually pretty proud of myself that I managed to get us home. Actually, the boys reminded me of the pact we made earlier, that they would take me home safely as long as I figured out how to get us there, which is exactly what happened. So thanks guys!

Today I got up, got ready, and headed for the Gare du Nord train station, hoping to hop on the 11:25 train to Brussels. I got there at quarter to 11, so I thought I had plenty of time. First off, I’m very lost in a station that has very little signs, and had information booths with no one at them. Right after I finally got some direction, I slipped and fell on some water on the floor and twisted my ankle and fell with my 40+ pound pack on, bringing me down much harder than I would have gone down without it on. I let out a little scream when this all happened, and the 5 or 6 people around me didn’t even flinch or look my way to see if I was alright or try and help me up. Really comforting, the French are! So I got up and could not help my emotions, but quickly sucked it up and found the line to the tickets where I had to make a reservation for the train. An English speaking girl ahead of me was told to go to a different line for international tickets, so I followed her and we sort of helped each other out from there. Not sure if she ever got where she was going, though. Anyways, once I finally got to the ticket counter and asked for a reservation she was like, Brussels, Today? I doubt it. So I get emotional again and I was like I have to get there my hostel is booked I didn’t know it was such an issue, and she finally found me a spot on the 5:00 train to Lille, France, then change to Brussels. It was 11:30, and I had all my gear, and it was boiling outside. So needless to say it’s been a long day of reading, avoiding gypsies (who pretty much pull your earphones out of your ears to talk to you and beg for money), and trying to stay awake in a very hot train station. Definitely a day I would have liked some company! But luckily there was a Subway just outside the station so I could eat, and looking back now I suppose it didn’t feel like 5 and a half hours of waiting.

Paris was good, but my experience definitely could have been better. I didn’t even get a postcard at the train station because I was so frustrated and fed up with mean French people that I almost didn’t want a souvenir! Oh well, on to Belgium, which I doubt will be better for the language, but hopefully not so busy and pushy and rude. There are some really fun people in my hostel so it should be good! Will be having an early night, but going to hang out with Mira all day tomorrow, she's an engineer from Canada and vegetarian and never heard of happycow.net so we have a LOT to talk about! :)

Posted by kmcveggie 12:54 Archived in France Tagged transportation Comments (4)

J'adore Paris, mais Paris Détestes Moi

sunny 27 °C

Ok, so the grammer isn't all there but I can make it by just fine reading signs and making things out in french, reading labels of food, etc. etc. Talking to people? I got nothing. I would just like to announce now how awful our french system is at home. I feel perfectly comfortable arranging sentances in my head, but to get the words out of my mouth is a whole other story. I'm even shy saying, "Combien?" or "Ou est le...." because I know I won't be able to understand the response. Luckily a lot of the tourist places address you in English anyways, so there I'm ok. But the food, oh man. All I could eat today on the walking tour out of Starbucks, McDonalds, and 3 different cafe's was l'ananas and deluxe potatoes (aka mojos) at McD's. I then ordered an iced soy latte, which came hot and I'm hoping soy. I heard them say "soja" a bunch, which is soy in french, so that reassured me. Man, this is gonna be a tough couple of weeks, and my stress level is through the roof. It's funny, I'm either completely relaxed or insanely stressed. Not doing my body any good, and I'm breaking out because the last 3 days were so stressful, it's that bad. Cool!! Anyways, onto a more interesting topic....
There was definitely some sex below my bunk at around 5 am this morning, where I was unbelievably glad to have my iPod and a bed actually built in the wall so I couldn't, um, feel anything. Gross! Ok so onto an even more interesting topic...
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Paris!! That was a pic from the Eurostar yesterday, which was an awesome journey because I had no one next to me, and had used my left over pounds to buy a couple of magazines for the road. Very relaxing! Anyways this morning I got up, miscalculated the time (not used to be 9 hours ahead instead of 8) and so missed out on a hour of window shopping the Champs-Élysées. I finally made it out of the hostel, picked up some delicious soy chocolate pudding and a banana for breakfast (the end of easy eating as I knew it) and took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe, where I then briskly walked down the famous shopping street of Champs-Élysées. I ended up going into 2 stores, and buying a cute, cheap top in one. The other stores I just looked through the window, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci and Christian Dior, etc. etc.. These guys have huge base stores here it's amazing!
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I then got to the meeting point for the walking tour right in time, quickly walking past the Louvre and the beautiful gardens around it, knowing I'd stop back there on the tour. The free New Paris tour was awesome, as usual; that's the 4th NewEurope tour I've done and have not yet been dissapointed! We saw all the major sights and learned a bunch about each one. Glad I made it in time!
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Met some cool people on the tour, but in the end I wandered straight off towards the Eiffel Tower. It was a beautiful day (actually, I got burnt where I didn't put sunscreen on this morning!! Never been so happy) and I wanted to head back to the hostel after all the walking, but I wanted some good pics of the tower, so I walked another half an hour down to it. Tried to mail my postcards home as well, but was so frustrated trying to talk to the French post office lady that when I couldn't find the mailbox outside, I gave up. Jules, another Aussie from my room, has been trying to convince me that it's all part of the adventure of it, but I absolutely hate the language barrier. Actually, this makes me want to run home for 6 months, take French, Dutch, German, Italian, and Spanish, and run back! I'm sure I'll survive like everyone else does when they do this, I just might lose some hair in the process. But getting to the Eiffel Tower was everything I've ever dreamed it would be and more. Got some good pictures and was overall really glad I made the trek.
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Took me over an hour to get home via metro, alternate bus route, then metro again, and on my way I found some AWESOME vegan canneloni and miso soup and tomatoes and was very excited to get a full, awsome meal in when I found out there's no kitchen or even microwave I could use at the hostel. Can I get an A.W.E.S.O.M.E. When she said there's the restaurant in the bar I explained that I have a very restricted diet and she was like "Ya... sorry..." I was like GREAT. LOVE LIFE.. So I ate the pasta cold and had the tomatoes and will lug the rest of the canned/packaged food around until I get a microwave! It all doesn't need a fridge so I guess I'm lucky? Whatever. Bitter is a more correct word at the moment. And I've got to get off of here because there's a creepy old French man sitting at the computer next to me humming who is actually driving me mental. InSANE.
Hope everyone's well back home, really missing everyone today!

Posted by kmcveggie 13:11 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

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