Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Lofthouse

Well, I can officially say that December was a bad month for blogging for me. Not only did I only post a mere two pieces, but the first article was more or less just me thinking out loud. Probably not that interesting for all you brothers and sisters out there reading this thing. This post shall be much more interesting though, because I finally got to travel again, my last of the 4 months I have here. Off we go.

My older brother Andrew came to France for about two weeks, from December 16th to today, December 31st. This timing coincided just about perfectly with my Christmas break from school, so we had two full weeks of nothing to do but try to see Europe. And seeing as that can be quite, quite spendy, we cut the time traveling to nine days. Our destinations: Paris and Amsterdam. From the 19th to the 27th, we were rocketized animals, shooting around France, the Netherlands and eventually Germany on trains of high speeds and public transportation. The recap begins here.

We started off in Paris, taking trains up to the City of Light all day on the 19th to save some coin. We arrived in the evening and met up with our host, a friend from my hometown, who happens to be living there and working as an English teacher in a local lycée, or high school. We were able to spend three nights at her place and save a bit of cash money for the trip. She was our tour guide for a lot of it, showing us around Paris like it was the back of her hand. In the three days we were there, we hit the most touristy things of all time, but they were all great. We climbed the Eiffel Tower. We gawked at the wealth of the Palace of Versailles. We saw the Notre Dame and hiked up to Sacré Coeur. We saw the Moulin Rouge and walked down the Champs Elysées. We climbed up the Arc de Triomphe and saw the Nouvelle Arche on the other end of it. We went into the Louvre and checked out the Musée d'Orsay. We even managed to eat a real French cooked meal while dining at my Parisienne friends house one night. All in all, it was an extremely busy three days, packed full of activities, money spending and fun. We were definitely the most average tourists ever, but that is what you do in Paris. You walk around and you see those things. I can safely say both me and my brother loved it.

Next up was Amsterdam, which ended up being a letdown. I can't hate on Amsterdam, because it really is a cool city. The canals, architecture and unique culture make it an interesting place. Just NOT on Christmas day and NOT when you don't want to see naked woman or get high or freeze to death when you're walking around. Cool place, wrong time. We were victims of the wrong place, wrong time syndrome for sure here. Christmas time is simply not a time to be away from home is the final conclusion both me and my brother drew out of this experience. We spent a lot of time walking around, taking the trams and simply admiring the city. We went to a museum one day too, which housed a lot of Dutch military and world power mementos along with a lot of Rembrandt paintings. That was pretty cool.

But, as I alluded to, we soon grew tired of the city and decided to look into leaving a day early. So I sent a Facebook message to a German friend of mine who lives only a three hour train ride away from Amsterdam, way up north in a city called Münster. We checked the trains and decided to use the extra day on our Eurail passes to give them a visit. Sure enough, nothing went as planned though and we ended up arriving about three and half hours late and only being able to stay there for 18 hours or so. Although I have to say that they were some of the most enjoyable 18 hours of the trip. We checked out their city (which won the title of "World's Most Livable City in 2006 with none other than Seattle) and saw where they grew up. We had some tea and Christmas cakes with their family as well. Add on top of that an AMAZING Christmas dinner prepared by my friend's mom, and Christmas was completely and utterly redeemed for us. There is nothing quite like a family dinner with delicious food and desserts to put you in a holiday cheer. To top it all off we went out and had German beer in a German bar with a German name (Das Blaue Haus), a bucket list goal checked off for sure. We went to bed then took 18 hours of trains on home to Aix, finishing the day with a stressful connection between our last trains and a 2:45 AM bedtime. Thus ended my European travels for my stay here.

Needless to say it is nice to be home and I am ready to knock these two weeks of school out and fly on home. I put my brother on a bus to the airport this morning and now I am hanging out until classes start again, celebrating the New Year and trying to make sure I get credit for all my classes. I am quite ready to be home right now, especially since these two weeks of class are essentially meaningless for us. Only two classes have anything real to do so I guess all I can do is try to get better at French and pass those two tests. We shall see. So I am down to only one more post to the ol blogosphere world for my time here. To be honest, it will be an amazing feeling to be done with this all, bittersweet, but refreshing. So I hope you enjoyed this one, one or two more coming. And now, of course, some pictures.

why yes i AM amsterdam
hammurabi's code...balla.
been there...done that.
the two lovely French hosts.
Notre Dame de Paris

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