Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brussels, Belgium

This past weekend I went to Belgium. We stayed in Brussels, but took a day trip to Bruges. Bruges deserves it's own post, as does Brussels. Brussels is the capital of the European Union and had lots of sites to see. We stayed in a quaint, little hotel and ate way too many chocolates and waffles. I'm still figuring out if I prefer more text or photos, but this post is really heavy on the photos. I enjoyed the weekend trip and cannot wait to start traveling around Europe more!

Netherlands countryside, you can't really tell, but there's a windmill off in the distance.

In Brussels there is a famous fountain of a little boy peeing. The waffle vendors really try to profit from this tourist attraction obviously...

Frites! I love that you can see the reflection of the buildings. 

Beautiful park, I wish parks like this existed in Amsterdam.

The strangest part of my trip was returning "home" to Amsterdam. I still feel like a tourist here some days, but I'm getting the hang of things much more easily now. I have yet to conquer the Dutch grocery store, I mostly buy fruit and pre-made dinners. One of these days I'll get around to making an actual recipe though. Stay tuned for my adventures in Bruges!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Pancake Bakery

Today me and my friend Sandra had our first Dutch pancakes! We went to The Pancake Bakery, which I'd heard mixed reviews for. Some said it was just popular for tourists, while others said they were the most amazing pancakes they'd ever eaten. The place was cute and pub like. It had cute, old photos of Amsterdam hanging on the walls. Although I have no other Dutch pancakes to compare them to, they were pretty delicious, or lekker as the Dutch would say. We decided to share a bacon and cheese pancake and a nutella and banana pancake. The nutella one was of course my favorite. The pancakes were about the size of a medium pizza. I will be full for at least 24 hours now. Though I'm sure I'll manage to eat all of the waffles, frites, chocolate, and beer my heart desires this weekend in Brussels. 

This last photo was from the pub we went to after. We watched the Amsterdam Ajax game while enjoying some Heineken. I'm sorry for the awful Iphone quality, but I thought this collection of pictures was adorable. I especially love how none of them are level.

Instagram Update.

I haven't had much time to blog, I'm having so much fun in this new city! Here are some of my adventures in Instagram from the past week or so. Also, I'm going to Belgium this weekend!

Yarn lamps in one of my academic buildings.

Coffee Company!

I did not go inside Club Nasty, I just thought the name was hilarious.

So many Vespas. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cultural Similarities

As I assumed, there are many cultural differences between the Netherlands and the United States. Everything here is much cuter and has so much history. The differences can be challenging to overcome at times, like when I have to pay to use the restroom or when I'm completely overwhelmed by all of the Dutch words at the grocery store. However, I have noticed similarities and I always take a minute to appreciate those little moments. I've been developing a mental list of my favorites and figured I'd share them with you.

- laughter
- parents yelling at their children, no matter the language
- being annoyed by pedestrians not in crosswalks
- coffee
- couples holding hands and being cute
- a McDonalds quarter pounder with cheese
- a good sale (I scored some boots for 6 euro!)
- a smile
- this song will make any female aged 15 - 35 dance ridiculously

I appreciate the differences at times too. Like today I passed the cheese market, where I got some delicious, Tallegio cheese, and the most adorable, well-mannered puppy was sitting outside the cheese store patiently waiting for his owner. Not tied up to anything, he was just chilling watching his momma buy some cheese. It kind of made my day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


On Saturday I ventured to the market with a friend. There were all types of vendors: antiques, cheese, fish, produce, clothes, crafty things, etc. There was a dress line that was entirely crocheted, it made me miss my momma. I bought some grapes, which were delicious. I am trying to be thrifty, living in Europe is expensive, as you probably imagined. There was so much to look at there, but our favorite thing to see was all of the puppies! I miss my dogs (Mom, please tell them they were featured on my blog). Next time I go to the market, which will probably be Saturday (let's be real), I'll take more photos.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

De Laatste Kruimel

While wandering around looking for lunch, I stumbled upon this little gem. It's absolutely perfect and may be the cutest place I've ever seen. It seemed as if I'd walked into a Dutch kitchen and I immediately felt at home, they even had vintage Dutch cookbooks on the shelves. I also tried a new cheese! I enjoyed my Taleggio sandwich by myself while listening to the Mad Men esque music played overhead. Little moments like these remind me why I love traveling so much.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Gezellig, pronounced heh-SELL-ick, described as a "perfect example of untranslatability, is seen in the Dutch language through the word gezellig, which does not have an English equivalent. Literally, it means cozy, quaint, or nice, but can also connote time spent with loved ones, seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness."

I'm not sure I've ever had this many gezellig moments so close together before.
Also, check the about me section to see which goals I've accomplished!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day One/Two

The plane ride here was interesting. I sat next to a nice, Dutch man who was an engineer! I didn't sleep a wink and was forced to watch the same episode of How I Met Your Mother about three times and some strange movie starring Justin Timberlake. Luckily, I found five other girls on my flight also studying at UvA. We took a bus together to our housing office to get our keys. I had my first Dutch stroopwaffel, which tasted exactly like the ones my mom bought at Costco, which was a let down. After finding my apartment and hauling my fifty pound luggage up three flights of the tiniest, windiest staircase I've ever seen, I got settled in a little bit.
This is my airplane attire!

After I arrived, I ventured to a department store about twenty minutes away by foot called Hema and instantly fell in love. They also have one of the coolest Flash websites I've ever seen. I got a little crazy at Hema. Everything here is much smaller. Not only soaps and lotions, but everything. The largest amount of toilet paper I could buy in a package was 4 rolls. While checking out, I turned next to me and saw my roommate, Pela, whom I hadn't met yet! We recognized each other from Facebook and walked home together. Pela is basically Danny Tanner from Full House, but a Greek woman. We cleaned the kitchen last night for over two hours and she found things for me to scrub my mother wouldn't even have noticed. In her defense though, it was pretty disgusting. I'll be uploading pictures of my apartment soon.

Today was long. It began with my residence permit appointment, which I was late to because I got very lost. The Dutch really dislike tardiness, which was embarrassing. Orientation began today too and I have about 15 other students in my group. I've met people from all over: Sweden, Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Ireland, and lots of Americans. I've noticed I've started speaking with really proper English (you can probably already tell) because most of the people I speak to learned English as a second language. I envy people who know four or five languages. But my new German friend told me I should be thankful I speak English so well, because that's how we are communicating! Haha, which is true I guess.

I walked a ton today, including two hours in the bitter cold to find my apartment. Luckily I was not alone. I was with a guy from New York and a girl from Spain, who live fairly close to me. I also purchased my bike today. It's a grey single gear and has a yellow seat. It's pretty charming. I haven't rode it yet, which should be pretty interesting. Traffic is a bit confusing, because there are seriously five different lanes in each direction. One for pedestrians, one for bikes, one for cars, one for busses, and one for trams. I feel like I'm playing Frogger a little bit. I haven't been too homesick yet, mostly I just miss familiarity. And not being confused most of the time. I'm optimistic I'll figure it out soon enough though.