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Published: June 13th 2013
We arrived in Belgium on the 16th May, it was raining, wet, cold and a rather sad looking city. There was really only one reason we were passing through Belgium and it was due to Laura having a old univeristy freind she had promised to one day visit in Europe. So we did.
The first day was a friday so we didnt do much - we decided to go and watch the movie, The Great Gatsby, at the movies as it was just so miserible outside. And that was a good choice as not only was it a great movie but we also treated ourselves to popcorn mmm. That night I got food poisoning another awesome thing to add to this city, we had plans to meet up with Erik for dinner so I insisted Laura went while i rested and recovered. Luckily in the morning I was ok to come out with the others and drive to Luxembourg. The sun had come out for us and we were glad of it.
Erik was the name of Lauras friend and he is from Sweden but got a job in Belgium, he also had another friend staying with him from
NZ. So the four of us did a few days trips together as he had a company car - a new mini cooper so we all squeezed in it and off we headed. Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe and it only took just under two hours to reach the tiny city from where we were staying in Brussells, Belguim. We were traveling up to 160 on the open speed motorway, although it didnt even seem fast at all especially when your in the back seat of a mini - you think it would!
We had lunch at a little pub down on the river called Scotts Pub, explored, checked out the local museum and enjoyed the sun then headed bac. The next day we head to Holland for the first time and checked out the little southern town of Masstricht. It was a public holiday on the Sunday and the town was buzzing with music, bands, people and more people. It had a great feeling and following a marching band behind them as they marched down the street was a buzzy little feeling. This town was fill of lots of people just lazying around and
soaking up some sun rays and eating good food. We had lunch in the middle of the square and walked around before heading back for the afternoon. The great thing about Europe is that in 3 days you can be in three different countries with all such a different feel to them, something you cant do in New Zealand or have the luxury to do.
After saying good bye to cold Begium we headed to Amsterdam where we stayed 5 nights. Again we arrived to RAIN and this time very very heavy rain. Walking from the train station to our low cost budget hotel was somewhat fun - Laura was soaked and so was I. We decided that it was time to invest in an umbrella and some ponchos since the rain looked like it was here to stay a few days and it did.
But that did stop us from enjoying every minute of this beautiful city. I am confident to say it is one of the only cities in the world that still looks stunning raining or sunny. As many of you know Amsterdam is fill of canals, a system that is the result of conscious
city planning and is facinating when exploring today on bike. Bikes, trams and the metro is the main form of transport in Amsterdam. Due to the small roads and canals around the city the easist way is to bike and if you dont own a bike in Amserdam then you clearly dont live there. We decided to rent bikes for the time we were there and it was a great way to get around, if only Auckland was more bike friendly but it would be the same as we are lacking canals well any type of canal. Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.63 million international visitors annually, this is excluding the 16 million day trippers visiting the city every year so its also a very busy little city.
We did a bike tour with Mike bike tours into the Dutch Country side where we went to a cheese making factory, farm and wooden shoe factory - the iconic symbol along with windmills for which we also stopped at one. From that bike ride we learnt that to access the country side - by bike - from the city is 30 mins which is great as then you are surrounding by paddocks, animals and fresh air. Later that evening we headed to my families relations about 1 hour train ride from Amsterdam.
Now another interesting experience in Amsterdam was of course the red light district which we all have heard about. We explored and even checked out a sex museum which gave us a few laughs. Red light district was very busy at night and lots of ladies in windows trying to lure us both in!
But after 5 days of rain and bike riding we were sad to say goodbye but would say Amsterdam is one of those cities we could see ourselves living in.. in some ways very similar to NZ and the local people are very nice.
Onto Germany next....if you want to see a map of our trip so far click the map tab to find our rough route so far.
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