Reunited with my favorite travel buddy and best friend!

Wow so I am definitely a little bit behind on my blog, and I really don’t want to let that happen because I will for sure forget some of the amazing things that I want to remember. So I will continue with the weekend after Mom headed back home, around March 6th. After I finished up class on Thursday, I hopped right on a train into Brussels to meet Julie and Julia (our mutual Alabama, Croatia, Sam Versace friend– hey sam!) at the train station. I waited anxiously until I finally saw my long lost friends come through the crowd with their hefty 3-week full bags and souvenirs. We took a quick metro ride to our hostel and got checked into our 14 bed shared hostel. Yikes. This was the first time I had shared such a large hostel room with random people, because I had traveled in a larger group in the past where we all had one room to ourselves. It was definitely interesting to be in a huge room with like 7 bunk beds full of strangers but we made the most of it! So Thursday night, we headed out into the city to get some dinner and drinks. Since the weather is just starting to turn, we were able to eat outside on a patio and enjoy our bacon burgers 🙂 Afterwards, we found our way to a bar called Celtica which boasted a 10 hour long happy hour… so yeah it worked out pretty well. It was so fun to catch up with some familiar faces and sing with the live music at the bar!

On Friday morning we got up and headed out to sightsee in Brussels. I was the tour guide of the day (and weekend) and so I was proud of myself for mostly finding everything around the city, especially since our hostel was on another side that I was not too familiar with. We saw the Grand Place, Mannequin Pis, the Royal Palace and Cathedral, and various clothing and chocolate shops. We enjoyed some waffles as well! Brussels is such a manageable city, it is really enjoyable to tour for a day; and the weather wasn’t so bad either. It was interesting to talk with Julie and Julia about their study abroad experience so far. They’re spending the semester in Dubrovnik, Croatia (which I will be visiting in May!) and were a little more than half way through a 3-week long trip throughout Europe. And it’s always good to see my bff Juj!!!

We got up on Saturday morning and headed to the train station to travel to Amsterdam. I was able to book a cheap train from Brussels to Rotterdam, and then Rotterdam to Amsterdam– much lower price than the high speed ones. So the gals joined me on the train and we spent a little less than 3 hours getting to the Netherlands. Since I had been to Amsterdam before with Dad and Cam, I knew what to expect for the most part and had a general idea of direction in the city. The biggest difference by far was the weather! It was absolutely beautiful out for the entire weekend. So we made our way to Bob’s Youth Hostel, a quick walk from the train station. We were definitely in for a surprise at this hostel, it was pretty dingy, although we had a decent 12 person room, and no wifi to boot. So theme of the weekend was definitely “my electronics are dead and I have no internet connection”, but what’s a few first world problems here and there? After we dropped our things off at the hostel, we took to wandering around the city for the afternoon. Once again I was surprised at how decently well I remembered where things were. Amsterdam was packed! There were so many people. Between the trams, cars, bikes, walkers, etc. it was really overwhelming. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone sit along the canals in the sun and break out some of the springtime clothes. That night we decided to do the Heineken Experience Tour; I was more than willing to do this one again because it was such a fun time. So us three Americans caused a scene like usual and had a great night. We ended up on one of the last groups through the museum (like with Dad and Cam) so it was fun to have some of the place to ourselves again. Definitely have a new respect for Heineken!

On Sunday morning we did some more exploring on foot until afternoon when Julie and I decided to rent bikes to get a new perspective of the city. Julia went along to do the Van Gogh Museum (great choice), while we spent a few hours in the sun. We rode to the outskirts of town, to avoid most of the traffic, and cut to the bottom of the city where there is a large park. I had been through the area a few weeks before, and I was basically in for a completely new scene. The place was full of people young and old. Bikes, rollerblades, picnics, music, games, you name it. It was such an awesome vibe, so we couldn’t help but park our bikes and settle in for a few hours on the grass and take in the atmosphere. Overall, I was a huge fan of this city in the spring time. The combination of the canals, houseboats, bikes, and all around great atmosphere is really captivating. I can see why the ‘Dam gets such good reviews! We made it back on our bikes just in time of our rental limit and met back up with Julia. That night, we ate out at a really great restaurant. I was proud of eating a salad until I proceeded to eat apple pie, chocolate, and pizza later on. Go me, but no ragrets, not even a single letter!!! We spent part of the night at a bar called Bourbon Street where there was some live music and an incredibly entertaining group of people to observe. Lots of laughs to finish out the weekend.

I had a few hours to kill on Monday before my train in the afternoon, so we once again moseyed around and had a nice lunch out in the sun. I was sad to say goodbye to my “home” friends but it was exciting that Julie and I have a few more trips planned together before we head back home. So back to LLN I went, made it through a short 3 days of class and a lovely exchange family dinner, woke up on Friday morning and got on a plane to Dublin, Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day! But that’s a story for my next post 🙂

Side note: it was this weekend that Julie and Julia introduced me to the new fad called “100 Happy Days”. It’s basically a personal challenge to document 100 days of your life consecutively and what made you happy on each day. As the sappy and sentimental person that I am deep down, I immediately hopped on the bandwagon and began my own 100 Happy Days. If you’re interested in the challenge check out the website! And if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my instagram account, ginamaehappyday 🙂

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