Fall Break Blog

Life has been quite insane lately, the past two to three weeks have been full of travel, food, bus rides, and customs clearance.  I loved every second of it.  For my fall break I ventured to the Netherlands and the U.K. for a nice break from reality.  Here’s a quick synopsis of most of the fun things I did!

Amsterdam – 

  • We stayed in a great (and cheap) hostel which was close to the train station and super clean.
  • My friends and I (there were about eight of us) found an “authentic” Italian pizza place where I was told that I wouldn’t be able to finish an entire pizza so guess what I did.
  • Next day we stopped for brunch where I indulged in a HUGE yogurt parfait that I never wanted to end.
  • Walked around the Red Light District. “Ew that’s trashy”.  Actually no, when prostitution and other markets along those lines are safe and legal it becomes a lot less trashy.  It’s a very interesting culture.
  • The Netherlands is known for its abundance of waterways and canals.  That is what makes the city of Amsterdam so beautiful.  We splurged on a 9 euro boat tour around the entire city and it was absolutely outstanding.
  • Most of our day was spent walking around the city and finding the IAmsterdam Letters.  Much like the Bean of Millennium Park in Chicago, these letters are huge tourist attractions with millions of people posing in front of them for pictures.
  • For dinner we tried Chinese or Cantonese food in the city centre.  The plate was bigger than my head, europeans eat SO MUCH GOOD FOOD!
  • We went back to our hostel for a quick power-nap and to get ready for a night out in this amazing city.  The night life scene in Amsterdam definitely didn’t disappoint.

Here are some pictures, more on Facebook!

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Manchester – 

  • After arriving back home in Ghent from Amsterdam on the 2nd of November, Pinja and I took off for my second Fall Break trip to the U.K. on the 3rd.
  • Our trip started off quite interestingly due to the fact that our RyanAir flight out of Brussels was for 7:00 am.  The airport we were destined to fly out of isn’t the main airport of Brussels, it’s actually about half an hour away from the city in the French-speaking part of Belgium.  Flights usually require passengers to arrive two hours ahead of time (especially if they’re flying international) so we had to figure out how to get from Ghent to Brussels by 5:00.  It was not easy.  We took the absolute last train from Ghent to Brussels Central Train station around midnight and arrived in Brussels around 1:30.  Whoops now we have to get to the airport.  There are no trains available until 5:00 am PLUS the shuttle running from Brussels Central to Charleroi doesn’t start until 3:00 am.  We were determined to simply “chill” in the airport until the security guards kicked us out around 2:00.  Two young women stuck in downtown Brussels in the middle of the night, outside, in the freezing cold.  Of course we splurged for a cab in order to get to the safe, warm, airport, only four hours early for our flight.
  • We arrived in Manchester around 7:30 U.K. time, hungry and exhausted.  Our Airbnb hosts weren’t available for check in so we stored our luggage at Piccadilly Station all day.  I have no shame in admitting that a large portion of our day was spent at different coffee shops and a Movie Theatre.  We needed to rest and relax and recharge from our entire night of traveling.
  • There is a huge mall in Manchester, of course we took a peek.  I bought a new watch.
  • FREE MUSEUMS: Manchester Art Gallery, International Football Museum, and Manchester Metropolitan Museum.  All three were equally interesting.
  • On the night of November 4th, the entire city of Manchester switches into a Christmas wonderland.  Unfortunately U.K. weather didn’t care that hundreds of people were to gather in the city centre for this event so it poured the entire time.  Pinja and I cut our losses and watched everything happen from a nearby cafe.  Still really pretty but not as soaked.
  • We did find this really cool and funky pizza place for dinner, however.  It was kind of a pizzeria/bar type place and it was deserted when we arrived around 4:30 for an early dinner but then extremely lively when happy hour came along.   We ordered a chicken curry pizza the size of Texas and ate it all.  Lovely.

Picture from Manchester Museum, more on Facebook!IMG_4113.jpg

London –

  • Our visit in London for a day was everything I hoped it would be.  I loved having Pinja as a travel buddy because I’ve learned that we both HATE BEING TOURISTS.  We literally walked past Big Ben, snapped two pictures then moved on.  We were there to live in one of the greatest cities on earth, not spend our time behind our phone screens.
  • Important things we did see, however.  Big Ben, Parliament Building with a huge peaceful protest about around the Turkish Embassy.  We did indulge in a one touristy thing, The London Eye.  We rode it at night and the city was literally breath taking.  Our last adventure of the night was riding the tube across town to check out the Chelsea FC soccer stadium at Stamford Bridge.  This was actually a really cool experience because Chelsea was playing at home that night and they dominated winning 5-0.  Such a cool feeling walking amongst thousands of fans.  On the way back to our hostel we stopped by King’s Cross Station to find Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter.  Very very VERY nostalgic waiting in line with the rest of the children to get my picture taken by the platform.

Pictures from London, more on Facebook!

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Pros and Cons about our fall break trip.

Pros:

  1. Our flights and accommodations were super cheap and we stayed in one of the coolest flats in Manchester (my professional millennial opinion).
  2. Everyone spoke English in the U.K. that was a nice change.
  3. Free Museums as mentioned above.
  4. Lovely food ranging from coffee to fish and chips to pizza to salads.
  5. Pinja and I grew closer.
  6. I checked off two new countries off my list.

Cons:

  1. Our crappy flight times and sleeping in the airport.
  2. LONG bus ride home – 10 hours.
  3. I was stopped by the border patrol in the U.K. because I don’t have my residency permit yet from the city of Ghent, they didn’t believe that an actual American lived there.
  4. Everything was kind of expensive compared to Belgium.
  5. I tried to break in new boots and was rewarded with huge blisters. Typical.

See, less Cons than Pros so I’d say I had a very successful fall break.  My next blog post will be about my weekend trip to Italy to visit my Italian best friend, Erica.  Long story short, I love everything Italian now.

I also Facetimed with my dog yesterday.  I miss him dearly.

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Gros Bisous,

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