I loved Bruges! The bus ride there was short and uneventful and we were staying at the drop off point so that was fun!!
The first day, we just walked around the town, going into all the cutesy shops. There were lots of fun junk shops – I bought a Tinkerbell pin in one and a badge in the other.
Of course when you’re in Bruges, Belgium, you have to eat like the Belgium’s, so I had a waffle (essential eating).
Went into a bunch of chocolate shops (when in Belgium right??), had some tastings and even came across an ‘Australian waffle and ice-cream store’, which we were confused about because there is no such thing as an Australian waffle?
For dinner, I had (double fried) Belgian chips (apparently that’s how they make them) – with mayo!! I eat my chips at home with mayo, so it’s always exciting when they offer sauces other than tomato sauce.
Spent that evening chatting to new friends: Ollie and Amy.
The next day, the four of us hung out in the morning, and after Ollie left, the three of us explored Bruges more.
I couldn’t resist the allure of pretty chocolates so I ended up buying one (and then a few more afterwards).
A and I got a bag together, and unfortunately, it was underweight so we had to keep adding until it reached the minimum weight.
I, of course, had chips with mayo for dinner, and then the three of us did a nighttime Bruges tour.
After the tour, Amy and I did beer tasting and we even tried the best beer in the world (Westvletern) (which, for me, wasn’t the best of the ones we tried).
I spent the next morning packing, refreshing all my social medias too many times, talking to the fam, and buying much needed Belgium chocolate from the supermarket.
Next stop: AMSTERDAM (the city of weed and bikes).
Took us a lil bit of time to find our hostel and after being moved from bed to bed (which was followed by justified ranting after no apology), we were ready to start our time in Amsterdam(n).
First job: do as the locals and ride a bike! We went on a tour, so we’d a) get some information along the way, and b) not die in the process because riding in Amsterdam is bloody scary!
(After multiple wobbly starts, I finally gained some sort of confidence to ride among the professionals of Amsterdam).
A and I hung out with Amy (who we’d done the tour with), sitting by the canals and chatting for a few hours.
By then, night had fallen, and we took a wander around the Red Light District. We also went into the Red Light Secrets museum – and learnt about a day in the life of these girls – and the set out of their rooms etc. It was very well presented and quite interesting.
Day 2 was a visit to the Anne Frank house. I’d read the book and learnt about Anne and her family, but it was a bit of a surreal experience walking up those extremely narrow stairs and going through the secret door (with the original bookcase still there!)
The varying presentations and information presented in the museum – plus pages of the original diary and the film at the end – was incredibly humbling and sad and encouraging and also serves as a warning.
Post Anne Frank, we went to a cheese shop – where we tasted so many cheeses!!! We also went out for lunch and I tried some typical Dutch kroketten (croquettes), which were super deep fried (as they are), but also nicer than expected!
Day 3 we stayed local, and did some shopping. We stayed in an area with ‘bits and bobs’ shops – selling things you want, ie a dog shaped tea infused, or overpriced homewares, but don’t need; and some clothes shops. I bought myself some pretty sticky notes (as you can tell, I really splashed out a lot).
We also went out for cake and shared two: cheesecake and one with cream filling (this is why you travel with someone obviously).
Day 4 was art n culture day!
We went to a Banksy/Warhol exhibition and watched a very interesting doco called Exit through the gift shop which is about Banksy and this crazy French filmmaker called Thierry Guetta. There’s a bunch of conspiracy theories surrounding identities of certain people in the film (google it when you’re done watching), which I don’t believe because it all seems too neat, but you never know.
We wanted to sit in Vongel Park and eat lunch, but the weather was cold and windy, so we ate in Museum Plein.
The drop-off point hostel was close to the I AMSTERDAM sign, so we dropped our bags and ran/fast walked to the letters (where there were no people!)
Destination numero 3 (in this blog post): BERLIN.
I was quite excited for Berlin as I’d heard great things about it. For once in our travelling lives, it was quite easy and relatively quick to get to our (awesome) hostel.
Day 1, we did a walking tour that took us to: Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Hitler’s Bunker, a preserved section of the wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin concert hall (square).
Day 2, we went to the East Side Gallery, which was awesome!! It’s preserved parts of the wall with murals and designs and patterns on them.
We ate lunch sitting in the river/canal bank and walked along the less pretty side of the wall on the way back.
We retraced our steps of the walking tour, so we could do Typographies of Terror, which was by the preserved section of the wall. The exhbition involves information panels that details Germanic history from before WWI.
Day 3, we hung out in a suburb I can never remember the name of; a suburb with those dog-infuser shops and also op shops. I bought myself a pair of thong/slip-slop earrings. We went out for dinner – to a (sorta famous) place called Burgermeister, where I had cheese fries for the first time! They were quite good and so was the burger.
Day 4, on recommendation from my aunt, we went to a boiled sweet factory. It was a very small building (which I definitely wouldn’t have known about if she hadn’t told me). There were so many: sarsaparilla, pineapple, raspberry, ginger, herbal, blueberry, apple, lemon, lime (extra sour); peppermint, toffee, and mocha. I love boiled sweets so this was super fun for me (and of course I bought some).
Walking down the street, we stumbled on a synagogue, so we went in and walked up to see the view from the dome and downstairs we saw the exhibition on the history of the building: from it’s early destruction to it’s rebuilding and the creation of the dome.
We had packed lunch, but of course, when we passed Hummus and Friends, we had to go in. We shared a bowl of hummus/eggs/fava beans/oil/chickpeas with Pita bread and reminisced about birthright.
We u-bahned back, and I read two books (Guyaholic and The Originals), wrote a postcard and packed for an early departure tomorrow.
Until Cesky Krumlov or Vienna!