Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

We arrived in Amsterdam yesterday morning at 8am. The 9 hour flight from Houston to Amsterdam was not as bad as I thought, although, I was unable to sleep form more than (maybe) 4 hours--all in about 30 minute increments. Being located in an aisle seat close to the restroom, I found my seat being used as a "sling-shot"as people exiting the restroom pulled on the headrest of my seat to spring themselves forward down the aisle as they made their way back to their seat. Great fun!

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful! Sunny and 75!

From central station we took a canal ride to our hotel.

We had several hours to kill before we could check in, so we walked to a market just a few blocks from our hotel. It was a massive market with fresh fruit, veggies and clothing, etc. Once we were able to check in to the hotel, we settled in for a much needed nap! Our hotel room (pics to follow) wins my brother, Dave's, "Smallest Room Award." There is room for bunkbeds and not much else. The bathroom is also quite small, but everything is clean and comfy. All we need.

FYI...after carrying my backpack for much of the day, I determined that I STILL packed too much...I was very ready to have that thing off my back by the time we made it to our hotel room.

After our nap, we freshened-up and jumped on the canal bus (we purchased a 24 hour pass; it's a great deal, but we would have gotten more use out of it if we had purchased it for today) and made our way to the Anne Frankhuis. The tour was quite surreal. Most have read the book and watched the movie, so have a grasp of the story. However, it becomes more real, or maybe it's hard not to really internalize the dynamics and sympathize more when you're actually there. Not just seeing the artifacts and accompanying discriptions, but walking along the same floorboards where the Franks stayed in hiding; brushing against the same walls that they might have brushed against. Very sad indeed.

Once we finished the Anne Frank tour, we made our way to the Red Light district. What an experience. The energy in that area is wild. What's interesting to me is the overall laid back attitude. Sex, sex, sex everywhere, and no one bats an eye.

There's a bar right beside our hotel. After a few hours checking out downtown, we had dinner and the coldest, most delicious draft heineken I've ever had. The bartender, Aturo, was from Spain. We've met several people here; most are not locals. It seems that this is sort of a melting pot for parts of Europe, but my view is from a very small slot of time...Everyone here is so friendly and TALL. I'm pretty average height here. Wild. Oh, another oddity that I noticed is that toilets are taller here than in the states...I suppose because the average height is so much taller.

It's a "Seattle"day here today. We went to Dam Square to meet with a walking tour and must have just missed them. We are taking our own walking tour (from one of my guidebooks) now...just stopped by the OBA (open biblioteque amsterdam) to check get a break from the rain; check email, etc. Hopefully, we won't get too lost on our tour. Amsterdam is relatively small and public transport is pretty easy to figure out though. Later we head to the Rijksmuseum then off to Paris tomorrow!

Until next time...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Today's the Day

It's only six hours until the trip officially begins! Truth be told, I'm really not looking forward to the flight. Of all the times to not have "Jeannie" powers. I woke up at 3:00am this morning to 1) try and make myself tired so that it might be easier to sleep on last, 9hr leg of my flight and 2) minimize jet-lag. I've packed my neck pillow, ear plugs, eye mask, benadryl and Dramamine to help encourage sleep...I really, really, really have a hard time sleeping on planes!

Normally, when I fly, I eagerly watch everyone board the plane. As I settle into my seat, I pray that the crazy looking person (you know the one that you see and think, "please don't sit by me, please don't sit by me") and think, "oh please sit by me," solely for the story telling potential. Today, on the other hand, I will be like the majority, praying that "the crazy" doesn't sit by me.

This morning, I took one last review of my backpack and its inventory. I can't think of anything to add or leave behind. My main goal was to be able to pack only what I can carry in a backpack. Not an easy task for me...AT ALL. Shockingly, I was able to manage that goal! And, yes, I guarantee that when the pictures are finally posted, you WILL see variations of the same outfit. :-)

Weee! I can't wait to start checking out life across the pond!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eurosprint Preparation

So, I created this blog as a diary of my upcoming trip to Europe, which I've titled, Eurosprint. Three countries in nine days, plus two days for travelling from and back to the U.S. It will definitely be a sprint, if not a sort of Euromarathon. I don't intend to drop dead at the end of the trip, so I'm leaving marathon completely out of the picture.

The official countdown is at 9 days. Generous friends have loaned me their backpacks, money belts, leftover euros and pounds from their previous vacations so that I can have money for a train or sandwich or whatever...immediately when I step off of the plane, as well as a myriad of advise and suggestions. So far, I have my 1qt bag packed to the brim with 3oz bottles of liquids and gels; money belt; french dictionary, umbrella and I have a really good idea of the clothes that I will pack. My plan is to take the bare minimum...what I can fit into the backpack; nothing more. Clothes-wise, it's not proving to be a problem. Packing less than 4 pairs of shoes, however...now that's a different story!

Stay tuned. More to come! Although, you'll have to wait until I return to see the pictures, I'm afraid. I'm taking my phone, since it takes better quality photos and videos than my digital camera. Go figure...anyway, loading pictures from my phone will cause me to incur international roaming fees. Um, no thanks.

Until next time,