Visiting the Countryside

Good day, my dear readers!

Last weekend I went on a trip to a small village in the area of Wiltshire. It was part of the HOST program, which gives international students the chance to spend a weekend with a host family in different parts of England – sort of as an opportunity to get out of London and experience the countryside.

My host family was very lovely and they took me to see Salisbury Cathedral on Saturday. For those of you who don’t know, Salisbury Cathedral was used as a filming location in the mini series Pillars of the Earth (after the novel by Ken Follett). Because of that I always wanted to go and see the Cathedral for myself but had never gotten around to do it. How excited was I that I spontaneously got to visit this beautiful work of art!

In pillars of the Earth they have a lovely little model of the Cathedral before they built it:

In the actual Cathedral, they also have a model of how it could have looked like back in the days when it was built:


I thought that was a great way of showing the building process, giving us a glimpse into the past. Apparently, Salisbury Cathedralw as built in only 38 years – a very short time for such an enourmous monument, considering that it was built in the 13th century. In comparison, the Cologne Cathedral took rougly 600 years longer to construct, even though they started around the same time…

I find Salisbury Cathedral a very beautiful work of architecture and I tried to take a few more artistic pictures. Here’s what came out of that endeavor:

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Currently, the Magna Carta is on display at Salisbury Cathedral. Of course I had to see that one, too! But to be honest, it is “just” a piece of parchment with incredibly tiny letters on it. It is written in Old English AND with abbreviations, so there was absolutely no way I could decipher even a single word. But you can go ahead and try it, I took a picture of it! (Excuse the reflections, of course the document was well protected under glass.)

magna carta

Apart from that trip to Salisbury, the rest of the weekend was also great. My host family showed me their village and we talked about god and the world – quite literally. I also got to watch a match of Cricket – not the most exciting sport in terms of rapid movement and such, but it was more fascinating when I finally started to grasp the concepts and strategies of the game. Am I now officially British? 😀

Needless to say I enjoyed my countryside exchange very much and I am very glad I had the chance to go. If you, dear reader, are an international student in London, you might want to apply for a HOST stay yourself!

I am now revising for the upcoming exams – I can’t believe this will be my last exams in quite possibly ever! I’ll do my best to get through them and then run down the home stretch called “writing the master thesis”. Well, let’s hope for the best!

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A Trip to Hell on Halloween and other fun activities of the past weeks

Hello everyone!

Apologies for not posting anything lately, but I have to write so many essays for uni that I don’t really have any energy left to write my blog.

Anyhow, lots of stuff happened since the movie review. I went to Berlin to attend a conference, saw fireworks in London and finally registered with a GP. I had planned to write a huge post about Berlin on itself, but since that is already over two weeks ago, I’ll just summarize that trip for you.

I travelled with my friend (and former study colleague) R. and we started out from my place on a nice Wednesday afternoon, not thinking about anything that could go wrong. However, when we arrived at the Coach station to catch a bus to the airport, I knew this trip would not go quite as smoothly as we thought. There were many people waiting and apparently had been waiting there for quite some time already. The coaches were all delayed and everybody was wondering whether they would make it in time for their flight. We managed to miraculously get on a coach only about 15 minutes later and started to relax a little. But oh no, more trouble was to come. We were unlucky enough to get stuck in a traffic jam because there had been an accident on the road ahead. We had been in the coach for an hour already and technically should arrive in about twenty minutes when I looked at my google maps app to check where we were. I was shocked. The app told me, we were still an hour from the airport!

I shouldn’t have looked. From that moment on I was convinced we would miss the flight. Of course we had calculated a bit of puffer time, but an hour delay? Nah, we didn’t have that big of a time cushion. So when we finally arrived at the airport at 6:12 (technically, the gate should close at 6:10) we ran to the check-in counter to get them to call at the gate and wait for us. The staff told us that we were too late and had missed the flight and that we could purchase new tickets for the next day.

But we thought “Hell, no!” and ran for security check anyways. No harm in trying, eh? Of course, I had to go through a very thorough security check, beeping all over and taking off shoes and belt. Duh. My friend got through without beeping and started running for the gate, me following on her heels as soon as I was properly clothed again. When we arrived at the gate (which said final call, not closed, btw!) we were completely winded and ready to drop dead. There was quite a long queue, so we asked the people which flight they were waiting for. Guess what – IT WAS OURS! IT HAD DELAY!

We were quite glad and happy and smug that we had actually made it and NOT believed the staff at check-in. However, the happiness quickly diminished when the flight departed with over an hour of delay. When we arrived in Berlin it was only about 35 minutes delay, so we must have flown very quickly, but it still meant that we had missed two of the three train options we had selected to get to our hotel. Then we had to wait for our little suitcase, which technically is hand luggage but was taken from us anyway.

I went ahead to get the tickets for the train, but unfortunately there was a French couple in front of me, unable to properly use the ticket automaton. If my French would have been good enough to help, I would have done so, but Je ne parle plus le francais. My friend ran past me to stop the train from leaving, but even though we STILL missed it!

At that point, as you all can well imagine, we were furious, exhausted and depressed and just wanted to get to that hotel. So in the end, we took a taxi (we were internally crying about the amount of money that cost us and debating whether we should have just travelled without tickets) which then finally brought us to our destination.

The hotel was very nice, we got our room cards and then – oh glory! – we were able to sleep in very comfortable beds. It was after midnight at that point. We had started in London at 3pm. We had anticipated this trip to take us about 5 hours – not almost 9.

The next day however was quite positive, the conference was interesting, the people friendly and our presentation went well. In the evening we enjoyed a gala event with champagne and butter-filled Brezeln. On Friday, we headed home again and this time everything went well – almost too well, since we had allowed enough time for anything to go wrong and we ended up having to wait at the gate quite a while because we were so early. But we didn’t mind.

Yep, so that was our little horrifying trip to Berlin. It’s not my favourite city in the world and I was happy to be back in London again. It was Halloween that day, by the way and I had planned to go to a party, but I was too exhausted so I ended up doing a Halloween movie night with my friend (watching Scary Movie and Twilight. Both horror movies, yep! 😉 ).

Then Saturday evening, I went to see fireworks at Alexandra Palace with the au pairs from my neighbourhood. One of them had her birthday on Sunday and we were celebrating into that by watching the fireworks. It was quite lovely. Unfortunately, I had to work on Sunday so we didn’t stay out long afterwards.

I also went to see a movie last weekend at the International Student House. They regularly show movies for free, though nothing that is currently showing in the cinema. I went with my friend R. and the Norwegian girl (H.) I have mentioned before to see Pompeji (also known as Pompe II 😉 ). Not because we liked the movie but because of Kit Harrington who also plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. If you have never heard about Pompeji, the story and especially the ending might come as a shock to you. But I remember reading quite a lot about Pompeji when I was younger so I knew what would happen and could simply enjoy the Hollywood story they made out of it.

I guess this is all for now, I’ll have to tackle the next essay now. And what a choice I have: Taylorism, a case study about Luton Airport or comparing income inequality in Germany and the UK. Yay!

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Visiting the heart of London – A royal day

I’m in a bit of a hurry this time, since I only have an hour break before my next class starts (Which you will not care about since you’ll read this in the evening anyways). But I still wanted to tell you about my weekend, which was awesome!

Saturday, I had this “Welcome to London” Day Trip, as I told you before. It started with a boat trip on the Thames (yet again). The highlight was the lunch we had on there: Lovely chicken with potatoes and vegetables and delicious chocolate-truffle cake for dessert. Mhhhm!

After about two hours, we came back to the pier and headed for our very own private double-decker bus. We were only 15 people, so we had the top deck for ourselves. The weather was pretty good, no rain, and we enjoyed the two hour ride around London with our lovely tour guide.

At St. Paul’s Cathedral, we stopped and headed up to a shopping mall. They have a roof terrace from where you have a gorgeous view of St. Paul’s and its surroundings. I absolutely recommend that to anybody who visits London. It is completely free!

The bus tour ended in front of Buckingham Palace, our last attraction for the day. YES, we had tickets for the inside tour. It was like a dream come true. Buckingham Palace is the most beautiful palace I’ve been to (and I’ve seen a few!) – all the chandeliers, intricate ceilings, tapestries and furniture are just gourgeous. They have some famous and expensive paintings as well. The current exhibition is about Royal childhood, so they had lots of toys and clothes on display and showed a few videos of Her Majesty the Queen as a child (and other royals). Unfortunately, there is no photography allowed, so I cannot show you any pictures of that. You’ll have to go and see it for yourselves. We finished the palace tour with a glass of champagne on the terrace. I felt quite privileged standing there in the dim evening light, sipping my champagne.

I still cannot believe that I won tickets for a day that otherwise would have cost me well over £100! And it gets even better: I have a free pass for one year, so I can come back to Buckingham Palace next year and see it again (it is only open in August and September)! There will be a different exhibition on then, I’m looking forward to that.

So, that was my amazing and exciting Saturday. Sunday was pretty uneventful compared to that, but I didn’t mind. I just had a relaxing day off (and I apologize for not blogging earlier, I just didn’t get in the mood).

On Monday, my real classes finally started and I will tell you all about that in my next blog post. Until then, folks, and enjoy these pictures:

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A bright day in Brighton


I figured I should use the few hours I have this evening to write about my trip to Brighton before the impressions get layered over with uni experiences.

Friday and Saturday evening, I had the au pairs over for movies and pizza – we ordered from Domino’s for the first time! Pizza, cider, a good movie, that’s all you need for a good evening. I went to bed at 4am on Friday and 1am on Saturday, which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but unfortunately, the alarm went off at 6.30am due to the Brighton trip.

Geez, I was so tired I was basically sleepwalking to the meeting point at Baker Street. I wasn’t the only one who had some problems with getting up early on a Sunday, so we mostly slept on the way to Brighton on the coach (it took about two hours).

When we arrived, all tiredness was forgotten for the sun was shining and the sea provided a lovely breeze tousling our hair. We walked along the pier for a couple of minutes and then decided to have lunch in one of the parks nearby. There was a motorbike festival of some sorts, so the place was completely crowded with machines and leather-clad people. We kept looking out for a motorbike we would like to have for ourselves and discussed the different colouring (since none of us have any real knowledge of the technical stuff).

After lunch we went to the Royal Pavilion – it just looks so graciously grand! We didn’t go in, however. It seemed a bit pricey to do so. So instead we took a look at the shopping/pub street and then strolled back to the pier along the beach. There is a small amusement park on Brighton Pier with a few rollercoasters, merry-go-rounds and that sort of thing. Obviously, we went for the rollercoaster with the looping! It was fun, but rather short and bumpy. Still, worth it!

Some people in my group got hungry again after that, so we went in search of a restaurant where we spent the last hour of our stay. We sat outside of course, relishing the sun burning down on us. (I actually got sunburn on my nose, as always…)

At around 4.30pm we got back on our coaches to return to London. This time, it took almost three hours! I fell asleep again for there wasn’t much else to do. Back at Baker Street I took the bus (weekend closure on the Northern line, yay!), so I was home at half past eight. Since I had to get up rather early today again, I went to bed almost straight away.

In summary, I really enjoyed the trip to Brighton. It wasn’t guided, so I probably didn’t see much of the city itself, but being at the sea was nice and the weather just perfect. Actually, it hasn’t rained a single drop since I arrived in London. I’m completely amazed! Brighton is a lovely city and the Brighton Pier is one of the main attractions. Apparently, people go there to eat fish&chips. Since I don’t eat anything from the sea, I didn’t try it, but a few of the students did, I think. If you get the chance to go there, you should do it. There are trains and buses going directly from London.

Here are some pictures:

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Well, so that’s basically what I wanted to tell you. Today started the first week of introduction to my course. But I’ll write about that at the end of the week, I guess.

Stay happy and healthy until then! Cheers!

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La llegada

Hola amigos y amigas!

Pues, es el tiempo para una nueva entrada. Me parece un poco extraño escribir en inglés porque ahora vivo en España, no? Tengo que practicar mi español más. Yo sé que casi nadie de vosotros habla español, por eso voy a escribir en inglés sin embargo.

There you go, people. Who understood that? It truly feels strange to write English while being here in Spain. Therefore, I will keep writing in English most of the time, but there will be Spanish parts as well. Who knows, you guys might learn Spanish alongside me this way.

I arrived safe and sound two days ago in the evening. The flight was actually too early and we had to circle above the sea for a quarter hour before we could land. The airport in Barcelona is big and I had to walk quite a while to get to the baggage belts. But I didn’t have to wait long for my huge suitcase to arrive. I am still surprised at how smooth everything went. I asked for directions to the bus at the information – in Spanish of course – and found the bus easily. I had to change to the metro at some point, which was a bit complicated with all my stuff, but I managed.  I had tried to message my German flat mate, but I wasn’t sure if it got through. When I arrived at my metro stop, I called her and she came to collect me. How nice!

The flat is comfortable enough, the living room is bright and we have a balcony, but it is rather loud because it looks out to the street. My room is next to the hall, so I hear quite a lot of what is going on at the staircase. The room is small but cosy, I have just enough space for all my stuff. Luckily for me, I’m small – otherwise, the bed would be too short.  So far, I like it here. I have my own space in the fridge and a small cupboard for pasta, cornflakes and the sort.

The day I arrived I didn’t do anything but unpacked and fell into bed. It was late enough. The next morning I first went to do some shopping, getting all the necessities such was bread, milk, cheese and so on. There are several supermarkets just down the street, so it’s not too bad to go shopping. And compared to London, it is quite cheap, too! In the afternoon, I went to find an office to get my student travel card. You can buy it at the ticket machine but they require an ID with only numbers and since the German ID has letters as well as numbers I didn’t quite know what to put in. I researched the office on the internet and took the metro to get there. They then told me there was a number on my ID that I could use, the one printed in the middle of the front – I have always wondered what that is for, so know I know! It’s for Barcelona Transport! (Just kidding) I managed to get the student travel card with that information and know I can get around for 90 days without worrying about travel expenses.

I had the big camera with me as well and I took some first pictures of my street and the surroundings. I still have to get used to that thing, but I’m sure I’ll manage soon enough. The weather is pretty nice by the way, it’s sunny but not too hot, I’d say around 20 degrees. It is supposed to be raining soon, but we’ll see how the weather develops around here. I watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey yesterday and just tried to get used to the flat. I had pasta with tomato sauce for dinner, a pretty safe meal to cook on an unfamiliar hearth.

Since my landlady wasn’t there the evening I arrived, I met her for the first time yesterday. She is lovely, she speaks slowly for our sake and if she talks about numbers, she writes them on the wall so we understand exactly what she says. I think that is very nice of her. I understand her very well in any case; I just have to get into answering with more than Muy bien or something equally intelligent. She invited me to a concert this evening, but I’m not sure yet if we’re going or not, she hasn’t told me about the details yet. I hope we go, though.

Today I tried to get my NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), but it is so much harder than I thought. Spanish officials don’t seem to tend to their websites much, so the information on there is mostly outdated and contradicting. I managed to find an address and went there this morning, but the officer outside told me that I have to go to the main office or something and call them beforehand. I really don’t get all that bureaucracy. I might try that main office thing tomorrow, if I feel like it. Otherwise I’ll have to ask at my workplace if they know how it works – it was their idea that I get that wretched NIE in the first place (Yes I know I need it and it’s not their fault, but it is still annoying).

I encountered a few small shops on the way though, so that’s not too bad. There are so many shoe shops, little markets with fruit and vegetables and clothing shops around here, it’s quite nice. There are even draperies, which is great should I decide I want to sew something. I bought some cherries because, to quote my English landlady, I have to eat more fruit! So once I got back home, I sat on the balcony, had some cherries and read a book. I started a Spanish one – there are some on my ebook reader that had come with its purchase. I don’t understand much, but I get the general idea of it and I’m sure it will get better over time. I try to listen to Spanish songs and maybe I’ll even find a nice series to watch and to practice.

Ok, I think this is it so far. We’ll see what else I’ll be doing the next days before work starts. I am happy everything has worked out so smoothly and I will have a great time here. ¡Hasta luego!

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Canterbury and Hever Castle

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Summarizing the weeks

Hello dear readers, it’s time for another blog entry. I will attempt to sum up all that happened in the last month – since I’m terribly behind. After I came back from Amsterdam, I finished my essays and thus finished the semester at uni! I don’t have the results yet, but I’m positive they will be good. I was also on sitter duty for over two weeks – both my neighbour’s son and my other neighbour’s dog. I earned good money doing this, but babysitting is exhausting and I didn’t do much else besides that. I read a couple of books, some of them are reviewed on my book blog (, so feel free to look at them. I spent some evenings with the people from number 7, the dog owners. They are all quite lovely and we watched DVDs and went to a Pub Quiz. That is the best thing ever! You built a team of around 5 persons and you get an answer sheet. The quizmaster then asks questions and the team has to write the answer down, if you know it. There are some general knowledge questions, some about movies and soundtracks or sports. My favourite is “Which show/movie does this theme feature in?” It is very hard to know all the answers, because the questions range from the 50s to today and if your team is not diverse enough, you normally don’t know everything. It is still great fun and I learned a lot. The first time, our team got second place and last week we got third. So I guess we aren’t so bad, after all! The Pub also has this awesome coke, called “Curiosity Cola”. I like it a lot, but I don’t think you can get it in Germany. Pity.

What else happened? I went to a couple of museums, the National Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was interesting and even fun, but I have to say that I have now seen enough cultural exhibitions. After Amsterdam and now London, I guess I need a break. I know I promised my uncle to go and see the Bowie exhibition, but when I was at the museum it was sold out, so I couldn’t go. If I have time, I’ll try again next week.

My last entry already told you about the Les Mis experience, I am so glad I did that. Last Monday, I went to a flash mob at St. Pancras, to celebrate the DVD release. Hundreds of people gathered and we all sang “Do you hear the people sing” together. There is a video, so check it out: It was very exciting, and an amazing experience, even though it was rather short.

Another very exciting thing was the trip to Canterbury and Hever Castle on the 4th. The weather was not the best, it was raining in between, but when we were outside, it was mostly dry or even sunny. We went to see the Cathedral, which is an impressive building. The organ was playing when we were inside, it was lovely. We also took a look around the city and had a cup of tea in a nice little café. I had an apple muffin, freshly baked. Yummy!

Then we went on to Hever Castle, the home of Anne Boleyn back in the Tudor dynasty. Anne Boleyn is one of my favourite characters from that time so I was super excited to see her home! During the Coach ride, it hailed on us, but luckily when we got there, the sun came out again. Since it was May Day, there were some festivities going on. Right in front of the Castle they had a May Pole and people in historic clothes were dancing around in traditional fashion. The visitors could join too – and of course I did! It was great fun! Of course most of us did it wrong so the ribbons around the Pole ended up being twisted, but everybody enjoyed it. Hever Castle also has extensive gardens, and I took some pictures of them. Inside, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, such a shame. The Castle is still decorated like in past times, it is so beautiful and I wanted to move in. Especially the Drawing Room was lovely, with a piano and many sofas and small tables and all that.

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t buy anything for myself in the souvenir shops. I looked around and was tempted to get some stuff, but in the end I decided I don’t really need it and that the memories and pictures should be enough. I will put up another gallery to share them with you.

Well now, I have only 1 ½ weeks to go before I’ll leave London. It’s hard to believe that five months are already over! But of course, I won’t abandon this blog. After about a week in Germany, I will move on to… BARCELONA! I got an internship there and I am very excited to live in Spain and see the sun. I will keep writing about what I do and all the exciting things around me, so don’t run away!

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Amsterdam Photos

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Amsterdam Adventure IV

Geez, I really want to get over with this. So let’s do this!

We are on Sunday in Amsterdam, are we not? That was the highlight of the trip. We were going to see the tulips! Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of flowers, and I cannot tell them apart very well. It’s either “Oh, red!” or “Oh, yellow!” or something like that. I know roses and tulips and sunflowers. But yes, even I was excited to see the tulips because I appreciate their beauty. And Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for this adventure.

We got up early enough to grab some breakfast stuff at the supermarket to eat on the Coach. We had muffins and some fruit, yummy. We were on the Coach for about an hour and the guide told us a bit about the flowers, Amsterdam and the surroundings. Soon, we got to the first fields, but not all of them were in bloom yet. It was still lovely to see the colourful stripes in the fields. The Keukenhof is quite famous for its flower gardens and we were looking forward to it. Not everything was in bloom here, either. But they had put together some pots of tulips along the ways where there wasn’t much else, so it was still nice to look at. Some of the gardens were blooming, though and we spent hours taking pictures of flower arrangements. They also have a windmill in the park and we went inside. I don’t feel very comfortable with heights, and the other two felt similar, so we only took a quick look around and headed out again.

There was an area for people to sit and have picnics and there was a group of people with Bernese Mountain Dogs. Almost a dozen, I’d say – I almost cried when I saw them. Apparently, it was a kind of convention of Bernese Mountain Dog lovers. It started to drizzle slightly and we went into a greenhouse to spend some time there.  I was completely overwhelmed by the humungous number of flowers in that greenhouse. I tried to take a picture of almost everyone, but my camera battery gave out not even halfway through so I had to make do with my phone. It was a good alternative, so I was still happy with it.

It had stopped raining after we came out of that greenhouse and we continued our exploring outside. I can’t describe all that we saw, so I’ll rather upload pictures later. (I know I promised that quite often already). Of course, we also had a look at the souvenir shops and I was very tempted to buy some cheese. I didn’t, in the end, but it was a hard choice. Instead, we had ice cream. There was this shop where you could choose your own toppings and I had chocolate, strawberries and kiwis. It was so yummy!

By four in the afternoon, we were to return to the Coach and head back to Amsterdam. I could have spent more time at the Keukenhof, but oh well. Back in Amsterdam we hunted around for some souvenirs and when it was time for dinner, we went to a posh restaurant. Unfortunately it was a bit too posh for us. We had wanted to have some Dutch food before we left but this restaurant was so expensive, we could only afford the starters. They were okay but not filling and we all more or less picked at the food. What a bummer. We also felt a bit out of place because we didn’t dress up for this – oh, well. After this rather weird experience we opted for a second dinner from the supermarket back at the hotel. I finally got my cheese and also cookies and some fruit. We watched another movie (was it the Junglebook this time?) and enjoyed our last evening in Amsterdam. We were pretty tired after all these flower sightings that day, after all.

The next morning we packed and headed out to the Central Station to get to the airport. It was still early and we had a lot of time, so we had breakfast first. Hannah’s flight was later than ours, but she came with us to the airport. We had slight problems getting train tickets because the machines didn’t take cash, so we bought them at the counter – for 50 cent more than at the machine. Geez. At the airport, we killed some time with shopping around, going through passport control and lazing around. When it was time for Colette and me to go to the Gate, we parted with Hannah who unfortunately had to stay four more hours. Poor her! I don’t remember if I beeped at the security control, but it might just be so. We got on the plane, but we didn’t sit close to each other. Back in London we parted ways at the passport control, where I took a lot longer than her because there were so many European people. When I finally got through I ventured to find a place to buy bus tickets. Unfortunately, there was no way to buy easybus tickets; you apparently can only buy them on the internet. The National Express guy told the woman in front of me that it would be better to get the train, because the bus would take two hours and the next would leave in 50 minutes. I so wanted to get home that I took that advice and looked for the trains. I met Colette again on the shuttle to the train station, but then we parted ways for good. I got my ticket, which cost me almost 20 pounds and waited for the train – which was delayed, of course. But I actually got home eventually.

All in all, it was a lovely trip and I am very glad I went, especially with the two girls. We made a good team and had a great time in Amsterdam. And I can’t believe I finally finished this epic tale!

I know I’m almost three weeks behind by now. I’ll attempt to catch up to today soon. Bear with me – and thank you for reading my blog!

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Amsterdam Adventure Part III

And without further ado, I shall attempt to convey our adventures from Saturday the 13th. We got up a little bit earlier than the previous day and went to have breakfast at the same place as Friday. This time, I had a chocolate pancake. Mhm. Unfortunately Colette was not happy with her breakfast, which tainted our morning a little bit. But we refused to be down and headed out to find the Hermitage Museum after breakfast. We had found out that the original Van Gogh Museum was closed for reconstruction and that part of the exhibition was on display at the Hermitage Museum, so we went to see some original paintings. I had looked up the location and led the way. It promised to be a nice day, the sun was coming out and we could wear sunglasses to look cool.

In the museum we were only allowed to either see the Van Gogh stuff or the other exhibition (unless you wanted to pay a huge sum of money), so we were content with tickets for Van Gogh. I think he is now officially the painter I have seen most paintings of. It is so much better to see originals, where you can make out every brushstroke and see how much paint he applied and all that. I took mental notes for my own art, storing it away for future reference. I think my favourite pieces are the three orchard paintings that go together as a sort of triptych. They are really beautiful and I like the fact that Van Gogh actually thought about them as an installation and not just three paintings that happen to show trees.

In that souvenir shop I got a little mirror with the motif of the Blossoming Almond Tree on the back. I wanted to buy that in the other exhibition, but it was sold out, so I was happy to get it after all – even at a better price!

After the museum we walked around again, slowly making our way to the shop with the fries. We had them for lunch and then tried to locate the pier for our canal cruise – there are so many different ones! Finally we found it and embarked on the little ship. By that time it was actually almost hot, so we happily sat down in shirts and enjoyed the sun. The boat was closed so it was a bit stuffed inside, but we could open the windows, so it was ok. The audio guide spoke to us in three languages, English, Dutch and German, so I got all the information more than once. I actually tried to understand Dutch, which is not too hard, really. I’m far from understanding everything, but the general topic of a conversation is clear to me. Colette and Hannah both were lost when it came to Dutch; I had the advantage that many words are the same as in German. The canal cruise was really lovely, I took some pictures with my phone – I wanted to explore the potential of that camera. It takes good pictures, I was surprised, really.

The whole cruise lasted around one hour and the next stop would be the Reijksmuseum. Thanks to my parents I knew that it was reopening in April after ten years of renovation, and I wanted to go and see it. What I didn’t know until that morning was that it was exactly on that Saturday that it would open. Because of that special event, it was open till midnight and had free admission for everybody. What a treat! So of course we wanted to go there! I think we took a tram to get down there, but I’m not sure anymore. In any case, we got there around 5:30. They had a capella playing and an orange carpet (sure, red carpet would have been so ordinary!) Coca-Cola was obviously sponsoring the whole event since they gave free drinks to everybody. The sun was shining brightly, we had drinks and a free entry – we were happy, even if we had to wait half an hour to get in. Because it was opening day, not the whole museum was open. They had designed a special route for the visitors, so we were not able to see everything up close, but that was quite alright. We had seen so many paintings that day, looking at everything would have been quite overwhelming. So we were content with that little walk and enjoyed it. We saw the Night Watch by Rembrandt! We felt very cultural after that day, having seen so many things. Of course, we also felt drained of energy. But the day was far from over – we had to complete the daily scavenger hunt for dinner!

Trying to be clever about it, we googled for Indonesian restaurants in the area. Somebody had told us that Amsterdam is famous for Indonesian Food and we wanted to try it. Unfortunately, the place we tried to find was no longer there (bad google! Shame on you!), so we were back to zero. We walked around and around and around and finally, around an hour later we were so tired and hungry, we settled for a Chinese Restaurant where we had to wait another 15 minutes to be seated. I’m impressed that we didn’t opt for McDonalds, which was also around. The food was good and we were finally happy again. I tried to figure out where we were, because it was getting dark and I just wanted to go home afterwards – when I discovered we were about five minutes from home! The hotel was just up the street, yay! After dinner we were content to go home and settle down with another movie night. I am a little bit confused right now as to what we watched. So let’s say it was Pocahontas, even though that could have been the next day as well. Anyway, we had survived another long day in Amsterdam with a lot of cultural experiences and the canal tour. The next day was the highlight of our trip, the expedition to the Tulip fields.

Oh, I almost forgot a little anecdote. Colette wanted to walk through the red light district, since Amsterdam is very famous for it. I think we did this after the canal cruise, but it was a short adventure. We found the district and were lingering on its edges, not sure where to go, and Colette took some pictures of the surroundings. Apparently, the workers there don’t like that, so one Latino girl threw a glass of water after her, cursing in Spanish and threatening to grab her camera if she doesn’t stop. That was quite frightening so we hastily retreated and found a different route on our way to the Reijksmuseum.

Cheerio, we’re almost there. One more entry!

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