Friday, January 3, 2014

First trip to Amsterdam & Germany

I am a little--no a lot!--behind with my postings.  Needless to say, graduate school has been stressful and literally all time consuming.

Back in October, my fiance and I did a little traveling to Amsterdam and Germany.  Below, I share a few photos and comments with you about my travels.

First trip to Amsterdam

This is me standing in front of a canal in beautiful Amsterdam.  Notice the many bicycles behind me.  Bicycle were a very
popular mode of transport in the city.  Bikers even had there own lanes on the street, and they drove extremely aggressively. As a pedestrian, I had to more cautious of bikers than cars.

Amsterdam, for me, is unique because there are tons of canals throughout the city.  Because of this the streets and blocks are very small and quaint, and I love the cute little bridges.  Like pictured here, there are also a lots of boats, which people use as another mode of transport.  Imagine taking a boat to work!

In this photo you can see another canal shot.  Yes, these are houses! People actually live on boats permanently on the canal.  I would have liked to have seen the inside of one of these floating houses.

Here is yet another shot of the canal. I wasn't kidding when I said I just loved the cute little bridges.

We stayed at a little studio apartment owned by Amsterdam at Home Bed & Breakfast.  We stayed in the "Spacious Lower Ground Studio Apartment," so we had our own bathroom and kitchenette. 
To get to the apartment, we went underground through the little black gate behind my hubby in the photo.  Staying there made me feel really European.

One morning we ate breakfast at this cute little Irish Pub.  The food was pretty good, and you can't beat 10 euros for an all-you-can-eat buffet.  This is a great place for travelers on a budget.

In this photo, you can see one of the many Holland cheese shops in Amsterdam.  Why can't the US have places like this?!  This also seems to be a European trend.  They have less superstores and more small specialized ones.

Some of my favorite things about Europe are the cozy cafes and coffee shops.  We stopped here one day for a coffee/beer while site-seeing through the city. 

I was extremely surprised to see fast-food vending machines lining the streets.  At night these places were full of people trying to satisfy their "drunk food" cravings.  

Amsterdam is the home of the Heineken beer headquarters.  If you get a chance, you should take the tour.  It's a self guided tour with lots of activities, like an amusement park for adults. Plus, you get two free beers with every ticket.

We also went to the famous Amsterdam flower market and the Red Light District. Unfortunately, I was too busy site-seeing to snap a picture of it.

Visiting friends in Germany

My first trip to Germany did not involve much site-seeing as our main purpose was to visit some of my fiances friends there.  I have a few pictures and things I learned about Germans.

While visiting, some of my fiance's friends took us to Freimarkt, a festival much like Oktoberfest only smaller.  For me, it was much like a county fair, but they served beer and German food. 

These gingerbread cookie hearts are a Freimarkt tradition.  They have various sayings.  You buy them for someone you care about, and that person walks around with the heart around his or her neck.  The one around my neck in English means "My heart belongs to you."

One things I learned about Germans by visiting my hubby's friends is that they like to raise fish.  Pictured above is one of the hobby fish ponds.  From what I understand, they do this just for fun.  They don't eat the fish or anything.

Something I find very interesting when learning about other cultures is the breakfast table.  They are vastly different throughout the world.  This is a picture of a German breakfast table.  There were various sliced meats, cheese, fresh from the bakery bread buns, boiled eggs, some sort of fish salad, jam, coffee, and juice.

It was good to experience German life through the eyes of a German families.  Next time, I hope to see some sites too.

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