Someone once told me that you can always tell a Texan because the first thing they mention is always the weather. Well, according to their (his…I think it was my 6th grade English teacher) fool-proof method I guess this following statement proves I am Texan: The entirety of our stay in Northern Europe was filled with absolutely beautiful weather. It was 68-65ish and sunny during the day and 55ish at night. It wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cold and it didn’t rain. I’m moving there, I’ll see you suckers later.
Let me begin by saying that I fell in love with Amsterdam. I fell in love with everything about it. I loved the people, the city, ah! Everything!
We began our voyage in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an incredibly walkable city which was wonderful. There was more than adequate public transportation but we never really needed it. We spent 4 days doing all of the touristy things; the Van Gough Museum, the Anne Frank House, Museumplein, the Sexmuseum, the red light district, etc. (on a side note: I will say that the RLD is not as raunchy as many of the books make it out to be…..it’s similar to Bourbon street…I was slightly disappointed there were no naked ladies, slightly. I mean if I want to see a busted girl in her underwear I’m pretty sure I can catch Leslie on 6th one Saturday). We also spent a lot of time drinking coffee and beer in cafes, sitting next to the canals doing nothing but talking and people watching. I almost cried the morning we left, but onward we went.
We then headed to Belgium. We stopped in Bruges, rented a car, and drove to Veurne and Westvleteren. Both tiny tiny towns were nestled in the countryside. We drove through green pastures, past old country homes, and lots of old country churches; it was, to say the least, picturesque. One of the major highlights of the trip was the Westvleteren beer tasting. Westvleteren is one of the 7 Trappist beers in the world and is only sold at the Sint Sixius Abbey, their pub In Der Vrede, and a few pubs in neighboring towns. It sells outside the abbey for at least 10€ a bottle. It is the holy grail, the unicorn, of beers. Westvleteren 12 was voted #1 beer in the world and it, along with the 8 and blond, were delicious and most definitely an experience.
On our way back to the car rental we took a detour and stopped by the North Sea, took some pictures, and then headed into the quaint medieval town of Bruges. I’m not sure what Colin Farrell was so upset about when he was stuck there. I believe he said something along the lines of “I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.” I think Mr. Farrell might have been upset about other matters and that clouded his judgment. Bruges was amazing. We took a boat tour through the canals and the moat, looked at old buildings and such, but mostly we drank beer, lots of beer. I think Colin Farrell would have liked that. One thing I will say about Belgian beer is that it is strong, most are 9,10,11 percent alcohol by vol. so four different kinds with lunch makes you tired.
The last leg of our journey landed us in Brussels, the capital of Europe and now the presidency of the EU (they were very proud of that). We met up with my cousin Genevieve, who was there for a wedding, and spent 2 days seeing the sights, eating delicious Belgian and Moroccan food, plenty of waffles, and of course drinking more beer.
Our travel home was less than pleasant or calm, but with such a wonderful trip I don’t want to dwell on the negative. I will say that we had to go through customs 3 times (once with Canada and twice with the US) in Montreal and the only people who asked if we had anything to declare were the Canadians. I mean really USA, I have to undress to walk through security but you aren’t curious as to what I brought back from Amsterdam?
Here are some pictures for your enjoyment…