Saturday, July 27, 2002

my last few hours in paris :-(

well, let me do a recount of this past week.

Monday: got into Brussels in the afternoon. our hotel was pretty cool - the rooms were individually designed with different art motifs. we went downtown to the plaza in the old city center and walked around. saw the Mannekin Pis, probably Brussels' most famous monument, tho i really don't know why. it is a small statue of a boy peeing. that's it. anyway, they had so many cool souvenir shops, i wanted to buy so much, but i couldnt since i would be lugging whatever i bought for the rest of the week. anyway, the Grande Place (plaza) was beautiful, surrounded by a huge cathedral and really cool buildings, most from the 1600s or earlier... totally what you think of when you imagine a European city might look like if left untouched by modern buildings and McDonalds.

Stayed in Brussels Tuesday and had class at the European Commision, which was beyond boring and excrutiating b/c i was sooo hungover from the night before. Matt, Autumn, Andrew and i went out to a brewpub in the grande place and met some Belgian guys there, who then took us to a really cool local bar. i take back what i said about the Brickskeller-ish place in Paris; this place could be the Brickskeller's European brother - it's underground in a brick celler (imagine that) with a menu of some 400 belgian beers. incredible.

Wednesday: left for Amsterdam really early and got in around noon. Autumn and i checked into our hotel across from the Rijksmuseum and walked around a bit before meeting up with Matt, Andrew and Murad. we checked out the Van Gogh museum (pretty good, but not as good as the Musée d'Orsay in Paris) and Anne Frank's house. that was pretty cool, but not really the best designed museum - not a lot of information and it assumes you are very familiar with the book, which i havent read in probably 15 years.

anyway, Amsterdam is really pretty and peaceful by day, with everone walking or biking or boating the canals everywhere; at night it can get a little rowdy, but only in certain areas. yes, we went to the red light district, which i kinda found to be really sad. usually i am very much for legalized prostitution - it will happen anyway, so you might as well regulate it and maintain certain economic and health standards -, but seeing the girls sitting in the windows, hoping some guy will choose them, just made me sad.

as for the real Amsterdam draw, the weed is incredible. soooo cheap for really good stuff, and the "coffeeshops" are so cool. Autumn and i also tried mushrooms, which were the nastiest thing in the world to eat. it sucked cuz Autumn tripped but they had no effect on me... oh well. now i have to give away the rest of my stuff because i cant bring it back to the US ;-( . stupid American drug policies.

Thursday: left Amsterdam for Bad Honnef, a suburb of Bonn, in Germany. we stayed and had class at Deutsche Telekom's training facility, which was nice, but really in the middle of nowhere. not that we had a whole lot of time there - we got in around 3:00 on Thursday and left around 1:00 on Friday. they did take us out to a biergarten - basically an outdoor bar for the whole family - which was really nice. it was right on the river, so the view was really pretty, and the Hefeweizen was on tap... yum.

Friday: back to Paris via Cologne. had a couple hours there so we did some shopping. it was crazy though - i looked everywhere for souvenirs, and only found TWO shops. i really wanted to get Lisa a Tshirt from Germany, but there were only like two designs and they were awful. i don't understand - Cologne is a major city, we were at the train station, a major transit center for Western Europe, and next to big tourist sites, but nothing. weird.

well, i guess that sums things up. i have to go finish packing now, i guess and say goodbye to everyone... i'm sad to leave, but happy to be going back.

Friday, July 26, 2002

back in paris for the last time... sigh. so much happened in the last week, but i am too tired to update on everything. i LOVED Brussels - really. what a great town - great beer, great food (Belgian waffles!!!!) and nice people - who speak English. Amsterdam was also terrific - and, no, not just because of the weed and shrooms. i spent eight whole hours sober there, ok?! went to the Van Gogh museum, went to Anne Frank's house, walked around. it is a really pretty city. Germany was ok, but we were in the middle of nowhere, so there wasn't much to see, but we went to a biergarten on the Rheine - very cool.

anyway, i am really tired, so maybe i will update more before i leave tomorrow. see everyone soon!

Thursday, July 25, 2002

i am in germany and i am feeling fine: i was in amsterdam earlier and it was schweeeeeet. everything in schweet. auf weidersehen!

Sunday, July 21, 2002

wow. i thought i was tired yesterday...

last night, davina was certifiably drunk. Matt - my sightseeing buddy -, Andrew and i shared a meter of beer. that's 10 glasses of the different draft beers served in a long wooden holder that says "un metre biere" on the side. in addition, of course, i had a few Belgians. reminded me of a certain episode at the Brickskellar, except with a bunch of nuts from Michigan instead of one nut from Albany. ;-) probably didnt help that Murad shared some of his spoils from his trip last weekend to Amsterdam after the bar - good times.

anyway, today Matt and i went to the Catacombs and the Luxembourg Gardens, then wandered around Paris. we ended up walking from the Louvre to the Arc de Tromphe, a distance easily equivalent to the lentght of the National Mall, if not further. the Catacombs were beyond freaky - 6 million dead people, stacked bone on top of bone on top of skull from floor to ceiling in these winding tunnels under the city. history: in the mid 1700s, Paris' cemetaries ran out of space, so they took over an old limestone quarry and moved all the bodies and remains there.

oh, i meant to get back to what i've done the last few days. thursday night, went to a fun bar and danced a little with the girls. Friday night went with a bunch of folks for a night cruise on the Seine. very pretty and nice, but not much that i hadn't seen before though, really. as for Versailles, well, Louis XIV really knew how to have a house. the decadence and the sheer size of everything is just crazy, plus the gardens. not lavish in the wild Monet-ish way, but ultra-refined, manicured and huge - i think it would take easily a whole day just to walk to perimeter. its funny how those random things you learn in high school pop back up - i just kept thinking about the Enlightenment and the taming of the natural world.

anyway, like i said, i could fall asleep right now, so i think i will try to do so. if anyone has tried to email me, i can't get my mail (GU's server is being upgraded today) and i'm not sure when i will have a chance to check in the next few days - leaving for Brussels tomorrow (monday) afternoon and travelling all week. goodnight.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

i am soooo tired, and there is so much still left to see!

hmmm... what have i done the past two days. oh, yesterday (friday) we had class all day long, but we finally found a good place to eat nearby - a cute little italian restaurant about 5 blocks away. yum and reasonable - my favorite combo. thanks, Warren, for the food tips, but the problem is that most of the time we have to grab and go or eat on the fly in an area we are unfamiliar with. its difficult to plan meals at specific places... even better, we discovered a bar near the italian restaurant that advertises 12 beers on tap and 150 bottled varieties. guess where we're going in about a half hour? ;-)

went out to Versailles today. like Giverny, the getting there and entering almost made me want to kill someone. the train that runs to Versailles is closed between certain stops for a month now and we didnt know, so we had to switch trains like four times to get out there. then, the line to get through security is a nightmare, and once inside, they have a really stupid system in which different sectors of the estate require different tickets - and they are all sold at separate ticket areas. lovely. that and they refused to give us a discount even though the sign said students were 5€, not 7€, for the one section we decided on. the way they run things here amazes me sometimes, although i have to say that was the first place i really noticed price-gouging. almost everywhere else, the french usually seem like they could care less if they made money off of you (cabs are a great example: evidentally there is a law that says a cab must pick up up to three people but can refuse if there are 4; but, the cab driver can also charge an extra 2.50€ for that fourth person, yet they almost always refuse to take a group of four. Autumn says they think to themselves, hmmm;;; do i want to make a fare plus an extra 2.50€? no, i think not, i will not take any of them!).

oops, didnt realize the time. gotta run to commence to drinking. i'll write more on Versailles tomorrow. Au revoir!