St. Malo or the perfect movie location

After a fairly long train ride we arrived in Saint Malo on a gorgeous day. After some sightseeing driving and 6 stories later and a bit out of breath, we got to our nautical themed apartment which somehow smelled vaguely of fish. It was after lunch time and we were starving, so of course we went in search of food. We made our way into the walled city hoping that maybe the more touristy area would yield an open restaurant. Despite our hunger, we did not settle on the first creperie that we spotted – it had an English menu – and instead continued to an adorable place which was run by one man who also ended up being the cook. I ended up with an amazing crepe with mushrooms, bacon, cheese, an egg and creme fraiche; it was rich, but I was pretty hungry. We accompanied our crepes with cider which was the perfect amount of sweet. After lunch, we continued to explore and encountered the coast; of course it started to rain though so we quickly made our way back to the apartment. We ventured out again to get groceries later that evening consisting of fruits, vegetables and two different ciders (for comparison). That night we feasted on salad and tried the silver medal winning cider.

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On Saturday, after a quick breakfast, we headed into town for some coffee. The place that we ended up at while charming and sufficient at making a pretty good cappuccino, did not really invite “hanging out” and so after finishing the coffee we went exploring. We again visited the beach, this time though the tide was low enough for us to walk out to what had the day before been little islands. We also stopped by the local museum to learn a bit about the history and see some old nautical equipment and imagery.

We ate salad in the apartment for lunch and I took a nap on the comfy couch before we headed back into town for pre-dinner cocktails. I got something called ti-punch which involved rum, lime juice and sugar and arrived in a shot glass, while Jemma opted for the kir Breton. For dinner that night we finally enjoyed our Moules frites. I had mine with cream and started the meal with a huge portion of blood sausage on pastry dough with a side salad and apples.

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Everything was yummy and quite filling, even though I delayed the mussels eating as I emptied out each shell before I started consuming. The only disappointment was the wine which was underwhelming but the ice cream at the end made up for it.

Our last day we went into town for our last time for more coffee and groceries. We then made our way back to the train which while at first on time ended up taking an hour and half longer to get to Paris, most of which time I tried to sleep, trying to prepare myself for the next 6 story building that I would need to drag my suitcase up.

Foodie Paradise

On Wednesday, because the day called for rain, I decided to head over to the Louvre. After getting a little lost while treading through the light rainfall I finally reached the Louvre. In spite of the rain the line was huge. It looped around the main square, proceeded under one of the arches and into a second courtyard. Somewhat defeated I decided to continue walking along the water until I arrived at the Musee d’Orsay. Same story, a huge line looping around the front of the museum. I continued on, keeping the fog covered Eiffel Tower in sight. After some more wandering I decided to go to the Musee de L’Orangerie, there was still a line, but by this time I was pretty tired. As I waited in line, the warmth from walking slowly wore off and I began to get very very cold, but before I almost got out of line, I finally reached the door. It was an excellent escape from the rain, especially because I was allowed to just sit and take it all in; very little movement was required. I had already been to the museum before so I was not really expecting anything new, but I was happy to find that they had opened up a new exhibit which kept my attention until Jemma and I met at Angelina for a hot chocolate and a delicious raspberry and pistachio tart. We consumed another salad that night which was somewhat inspired by a salad that the people next to us at Angelina consumed, with avocado and smoked salmon. (I believe that Jemma has the food pics)

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On Thursday there was again the possibility of rain, so I decided to visit the free museums. In the span of about three hours I went to Carnavalet, Cognacq Jay and Victor Hugo’s House. I even sat in a small park for a bit when it didn’t end up raining. After my exploring, Jemma joined me for coffee at the Swedish institute. That evening we enjoyed an artistic and complex meal at Frenchie. I started the meal with foie gras which had been layered with raspberry jelly which was incredible and probably way too big for one person. Each course had an exciting combination of flavors and textures and most included some form of foam which actually ended up being quite yummy. The meal was well paired with a rose which lasted us through the meal.  We ended the meal with cheese and an extremely rich chocolate cake which had been perfectly paired with a dessert wine. The entire meal was delicious and at times unexpected, especially the pigeon which tasted vaguely of steak, but some choices seemed misplaced or overly contrived. It was a great space to enjoy a stomach happy meal which played with my taste buds. All in all it was a lovely meal.

Paris day One and Two

We arrived in Paris on a gorgeous day; nothing but blue skies. To waste time before we moved into our apartment, we sat in a park and watched the children play. The apartment, despite being a single room, was a major step up from my Belgian apartment, plus it had amazing views. The day involved a somewhat desperate search for bread, well at least good bread, we were in France after all. We already got amazing butter, but we needed the bread. Luckily Jemma was persistent and she found us a lovely baguette. That evening we enjoyed a delicious salad and equally yummy bread and butter.

The next day the weather was equally gorgeous, so after a basic breakfast of bread and butter and a half a banana, I walked to Galerie Lafayette. The building was impressive and the selection was extraordinarily expensive but at the same seemingly expertly crafted.

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After excavating the premise, I headed up to the roof and was met with a spectacular nearly 360 degree view.

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Before leaving I grabbed a dessert and macaron from the Japanese pastry shop Sadaharu Aoki. Unfortunately, I later learned that Jemma doesn’t like hazelnut, one of the ingredients and therefore did not partake in the eating experience which I enjoyed.

For lunch we ate leftover salad and then headed out in search of the best cheese ever. We found the cheese as well as an excellent bread to eat with it. We enjoyed a glass of rose at a cafe; it was delightfully served with popcorn. For dinner that night we had the bread and cheese and an egg and broccoli, followed by the dessert.

The next day we woke up bright and early to head to one of the nearby markets which ended being closed. We did not despair and instead headed back to the good bread place for more bread and a chocolate pastry creation with almond paste. I then took the metro up to Montmartre. I started at Sacre coeur and took in another impressive view.

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I then explored for a bit, admiring all the beautiful homes and stumbling across one gorgeous view after another.

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Van Gogh's home

Van Gogh’s home

 

I then stopped into the Musee Montmartre which also held Renoir’s garden.

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The overcast day turned to rain, but Jemma had smartly already made us lunch plans in the area at Jeanne B. I got a buttery foie gras and some rotisserie chicken.

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Goodbye Belgium

Apologies in advance for not having posted about England. In summation, it was lovely and for the most part I felt a bit like a princess. Forget everything that you’ve heard about the British culinary experience, every meal I had was fantastic, although I was eating at the more bourgeois places, lucky me. I enjoyed the manicured but simple parks, saw a few spectacular castles and tried desperately to blend in with the extremely well dressed local (although Jemma would argue that the French dress better). I reacquainted myself with Harrod’s, but did not bring Bear along or purchase him a pricey but lower quality companion. By the end of the trip, I really had no interest in leaving, perhaps Jemma is right and I belong there. IMG_1089 IMG_1129

A popular chicken fastfood place! I got the kid's meal.

A popular chicken fastfood place! I got the kid’s meal.

An Asian/cuban fusion restaurant which had amazing donuts

An Asian/cuban fusion restaurant which had amazing donuts

Laduree, salted caramel, pistachio and orange bergamot.

Laduree, salted caramel, pistachio and orange bergamot.

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When I arrived back in Brussels after a long overnight bus ride which luckily only involved one visibly and audibly crazy person, time seemed to pass much more quickly. I was writing papers, doing presentations and before I knew it, I was taking finals. During this time, I tried to revisit my favorite places, eat lots of frites and try some new places as well, that by Thursday, I was pretty satisfied with my time. There were of course a few more excursion before finals period including a weekend trip with the program to Strasbourg (as well as other parts of France) and Trier Germany, the birthplace of Marx. I also took a day trip to Dinant and headed back to Germany to visit a certain exchange student. The trip involved driving around in very fancy cars and a fashion show.

stairs used in La Grande Illusion at Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle

stairs used in La Grande Illusion at Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle

view from a castle

view from a castle

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Dinant:

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Germany:

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Finals went well and to celebrate, my roommate and I went out for our final meal to a place down the street from us. It was incredibly delicious – we both got an amazing steak – and they gave us ice water. Unfortunately our first choice of dessert, a chocolate lava cake wasn’t available, so instead we finished the meal with a very yummy apple tart.

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On Friday, I tried to get ready for Jem’s arrival, but a series of delays ended up changing everything that was planned. Luckily, after some maneuvering, Jemma and I were able to attend the final meal of the program. The food was decent, but because of a seemingly unlimited quantity of wine, the group became very loud. We left early, both in search of sleep and maybe a little quiet.

After some deliberation we decided not to do moules frites in Brussels. Our Saturday started instead with a very tiny breakfast. We then walked downtown to the city center, passing some significant landmarks along the way. After reading various recommendations, I decided that Maison Dandoy would be a good place to try out the famous Belgian waffles. Our drinks were underwhelming and the waffle wasn’t exactly as expected. It lacked crispness, but the taste was delicious and made us both think of morning buns. We visited the grand place and I remarked on all the places that I had eaten at. Our lunch consisted of a salad and soup from a healthy chain restaurant which was a bit more expensive than it probably should have been, but satisfied our needs for a healthy alternative to the rest of our meal plans. We then headed to the musee magritte which housed some of his less famous works which were still impressive and questioning of society. We needed to have frites, and while we weren’t close to any of the truly famous places, I settled on one of my downtown favorites, Fritland. We followed the frites with another Belgian classic at another Brussels institution, Delirium which has over 2000 beers. Unfortunately only 2 of the beers were even worth drinking out of the three that we sampled and even those two weren’t anything special.

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Luckily our next destination didn’t disappoint; the beer recommendations were on par and the cheese platter and bread were delicious. We ended the day with a street waffle which while yummy was still not crispy enough to fully satisfy. When we arrived back at the apartment I packed up my belongings, both glad to be leaving the apartment and sad to be leaving Brussels.

Sorry, but are you speaking English? Child rearing in Ireland

In hindsight, it was probably not the best plan to go from warm to cold, but I wasn’t really thinking about it when I had booked my flight to my next destination, Ireland. It was funny to go to a country that mainly spoke English again, but with the accent, it was sometimes hard to tell.  I had forgotten about the Irish language though, so it was exciting to see all the signage when I arrived in the airport that was in English and in Irish. I quickly passed through immigration earning yet another stamp in my passport and was greeted in baggage by a very familiar and welcome face.

I didn’t see much of Ireland that night, as it was late and already dark, but I was informed of my itinerary for the next few days.

The next day, I was greeted by the sounds of children. An Irish breakfast was prepared while simultaneously trying to entertain children. It was hectic, but the breakfast and tea were worth it.

We were joined by another mother and her baby and then we headed out to see a fortress and play in a huge park. While the park was mostly for the kids, I can’t say that I didn’t have fun. The castle/fortress thing was also impressive especially with the vast amount of green lawn and foliage that surrounded it, including a beautifully manicured garden. After walking around the grounds, we stopped into a very California-esque restaurant where I got an open faced sandwich, and we again all attempted to get the children to eat peacefully so that we could enjoy our own meals. There was an upset, but somehow, after a bit of negotiating, we were able to continue on to our next destination. We went to a wealthy beach side town with neat and orderly houses and a gorgeous coastline. There I had my official Irish Guinness and I was very very happy with the quality of the pour, which I learned was essential for the Guinness drinking experience.

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After the beer, we headed back to the house for a small meal and children’s movies.

The next day, we took the train into Dublin resulting in a minor freak out on the train involving a near constant stream of tears. We stopped into an adorable cafe to get brunch, and I finally got a scone which was pretty good and an even better cappuccino. We walked around for a bit before getting on the Viking tour bus which showed a very different side of Irish history. It was funny and informative and I got to wear a crazy hat.

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U2's recording studio!

U2’s recording studio!

The tour was followed by feeding the ducks which actually was more like feeding the pigeons and more exploring of Dublin.

We took the train back which was less of an ordeal than before and finished off the day with a hearty Irish stew and more Disney movies. A lovely send off before my next spring break stop.

 

Spain: Cordoba and Malaga

After a high speed train I arrived in Cordoba only to meet up with my friends and then rush off to go register for courses. It was a successful registration followed by a yummy paella (I love paella and want to make it when I get back, so so good). After lunch it was exploration time. Cordoba is an incredible little historic city and I very much enjoyed going up and down the narrow cobblestone roads. My friend and I walked up and down the crowded narrow roads and then sat down beside the water to catch up.

After our break on the bench, my friend took me to go look at the old Mezquita.

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I was so caught up in the beauty that I was very bad about taking pictures. One of the main features of Cordoba that I noticed though was the extraordinary amount of orange trees that were everywhere I went.

After a bit of exploring, we went to pick up another friend from class to go get frozen yogurt. It was a nice little treat on such a hot day. I was taken around some more before the group had to go to their dance class, which I sat through.

After the class, I headed back to where I would be staying, ending the night with simple tapas.

The next day was one of my friends birthday. So that meant that I consumed more ice cream, this time on top of a crepe, and later in the day during a surprise party a small slice of cake…. It was a lovely evening for an outdoor birthday party and it was fun to see the Mezquita and the other sites that I had seen during the day all lit up.

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On Thursday, the plan was to go wine tasting, but unfortunately due to poor timing and bad service at a so so restaurant we missed the bus and ended up doing more exploring.

On Friday we took a train to Malaga, a beach town. We arrived midday and spent over 2 hours walking around trying to find our hostel. It ended up being time well spent as we passed some beautiful sites and became acquainted with the area.

The hostel wasn’t anything special, but it was in a fine location and the people didn’t appear to be that crazy.

After settling in for a bit, we headed over to the Picasso museum. It held quite a bit of work which I would not have immediately associated with Picasso which was interesting.

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We then walked down to try to find the beach. Since the sun was almost all the way set, it was difficult to tell what the beach was like, but we decided that we would return in the morning.

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That night I consumed more tapas, this time consisting of bacon wrapped figs and blood sausages.

Our last day in Malaga we headed back to the beach and settled in on the sand. It was hot, and unfortunately I got burned while reading.

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The burn became quite prominent as we explored the Alcazaba a gorgeous fortress with equally amazing views.

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Besides the burn, it was a lovely and very hot final day in Malaga followed by a relaxing train ride back to Cordoba.

On Palm Sunday, we all decided to go to the Mezquita for mass; this also allowed us to actually go inside without paying. It was a lovely service and the inside of the Mezquita was even more impressive than the outside.

We also got to watch a parade which featured people who looked like the KKK which was somewhat alarming at first.

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It was my last day in Spain, so I packed up quickly and took various form of transportation including a high speed train, the metro, and a plane, and finally arrived at my next destination, the much cooler Ireland.

 

Spain parte uno!

I arrived in Madrid on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. After attempting to navigate the huge and complicated terminal, I took a very simple metro ride to my final destination.

The family that I stayed with was incredibly welcoming and generous. Shortly after I arrived, we went to a very nice restaurant called Cinco Jotas for lunch. They ordered a number of starters mostly involving jamon and I chose a very yummy salad as my main course. The food was delicious and I especially enjoyed the first jamon platter that we got as it was incredibly fresh. After lunch, I was taken around downtown Madrid (the older district) and shown all the historical sites. We stopped for a special lavender candy which was surprisingly good and later got frozen yogurt which I guess is quite popular in Spain.

We continued exploring while my main host snapped a multitude of photos of everyone (some of which I hope to see soon). By the end of the end of the day, after seeing the royal palace, the many plazas, and beautiful historical buildings, everyone was a bit tired. To get back to the car we had to make our way through the throngs of people who seemed to come out of nowhere. The streets were filled with performers of all kinds ranging from people dressed in crazy costumes to people playing instruments.

When we got back to their house everyone kind of just collapsed in exhaustion and so we had gazpacho a very simple meal for dinner.

As the next day was Sunday people had kind of a slow start. During breakfast, I applied for internships and ate my cereal with milk (oh how I missed milk). I continued working until we headed out to lunch to have a birthday celebration. Again I ate very well, but I wasn’t entirely thrilled by my bacalao.

The meal ended quite late, and for the rest of the day, I just kind of hung out in their home and chilled.

On Monday I was one my own, and so after eating cereal, I caught the metro to the Retiro Park a gorgeous and peaceful green space.

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After getting through the park I finally arrived at the Prado museum. It was huge and impressive and filled with Goyas including his black period and other very dark works. I definitely didn’t see all of the works, but I saw a lot of it.

After the museum (which was free), I quickly visited a church.

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And then I went to the Royal Garden.

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kiwi tree!

kiwi tree!

After the garden, I went in search of a El Azul a restaurant that had been recommended to me by a friend. It ended up being an excellent recommendation and I was very pleased with everything that I got.

 

Salmorejo

Salmorejo

meat cake

meat cake

Some sort of dulce de leche cake

Some sort of dulce de leche cake

After finishing up my meal, I went to museum of Reina Sophia, which was also free for me. It housed many Picasso’s and other innovative modern art. It was a little too big and confusing to navigate, but I believe that I saw all of the really important works, and it was fun because there were multiple video displays. After the museum I went to a highly rated cafe to get chocolate with churros.

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After the churros I walked back to the metro stop, and what a beautiful walk it was.

 

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The next day, I left on my first high speed train for Cordoba.

Buda, buda, Budapest

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of travelling to Budapest, Hungary. The currency was Forint, and that meant cheap. A euro was equal to a little over 300 HUF.

It was my first Ryanair flight and I was a bit nervous after having read all of the negative reviews, but after getting to the airport which was about an hour outside of Brussels, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we got through security and onto the plane. About two hours later, after a series of ads and bright lights, we arrived in Budapest. Our hostel had airport pickup, so we were quickly on our way to where we would be staying for the next three nights. When we arrived, it was already quite dark so we didn’t really know where we had come from, or exactly where we were. We were greeted by the owner, who was incredibly sweet and gave us an hour long spiel on what we needed to do while in Budapest. The location we were in, as it turned out, couldn’t have been better. We were in the old Jewish corridor and our apartment was right across the street from Szimpla the number three bar in the world(according to Lonely Planet) and one of the best sandwich and soup places that I have ever gone to.

It was about 11 at night, so we decided to explore Szimpla, a ruins pub, basically a bar that is located in a somewhat dilapidated building filled with second hand furniture and a hodgepodge of other knickknacks. It was a pretty strange place, and it was difficult to know where to begin as there were many different stations. Finally, I settled on one of the bars which was serving a very typical Hungarian drink, pálinka, a fruit brandy. I asked the bartender what she recommended, and I finally chose the green apple flavor. It was served as a shot, and the first sip burned like nothing else, but what remained was a very pleasant after taste of green apple. I was quite tired from the flight, so I retired earlier than most of the group.

On Friday, we went in search of the free guided tour. We first stopped by a milk bar to get breakfast, and I got a chocolate snail(basically a chocolate version of a cinnamon role) and a glass of caramel milk. Both were delicious and made me feel like a kid.

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The guided tour was everything we could have asked for. We got a brief history of Hungary, and what a history with both Nazi and Communist occupation. We started on the flat Pest side and made our way across the bridge over to the wealth and hilly Buda side.

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Budapest has many statues, but they are not allowed to be representative of any events.

Budapest has many statues, but they are not allowed to be representative of any events.

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For lunch, we trekked back to our hostel to the sandwich and soup restaurant that had been so highly recommended to us. The whole group got the same thing: butternut squash soup with Thai chili peppers and a chicken, gouda and onion jam sandwich. We sat outside our hostel and quickly munched them both down. Although I tried to savor each bite, they were too delicious to resist. Next we visited the market, which seemed to be mainly geared towards tourists with all the paprika stands. We did stop by a pastry stand and I got this crazy marzipan ball thing that had cake and chocolate cream inside of it. I couldn’t even eat the whole thing because it was so rich.

Outside of market

Outside of market

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We continued to explore, and came across a crowd of people watching a woman singing; we learned later that they were gearing up for a national holiday on Saturday. We continued to walk around, and some of the group stopped to get a coffee before we returned to the hostel. Before heading out to dinner, everyone took a quick nap; after all of the walking we were a bit tired. For dinner we went to a hummus bar, I guess that they are pretty popular in Budapest. I got the falafel and it was pretty good.

More people from our program were also in Budapest, so we decided to meet up with them for drinks. We went to Szimpla again and I got a glass of Hungarian red wine, which was not too shabby. We then headed to a second bar, Instant, another very strange bar filled with fake animals. The atmosphere was not as welcoming as Szimpla, as the clientele may have thought that they were a little too cool. Luckily, we did find a quiet lounge like area to enjoy our drinks in peace.

On Saturday, we had a very slow start. We had made plans for the day, but the longer it took us to get out of our apartment, the faster our plans unraveled. E and I didn’t have bathing suits, so we were going to briefly go shopping before heading over to the baths. Unfortunately, we took the wrong road, and instead of ending up on the shopping street, we walked down Budapest’s version of the Champs-Elysées where we encountered another gathering.

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When we finally arrived at the largest bath in Budapest, the sky was already hinting at the impending rain. Thankfully, the bath house had a small swimsuit store where E and I quickly got our fancy Italian suits.

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Before going into the pools, we got two other Hungarian treats, Langos (fried dough, with sour cream, garlic and cheese) and the hundog (basically just a very large sausage), you know, the perfect pre-swimsuit meal.

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The Széchenyi thermal bath was incredible. It is located right in the City Park and was built in the neo-baroque style. It had 3 outdoor pools and 15 indoor pools, and we explored most of them. After about 4 hours of soaking, we realized that it was time to head back, especially because we were planning on eating at an all you can eat buffet that night.

When we finally got back to the hostel, some of the group showered, while others prepped for dinner. The place closed at 12, and there was a special discount if you went after 9. We left around 9, expecting it to be a fairly short walk to the restaurant. We couldn’t have been more wrong. About 40 minutes later, we arrived on the Buda side, wind blown and freezing and ready to just sit down. We got champagne, as the place was all you can drink as well, it wasn’t the greatest but we weren’t expecting much. The food was surprisingly good, and I filled up on a random assortment of Hungarian and European dishes, ranging from fish soup to foie gras. I also tried almost every one of their small desserts including the dobos torta and the floating island. By the end of the evening I was overly full, but in a pleasant way. The only downside was that we were rushed through the last 40 minutes or so of our meal. I have become so accustomed to the long and drawn out meals where you have to ask for the check, that I found it very rude when the waiter left it on our table while we were clearly still eating.

The walk back to the hostel was a long one, that by the time we returned, everyone just wanted to sleep.

On Sunday, we went to the a small organic market which is held in Szimpla every Sunday. The vendors were very friendly and gave us many samples, but none of us really had space in our luggage to buy anything. We then went in search of a breakfast spot, but because it was Sunday, and many places are closed, we ended up at a pretty crappy pastry place. The food that I got was underwhelming and left a lot to be desired after our previous meals. Luckily we came across a stand selling chimney cakes, a delicious pastries that is rolled in cinnamon sugar and then cooked over an open flame. The group split just one, and it ended up being plenty.

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Because it was Sunday, we were severely limited in what we could do, but we did get a chance to visit the largest synagogue, although we didn’t end up going inside.

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I apologize for the general lack of pictures, I hope to steal some from my other travelers soon. Done!

Running Through Amsterdam

It is always nice to go on a trip which is completely planned out for you, it also can mean non-stop site seeing with only very brief periods of rest. When I chose to travel with the art class at my school to Amsterdam, I knew that we would be seeing museums, I just didn’t realize how many. On Friday morning, the group boarded the bus and we began our journey. Of course I slept the entire time and missed what I can imagine was beautiful scenery, but it was most likely for the best, as I arrived in Amsterdam ready to explore. Our hotel/hostel was situated very near the red light district, and this was a bit of a shock at first. The hotel itself had very comfy beds and ended up having a pretty decent breakfast, but the first time I passed one of the windows I really wasn’t expecting a barely clothed person to be sitting there.

Before we began our exploration, we enjoyed a very strange lunch that the Professor had composed made up of various tiny sandwiches, barely filled with anything. We eagerly munched on all of the pieces that we could get our hands on, and then headed out into the sunshine. Our first destination was the Scheepvaart Museum, or Maritime Museum. Before arriving at our destination, we came across one of the smallest “residences” in Amsterdam; doesn’t seem very practical. IMG_0830 IMG_0831

I was delightfully surprised by the museum. It was interactive, our guide was funny, informative and engaging, and I got to go board a ship, well the replica of the Indiaman Amsterdam.

The ceiling is so heavy, that the museum has sunk further into the ground.

The ceiling is so heavy, that the museum has sunk further into the ground.

It is a sea map!

It is a sea map!

We love museums!

We love museums!

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The group!

The group!

We then explored St. Nikolaas Kerk, a neo Baroque church. While the others were lectured at, I took my time looking at a very modern and slightly sad and bizarre “art” installation which was made up of varying objects with short written memories mostly about lost love. Next on the itinerary was a hidden church (“Our Lord in the Attic”) which was located on the top floor of three adjoining buildings. It was surprising to enter a seemingly normal house and then travel up some very steep and narrow stairs only to encounter a fairly large church. Inside the church there was a small interactive portion which identified the many other hidden churches in Amsterdam. We visited another church as we continued to explore the city. The professor noted many important landmarks along the way.

Finally we stopped for dinner at an Indonesian restaurant, I guess that it is very popular in Amsterdam. It was pretty delicious and I was able to put a lot of spicy sauce on my meal. After dinner, we rushed to the Van Gogh Museum. It was incredible to see some of Van Gogh’s most famous works up close, and there was also two other fantastic exhibits which I absolutely fell in love with. The museum also offered some interactive parts which allowed visitors to explore the textures of the paintings. A little after 11, we returned to the hotel only to go back out again to explore on our own.

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The next day we ate breakfast at the hotel and then headed over to the Rijksmuseum, the museum of Dutch art and history. Rembrandt was featured heavily along with Vermeer and other specialists in still lifes, interiors, seascapes and genre scenes.

Entrance room

Entrance room

IMG_0855IMG_0856 IMG_0859 IMG_0857 There were also some very cool sculptures and extremely ornate doll houses. IMG_0860 IMG_0862 IMG_0866 IMG_0864

After the museum we had lunch on our own. I was still full from breakfast, but the group that I was with got Argentinian food (I don’t know if they quite got the whole trying the local food thing). Right after lunch, we headed over to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam’s modern art museum, which held such artists as Mondrian. IMG_0868IMG_0869IMG_0871IMG_0872

Probably my favorite of the paintings

Probably my favorite of the paintings

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We visited another church, continued to walk around the city and then took a boat ride through the canals. At this point everyone was pretty tired, so it was a nice little break, although I might have fallen asleep a few times. 1780665_10202026967969156_545080092_nIMG_0887 IMG_0886

After the boat ride, we were once again on our own. I had found what sounded like a fun and delicious burger joint called Getto, a gay bar not far from our hotel. I got the Lady Bunny Beef Burger (the burgers are named after the Drag Queens) which had bacon, mushrooms, and gorgonzola cheese. It was absolutely wonderful, and look at the presentation. IMG_0892 IMG_0897

On our last day, we went to the Anne Frank House. It was a very moving experience, but it has become such a tourist destination, that you couldn’t really linger on any one thing, especially not her real diary entries. After the Anne Frank House, we went to the Jewish Historical Museum. Our guide was an inspirational Jewish woman who had lived in Amsterdam during the occupation. We quickly broke for lunch and I finally got a Dutch pancake, and then we almost immediately headed over to Rembrandt’s House. We went to our last church which had a small Francis Bacon exhibit, and then headed back to the hotel to collect our stuff before getting back on the bus to head back to Brussels. 

As a side note, while in Amsterdam, I went a little crazy with the postcard purchasing; my wall will be well decorated with them when I return to Wellesley. I also unfortunately didn’t get to try the Dutch waffle, but I guess that I tried a Dutch pancake, although it wasn’t as exciting as I hoped, no maple syrup…

Perhaps it was just the perfect weather or confusion from the fatigue from the many museums, but I fell in love with Amsterdam and wished that I could have stayed longer; I’m sure that there is more to be explored.