A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Antwerpen Belgium

Antwerp today.
We arrived in the rain, pulled up our hoods and headed out to find "Cogels-Osylei". It's an amazing neighborhood filled with majestic houses of varying architecture standing quite happily shoulder-to-shoulder. I have to look for a book about this neighborhood.
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We went to the tourist information office and got a map and a multiple-ride bus ticket, it's cheaper than buying single-ride tickets and there is usually a ride or two left so then we give it away to someone that seems likely to use it, then we hopped a tram.

Drop a couple of small town boys and an adventuress, yet directionally challenged woman, in a big city where the signs aren't in English and it can get pretty interesting pretty quickly. Max was proud of us today for not arguing as we navigated our way around yet another strange, new city. We've been learning about communication and practicing new skills. A proud moment for me :)

The Central Station is amazing! Stand in the center and look left
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Now look right...
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Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world. This means Jewish men dressed in a modern version of the dress clothes from "Fiddler on the Roof" and the shops in the train station are deli, coffee shop, jewelry store, jewelry store, patisserie, jewelry store, jewelry store, juice bar, jewelry store...you get the picture. The only place they don't have diamonds is the vending machines.

They don't have them in the WC (restroom) either, but it does cost 50 cents Euro to use the facilities. It was 30 cents Euro in Brussels and 30 pence in London.

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Posted by sammaxwill2013 10:30 Comments (3)

Amsterdam

At 07:00 We closed and locked the door to our apartment, descended 73 steps, opened, closed and locked the main door to the house behind us. We made our way to the train station. The roundabout in front of the station was all a whirl with trucks, buses, cars, scooters, bicycles, and walkers.
We confidently checked the posted train schedule, no computer generated time tables here- we are comfortable with those as well- found our platform and joined the queue for Brussels to board the train for Amsterdam via Rotterdam.
About an hour later we waved out the window at our little village of Vilvoorde as we passed it, stopping at the next town to take on passengers. Being fast learners, we huddled and decided to detrain there on our way back.

Scenes from Amsterdam.

The boys climbed Westerkerk Tower 38CB6EEE2219AC6817DA60B3851AD899.jpg
While I stood, for two hours, in the queue for Anne Frank Huis 38E02D792219AC6817A71C63E527EEFA.jpg.
This is a photo of the actual diary. 3933AF762219AC6817E11EB78394A220.jpg
The line was long and the people varied in age, apparent financial status and country of origin. At the end of the line was an almost silent hour as this varied group toured the empty rooms of the actual hiding place of Anne, her family, and four others. We read, viewed, and listened to facts recorded from or related to the diary of a 13-year old Jewish German girl who ultimately died in a Nazi Concentration Camp. Her father, Otto, was the only survivor of the eight.

More photos from our day in Amsterdam. No, we didn't stop at any coffee shops or hang out in the Red Light District. I apparently found the house of MOM instead
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I hate to admit it, but we did enjoy eating brownies and drinking hot chocolate at Starbucks in the Rotterdam train station, my brownie sported a layer of caramel and a healthy sprinkle of nuts.
We returned to our little train station of Vilvoorde at 23:54, walked the four long blocks back to our apartment, climbed the 73 stairs, brushed our teeth, crawled into our various beds, lay our heads on our pillows, and woke to laundry/packing day.

Posted by sammaxwill2013 06:16 Archived in Netherlands Comments (4)

Chinese Fire Drill - German Style?

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Friday was our travel day to Munich. About an hour into our journey, in four languages, the train guard/conductor/steward..., announced that we would be changing trains at the next station. Really? Really!
The next station was a small town. We didn't pull into the station proper but stopped as soon as we reached pavement. We detrained. All of us. A few minutes later a train pulled in on the opposite side of the patform parrallel to us going in the direction from which we had just come. We looked in the windows as it pulled opposite us. It was full.

The boys and I shared some eye rolls and some , "not agains", and some stupid jokes. But then the doors opened and the passengers, all of them, detrained. Most of them boarded the train we had abandoned, a few were still standing on the patform as we chugged off in their train.

Posted by sammaxwill2013 09:10 Comments (2)

Munich

Yesterday when we arrived our room wasn't yet ready so we tossed our packs in the luggage room with the packs of our fellow back packers and took the subway 49 minutes to Erding followed by a 40 minute walk.

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We were in search of a water park the boys had seen on the travel channel. The lovely elderly couple selling whole skewered fish from their front yard thought about it for a while. He decided it was probably 2 kilometers away after a right turn and a left turn. Nope. The woman I passed on the sidewalk did not speak English and denied any knowledge of such a place. Since I was traveling with boys, I was forbidden to ask anyone else for directions.
We began to see small clues-a game of "I Spy"- a tiny "Therme Erding" arrow sign, a woman with wet hair carrying a basket with a rolled bath towel on top oh, and her hair was wet. Finally the sweet smell of chlorine wafted on the air.

The boys played for three hours and then we, in an almost linear fashion, found our way back to the hostel and our bags.
The room was tiny but clean.A88B6D6B2219AC681756B46621E4E050.jpg
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Posted by sammaxwill2013 09:33 Comments (1)

Bologna Skyline

Yesterday was a travel day. Uneventful for us.
I followed along on my map and the views from the window were breathtaking over and over again!
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This is our current abode in Bologna, Italy. See what I see...
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We are on the 11th floor in its twin.
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I hear the rush of traffic, the clang of church bells, and the song of birds.

Today a tour of the Ducati factory and museum, a new tower for the boys to conquer, some real Italian food and a glass of the good stuff for me. Ciao!

Posted by sammaxwill2013 22:39 Comments (2)

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