Bonjour!

I am working on my post about Paris, but recently I’ve been super busy making VIDEOS. I’ve created a youtube channel – click here to see my videos! I have one from Amsterdam and one from Paris, so far. Please check them out, I’m pretty proud of them. Paris Thumbnail 3.001

Stay tuned for my post about Paris 🙂

 

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I had planned on spending my three days in Belgium all in Bruges. Due to some complications with my host (VERY long story), I ended up spending about one hour in Bruges the first day and then heading to Ostende. The one hour in Bruges was great, but I didn’t get a great feel for the place so I knew I wanted to go back.

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Ostende is a cute little beach town in Northern Belgium. The North Sea comes up to it, which is absolutely stunning. The water is a light blue/cerulean (my favorite color!) and the sand is dark yellow. I can imagine that it is incredible during the summer. I was able to catch a little bit of the sunset, but only on my iPhone camera, which is extremely terrible quality.

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Ostend doesn’t have a ton to offer, but I figured since I was there on accident, I may as well take advantage of it and check it out. I walked along the shops the next day and stopped in a cafe for coffee and soup. I ended up walking through a gorgeous park that was super green. If it hadn’t been raining earlier, I would have stopped and taken a little break here. But I moved on!

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I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon working on my computer and catching up with friends over FaceTime.

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The next day, I headed to Bruges. Bruges is an adorable town, and I would highly recommend visiting if you are in the area. It is commonly described as being like a fairy tale. Being there made me feel like I’d been taken back in time. The streets are all cobblestone, there are horse drawn carriages, and the buildings are all super old, colorful, and wonderfully intact. I can’t even explain how adorable this place is. It would be a great place for a family vacation – there were tons of families there. I had lunch in the main square and admired the architecture until it got dark.

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LOOK AT ALL THAT STONE.

When the sun started to set, I hopped on a train to Brussels. I was staying there for the night before my bus to Paris the next day.

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Too bad I couldn’t drive my shiny new wheels there.

All in all, Belgium is a cute lil country. I definitely liked Bruges the most, it is totally adorable and a really crazy experience. It really feels like you’ve gone back in time. I would definitely recommend Bruges to anyone traveling around the area. If you’ve been to Belgium, let me know your favorite part of the country in the comments!

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On my last day in Amsterdam, Jacky was determined to get everything on my bucket list crossed off. We started off the day with a canal tour.

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The tour went through the canals of Amsterdam, which is especially amazing during the winter time as they have the Amsterdam light festival. There were tons of displays that we got to see up close.

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The bridges, buildings, and houseboats were especially cool to see from water level.

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We had a great time on the tour, basically just laughing hysterically at all of the tourists taking pictures nonstop. Seriously, all you could hear through out the boat was cameras clicking. We watched this one guy a few rows ahead of us take about 566849 selfies, and at one point it looked like he was pointing the camera at us, so we smiled. He noticed what we were doing, thought it was funny, and then took a picture of us.

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After the canal tour, we were starving! Sitting on a boat for an hour really works up an appetite. Jacky found a vegan restaurant close by. Thank god for yelp, because I am not that pleasant when I’m hungry. We were able to get in the restaurant and eat pretty quickly. I had a vegan “chickn” burger, which was really good. I don’t usually eat processed fake meats but I was starving and it sounded good.

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Next, we headed to the Christmas neighborhood market. It was only going on for one weekend, so we had to stop by! There were rumors of lots of vegan food there. I was not disappointed when we arrived! There were lots of vegan options, but I ended up choosing an indian curry with rice. If you know me well, you know I am overly obsessed with rice. I was craving it this day!

 

 

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We found a place that had organic wine also! I tried a glass with my curry. It was great!

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By the time we got out of the neighborhood market, we were exhausted. We had walked a ton. We took a tram back to the apartment and went to sleep early, as I was going to Bruges (Belgium) the next day!

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After a few days of wandering on my own, my host, Jacky, had some time to spend with me! We made some toast and coffee and then headed out toward the museum square for some ice skating.

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On the way to the square, we walked through the market and past some really cute shops. One white shop caught our eye – on the window it said “Vitamin Chocolate.” Sign me up for that! We went inside and talked to the owner. Turns out that all of his chocolates are made from 100% raw vegan cacao and all of the truffles (& everything they make) are vegan. YESSSS

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We bought a date truffle. It was nothing short of life changing. The man selling it to us cut it in half, and we ate it right in the store!

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If I lived in Amsterdam (which I am kind of seriously considering), I would spend all of my money here. JUST TAKE IT ALL AND GIVE ME THE CHOCOLATE.

After that experience, we headed toward the ice skating rink. First things first, correct my picture from the other day. Success! All of “Amsterdam” made it into this picture. Thanks, Jacky!

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Then another nice person offered to take a picture of us!

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She did well! A lot better than the person from before.

Then it was time to get down to business. Did you guys not know I am basically a professional ice skater?

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Well now you know.

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After skating for hours (I never wanted to stop), we waltzed over to the Christmas market right next to the ice arena. And guess what they had?! VEGAN FOOD!

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That sweet little angel baby is all vegan. They usually put a sauce on it, but sadly the sauce was not vegan so it had to go. This was so exciting!

 

After lunch, we headed over to the Bols house. Bols is a company that makes flavored vodkas. We had a tour of the museum, learned about their history, and then we got to pick a cocktail to taste. I had a blood orange thing, which was pretty good! The pictures did not turn out well as it was pretty dark, so you will have to use your imagination for that part.

After the Bols house, we ran into SANTA!! I sat on his lap and told him everything that I wanted for Christmas.

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JK. We actually just said hi and then sprinted off to something a little more important. FOOD.

Or as some would call it, some steamy baskets of goodness.

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DIM SUM

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And it was even better than promised. The place was super cute, the food was amazing, and the atmosphere was great. It was a wonderful ending to the day!

 

 

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I wrote a list of things that I definitely wanted to do in Amsterdam. The list was pretty short, and I got a lot of it checked off today! This makes me happy.

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I started the day with a cup of coffee before heading out to the Anne Frank house. I was not allowed to take pictures inside, but I got a picture of the outside.

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The big building (with the wooden slats in front) was the warehouse her father owned, and the hiding spot was in a little house behind that. It was an incredible experience being in the hiding spot where she lived for years, seeing her diary, and remembering her story. I would definitely recommend a trip to this house if you are in Amsterdam. Plus, it is only 9 euros – a bargain compared to other museums. Next, I headed off toward the Van Gogh museum. I stopped for lunch at Bagels and Beans, which actually does not serve beans, only bagels.

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Cinnamon raisin bagel with banana, cinnamon and maple syrup. Yum! I also got a carrot-orange juice.

All filled up, I headed over to the museum, with a quick stop over the ice skating bridge for an epic photo shoot. My host, Jacky, told me about this secret spot for photos and it did not disappoint. What a view!

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Someone offered to take a picture with me in it, and this is what they did.

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They totally kicked out the iamsterdam sign in favor of this hideous beige sign. Let this be a photography lesson to us all. If someone offers to take a picture for you, make sure you check it before they have a chance to run away. Lesson learned.

Finally, I entered the Van Gogh museum, which also does not allow pictures. I was able to snap a quickie of a print that they put on the wall. The real self portrait (shown in print form below) was at the museum, and looks way better than this picture does.

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Which leads me to: how I almost got kicked out of the Van Gogh museum. When I walked in to the museum, I asked the security people if I was allowed to take photos (knowing the answer would be no). Of course they said “No, no, no, absolutely not.” Talk about buzzkill. I take this to mean that you can take photos if you can be sneaky about it.

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My tactic was as follows: whip out my iPhone, and start taking notes of my favorite pictures. Keep a close eye on the guards. I noticed the security guards were pretty mobile, walking around a lot. I kept track of them out of the corner of my eye, while “writing notes” on my phone. I decided which painting would be worth risking getting kicked out. I chose the sunflowers, which was also the most heavily guarded, of course. By heavily guarded, I meant that it was in a small room with one guard. There were a ton of people there though, so how could the guards notice if I tweaked my phone ever so slightly and snapped a quick pic? Well, they are trained well. As I went to lift my phone up, thinking the guard was talking to someone, I saw him get up out of his chair and head toward me. I VERY QUICKLY locked my phone and pretended like nothing happened. He stood by me for a second, glaring at me, and then I just slowly made my way out of the room. I then celebrated with a shot of espresso from the restaurant. I didn’t actually get a photo, but I didn’t get kicked out either, so I consider this a draw.

I finished the day with a leisurely stroll home, stopping every so often in the shops to check out the latest fashions. It was another great day in Amsterdam!

 

 

 

 

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