Doei Amsterdam, Hallo Berlin!

22 May

We will miss Amsterdam. Spent yesterday just walking around. There are H&M’s everywhere, so we bought some jean shorts because we both forgot ours and we just felt like we needed them. We found an icecream shop that was soooo delicious. We needed that because for lunch we had some really awful pizza. We will never buy pizza again.

We barely made it to our train to Berlin on time because we forgot we had to get our Eurail passes activated. Woops! Made it on the train though. We did, however, miss our connection at Duisburg, so we had to wait another hour for the next train. We got into Berlin at about midnight. Being afraid of being in a brand new city at dark, we took a cab to the hostel. The driver told us this is a very safe city and not to worry.

We stayed in Pfefferbett hostel last night and that’s where we are now. It’s so cool in here. So much better compared to our past hostels, and cheaper. Our beds were really comfy, we had a reading light and an outlet next to our beds which was so nice, lockers in our room. It may not sound like much, but it’s so much better than where we’ve been staying. We move to a different hostel tonight due to scheduling issues. That one is supposed to be really nice too.

The plan is to take the free walking tour today to get familiar with Berlin. It looks a lot bigger than Amsterdam.

A few more pics from Amsterdam:

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The canals are so pretty

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So different from what I've seen before

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Our favorite bar in the Redlight

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Amsterdam day 2

21 May

We got lost for the first time yesterday! Walked over to where Anne Frank’s house is in west Amsterdam, then spent a few hours to try to find our way back. Discovered that the last hour of being lost was spent circling our hostel.

We decided to go on a tour of the Redlight District. This was a lot of fun and we got to meet some fellow Americans on the tour. The tour guide told us all about what it’s like buying a prostitute, how much it costs, etc. Really very interesting. Some funny things she pointed out: the transvestite alley (there are different sections of the district that have like specialty prostitutes) is located across from a chapel, and the Christian hostel is on the same alley. “Big mama” alley also houses a daycare. Children here are taught about sex at a very young age. Prostitutes that have children tell them when they’re little that “mom is selling kisses.” Families live in the district. It’s a very clean and safe area.

We went back to the Redlight later that night because our guide pointed out some bars to us. We had an awesome time and met people from all over. Europeans love to vacation here. We got back to the hostel really late, but we couldn’t sleep in because we have to check out this morning. We have a seven hour train ride to Berlin this afternoon, so we’ll nap then.

Some pictures from our tour:

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Sign for a condom shop. They sell novelty condoms here. And they size men for a small fee.

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novelty condoms

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Drag queens! This was on the street with lots of gay bars. They let us take a picture with them, but Montana has it.

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One of the oldest sex shops

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The Prostitute Information Center!

Amsterdam day 1

19 May

Came to the unfortunate realization last night that it takes a really, really long time for clothes to air dry. Washed our clothes on the ferry last night and they are STILL wet. It made our bags extremely heavy, and a pain to carry around during the commute from Hoek van Holland to Amsterdam. But we made it here and it’s awesome!

We walked all over central Amsterdam today. I don’t know the names of most of these buildings because we weren’t really looking for the historical stuff. Just looking around the town because it is so cool. This is so different from anywhere I’ve ever been. Amsterdam is small- we can get to all of the popular areas with just a short walk from our hostel. We found the Red Light District without trying to. Huge culture shock. In addition to the prostitutes, there are live sex shows EVERYWHERE. They just look like a cinema, but with a bouncer stationed at the entrance.

People mostly ride bikes to get around. Also, there is a extensive canal system made up of several concentric half circles through the city. Boats are going constantly.

I don’t like this hostel as much as the one in London. A lot more people stay here. We’re in a room with 20 beds. The bathroom is a bit dirty. There is no real common room like we had in London. That one was a bit more home-like. But here, it is much easier to go to and from the hostel since everything is so close. We don’t feel the need to stay here for long periods of time.

Pictures from today!

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Other people that were a part of the Buddha Ceremony

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apartments?

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We bought dessert at this place because they gave us vouchers for the champagne

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opera

We’re on a boat!

18 May

Ok you guys… this is so cool. We’re on a “ferry” right now that’s going to take us to Holland. I used quotations because I think in the US we would call this a cruise ship. Not the kind of ferry I’m used to! There are restaurants and bars, a casino, cinema, etc. We did not expect this! We have our own cabin with a private toilet and shower. We feel spoiled. Here are a couple of pictures of the cabin:

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Oh yeah, the outside of the boat

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We are so excited for this luxurious sea voyage. This was a great deal I think. Housing and transportation all in one.

We also finished up our London sight seeing earlier today. Went further west to see Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. We just missed the changing of the guard, but some guards sort of randomly marched through around the Palace at one point. Pictures below.
After we finished seeing what we wanted to, we headed to the train station to go to Harwich, where our boat is departing from. This is where Christopher Jones, partial owner of the Mayflower, grew up. It used to be a Naval base. The Mayflower set sail from here. We were mad because we got off the train at the international port, and couldn’t figure out how to get into town. Supposedly there are lighthouses that have been turned into museums. But we spent about 5 hours at the port because we couldn’t get anywhere! We passed the time by playing cards, reading, sleeping, and playing peek-a-boo with a little Dutch boy. Disappointed that we didn’t get to see the town though.

Anyway, we are enjoying having our own shower. We will do our laundry in the sink tonight since we don’t have to share it with anyone else. Enjoy the pictures!

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London Eye

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Big Ben & Parliament

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Close up of Big Ben

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Westminster Abbey

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Us & Westminster

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Not sure what these dudes were marching for! In front of the palace.

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Memorial to Princess Diana in front of the palace

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Buckingham Palace

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Close up of gorgeous palace gates

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Guard marching around in front

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Our train to Harwich took us past the olympic arena. This is the pool.

London day 2

17 May

Got a good night’s sleep last night, but exhausted once again! Last night we met a couple of older Brits that are here on business. They are staying at our hostel. One of them kindly explained cricket to us. They wanted to take us out dancing, but we couldn’t find where to go. They told us about these events they go to that start out with a dance lesson, then you dance with everyone there throughout the night. Said if anything else, we’d have a “bloody good laugh.” We’re sad that we didn’t find the place, but they may take us tonight. They left, so me and Montana went to the bar connected to our hostel and had a beer. They played lots of electronic music that I recognized, so I was happy. We were already tired, so that beer knocked us out.

After lots of sleep, we went out today and walked our legs off. Saw London Tower, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Southwark Cathedral, Monument Tower, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Shakespeare’s Globe. Pictures from the day are below. We also made our way over to Oxford Street, where there is lots of shopping. I forgot a belt, so I bought one here for pretty cheap.

Completely exhausted, we may our way back to the hostel during rush hour, which really sucked. Now we’re just relaxing in the common room. We’re waiting to see if our Romanian roommate comes back because we think he wants to hang out with us. I can’t even begin to spell his name. We acquired 4 other roommates since yesterday. Haven’t seen much of them.

Check out these pictures!

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Tower Bridge

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Tower of London

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I'm in a phone booth!

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Monument Tower. This was in remembrance of the 1966 fire that destroyed much of the city. We climbed all 311 steps and got a certificate for it!

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Proof that we went up the tower! Unfortunate fencing all around.

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Entrance to Southwark Cathedral. Inside was beautiful, but no pictures allowed. There were tombs everywhere with a statue of the person on top. There is a stain glass window in memorial of John Harvard, founder of Harvard University.

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Outside of Shakespeare's Globe

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St. Paul's Cathedral. Once again, no pictures allowed inside, but it was absolutely incredible.

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Millennium Bridge

They just told us they are too tired to go dancing :(. Oh well, we’ll find something to do! Tomorrow, we’ll go further west and see things like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

Greetings from London!

16 May

We are here and we are safe! Exhausted, but safe! We sort of slept on the flight, but we’re struggling to stay awake long enough to go to bed at a reasonable time here. We lost 5 hours I think. We were given dinner and breakfast during our flight, which was awesome. The airport was surprisingly empty, so we made it through customs in about 10 minutes. We had a small heart attack when our luggage didn’t show up on the belt, but we found them over by the info counter. Apparently they came on an earlier flight. So glad they weren’t lost!

The subway and train system are really easy to navigate. We bought a day pass for the London Underground per the suggestion of a nice lady working there. It was about a 2 hour trip from the airport to our hostel. We took the stairs instead of the escalator with our back packs on once. We realized this was a poor choice, as our legs were on fire.

The hostel worker was kind enough to let us check in a bit early. We are in a room that has 8 beds. So far, we only have one other roommate. He is a Romanian DJ. He needed a nap, so we haven’t talked much. This place is really clean and everyone has been so nice. There is a full kitchen in case we feel like getting groceries to cook. Free wifi. Very helpful staff that gave us a map and pointed out some places to visit.

We went back out and took the subway up to the Liverpool Street station. Here, we purchased a ticket for a ferry that will take us from the UK to our next stop in the Netherlands. The ticket includes train tickets from London to the port in Harwich, as well as a ticket from the Hook of Holland to any Dutch train station. We are leaving Friday night, and on the ferry we will have our own cabin with a bed for each of us and our own shower and bathroom. Excuse me, toilet. This ended up being a great deal because we are getting transportation and a room for the night all in one.

We did some casual walking around today. Picked up some cheap Indian food from a take away for lunch. Accidentally walked in the flight path of a few pigeons. Everyone thinks Montana is French for some reason and they try to speak French to her. We don’t get it.

I’ll post a couple of pictures from today. We are planning on doing a lot more sight-seeing tomorrow. We’re just too tired today. This afternoon is for laying around and planning out tomorrow.

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Tomorrow I should have more interesting pictures and things to talk about!

Because we have a 5 hour layover…and I want to make sure this works from my phone

15 May

Hi everyone! We’re sitting at JFK right now waiting for our super long flight. Got some crappy chinese food- delicious. Anyway, I thought some of you might be interested in knowing what I brought with me, especially if you might be planning on doing this in the future! Of course, I’m not sure yet if what I brought will work, but as of right now, I feel like I have everything I could possibly need. Here is my packing list:

Clothes
About 5 tee shirts and a couple of tank tops
2 nicer shirts for going out
1 dress
1 cardigan
5 pairs of underwear
2 sports bras and 1 regular bra
3 pairs of socks
1 pair of gym shorts to sleep in
1 pair of jeans
2 pairs of shorts
1 sweat shirt
1 windbreaker
My tevas (light hiking shoes)
My chacos (hiking sandals)
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of nicer sandals

Other stuff
Hanging toiletry organizer
Concealer, eye liner, shadow, mascara
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
Small bottle of sunscreen
Medium bottle of 2 in 1 (shampoo + conditioner)
Bar of soap
Small bottle of lotion
Deodorant
Lots of bobby pins and hair ties
1 pair of pearls and 1 pair of “fancy” earrings
Q-tips
Money belt to keep my passport, extra cash, ID cards, and rail pass in
Bungee cord and drain stopper to do laundry in the sink
Detergent strips
Travel sheet
Inflatable pillow
First aid kit with just basic stuff
Herbal supplements good for sleeping and also colds
A lock
Small flashlight
Microfiber towel
Water bottle
Sunglasses

I might have missed a couple of things, but you get the point. I feel fairly prepared! We’re now off to find a better wifi connection in the airport. Here’s a picture of us with our backpacks. Montana’s weighed 27 lbs, mine weighed 24 (not that it matters…but we were interested to find that out). Next post I’ll be in London!!!

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