Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 8, 2010

More Paris, Bruges and Amsterdam

I’m in Amsterdam at the moment, after joining the intrepid tour I’m on. It’s me, 10 other Aussies and a New Zealander so I can see that my accent will be nice and strong again once I finish, and I’ll be swearing with the best of them. Already I’m known in the group as the person who knows everything, which I guess is better than being known as the snorer! Although it does seem that the things I know include snaffling spreads when they have them in individual packets at breakfast (not stealing, especially if the showers are dodgy – then it’s compensation) and opening hours for different things.
Anyway, I’d better bring you up to date with what I’ve done since my last update, rather than just skipping ahead to Amsterdam.
So the day after I updated you all from Paris I went with some other backpackers to what was apparently the best bakery in Paris, where we got some steaming hot bread (got up early!), after we eventually found the bakery. Then it was onto the Louvre, which bizarrely (after having been there twice) I couldn’t find. Eventually I did find it, and a tip for all of you going to Paris, use the Porte des Lions, which means you get to avoid all the queues! However, no matter which gate you use, you will still have to battle the crowds to see the Mona Lisa, which is kind of hard to appreciate when you’re being crushed from all sides. However, there are lots of other gorgeous paintings and sculptures to see. After the Louvre I went to the Musee de la Cinematique, which was also really interesting. Something very glamorous about the early days of film!
That night I met up with everyone else from my tour and due to some kind of clerical error got a room to myself. Bonus!
The next day I caught a boat along the Seine, then we went to the Saint-Ouen flea market. The stuff ranged from rubbish to 600 euro vintage dresses. I came out with a jacket (not vintage) because once again I was cold. Then I went to Montmartre where I got some yummy crepes with chocolate sauce and banana. Unfortunately I made a mess of it on my face while I was standing in front of the Moulin Rouge, so there are probably some other tourists with some interesting photos of me. It then bucketed down so I hid in the train station for a while, then met up with another backpacker and we had some hot chocolates and once it cleared up had a walk around Montmartre which is a gorgeous area. We saw Sacre Coeur, as well as the vineyard and lots of old buildings and cobblestone streets. With Paris’ changing weather it did hail at one point but it was pretty short lived and we managed to find some shelter really quickly. I think I need to watch Amelie again now though!
The next day it was on to Bruges which was just a gorgeous place. Lots and lots of delicious chocolate and such gorgeous buildings, streets and canals. We did go to a bar which served over 300 different beers, but I’ll disappoint you all and admit I just had a coke.
The next day we started off going to the Chocolate Museum and then I climed 366 steps to the top of the Belfort. Unfortunately it was being renovated so only got half the view. I think there should have been a discounted ticket price for that! However, I was less shaky after tackling those stairs so I must be getting desensitised!  The rest of the day I spent wandering round the town. Bruges is a wonderful city to just get lost in. They’ve got lovely canals and some windmills and the weather was nice so I sat in the sun and read my book for a while. Oh yeah, I might have bought another two books as well. So much for travelling light. I also managed to eat enough chocolate products to make me feel ill, luckily I’ve recovered now and don’t seem to have any aversion to chocolate.
So, we’re up to Wednesday now. On our way out of Bruges we stopped at the Wednesday market and all stocked up on breads, cheeses and maybe a chocolate/custard pastry. Then it was onto Amsterdam. After a couple of train rides we arrived in the afternoon on a gorgeous day. We then had a wander around; going to the floating flower markets, around some of the museums and to one of the parks. It’s amazing how narrow some of the houses are, and how they overhang the streets in order to pay the least taxes! Then it was back to our hotel which is in the red light district. Some of the stuff in the shops round here is very strange. Avoided any of the drugs, because I’m bad enough  with caffeine and sugar, and plus, my mum reads these emails!
Today I went to Anne Frank’s house this morning, which was really interesting. I’m glad I got a chance to read the book before I came. Amazing that eight people lived in that small area for over two years. After that I had more of a wander and then hopped on a boat that went around the canals. Got chatting to an American family and impressed them with my knowledge of narrow houses and people pushing smart cars into the canals here. On my way back I visted Oede Kerk, this old church with all houses built around its walls.
Next stop is Berlin!

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