Greetings from my hostel in Amsterdam! I am currently sitting in my bed (top bunk hell yea) listening to the rain on the window, writing this post while also conversing with my new Australian friend/roommate who is teaching me about Aussie Rules Football (I had no idea this existed). I've spent the first two days of my trip in Belgium visiting Brussels and Brugge and today was spent on the train coming up to the Netherlands for a few days in Amsterdam.
The first three days have been a whirlwind. My thoughts and emotions have been all over the place and I'm struggling to make concise sense of all the different feelings. But first, a recap:
Total Days Spent: 2.5
Cities Seen: Brussels, Brugge
Top Sites: The Grand Place, Royal Palace, Town Hall, Delirium Bar, Historic Center of Brugge, The Belfry, The Market, All the Canals
New Friends Made: 4 (special shout out to Lauren and Chris from PHILLY! - small world)
New Beers Drank: 6
Favorite Part: All the cobblestone side streets, tiny alley ways, and places to lose yourself amongst century old architecture
Things I've learned or observed:
- I am smarter than I think and more able than I give myself credit for - I haven't traveled to a foreign city in Europe in a while, and the last 2 times were back to London where I was already very familiar. I was nervous to navigate a city where I didn't understand the language (Belgium is a combination of Dutch, French, German and English btw) and had 0 clue where I was going. But, I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I picked up on the system, how easily I navigated, and how good my sense of direction actually was. When you walk the same city for years it's easy to forget how capable you actually are.
- I'm actually very social - This probably doesn't sound surprising to some, but when I'm at home I sometimes take a back seat to making the effort to meet new people. My ex was always the one to initiate conversations and make new friends in random places. I was perfectly content just staying quiet and minding my own business. So, I was a bit nervous on how social or anti-social I was going to be on this trip. Turns out, I have nothing to worry about. Maybe it's because I'm on my own, or maybe it's because I know I have nothing to lose since I'm on another continent, but for right now I'm liking being social and friendly and meeting new people.
- Things have changed...a lot - When I studied abroad in London you had to go to an internet cafe to get internet to communicate back home. Hostels were sketchy and grimy and there was no GPS or google maps to help you figure out which direction to walk. On this trip so far I have used my phone for everything from getting myself unlost walking to my hostel, to taking pictures, snapchats and instagram posts, to logging the different beers I've tried, to looking up facts about [insert topic] to continue a conversation with a new friend. My phone has everything I need to survive. And...I'm not sure how I feel about that. I feel like I'm cheating the system, or I'm getting off easy. People who backpacked through Europe 10 years ago had it so much rougher than what I do now. They had to be a bit more resilient, deal with rougher accommodations and rely on themselves for everything. Me? I rely on my phone. I almost feel like part of the challenge has been taken away and I'm not really liking that I get an easier ride.
Ok. I'm exhausted. I will attempt to upload pictures either here or Facebook in the next day or so. Please continue to follow along, subscribe and stay in touch!