A Travellerspoint blog

Amsterdam!

I could definitely live here :)

sunny 8 °C

I'm sorry I didn't post sooner, but Amsterdam is so amazing that I haven't really been at the hostel long enough to sit down and write a post until now!

I arrived in Amsterdam after an interesting train ride from Paris. Let's just say I missed my stop and the 4 hour journey turned into a 7 hour journey haha

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Amsterdam is beautiful, but in a very different way from Paris. All the houses are 3 stories high or more and they are so skinny! Apparently that's because they are taxes according to the width of their house. The staircases are also death traps! They are very small and steep, so much so that it is impossible to move furniture up them. To solve this, all the houses are built with a piece of wood sticking out of the roof with a hook on it. They put a rope through it and move the furniture to the upper floors using the pully and putting it through the window. Some houses are also given a tilt forward to give more space so that the furniture doesn't swing in the wind and break the windows.

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I arrived in Amsterdam around 2pm and checked into my hostel. I met a nice guy from Israel in the common room. He was going back home that evening, but he offered to go for a walk with me and get some food. We went to a pancake house where we got some Dutch pancakes. They are like a mix between American pancakes and crepes. They are a little thicker than crepes but it has a big diameter. I got mine with chocolate and ice cream. It was delicious!!

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That pretty much finished my day. By the time I got back to the hostel, I was so exhausted that I went to sleep at 9pm. I'm pretty sure that's the earliest I have gone to bed in a very very long time.

The next day (the 4th) I did the New Amsterdam Free Tour. I made the mistake of doing the New France tour on my last day and it gave me ideas of things to do when I didn't have time to do them, so I need to make sure I do it first in the rest of the cities I visit. I learned a lot about the history of the city and heard some interesting stories.

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That afternoon I just wandered around the city. It's a beautiful city with so many different alleyways and shops to see. That night I did a guided tour of the Redlight District. I learned a lot and saw a lot... after that tour I hung out at a bar with a few other people who did the tour as well.

The next day (the 5th), I walked around the city again. I've walked so much in the past 8 days, it's ridiculous! I noticed that Amsterdam has a major addiction to the store H&M. There are multiple on every major street! There are also a lot of Macdonald's. They have a lot of cheese shops in Amsterdam, and every one does samples of all the different cheeses. I ate way too much delicious cheese that afternoon...

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That afternoon I did a canal boat tour where I met a guy from New Zealand and a girl from somewhere else in the Netherlands. The canal tour was ok, it was beautiful but a little boring because they gave the same information that I had gotten in the walking tour. Later on the three of us met up with 2 people I met on the tour the day before, Steven (from Scotland), and Merryn (from Australia). The 5 of us hung out for the rest of the night.

That brings me to today (the 6th). I had a relaxing morning and then went for a walk again. It was the first sunny day since I've been in Amsterdam and it was awesome! I made my way to the Hermitage Museum, which is where the Van Gogh exhibit is while the Van Gogh Museum is being renovated. I'm not really an art person, but I have to admit that his artwork is amazing. The other part of the museum is dedicated to impressionist art, which was good.

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That's it for now! Keep an eye on facebook for pictures :)

Jess

Posted by Jess McElroy 09:34 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

New Years in Paris

A good way to end 2012 and start 2013

sunny 10 °C

Holy Crap, it's 2013!!

I hope you all had a fun New Years Eve. Mine was definitely interesting, I'll talk about that later.

Yesterday was a very fun day! I hung out with Jake (from New Zealand) and Abi (from India) for pretty much the whole day. We started off by taking the metro to the Eiffel Tower. It was absolutely amazing!! I took way too many pictures of it. I got shivers when I saw it, it's just so beautiful. That was when it really felt like I was in Paris. Around the base of the Eiffel Tower there was a Christmas market (it may be there all year, but I'm not sure). We wandered around the market and got some lunch. We didn't go up the Eiffel Tower because the lineup was way too long. I'm going to try to go tomorrow because it will no longer be the holiday so hopefully the lineups won't be too long.

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We then got on the metro again and went to see the Arc de Triomphe, which was also beautiful. It was also interesting because the roundabout that goes around the Arc is 9 lanes wide, but it has no lines separating the lanes, so everyone just kind of drives around. Apparently there is an accident there every 17 minutes. We stood there for about 10 minutes just watching as the cars race around, nearly hitting other cars as they try to exit. It's kind of ridiculous. But the Arc was really cool! We wanted to go up to the top of it, but again, the line ups were way too long.

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One of the 12 streets that come off of the roundabout around the Arc is called Avenue Champs-Elysees, which is a very long street with lots of shops and thousands of tourists. We walked down the street, watched some street performers, got some Starbucks and relaxed a bit.

Our next stop was Notre Dame Cathedral. All we really did was take some pictures of it, and again, it is beautiful, and again, the lineups to go inside were way too long.

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After Notre Dame, we decided to head back to the hostel. By this point, I was nearly falling asleep on the metro. I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before because of jet leg. So I decided to have a really long nap, otherwise I was not going to make it to midnight.

Now, for New Years Eve. This was by far the most interesting New Years Eve I've ever had. It was both amazing and horrible at the same time... It was amazing because I brought in the new year in Paris watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It was horrible because of the crowd. Trying to get to the Eiffel Tower was a nightmare. The Metro was so full, yet people kept on packing themselves in. Fights kept on breaking out on the packed trains. When we got to the stop at the Eiffel Tower, the tunnels leading from the metro to the surface was so packed that you were just pushed along by the crowd. Once we got outside it was fine, we found a spot and watched the Eiffel Tower as we brought in the new year. Then getting back was even worse! It should have only taken us 30 minutes, but it took us 2 hours! The police had closed down the station closest to the Eiffel Tower and was telling everyone to go to the next one. So we walked to the next one, which turned out to be closed as well. We then had to walk to a station on a different line, cram ourselves into the train, get off at another station, transfer to another line, get off at a station, and transfer again to another line, and then finally we were near our hostel. The trains were so crowded it was ridiculous. Also, guys in Paris are a lot more touchy than in Vancouver. I don't think I have every had my ass squeezed so many times in my life, it was disgusting. By the time we got home, it was nearly 3am, I felt gross and violated from being so close to so many people in the trains, plus I was wet because it was raining, so I went to sleep.

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Luckily I got a nice 6 hour sleep last night, and this morning I woke up today feeling good. I met another guy from New Zealand, Henry, and we went to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, which is at the top of a big hill and has amazing views of the city. We then walked around the town for a bit and saw such beautiful architecture! I love all the buildings in Paris, they are all just so amazing.

So that's all for now. I have done so much walking the past 2 days! I'm tired and need to have a nap. Tomorrow I will be going to a Chocolate Museum with an American girl named Ariel to learn about the 4000 years history of Chocolate. I then want to try to go up the Eiffel Tower, hopefully the lines won't be too long.

  • *Update**

On my late day I did the walking tour of Paris with Ariel, which as amazing! I should have done it the first day because the guide told us all this stuff that we have to do in Paris and i didn't have time!! Now I have to go back to Paris at some point haha :) On the tour we saw the outside of the louvre and learned some very interesting history about different buildings and bridges.

Ariel and I also went to the Chocolate Museum, which as awesome! I had no idea the kind of history it had! Plus, the tasters were great haha It is horrible that I was in Paris and the only museum I went to was the Chocolate Museum? In my defence, I wanted to do other museums, but because I was there over the holidays, the lineups were ridiculously long! Again, I will have to go back to Paris :D

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I'm guessing most people reading this are my friends on facebook. I have been posting pictures every day on Facebook, so go there to check them out. I'm still working on trying to upload them here, my ipad just doesn't want to do it for some reason. **I can now upload pictures, so disregard that last part.

Bye for now!

Jess

Posted by Jess McElroy 07:11 Archived in France Comments (0)

Travelling to Paris!

An exhausting, but good trip

overcast 7 °C

While the entire trip was exhausting, it was a smooth trip and I made it to the St. Christopher's Hostel in Paris Safely.

I just had probably the most comfortable plane ride ever (well, not when I count the trip from London to Uganda where I got to stretch out over 3 seats and sleep for 8 hours straight). Ok, so the second most comfortable plane ride! And considering that it was a 9 hour ride from Vancouver to London, that's saying something.

A piece of advice for everyone, if you are able to choose your seats before hand, get a seat in front of a bulkhead! There is a lot more leg room, and you can put your feet up on the bulkhead. To get really comfortable I put my backpack on the ground with my jacket on top and I rested my feet on it. I was pretty damn comfortable!

I woke up just in time to look out the window as we were going over Greenland. It was nighttime but by the light of the moon I could see the beautiful glaciers and icebergs in the water. Right as we left Vancouver was really pretty as well. The Rocky Mountains are all snow capped and by moonlight they are beautiful.

A traveling plus, the food was actually good! Thank you British Airways for not trying to poison me with disgusting food :)

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I won't actually be able to see Paris until tomorrow, when I plan on doing a walking tour around the Eiffel Tower area. But so far, I have noticed that their metros are disgusting. Maybe I'm just too used to Vancouver's clean skytrain, but so far every station is dirty and smells like pee...oh well, luckily my hostel is close to everything, so I won't have to take it too often while I'm here :)

That's it for tonight, time to socialize then get some rest.

(I have pictures to upload, but the internet is too slow right now, so I will upload them later)

Bye!

Jess

Posted by Jess McElroy 22:59 Archived in France Comments (2)

First Big Trip!!

Getting ready to go.

rain 7 °C

Hello Everyone!

Coming up at the Beginning of 2013, I will be starting my big adventure. I've been to Africa and South America before, but I have never been away from home for as long as I am about to be, 7.5 months!

The first part of my trip will be backpacking around Europe for 5.5 weeks. If you have any suggestions for things to do in the following cities, please let me know :)

Paris
Amsterdam
Berlin
Munich
Bern
Nice
Venice
Rome

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January isn't the best time to go backpacking around Europe, but I have the time now and the money, so I figured I might as well do it because I don't know when I will have the chance again. Winter is my favourite season at home in Vancouver, so I'm hoping that it will carry over to Europe too!

After my adventure in Europe, I will be going to Turkey to be a Nanny for 6 months. I'll be in Antalya, which is in the South of Turkey, right on the Mediterranean Sea! I'm so excited.

I don't leave until the end of December, but I have been preparing since the summer. All of my flights are booked, and I got my Eurorail Pass in the mail the other day! I still have some purchases to make, but otherwise I'm almost ready! As the day gets closer I get more excited, but I also get more nervous.

I want to do something like the Travelocity Gnome thing where I have a stuffed animal or something that I bring with me and take pictures with it infront of major monuments everywhere I go. I'll post those pictures as well as all my other pictures on here :) If you have any suggestions for what it should be, let me know!

I've never been good at journalling/blogging, but I am going to do my absolute best to post every week once I leave, preferably twice a week. I realize how valuable it is, especially for my family and friends. It will stop me from having to repeat the same story over and over again when I talk to individual people!

That's it for now! I need to start thinking about Christmas too!

Happy Holidays!

Jess

Posted by Jess McElroy 16:28 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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