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Amsterdam


We arrived in Amsterdam at 6pm and set off with the Tomtom app on my iPhone to find our accommodation. Up until now we have been staying in the backpackers hostels with the other Busabout folk but Sophie suggested we should stay in a different hostel this time because it looked safer. Somehow we overlooked that our new choice was planted smack in the middle of the red light district! We manoeuvred our luggage 2 kilometres through the streets dodging the 1000’s of bicycles, trams, cars and other obstacles to find ourselves in ‘ferrel’ town, surrounded with condom shops, hash bars, magic mushroom shops, strip clubs and other ‘interesting’ options for purchase. The tourists are all on a high and totally wild. At least we can outrun them in their stoned state ha ha!
When we arrived the reception is through a bar which is very LOUD and full of pot smoking, drinking and partying backpackers. The reception guy asked us if we wanted the room with the nude men or the random one. I figured he was joking but Sophie wasn’t so sure. On a good note, our beds are SOFT and comfy, we have our own bathroom and the shower is HOT and strong. Soph thought we should just lock ourselves in the room and not come out for 3 days but instead we went off and got some tea and bought some hoponhopoff bus tickets for the next day and some dinner. We found a swan making a nest our of rubbish, some very very odd people and groups of men on bucks nights. Strangely enough, we feel more safe than we did at the hostel in Paris where we were more isolated and the area was a bit ‘ghetto’ like. Sophie has the best evil stare on earth. She has frightened away many a man on our trip so far with her ‘don’t even think about it’ look. Yay for the evil stare!
We went to bed at about 9.30pm and watched a movie. Party girls! This hostel supplies you with ear plugs which dulls the noise to a medium level. The roar never stopped all night until about 8 am when we woke up to the smell of weed wafting through our window . Could that be breakfast cooking?
I’m glad Col won’t get to read this until he returns from his fishing trip and we are already safely in Belgium, as for Dad and Jason…. don’t worry, we have Sophie’s evil stare happening and mostly nobody is in any condition to bother us.

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Bruges, Belgium

Bruges
Today we arrived in Bruges which is quaint and full of chocolate, waffles and bicycles. I got an unexpected surprise when the waiter at a restaurant at lunchtime presented me with a giant beer in a test tube. Needless to say I didn’t drink it all.
We lugged our backpacks up 2 flights of stairs today so the muscles are getting a workout!
31/5/2012
Today we climbed the bell tower which was 366 steps up a narrow winding stairwell. The view was spectacular and I’m hoping it burnt up a few calories too. There are whole streets full of chocolate shops and gorgeous waffles with chocolate topping. We also went to the chocolate museum and watched them make chocolate and then on a boat cruise down all the canals. We returned to our usual 4pm onwards fit of giggles and silliness to do the. One mundane tasks of washing and organising our bags for our departure tomorrow. A bird pooped on my cardigan today and since I only bought one with me and the weather is cool here I figured the extra splodge on my shoulder was the last straw.
Our first taste of rain has just arrived so i am trapped in a small room with Sophie having a chocolate high. Argghh!

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3 days in Paris

A little drawing from my travel sketchbook Paris day one, two and three

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After the long and entertaining flight with crying babies and random meals we managed to get our shuttle bus organised and into our accommodation. The Busabout hoponhopoff bus leaves from St Christopher’s hostel so this is where we chose to stay. We have our own ‘ penthouse room’ which looks over the river and being in the 19th district means we have many a sight out of the window and 24/7 music and partying. We crashed at 6pm the first night and managed to stay up until 8.30pm the second!

Our first real day was spent getting sunburn, blisters feet and the usual jet lag but we had a fantastic day getting lost and found and discovering the Paris treasures. So far we’ve eaten hot dogs and chips which is a bit Western so hopefully we can find some French food soon!
Wifi is pretty flakey at the hostel and we are having problems with our phone sim cards so my apologies if we haven’t replied to messages.
On our second day we went to the Louvre and walked endlessly around the magnificent art and then to buy Sophie an exotic scarf from the cheapo shop because her hat flew off the bus and she was getting sunburned. Now she looks either Arabic or like an exotic French woman who ought to be sitting in an expensive convertible.

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On the way home the bus didn’t stop where expected so we took a long long walk and got lost (again) but finally arrived at our supermarket where we created chaos and ran out of there laughing. I’m glad the French are so tolerant or we would surely be sent home.
On the third day we took the metro system and eventually found the train to Versailles and our tour group. The group were a wonderful mix of Aussies, Americans and Canadians who we spent the day with buying lunch at the market and eating it in the palace gardens. It was lovely to be entertained by the fountains which only happens for 2 hours a week.
I’ve decided to redesign the house and garden based on Versailles. Anyone know where I can get 1000 litres of gold paint?
Apart from the punnet of squashed strawberries in the backpack and a bit more sunburn and blistered feet we had a surprisingly chaos free day! We had to get 4 trains to get to our accommodation so that was pretty remarkable.
I seem to have come down with a nasty head cold, the first in 5 years, but hopefully I’ll shake it off soon. Lucky I’ve got the contents of a pharmaceutical shop in my backpack!
Off to Bruges, Belgium in the morning so it’s time to do some much needed washing and repacking of the bags.

Here’s a pic of the leaning tower of Eiffel! Thanks to a random French woman who needs photography lessons;)

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