waffles

waffles

our beautiful waffles in brugge

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Why you should go the places I went last weekend:

Okay, well I was mostly obsessed with Amsterdam but I will throw a few things on this list that advocate for the rest of Holland as well because it was all awesome.

1) In Holland there are wind turbines everywhere. Last I checked the Dutch were trying to meet the EU-set standard of using wind power for 9% of their total electricity from renewable sources and I can dig it. Driving down the highway there were turbines every few hundred feet it seemed and all open spaces surrounding them. It was such a nice bus ride that I barely even noticed the hours passing by (and it was like…a 12 hour journey between the bus and the ferry and back to the bus) so even though we were traveling all day it didn’t feel like the day was wasted at all.

2) Weed is legal in Amsterdam. Come on, guys. Even if you don’t smoke weed that’s a pretty intriguing thing! My friends and I sat in the coffee shop (that’s what they call the places that sell weed/weed products) where we bought our space cakes and ate them. Unlike America, Amsterdam chooses not to hide things, like drugs, that many people partake in. Amsterdam embraces, it seems, all things as long as they are not harmful to the individual or others.

3) Prostitution is legal and considered a career. Like drugs, sex is not hidden in Amsterdam. In fact it is right up in your face if you want it to be. Walking through the Red Light District means walking through streets of girls in lingerie behind a single pane of glass. If the curtain is closed that means they have…ahem, business, and if the curtain is open that means anyone is free to approach them. I loved how free everything was there, even though I personally am not interested in being a prostitute, for those women who are all the more power to them. They have to pay taxes on their earnings and all the women that are doing it are doing it because they want to. It was really cool to be in a place where no one was looked down upon for doing what they were good at or what they enjoyed. Quite an eye opening and grounding experience.

4) THE BIKES. Everyone rides their bike everywhere. There are entire parking lots just for bikes and they are always filled whether it’s raining, hailing or sunny (which it was all three each day we were there) and it’s so wonderful. I saw a father with his three children on one bike, couples riding tandems, one friend giving another friend a lift on his bike and so on. It is definitely the preferred form of travel around Amsterdam which in turn makes the city the quietest I’ve ever been in. Of course there are cars and cabs as well but much less than all other cities I’ve been to. I loved how quiet it was and how clean the air felt. Not to mention how in shape everyone is there (and everywhere else in Europe)! It’s incredible how different Amsterdam feels from the rest of the world.

5) There are bridges and water everywhere. Our tour guide told us there were around 1500 bridges in Amsterdam and as soon as I got home to London I looked it up and he was right– there are 1,281 bridges in the city of Amsterdam. When walking around you are constantly crossing bridges over canals which makes for some pretty beautiful views! The bridges are all beautiful and many of them have stories to go along with them, as well as all of the architecture in the city.

6) The Anne Frank House. This was a pretty emotional part of the trip but probably my favorite part. It was crazy to be in the actual Annex and we were all surprised by how big it was! I was imagining a tiny little space where the people were squished and uncomfortable all the time but it was actually quite spacious and it’s amazing they remained hidden for so long. All of Anne’s original room decorations were still on the walls of her bedroom and some of the pages of her diary were on display and just seeing the famous “Dear Kitty,” at the top of each page was enough to give me shivers.

7) The Van Gogh Museum! Although it was moved from its original location during the time that we were there (which we didn’t discover until we got to the original location and had about twenty minutes to traipse to its temporary location) the exhibit was still really wonderful. We didn’t get to spend much time there because we had an appointment at the Anne Frank House but we walked through the entire thing and tried to soak as much of the genius in as possible.

8) Brugge, Belgium was a great place to spend a few hours. It’s a medieval city with fantastic cobblestone streets and crazy old architecture. The waffle I got there was insane. I never thought I would enjoy something that wasn’t potatoes so much but I was damn wrong. Amazing.

Also they drive on the right side of the road 🙂

This week in London I’m catching up on some homework and relaxing a bit. Tonight I am gong on a tour of musical London and then to see a Josephine concert at Bush Hall for my music class! And this weekend I am going on a day trip to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon. Life is prettayyyy pretttayyy prettay good.

mrahhhhhhh

All right, so I already wrote an entire post about the things I am going to write about in this post this morning and for some reason it isn’t showing up so I am going to write it again because I am trying to be a faithful blogger for all three of you peeps that probably read this.

Last weekend I went on a boat cruise up and down the Thames all night with a bunch of people in the program here at Regent’s and it was awesome. I feel like I’ve already written about this for some reason….and also it feels like a million years ago even though it was about a week ago.

Last week was the first week of classes and so far I’m digging them all! I’m in Literary Landscapes, Intro to Mass Communications in Media, Human Rights in Business, Health Psychology and Contemporary Music in  London. My favorite is easily the music one. Basically the course is designed around analyzing the changes in music and music culture in London from the 60s until the present. The other day in class we watched the video for “I Am the Walrus” and analyzed the drug and political references. Yup. This is actually my life.

Last Thursday night a bunch of us went to this “posh” club called Boujis. I don’t even know if we have places like this in the states, but if we do I’m sure I will never set foot inside one of them. I heard from someone that Tom Cruise threw his son’s birthday party there the night before we were there. You may be wondering how I, little hippie Mary Chamard, was able to find my way into a place like this. Well, one of the RAs in my building is a club promoter and was able to get us in for free (normal cover fee is something like 20 pounds, or around 40 dollars) and we had a table with complimentary Grey Goose all night. The entire place was lit with red lights and pulsing strobes. We were surrounded by corporate men in suits and women in furs. A man got kicked out for being too drunk and the bouncers had to carry him up the stairs and at one point he was completely upside down trying to escape their hold. The entire night was crazy, and needless to say, we took a bit of a break for the rest of the weekend.

On Saturday Em, Cal and I went to the Camden Markets and it was the best day I’ve had so far. I was in love with this place. Haggling and bargaining with the shop owners was fun and seemed like a game for them, it felt positive and not at all like arguing. I bought an angora sweater with colorful buildings on it, a hemp maxi skirt and shirt and a clock made out of an old Johnny Cash record. A friend described these purchases as “basically items made specifically for Mary Chamard.” It was a great day with great girls. That night we went to a local pub called The Volunteer that I may or may not have written about before, but it’s where we get one of our favorite drinks, Frulis! Frulis is strawberry beer; yes, that exists and yes, it is as wonderful as it sounds.

Yesterday (Sunday) we planned a bunch of our trips! It took us about five hours and a lot of stress and stir-craziness but we have the travel all set for three trips. We are going to Amsterdam this weekend! I am so PUMPED, Amsterdam is the one place that I knew had to go before I left Europe this semester and it’s going to be my first trip! For Spring Break, Em, Cal, Travis and I are spending the first weekend in Paris and then flying to Italy and hopefully seeing all of our friends that we have in different places there. And then a weekend in mid-April will be spent in Croatia 🙂 I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve been running around Regent’s Park as often as I can and it’s gorgeous. I feel so fortunate to be in the middle of a bustling city yet still be in this peaceful park while I’m in school. I know all of my posts seem super cheesy but I really do feel so lucky and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you don’t realize how true that is until you experience it for yourself.