Sunday, September 16, 2012

jump a train and see the world

7-9 september
a perfect weekend.
getting to see more of this beautiful country and enjoying the company of good friends.
there were no orientation obligations on friday so a few of us thought why not go to Utreight?
however when we all arrived at the train station we noticed it would cost twice as much and take twice as long to go to Utreight versus going to say Gouda.
so in the interest of time and our wallets we hopped on the train to Gouda!
too be honest i think that's the farthest we thought ahead. i sure didn't think about where things were or what we would do!
so excited to go to Gouda! 

once we arrived i wanted to be sure to get a photo that said we were in Gouda. so we made everyone smile and get a cheesy picture in Gouda. ha. ha. the lame puns continued all day long {which i of course had nothing to do with}.

after posing we found a map pointing us in the direction of the city centre which had to have something good so we headed off in that direction!
it wasn't hard to find by just following the beautiful wide canals until reaching the quiet but bustling streets that comprised the city centre. there were the typical shopping stores but we also found a cute cheese shop with many different kinds of cheese for sampling such as pesto, italian herb, wasbi, old, young, and many more! we were just starting the day so we didn't want to fill up on cheese just yet but promised to be back later that day. just a little further was the big square with the church in the center.

 surrounding the edges of the square were lots of different restaurants and the building where the cheeses used to be brought to be weighed.

it has since been turned into a cheese museum and tourist information center so we ambled in to check it out. there was a set up showing how the cheese was weighed that one of the people working corralled us onto to take a group photo.

they had lots of good information and even more cheese to sample! we were all feeling a little hungry for some more variety so they pointed us to a great coffee place and said any of the places around would have good food. so we walked a little further and picked a place that looked relatively inexpensive. we sat down and all decided to order toasties. instead of calling them grilled cheese they are toasties! so much cuter.

after our late lunch we continued to walk through the streets unsure of what we may find. we stumbled upon serene streets with museums and works of art. we found another church surrounded by houses with cute balconies. along another street bordered by water we found another museum and a library with the yummiest looking bakery attached.
cute little balconies. that is half the face of one of my good friends here. you may call him Daddy Long Legs or DLL for short.  
little patio on the water

little bakery next to the library 
after this little stop we made our way back into the square and stopped by a little sweet shop to get a late afternoon treat.

afterwards we stopped by the Koffee Factory to enjoy some coffee and play a game of Jenga. i didn't play or it would have only lasted one round!

it was nearing time for shops to close and we wanted to pick up food to have a picnic for dinner so we made our way back to the cheese shop and picked up a sample pack with different styles of cheese then stopped by the grocery store for bread, honey mustard, drinks, and dessert. on the map we had seen a large windmill next to a park so we thought we would go there for dinner! after making our way through town to the windmill we discovered there was some sort of food conference going on - unfortunately they weren't open to the public so we continued walking back in the direction of the train station.
the windmill we found
saving the falling buildings - basically superheros 
beautiful wide canals
gazing thoughtfully 
the park 
our dinner!
there was another park that looked really close to the station and turned out to be pretty easy to find. we picked a spot and unpacked dinner! it was absolutely delicious and made even better by the time spent talking and laughing with these lovely people. we talked until it started to get dark and then we all headed home but didn't want the night to be over yet so we made our way to a friends apartment. we made it through the first half of Bridesmaids before no one could keep their eyes open anymore and went home to rest before the next trip tomorrow!

the next morning we assembled again, only this time to hop over to Amsterdam!
once again we didn't really have a plan but rather just wanted to roam around and see what we could find. {side note i had forgotten to charge my camera so i don't have many pictures - just ones i hijacked from other people!}
immediately after walking out of the station you see a sea of bikes! it's pretty cool to see just hundreds and hundreds of bikes parked in an area.

from there we walked through the streets stopping to enjoy lunch at a little cafe. we found an older area with a large church and an open area with lots of pigeons. we walked into the middle of them and they hardly moved! then as we were talking an older Indonesian man catches my eye and motions for me to hold out my hands. when i did he poured some white rice into them and had me hold my arms out and did the pigeons come! he gave each of us some rice for the pigeons and then kept moving to other people. it was such a Mary Poppins feeling to be feeding the birds! after i had no rice left i went to thank him. turns out he has been doing this for about 30 years when ever the weather is warm enough. just goes out with his boxes of rice and lets people feed the birds. so sweet.
our little group 
feed the birds
after that we kept walking through the streets just checking out what was around. we made our way by some museums but didn't stop. we walked along the canal and through pretty little streets.

not a care in the world and good friends around. we came across an open air market that we took the time to go through. it was full of funky clothes and old cameras - and plenty of rad sunglasses.

after the exploration we decided to stop by the grocery store to pick up some food for a cobbled together late lunch/early dinner. we wanted to find a good park to sit in but when that wasn't working we picked a good spot on the canal and plunked down. we were all enjoying sharing food and sitting by the water when a boat came pulling up right in front of us.

they were simply making a stop but then invited us on for the ride! alright! so we climbed aboard and spent the next couple hours getting to know all sorts of new people and seeing Amsterdam from the water. it was a completely unexpected and delightful trip. we hopped off when we came back by the station but we weren't done yet! the sun was just setting and we kept walking to a different area to check out what else was in this large city. we just had fun walking around and talking.

we even walked through the red light district which was packed! we didn't stay long at all and decided we had been there long enough and hopped on a train to head home.

it was a fun day and a cool city explored with great friends and pleasant surprises!

finally to round out the weekend - sunday.
the last day before classes turned out to be a perfect summer day! and what better way is there to spend a summer day than at the beach?
there was a big get together of international students going to the beach so a couple of my friends and i hopped on the tram and headed out to Scheveningen! i wasn't feeling 100% so when we got out there i went to find some cool air and water before heading out to enjoy the sun and surf with our huge group of friends! it was a wonderfully chill afternoon of sun and water.

but there were plans for the evening! after our lovely afternoon a big group of us walked to one of our friends apartments near the beach to chill for the evening. it was a night of good music and lots of fun chatting.

unfortunately all good things must come to an end and we had to head home to rest before our first classes here in Holland! 

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