MonthJune 2011

Double Rainbow!!! What Does It Mean??!

Day 168

Back in May, one of our intern “Stammtisches” took place at a beer garden up in the mountains in Stuttgart called Karlshöhe.  At the top, I could see pretty much the entire Stuttgart city center. 

While we were up there though, it rained really hard very briefly.  Once the rain went away, a rainbow appeared.  But moments later, we saw a second rainbow!  Apparently, the second, lighter coloured rainbow, is a result of a double reflection from sunlight in raindrops.

The second one is kind of hard to see, but it’s between the left edge of the picture and the brighter rainbow.  When we saw this, someone inevitably shouted, “DOUBLE RAINBOW!! WHAT DOES IT MEAN??!”  For people who aren’t quite familiar with that, see this YouTube video.  Either way, it was pretty cool to be able to see that.  Too bad, I didn’t bring my usual camera day and had to take the photo with my phone camera.

Tokio Dining

Day 167

The day after going to Munich, some of my friends and I went to eat some traditional Japanese food.  We went to a restaurant called Tokio Dining (http://www.tokiodining.de) and at the time they had a deal (until the end of June) where the first 20 bowls of Miso Ramen served each day would be half price.  I actually went to this restaurant once before, but for some reason I never blogged about it the first time.  As I kept writing this, it sounded more and more like a restaurant review.  Either way, the food was so good the first time I went, I decided to go again.  It was the best Japanese food I’ve ever had.  And by Japanese food, I don’t mean sushi.

I’ve never had Japanese food in Japan before, but I’d say this place was the closest thing.  As we walked in, the chefs greeted us in Japanese, and if I knew how to reply in Japanese, I totally would have done that.  When we went in, we were the only people there and that usually says something about how good the restaurant is, but not for this place.

Jasmine Tea

Unlike Japanese restaurants in North America, they do not serve green tea to all their customers by default.  It might be a German thing where they like to charge for every drink – even water.  I ordered their Jasmine tea since it is one of my favourites.  They served it in a very traditional looking (at least to me) teapot with a teacup.

In addition to looking good, it also tasted good.  The tea had been steeped for the right amount of time for it to have flavour and yet not have taste that was too concentrated.

Edamame

My friend had this the first time we went and this dish was perfect for him because he is a vegetarian.  Edamame is a dish that has immature soybeans that have been boiled in water with a little bit of salt.

I tried a little bit and it was pretty good.  I can’t say that it’s super delicious or anything because I’m a huge fan of meat.  It was pretty fun trying to get the beans out of the pod though.

Takoyaki

The appetizer I had the first time I went was the Takoyaki.  It is a dish that has a ball-shaped pancake with grilled octopus meat as filling.  It is also served with Japanese mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce, katsuobushi (dried fish flakes), and green onion flakes.  The restaurant served it in a wooden boat shaped dish, which made it extra cool.

When I bit into one of the takoyaki balls, the pancake layer felt so soft and delicious.  The octopus part was even better, but I think I say that only because I’m a huge fan of octopus meat.  The sauce and the fish flakes made it even better.  As I’m writing this part, I’m craving more of it.

Ikura

Ikura is the Japanese word for roe, which are basically fish eggs.  The restaurant called it Ikura Oroshi and the word Oroshi apparently means a strong wind blowing down a slope (if I got the context correct too).  I guess it makes sense when considering how it was served.  It was served on a small mound of water chestnut with the caviar on top.  On the side of the mound, there were a few strips of sliced cucumber and I guess that would represent the wind.  I never realized how much sense the name of the dish made until I looked it up while writing this part.

The dish was really small, but that makes sense because roe is quite expensive to serve in large volumes.  When I bit into one of them, they just pop as my teeth sinks through the outer protective layer and when that happens juice comes out.  It had the coolest mouthfeel.

Miso Ramen

Our main dish was the Miso Ramen.  The noodles had a soup base made of miso (hence the name) and was served with a slice of pork.  It also had other ingredients such as bean sprouts, seaweed, half a boiled egg and corn.  All of that made the noodles so much more delicious.

The noodles were soft yet chewy in a way and that was perfect for my tastes.  Many people think that the instant ramen and this kind of ramen are similar, but their only similarity is that they’re both noodles with the same name.  They taste completely different.  Although the dish was kind of small, everything in it was so good that I ate all of it – even the soup.  While I was eating this, I faced a dilemma.  In Japan, it is customary to slurp the ramen loudly to show appreciation of the food, but in western countries nobody does that.  In the end, I just slurped it like how I normally ate noodles (something like in between the two extremes), while my friends were really careful about making any slurping noises.

Conclusion

Everything here was so good that I would want to go there to eat all the time until I get sick of it.  I never thought I’d be going out for Japanese food while in Germany, but I think this worked out really well.  On our way out, we said thank you to the chefs there in Japanese.

When I go back to Vancouver, I will try to find another restaurant that is on par with this if not better.  That shouldn’t be too hard since Vancouver does have amazing Japanese food.

Prague

Day 166

Our latest trip took us to Prague, the capital of Czech Republic.  After going there, I’d say that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The city managed to retain its wonderful architecture because the city was not heavily bombed (relative to other cities)during WWII. Otherwise, we could not see this wonderful architecture today.

Since I lost my wallet, I couldn’t use my Bahn25 for my discounted tickets anymore, so I ended up cancelling my train tickets and instead went with others who were going by car.  We met at around 7:30 in the morning and began our journey.  As usual, I slept for most of the car ride.

The Mosaic House Hotel

We first went to our hotel to meet up with the others.  When I first walked into the hotel, I was surprised at how nice everything was and we only had to pay 72 euros for 3 nights.  The lobby of the hotel was also a restaurant/pub and each night, the hotel would hold events/parties.

The hotel room even had the coolest shower.

Normally, I don’t post about showers, but this one was too nice to ignore!

Czech Crowns

Since Czech Republic didn’t adopt the Euro, we had to go to the currency exchange.  Before leaving we learned that the rate was about 1 euro for about 24 crowns.  When we got our currency exchanged, we felt so much richer because of all the extra zeroes.


The Czech bills look cool too, but maybe that’s because I’ve never seen them before.  I really hate the change though.  Apparently a 1 crown coin exists and those were really annoying to carry around.

Old Town Square

At the old town square we saw some of the most well known historic landmarks in Prague such as the Týn Church, Jan Hus Monument, St. Nicholas Church, and the Prague Astronomical Clock.  We went here on the first day as well as the second day when we went on the free walking tour.  Many of the historic landmarks survived throughout the Second World War unlike many other cities because this city did not get bombed as heavily as other cities.


The tour guide talked about the history of Czech Republic briefly and explained the significance of the buildings and interesting factoids about them.  For example, he explained the story of how Jan Hus was burned at the stake, how the astronomical clock doesn’t actually correctly predict the correct positions of the sun and moon since it assumed that the Earth was in the center of the universe, and that the designer of the clock was blinded by people who did not want him to build a similar/identical clock elsewhere (what a terrible way to be treated after such an accomplishment).  He also talked about the defenestrations that occurred in Prague prior to the Hussite and Thirty Years War.  He even told us about random facts like how pedestrian lights in Prague only stay green for 9 seconds.

Random Frisbee Game

On our way up to Prague Castle, we decided to stop for a beer nearby.  I got to try one of the Czech beers called Gambrinus, a type of Pilsner.  It tasted similar to all the other kinds of Pilsner I’ve tried.  Afterward, we came across a grass field and decided to play some Frisbee.  While passing around the Frisbee, we somehow got the Frisbee stuck in the tree and spent about 10 minutes trying to get it down. 

We even played a game of Ultimate Frisbee too. I ended up running so much, and I surprised myself as to how long I ran for. I guess going on all these trips and walking around all the time really boosted my endurance without me realizing it.

The Tears of Stalin

While walking toward the castle, we came across a giant metronome on the hill.  In front of it, a huge sign read “The Tears of Stalin” with some missing letters.   According to our tour guide, he said that the area used to be the site of the world’s largest representation of Stalin until the statue was destroyed in 1962.

The picture is crooked because I took it while crossing the street, but at the top of the hill, the words can be see (although some letters are missing).

Prague Castle

When we arrived at the entrance to Prague Castle, we saw two palace guards dressed in a really formal uniform and they behaved like the guards at Buckingham Palace.  Each one wore a blue uniform with a rifle fitted with a bayonet.

When we reached the courtyard of the castle, we came across a bunch of people coming out from the cathedral while chanting.  They even had people wearing backpacks with a giant speaker coming out of it.  I remembered that the day was Corpus Christi and that would probably explain what was going on.

Once the people passed, we saw the St. Vitus Cathedral up close.  It seemed as massive as the cathedral in Cologne.  Apparently, this cathedral here is the largest in Prague.  We didn’t get to go in though because of the Christian holiday.

Everywhere around the castle were examples of really well kept architecture from hundreds of years ago.  It was quite an amazing site to be able to see all of that.

On our way down the mountain, we took tram 22.  Before going to Prague, I had read on the travel report for the city and it explicitly stated that lots of pickpockets operate along that tram route specifically targeting tourists.  So in order to prevent myself from getting pickpocketed again, I was extremely vigilant in watching my surroundings and protecting my stuff (I think I’m quite paranoid with that now).  Nothing happened and I didn’t notice anything suspicious either.  I guess the time that we went wasn’t exactly the peak traffic time.

Church of St. James

The next day, we went on the walking tour around the city.  We began at the old town square where our tour guide explained a lot of Czech history.  He also took us a number of other locations.  The next location we went to was the Church of St. James, where someone happened to be getting married that day.  That’s a pretty cool and unique sight if you ask me.

The tour guide also went on to talk about the history of this place.  In particular he told the story about Vratislav was buried alive by accident in the church.  Story says that the man climbed out of his coffin, but could not get past the stone doors.  Some thought his screams were because his spirit could not find peace so they tried to resolve the problem using holy water.  When the tomb was opened several years later, people found his dead body outside of his coffin.

Also in the cathedral is a statue of a mummified forearm which belonged to a thief who tried to steal from a statue of Virgin Mary inside the church.  Apparently the statue grabbed his hand and refused to let go.  After the thief’s hand was cut off, it was kept at the church to serve as a warning for all thieves.

Franz Kafka

Moving on to the next destination, the tour guide showed us a statue of Franz Kafka, a famous author from Prague.  The statue represented him conquering his demons in his dreams.

Before Kafka died, he did not want his works to be published.  He requested that all his works be burned, but the friend that he entrusted this task to felt that it would be a waste to do such a thing.  After publishing his works, Kafka became very well known and is now considered to be one of the best writers of the 20th century.

The Jewish District

Our next destination was the Jewish district of the city.  This is where we got to see a lot of synagogues build hundreds of years ago.  One of the synagogues, the Spanish Synagogue, had a design unlike most synagogues.  The tour guide said that the synagogue looks more like a mosque and could be due to the fact that the synagogue was built with the help of Muslims and the mosque-like design served as a thank you to them.

The next synagogue we went to was the oldest synagogue in Europe.  Known as the “Old New Synagogue”, it doesn’t look very beautiful as far as architecture goes.  If the tour guide did not mention that it was the oldest in Europe, I would have walked past it thinking that it was just any old building.

The last synagogue we saw was known as the “High Synagogue”.  Unlike the other two, this one didn’t have as interesting of a history.

After seeing the Jewish District, the tour proceeded close to the Vltava river, the river that runs through Prague.

The Rudolfinum

Near the river, was the Rudolfinum, which is a music auditorium.  It is also the home stage of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Walking further along the river, we could see the Charles Bridge.  And further in the distance up in the mountain, we could see Prague Castle.

Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge, named after Charles IV, used to be the only bridge across the Vltava river and therefore, this bridge was used extensively as a trade route between Western and Eastern Europe.

While on the bridge, it started to rain and all the artists selling painters instantly covered up their art to protect it.  Unlike last week in Munich, I brought an umbrella.  On a different part of the hill, we could also see the tip of what looks to be a lookalike of the Eiffel Tower.  Apparently, it is an lookout tower and a transmission tower.

One the bridge, there were so many statues across its length.  One of them however, according to the tour guide, was of John of Nepomuk, who was thrown into the river hundreds of years ago.  This man is usually portrayed with a halo of five stars.

For some strange reason, the weather couldn’t really make up its mind at the time, so I got interesting pictures of the bridge with rain clouds and white clouds hovering over it.

Epic Karaoke

That night at the hotel, they had an karaoke event.  Those who were brave/drunk enough, went up on stage to sing for everyone.  When we were there, it was quite rowdy, and our group had quite a bit to drink too.  Some of my friends went up to sing “Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams.  They were like the Backstreet Bro(y)s.

While they were up there singing, the audience was really into it too.  People were dancing too.  I guess that’s a good thing.  Just for kicks, I took my friends lighter and started waving it back and forth like at a real concert.  Later on, with some “encouragement” from my friends (probably peer pressure), I went up with them too.  Never went up on a stage like that before, but I guess it worked out.  Afterward, the others went to the largest club in Prague.  Apparently it has six floors.  I didn’t go though, because I really hate clubbing.

International Music Festival

While in Prague, the International Music Festival happened to be on and so we went there to check it out.  I wasn’t that excited for this, since I’m not exactly a fan of any of the music they played there.  What was cool was that the event people shipped a truck full of beer and hooked it up to all the beer taps.  It’s like a dump truck (but with a smaller container that didn’t spin) carrying beer being transported over water.

When we left the festival, we came across the weirdest demonstration of modern art.  Just looking at it confused the hell out of me.  It just made no sense.

Modern Art

There was an modern art exhibit that people could walk through.  We didn’t go in it, but as we walked past the exit, we looked inside and saw some pretty strange stuff.  There was a couple standing in a room with glass windows on all sides and all they did was hug each other.  They stayed in the same hugging position and didn’t move.  Another exhibit had a tent with white cloth draped all over it with someone inside dressed in a similar way (I didn’t notice at first until he/she started moving) and all he/she did was move around randomly inside.  It made no sense.

There was also this thing called a “Sleeping Box”.  I guess it works really well for people who want to block the sunlight while sleeping outside.  Or maybe it was part of the modern art thing.  I don’t know.  The weirdest part about it were people randomly walking around holding a copy of “The Great Gatsby” that had an iTouch/iPhone taped on one of the pages and walked around reciting lines from a play.  It just didn’t make any sense.

The National Museum

Since the modern art exhibit was close to the box office for tickets to the opera, we decided to see if there were any tickets available for that.  Unfortunately, all their tickets had sold out.  Instead, what we did was go to the National Museum to see a mini classical music concert.


The concert played music from famous composers such as Vivaldi, Bach and Mozart.  When I heard the sound of the violins playing, it sounded so nice as I heard the instruments themselves as well as the echo.  I really admired the skill that these people had in music.

Food

In addition to just visiting landmarks around the city, we also tried some of their cuisine.  For food, I got to try their pork knuckle and their goulash.  They also served more mainstream things like perogies and burgers.  The perogies and burgers don’t sound very Czech (maybe not the pork knuckle either), but it was still very delicious.


The menu said that the pork knuckle was only 250 grams, but when they served it to me it seemed more like a kilo of just pork.  Somehow, I ate all of it (except for the really fatty part).

We also went to another restaurant called the “Iron Curtain”.  It was set up using the most stereotypical communist way.  It was underground and in every hallway was some paraphernalia from the communist times.  They were items like propaganda posters, or really old motorbikes.  They even had busts of Stalin and Lenin.  The front cover of the menu even said we’d have a “propaganda experience” and indeed we did.  The item with the best name on the menu had to be the CCCP Burger, where CCCP stood for the “Classic Capitalist Cheeseburger Plate”.  Oh the irony.


The “Iron Curtain” had the best restaurant atmosphere I’ve ever seen.  We left them a generous tip and the waitress was very happy about that.

Drinks

Many know that Pilsner beer comes from the Czech Republic, so everywhere in Prague, people drank Pilsner.  They had lot of brands, but the two most common ones were Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell.  Apparently, the original Budweiser, came from Czech Republic and not from America.

We also tried another drink called Absinthe.  It is highly alcoholic (45 – 74% ABV).  According to Wiki, it says “Absinthe has been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug” and so, many countries banned it (Canada included).  However, it isn’t proven that the drink is any more dangerous than other types of liquor.

We prepared it by lighting a mixture of sugar and absinthe on fire and then dunking that mixture in a glass of water.  By lighting the mixture on fire, the sugar would caramelize and the absinthe would lose some of its alcohol content.  Apparently, that is one of the mainstream preparation methods for the drink.

We drank it and depending on the concentration of sugar, the drink would either be too bitter or too sweet. I didn’t like it very much. We even tried it without the sugar. We just lit the absinthe on fire and had a flaming shot. That drink just burned as it went down. Someone mentioned that it was kind of like Bacardi 151.

Going Home

On the morning of the fourth day, we went back to Stuttgart.  On the whole, the trip wasn’t very expensive.  It only cost me about 200 euros with transportation and accommodations included.  We even ate out at a restaurant every night.  If I had a wallet at the time, it wouldn’t have hurt at all.

Munich II

Day 165

Last Saturday, our original plan was to go to Neuschwanstein Castle, but while we were on our way there, it started raining really hard.  After seeing the rain go on for more than two hours non-stop, we wondered what the weather would have been like in Schwangau (where the castle is).  We figured it would be raining at the castle too and it wouldn’t be fun in the rain, we chose to go to Munich instead.  I’ve already been to Munich before, but I think we decided to go there for the Hofbräuhaus because we were all hungry at the time (I hate it when my stomach does the talking).  Since Neuschwanstein and Munich are somewhat close (~ 130 km), it was easy to change to a different train to Munich.

This time, I had the chance to try the Bavarian Weisswurst (white sausage).  According to Wiki, it is a “traditional Bavarian sausage made from very finely minced veal and fresh pork bacon.”  It was served in a pot of hot water and a special sauce with a sweet flavour.  Even though it is a breakfast food, we managed to get it in the afternoon (I guess their supply hadn’t run out for the day yet). 

It looks kind of disgusting in the picture but it tasted so good.  I also ate this dish that had roasted suckling pig.  It tasted like Chinese 燒肉.  It even had the same crusty skin on the surface.

After we ate, we walked around Munich in the rain (that part sucked a lot because I had no umbrella) a bit to see some of the attractions.  I didn’t really take a lot of pictures of these because I saw them the first time around.

For some reason, we also went to look for poker chips.  Apparently my friends couldn’t find them in Stuttgart.  We walked around the toy section of the Galleria Kaufhof and actually found some.  At the same time, I saw also saw some cool toys (almost like being a kid again).

Afterward, we walked around the city some more and stumbled on a statue that got turned into a giant Michael Jackson tribute.

I still have no idea why that’s there, but I guess that’s for a good cause.  We then proceeded to the train station to go home.

On the way home, we passed the time by playing Poker using the newly purchased poker set.  We even played Asshole (a weird variant of Big 2).  But then, in our card playing, we failed to pay attention to the fact that our train had stopped and just idled in Treuchtlingen, which wasn’t the end stop.  Everyone else had already left the train.  We were sure that we boarded the right train, but I still have no idea why our train didn’t go to the stop that we needed (it was the end stop).  We think that the train may have split and we got stuck in the half that stayed behind.

When we realized this, I asked the one of the DB employees (in German ^_^) how to get to Stuttgart and he told me.  While we were stranded in Treuchtlingen, we killed time at a nearby park until our train came.  Luckily one of our friends brought a Frisbee so we threw that around for about an hour.  When we headed back to the station for our train, we found that the doors to the station were locked.  With one minute to go to find a way into the station and to the platform we needed, we sprinted to the next entrance and onto our train.  We made it with just a few seconds to go.  I would not have liked to stay a night here.

We were supposed to return to Stuttgart at around 7:30, but that delayed us and we ended up getting back at around 11:30.

Amsterdam

Day 161

After my unfortunate disaster in Brussels, my friend and I took the first train out of the city.  When we arrived in Amsterdam, I immediately felt a huge tourist vibe in the city.  Unlike Brussels, the tourist population here was much larger.  It also felt safer.  By the way this post might have some “mature themes” because of the Red Light District stuff.

Coffee Shops and Other Strange Places

During our walk to the hostel from the train station, we began see some pretty strange yet touristy places.  For example, along the way, there was a Vodka Museum and a Torture Museum (they’d actually present different pre-modern torture devices), and of course a lot of “coffee shops”.  For those who don’t know what a coffee shop in Amsterdam is, it is where people go to legally smoke weed.  A place for people to drink coffee is simply called a cafe.  Many people go to Amsterdam for that reason, but not me though.

It wasn’t just the Vodka Museum that was weird, they even had stores selling cannabis seeds, which I guess is okay because weed is legal, but coming from a place where it isn’t, it definitely struck me as weird.  To take that even further, there is even a Cannabis Museum.

After walking through the town square for a little bit, we arrived at Dam Square, the historic center of Amsterdam.

Dam Square

As the historic center, this area has a lot of notable buildings such as the Royal Palace, New Church, National Monument, and Madame Tussaud’s Museum.


This is where I noticed the ridiculous amount of bicycles.  In fact, I saw more people riding bicycles than people driving cars.  When I crossed the street, I looked for bikers and not drivers.  Making our way further into the city, we began to see the large network of canals.

The Canals

Another thing that Amsterdam is famous for is its canals.  Built in the early 17th century, city planners had the idea of constructing this network for the purposes of defense and water management.  Today, people dub it as “The Venice of the North” and it is quite a cultural landmark.

The canal receives its water from the Amstel River (there is a beer named after it).  According to Wikipedia, because of the canals, there are about 90 islands and 1500 bridges.

Nieuwmarkt

While walking to the hostel, we reached the New Market, which is another city square.  In the center there is a city gate that has been long converted into a cafe/restaurant.

Turns out our hostel was less than 100 meters from here.  We went there and dropped off our stuff before we continued exploring.

The Christian Hostel

Before we left, Germany, my friend booked a place for us at this Christian hostel.  I’m not even Christian, but that didn’t matter.  It had a lot of rules like no smoking, no alcohol, no weed, etc, which was okay.  The ironic thing was that when I walked into my room (this was at around 2 PM in the afternoon), I saw a few people passed out on their beds.  I thought to myself, “they probably just drank too much beer or smoked too much weed.”  The hostel didn’t really care, so long as they didn’t bring that stuff in.  They even had a “bible study”.  I really wonder who would go to that.

Chinatown

Next to the New Market Square was Amsterdam’s Chinatown.  My first impression of this place was that the Chinese stuff here was really traditional unlike the multitude of westernized Chinese food places I always see in Germany (not a big fan of chicken chow mein or kung pao chicken).  This place even had a temple with Buddha and various people from Chinese folk religions like Guan Yu.  The butcher’s shop even sold entire slabs of an entire pig (like the ones that some Chinese people use for celebrations).

After walking through Chinatown, we proceeded to our next destination: the infamous Red Light District.

The Red Light District

Before going to Amsterdam, I already knew that the Netherlands legalized weed and prostitution and so I figured that these things would be really prevalent in the city.  Indeed they were.  Walking down the street, I could smell the odour of weed coming out of every coffee shop.  On top of that, if the business I walked by wasn’t a coffee shop, it’d be a sex shop. 

There even some businesses geared towards gay people.  They proudly waved a rainbow flag outside their establishment.  The Dutch are clearly really open about these things.

At first I walked by a lot of brothels without really knowing that I did (I had no idea what they looked like).  It was only when I noticed that some buildings had a row of windows with curtains over them.  In one of the windows, a woman wearing lingerie displayed herself for potential customers.  I noticed that the building didn’t have a banner or any label.  I guess people see that and just know (notice the guy who appears to be in deep contemplation in the picture).

They even had a condom shop that sold condoms with different shapes (they even had a Statue of Liberty condom).

This city has such a strange blend of an old European vibe mixed with the vices of modern people.  It is kind of interesting yet sad to see people indulging in such things.

The XXX Flag

In a lot of places, we kept seeing a flag with a giant “XXX” printed on it and at first, my friend and I thought it just meant what everyone knows it as.  Then we started seeing this on the side of old churches and even on police badges.  We wondered what its actual meaning was.  Apparently, that’s the flag of Amsterdam.  What a crazy coincidence.

Another thing really common in the city is the crazy amount of churches.  I didn’t really count how many I saw, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw at least five or six of them.

Lots and Lots of Churches

There isn’t really anything to explain here.


There are more, but I didn’t bother posting them.

Anne Frank House

While randomly walking, we stumbled on the Anne Frank House, the building that her family lived in during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.  For those who don’t know who Anne Frank is, she was a victim of The Holocaust who wrote a diary, now published into a booked called “The Diary of a Young Girl”, documenting her life between 1942 and 1944.  The building has now since become a museum for people to visit.  Inside the museum, people could see the conditions that she lived in and some of her personal paraphernalia.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t go in to see the museum for my self since my wallet got stolen (damn bastards!).

After walking for almost the entire day (I reckon we walked about 30 kilometers that day), we went to go buy food.  We would have been hungry a lot earlier if we didn’t stuff our faces at the breakfast buffet at our hotel back in Brussels.  Knowing that the Netherlands was famous for its fries, that’s what we got.

Dutch Fries

The most unique thing about their fries is that they do not serve it with ketchup.  The main sauce they use is mayonnaise.  When I first heard about that, I thought it was the weirdest thing.  I had never thought of combining those two things together.  After trying it, I can say that I’m never having fries with ketchup ever again.

Another cool thing about their fries is that they serve it in a nice conic container with a wooden fork-like utensil.

Other Dutch Delicacies

Although not as significant of a consumer of cheese as Germany and France, Amsterdam still has shops dedicated completely to cheese.  Now I don’t know much about cheese, but the cheese in the store looks so delicious (I like the colour too).

Another thing that the Dutch are famous for is their beer.  Everybody knows Heineken in North America (probably), but it’s really expensive there.  Here, it’s like a staple, so I had to try it.  We sat at a table overlooking the canals and enjoyed the view while we drank our beer.

Afterward, we made our way to Museumplein, also known as Museum Square.

Museumplein

We went here that night and also the next morning.  This area houses four museums: the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Diamond Museum.  In addition, there is also a concert hall and a giant sign for the city.


In addition to going to Museumplein that morning, we went to the flower market first.  I was told that the Netherlands were also famous for its tulips.

The Flower Market

As I expected, there were indeed many varieties of flowers.  They even sold little ceramic “shoes” (basically a shoe shaped container) that people can use to grow their flowers in.  I also can’t really say I was surprised when I saw cannabis seeds there too.

After checking out this place, we went to a nearby park called Vondelpark.

Vondelpark

This place was basically a place for people to just relax or exercise and wasn’t really a touristy place.  Either way, for people that enjoy seeing nature (I’m not exactly a HUGE fan myself), this is a good place to go.

After going here, we went to Museumplein to see the place during the day.  After chilling out there for a little bit, we went back to the town center for some food before our train back.  We left in the early afternoon and by the time we went back to Stuttgart, there was time for a beer before going home.  Throughout the whole trip (Brussels and Amsterdam), I only spent around 80 euros with accommodations included, but not train tickets.  I ended up borrowing that money from my friend and we both had just enough.

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