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Brussels & The Netherlands

NETHERLANDS | Tuesday, 3 November 2015 | Views [333]

Cold weather was waiting for us when we arrived. It was a bit of a shock going from comfortably warm 65° Bologna to a chilly 35-40° Brussels, but after living in Boone for so long it was almost like going home. We were missing the mountains, but gray skies and incessant misty/drizzly weather had us feeling pretty nostalgic. Luckily our travels were accompanied by good foods, including croquettes, bitterballen, Belgian waffles, and STROOPWAFFLE!

We stayed in Brussels for about 3 days before heading to the The Netherlands to spend about 5 days in the Amsterdam area. We're going to make this blog a little less fluid and just throw it all together. We had a great time in both places but they were pretty similar experiences, so deal with it.

With the rainy weather we were a little trepidatious to go wandering around like we usually do, and our host was kind enough to prints us a map with all the typical tourist spots on it. He was explaining some, asking us which plans we had already, and when we told him we really had none other than to get a decent beer, he practically lit up. He grabbed a book off his shelf which was an Encyclopedia of all the beers offered at one of his favorite spots to take friends: Delirium Cafe. With over 1000 beers it has made it into the guiness book of world records. Just our kind of spot.

We spent a little time exploring downtown, taking a stop to get a coffee out of the rain when it picked up a bit and then some food later on (hurray for croquettes) we eventually made our way to Delirium.  While we were enjoying our beers we decided to do a little research. On our way to Brussels we had seen that a great band Snarky Puppy was playing a show, but ticket prices were listed at 50€… a little pricey for us, but when we did some more research we found it was now only 25€, but unfortunately sold out! Lamesauce. Feeling a little liquid courage we decided to message the band facebook page to see if they could open any tickets for us, and as some friends already know they put two tickets on the guest list for us! Karma was smiling, and so were we. We hung out for another couple beers and a wheel of cheese before making our way to the venue.

We met some crazy guys outside the venue, had a great time at the show, and even got a ride home after. We spent the next day catching up on a few tourist sites we had skipped (including Mannekin Pis, the pissing boy, a cherub-esque statue of a boy peering in a fountain that is wildly popular), grabbed a couple Belgian waffles, and finally called it a night. It was a little early but we had a big day ahead.

We took a bus into Amsterdam and finally arrived early evening. We were pretty tired so we grabbed a coffee before getting a bite to eat. We weren't exactly close to home so we wanted something quick and easy and found a hummis bar near our coffee shop. We accidently ordered 2 huge plates of hummus, way more hummus than anyone realistically needs to eat but we did our best. Then we hopped on a train south to Utrecht, about 30 mins south of Amsterdam, where we were actually staying. It was a cheaper place than we could find in Amsterdam, but we forgot to account for the price of travelling to and from Amsterdam. In the future, we definitely need to consider this.

Amsterdam was super busy anyway. We went back the next day to really explore and it was crazy the amount of people. This late in the travel season we can only imagine how bad it is when its peak season. Point of note: bikes literally own that city and the people riding them WILL mow you down. And yell at you while they do it. We were still able to catch some of the prettier sights, got to ride a Ferris wheel, and walked the canals along the red light district once it got dark. In the end we decided, especially for the expense, Amsterdam is pretty overrated. We had fun, but we should have spent a little more time in Brussels instead.

Luckily we weren't staying in Amsterdam but in Utrecht. We managed to spend a couple days there it was much better. Less busy, prettier, and with just as much to see. It was almost like a mini-Amsterdam, with its own canal area that was smaller but cleaner than Amsterdam's. We ate bitterballen (fried delicious gravy balls) and stroopwaffle (think thin waffle cookies pressed together with caramel - AMAZING!!!!) Our host was wonderful and very helpful, and we were sad when we finally had to leave but it was time to go to Spain!

Next time we come out this way we'll make sure to do a little more research about the what, where, and how much but we weren't disappointed. Being in a peaceful area goes a long way for us and we found that in Utrecht. The food was good, the crowds tolerable, and the sights memorable. Really what else can you ask for?


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