Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | October 30, 2019

EU Go, Girl! Adventures in Europe #5

Well, despite this lingering cold doing it’s best to end me, I’m having a marvellous time on my European adventure. This includes eating far too many sweets and being less cautious with my budget than originally conceived (but still well within my means). This is a trip of a lifetime, and I plan to treat it as such.


Seaside view from Hotel Spaander

Yesterday, we started our day at the Hotel Spaander in Volendam, and it is incredibly charming, from it’s decor to its position nestled on the seaside. Paintings and knick-knacks and carvings and sconces adorn the place, and I absolutely loved it. I would like to come back and visit again, and spend longer near the hotel, in future. But group tours are for adventure, so adventure we did. Next it was off to Zaanse Schans, a lovely little stop with windmills and animals, plus clog-making demonstrations and cheese sampling. I tried so many kinds of cheeses and sauces and mustards to put on them, and there wasn’t a bad one among them. I was tempted to buy a pair of clogs, but my suitcase is already heavy enough, so opted for a few small dips for on cheese to share with my BFF when I’m home.

After Zaanse Schans, it was off to Amsterdam, through a diamond museum then off to where I took a canal tour which was delightful and full of historic information about what we were seeing. There was lots of free time after that, so Cathy, Jhoy and I went wandering, joined by Payton and Yvonne, two students from the States who are doing four months of studies at my alma mater, the University of Edinburgh. We wandered the central market area for a while, before finding a nice little sushi place for dinner, tucked away down an ally. There was still quite a bit of time after dinner to explore, but I opted not to join Cathy and Payton in ducking down to check out the red light district just to say I had seen it. Instead, Jhoy, Yvonne and I made our way back to the meeting spot for the bus where we had tea instead. I was probably better served for it, anyway; the ginger lemon I picked helped soothe my poor sore throat and tame at least a little of my coughing.

We went back to Zaanse Schans for another night, and I was very sad to leave in the morning, even though the kitchen wasn’t quite prepared to deal with as many groups leaving at once. Our bus was supposed to leave as early as 7:30 a.m., to try to miss traffic and a strike with blockades, but we weren’t able to leave until 8:00 a.m. for food having run out at breakfast twice before the queue was even close to being ended.

Still, we got out fairly well, though traffic in general slowed us down. Getting into Paris tonight was especially nuts, and I am very glad I went the route of taking the train to get in when I arrived. For all I had to haul my suitcase up and down all those stairs, it certain was much easier than the crawl we experienced tonight!

Before Paris, however, was Belgium. A short stop in the country, and certainly enough to know I also want to come back to do more exploring. We stopped at the Atomium first, a statue from the Expo many years back. Then it was into the city. From the market place with so many chocolate shops and the Tintin museum I only had time to peek into, Brussels is also charming. I didn’t manage to have a waffle in full as I only had time for that or a pharmacy run, and the need to try something to help my cold was more pressing. Yvonne and Payton kindly shared a piece of their waffle with me, so I can say I got to at least try one!

Though Paris is only 300 km from Brussels, give or take, the drive back was quite long, because of the aforementioned traffic issues. We left at 3 p.m. and arrived at the hotel at 8:00 p.m., with only one half hour break for the driver. The hotel we are staying at, Hotel Reseda, is conveniently next to a mall, which allowed me to grab a relatively inexpensive dinner at the supermarket to eat in my room. I was going to drink my cherry beer from Belgium with dinner, but that will have to wait; I’m going to need something to open the bottle, as it isn’t a twist off!

Tomorrow is mostly within Paris, so we have a bit later start, and I’m hopeful that the sleep I’m planning on doing shortly, combined with the cough syrup that doesn’t clash with my medication that the helpful pharmacist in Brussels helped me find, will move my cold recovery further along. And if not, I’m still planning on touring to my heart’s delight.

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