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Night Train to Berlin

Saturday, September 21, 2013 @ 02:12 pm from Netherlands Netherlands
Day 87

I'm writing this post a little early since I don't know when I'll have WiFi next. I've just been working on ClearCheckbook for the last few hours at the hostel. My train for Berlin leaves tonight at 7:00pm so I've got plenty of time to kill. I'm not exactly looking forward to a night on the train (at least I have a bunk in a 6 bunk room) but it's better than spending an extra night paying for a hostel then wasting an entire day on the train.

I'll probably head out in another hour or so and make my way up through the city to the train station. I'd rather stay here where I can get some work done though.

Amsterdam has been a cool place to visit and I think 4 full days was about the right amount of time. Unfortunately due to the weather I wasn't able to rent a bicycle and ride up to the windmills that are about 15 miles north of town. That was something I was looking forward to but I didn't want to risk getting caught in a chilly downpour for hours on a bike.

I've got 5 nights planned in Berlin before I head south to Prague in the Czech Republic.

Van Gogh

Friday, September 20, 2013 @ 04:58 pm from Netherlands Netherlands
Day 86

Last night I headed out with a bunkmate named Antony from Australia. We had some drinks and got rained on while walking around the city. We passed through the red light district which seemed pretty wild at night.

This morning I took my time eating breakfast, answered a few emails (from up in my room... the WiFi here has been having some MAJOR issues lately but it appears to be cleared up now), then set out just before lunch to see the Van Gogh Museum.

I picked up a ticket by the I Amsterdam statue which got me in a "fast track" style admission line. It didn't cost any more but it saved me about 45 minutes worth of waiting in line. They only let people in every 2 hours to keep the amount of people in there from being too crazy. My ticket let me in at 1:00 so I had a sandwich and read by the I Amsterdam statue.

With about 15 minutes before entry, I went to the museum and still had to wait in line. It went really fast though and I was in the museum pretty soon after 1. The museum had several floors full of Van Gogh's work plus some other people who inspired him. I got to see a lot of his most famous pieces up close. Unfortunately Starry Night wasn't there. I was looking forward to seeing that one.

I spent 2 hours walking around and figured I'd leave before the next mass of people came flooding in. I bought some mixed veggies for dinner then came back to the hostel. It appears the WiFi issue has been fixed and it actually works down in the lounge now. Hopefully it stays that way tonight.

I have all day tomorrow to kill in Amsterdam before boarding my train to Berlin tomorrow night. I still need to print my train tickets. I'll either do that at the hostel if they're able or I'll have to find an internet cafe.
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Teaser photo
Teaser photo

More of Amsterdam

Thursday, September 19, 2013 @ 05:03 pm from Netherlands Netherlands
Day 85

Today I went to the Anne Frank House. It took about a half hour to get to the ticket counter. Once inside it felt a bit like a cattle drive where there was just one continuous line that you followed as you made your way through the various rooms of the old house, attic and warehouse that made up the museum.

Putting the sheer number of people aside, it was actually humbling to see where her and her family and four others spent several years. The museum had excerpts from her diary and journals everywhere and most rooms had history about what happened there or what the room was used for.

I ate lunch outside the museum then, once again, aimlessly walked around Amsterdam. I eventually stumbled across the red light district and walked through there and then Chinatown. The smell from all the food in Chinatown was making me hungry again. I stopped for a beer and then went back down to the Albert Cuyp street again and bought another giant stroopwafel as a snack.

Back at the hostel I did a little work offline (the wifi here is obnoxiously horrible). I found out that I can get a shred of internet if I work in my bed. The wifi in the lounge simply won't connect either my phone or laptop.

I bought some wine that I'll have tonight with dinner. Not sure what I'll do after that. I guess it depends on whether or not it's supposed to rain. It would be fun to see Amsterdam at night but I don't feel like getting drenched.
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Teaser photo
Part of the line to get into the Anne Frank House

Exploring Amsterdam

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 @ 08:05 pm from Netherlands Netherlands
Day 84

I just wanted to walk around today and check out the various zones of the city. I went up to the Haarlemmerdijk street and then just walked around. Eventually I went down to Albert Cuyp. That's a street that on Wednesdays is basically one giant market street. I read on the tourist map they gave us at the hostel that Albert Cuyp is where you go for stroopwafels.

If you've never had a stroopwafel, they're amazing. Check out the stroopwafel page on Wikipedia for more information about them. They're essentially really thin soft wafer/waffle cut in half and filled with a caramel syrup. When served fresh and hot they're amazingly delicious.

I got to see them make it fresh in front of me then carried it around through the market. I ate it pretty quick before it had time to cool off.

I came back to the hostel to work a bit, then went out and got some bread, apples and oranges. I also got some pasta sauce so I could make some italian grilled cheeses for dinner with some cheese I had bought yesterday.

After dinner I went out and walked around Vondelpark for a while. It's a huge park just outside the hotel. Even in the rain there were a lot of people out running, jogging and bicycling. I was getting tired of the constant switching between rain and sun so I came back to the hostel and watched the latest episode of Dexter.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to make it to the Anne Frank house. I walked by this morning but the line was ridiculously long.
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I amsterdam
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More Amsterdam canals
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Making Stroopwafels
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A Super Stroopwafel

Hello Amsterdam!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 @ 07:10 pm from Netherlands Netherlands
Day 83

I was a little unsure if I'd make all of my train connections from Bruges to Amsterdam but each train was on time and all the connections went flawlessly. I left Bruges at 9:18 this morning and arrived in Amsterdam at 1:08 this afternoon.

The first thing I noticed when I got out of the train station in Amsterdam was the sheer amounts of people here. Aside from perhaps Dublin, these were the most crowded sidewalks I've seen this trip. One really cool thing here is all of the bicyclists. They're everywhere! They have just about as much street space as the cars do.

When I was trying to find my hostel I got a little turned around and walked through a lot of the secondary streets here. Finally I made it to my hostel and checked in. So far this seems like your ordinary hostel except for the smoking room they have down in the bar/lounge area. It's a separate room with an exhaust so the smoke doesn't get into the rest of the place.

I walked around a little while but due to the amounts of people and the weather I didn't go too far. I made dinner and then attempted to go for another round of exploring but it started raining. I didn't really feel like being cold and wet tonight.

I think tonight I'll just chill here at the hostel and get up early to go explore around tomorrow.
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Bruges to Antewerp
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I amsterdam - Busy!
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Amsterdam Canals
Frites with and andalouse sauce. No idea what it is but it tastes great! #frites #europetrip2013 #brussels
Brecon Beacons. #europetrip2013
Giant light display at Puerta del Sol in Madrid. #madrid #puertadelsol #europetrip2013
Carved tree in Bute Park #cardiff #europetrip2013
Frog fountain in Maria Luisa park. #sevilla #europetrip2013
Huge rose bouquet and memorial at the Alexandra Gardens. #cardiff #europetrip2013
Jamon! #europetrip2013 #jamon #valencia
Castel Sant'Elmo. Some fantastic views of Naples from here. #naples #europetrip2013
Super Stroopwafel! #amsterdam #europetrip2013
Thanksgiving dinner prepared by British guys in Seville Spain. Pretty good! #thanksgiving #seville #europetrip2013

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Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.

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