Saturday, March 13, 2010

Amsterdam 101: The Pancake House

It’s 6:55 pm on March 7th 2010. (Im posting this on the 13thof March however) I am sitting in Brussels- Charleroi Airport waiting for my flight back to Ireland, and God Almighty I can not wait to get back to Galway. I just finished up my weekend trip to Amsterdam and have 3.5 hours to kill because I am an idiot and thought my flight was much earlier. You might ask why I didn’t check my boarding time on my already printed out ticket? Because I enjoy sitting wasting time in airports with nothing to do. You might be nice and think that I kept my flight ticket packed way in my suitcase and so finding it would be a hassle? No I had it in my jacket pocket the entire day. Again I like sitting doing nothing in airports. But that is neither here nor there, you are reading this (if anyone does) to hear about my trip to the Netherlands. Well here it is: there is the good, there is the bad, and then there is Amsterdam.

I hopped off the plane in Brussels, Belgium and wont bore you with the details of how I arrived in Amsterdam because the return in so much better. I arrived in the city center and found the hostel to met up with Pat, Dave, KP and Melissa, Simmons, Lena and the rest of the gang. Eventually Dan, Emily and Cormier, Jack Remy, and Wilkie all joined in. Amsterdam is a very unusual city to say the least. I have now been to 10+ countries in Europe in my life and multiple cities in those countries, and I have never seen a place like this. Needless to say drugs and prostitution have completely immersed themselves into the city. Come to think of it, without those things Amsterdam would probably just fall through the cracks of places to see while in Europe. Now I am not denying or stating anything that might have happened this weekend while in the Red Light District. I believe just saying “It was Amsterdam” is sufficient enough.

However, there are certain things that must be revealed so that others can benefit from them. To start: the number one place to go in Amsterdam is not the Red Light District, of the “ I Amsterdam” sign, or the Heineken Brewery, or even the Anne Frank House. It is a little place called the Pancake House. Holy Lord, that places is by far the closest thing to heaven in a city that is most likely going to hell. Everything about it is amazing. How they can combine chili, spiced minced meat, and pancake together and make me consider offering my three sisters into a life of enslavement so that I could have it everyday is beyond me. But believe me if Jenna, Kathleen, and Tara were there for me to offer I would most likely be coming home with a chef and not the three of them. Sorry not sorry guys. I doubt I need to tell you we went back there for breakfast everyday we could.

While I was in Amsterdam I did do some of the tourist attractions too. We went to the Heineken Brewery which was pretty awesome. I put it right behind the Guinness Factory and right in front of the Jameson Factory. I always love going into those things until some jerk reminds me that I basically paid 14 euro for 2 small Heineken beers. Assholes. We also went to the Van Gogh Museum which was really cool- if I was remotely interested in art. I think I need to stop tricking myself into thinking I am cultured because I am in Europe. In the end all I think about when I see his work is that it is really cool I am this close to a piece of Van Gogh’s art. But 500 pieces later and I pretty much pushed the envelope to the maximum. The best part of the museum was the chicken meal we had at the end. Heavenly. We also saw the “I Amsterdam” sign, obviously. Depressing though it was because there was a monsoon when we were there. Finally I walked by the Anne Frank House. Unfortunately, I didn’t go inside because the line was always around the block. That is my one regret about the trip. Shucks.

That pretty much wraps up the trip, except I forgot to mention that as crazy as Amsterdam is known to be, it shuts down really early, like around 1 AM. Strange for a city known for how it parties…As I said before I am in Brussels- Charleroi Airport and by the time I get back to Galway I would have been traveling for 17 hours. Hint: just because Ryanair flies you cheap doesn’t mean you get to your destination cheap, or quickly by any means. Oh well…Amsterdam, ehhh I give you a 60%. Will I come back? Probably not. Am I glad I went there so now I can have it out of my system? Yes. But if I do go back I know the first place I am going is definitely to that Pancake House. How I will miss that place…

Rome For Dummies

This story dates back to just about two weeks ago. Like every single post I write it is always a bit behind. Nevertheless, here it is. Rome for Dummies:

A while back it seems that all of BC decided that meeting in Rome for the BC spring break was the best bet for the most amount of people to see each other. When there is already 30 kids studying there, Id say we made the right choice. Another 30 made the trip down to Italy’s capital for the weekend I dubbed BC invades Rome. An invasion is an understatement. We flooded it. Streets were running with BC paraphernalia. I don’t know how to sum up this trip any other way than the token phrase, “Road Beers.” Thanks Durgs. This trip was unlike any others that I have ever done while in Europe. In the city with the most history possibly in the World it makes sense for you to sleep into 3 pm everyday, start drinking at 10 pm and go to bed at 6 am right? I swear I saw that in the Europe 2010 book for how to see Rome in 6 days. Or maybe it was Rome for Dummies. Either way it was done.

Now even though I did get out and see the city I did not see as much as I would have liked. I saw the Cat Sanctuary (aka where Julius Ceasar apparently died), which now is home to hundreds of stray cats. I saw the Typewriter Building (its named something else but I don’t remember it, and Romans hate it because its apparently ugly- I thought it was sweet). I went to the Roman Forum (didn’t go in) went to the Colosseum (didn’t go in it). Who wants to see the insides of those things anyways? Ummm, everyone. Rome for Dummies. I went to the Spanish Steps, which were really cool, I went to the Trevi Fountain, arguably my favorite place in the city. I saw St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City. All I can say about that is that it is enormous! Probably the coolest thing I have seen in Europe so far. I didn’t go to the top of it though, missed it by a couple minutes before it closed. Good thing I slept in. Oh, and I didn’t go see the Sistine Chapel. Rome for Dummies. I did see the inside of the Pantheon though, mostly because its free and you just walk in.

But what I can tell you a lot about is Campo de Fiori because it seems like I was there every night. It’s a beautiful square that has been run over because bars and now is always packed with college kids at night. I recently heard from someone that a Roman newspaper had an article in it about how they think binge drinking and drinking on the streets is becoming more common because students studying abroad from America are bringing it over. I’m pretty sure the article came out a week after the 60 of us were all together. Sorry about it Rome.

While I am upset that I did not see all of Rome, I always justified it by the fact that I will be back there in a couple weeks with my Dad. March 18th I return to the city to meet my Dad and hopefully the inside of all the places I missed out on. Rome Round 1 got the best of me I was ill prepared and I was embarrassed by the city. Rome Round 2 I’m coming in throwing haymakers.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cliffs of Moher/ Quick Re-Cap of February

Hey guys, sorry this is been an embarrassment of a blog for the past couple weeks. I feel like February just flew by in a blink of an eye! Worst part about it is that as fast as February was March will be 10X faster. Before I explain what has happened for the past two weeks I need everyone to be fully aware of the chaos and disorder that I will be trying to tell you. Im about to do a quick run down of the past couple weeks in such a poor fashion it will look like a 4 year old wrote it. So put your boxing gloves on because Im about to start throwing haymakers at you like Im Muhammad Ali.

Biggest thing that I need to mention that I did in February that I have not yet given justice is my trip to the Cliffs of Moher in middle of the month. I went when KP, Cammie, Haley, Bobby and Hubick were here because to be honest it makes it a thousand times cooler when you see this place with people you are with all the time because all you want to do after you see it is talk about it for days. For those that do not know the Cliffs of Moher is a 702 foot drop off Ireland’s coast. The Cliffs look out on the Aran Islands (mentioned previously in the blog) and the Atlantic Ocean. It is an amazing site to see.

I had actually already been on to see the Cliffs when I was younger and came to Ireland with my family but lets face it, if you have the chance to see this place more than once I think you’d have to be a lunatic not to go again. I was really excited to show everyone the Cliffs because it was one of my favorite parts when I came with my family. Plus I can vividly remember climbing out to the edge when I was a kid so I was pumped for déjà vu to kick in. Unfortunately, when we got to the Cliffs there was a fence 30 yards back from the drop off. I thought that I must be in a different place than where I came with my family because the Cliffs go on for a long time but then I recognized a tower that I knew from my first visit. I asked someone and apparently a part of the edge had fallen off and now it was deemed unsafe to go out on the edge! Big disappointment. But knowing the 6 of our straight edge, follow the rules at all times personalities we decided to jump the fence after we saw other people do it and went down there. Lets just say the view down was definitely worth it. However we got kicked out within minutes of being there. Ooops. Once again I ask myself, was it worth it? I don’t think you need to be a brain surgeon to figure that one out.

The rest of February flew by once KP, Cammie and Haley left. I stayed in Ireland for two weeks and unfortunately had to do work. Is this not a 5 month vacation?! Come on, work? Who does that? Well sadly I had to but solely because I was leaving for Rome for 6 days and all my midterm papers were due when I was gone. It was totally worth the effort because Rome did not disappoint.