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Day 4 - Paris
Duration Approx: 1.5hrs
What did I think? : Short train ride from Brussels Midi station to Gare du Nord station in Paris. Ride was comfortable and quick. Free but, terrible Wi-Fi connection. Gare du Nord Station is rather large and also serves as a metro stop making it easy for traveler to get around once arriving in Paris. I bought a 2 day metro pass for 21 Euro.
St. Christopher's Gare Du Nord
Stay: 2 Nights
What did I think? : The location of this hostel was great because it was a short walk from Gare Du Nord Station. You can easily get to your train or use the metro system in Paris. This hostel was large. I stayed in a 10 bed dorm. Each bed had it's own underbed locker and a curtain for privacy. The bathroom however, was quite a far walk from my room and the bathrooms weren't keep very clean. The shower was a push button that only allowed for a dismal stream of water for 30 seconds before you have to push it again. The hostel also made you rent a towel to use at a ridiculous price. there was a six euro deposit and a four euro rental fee. Feeling frugal, I opted to wait until heading back to Amsterdam to shower. Judge all you want.
What did I do?
Walk the River Seine
Sunset Eiffel Tower Tower With Fat Tire Tours
What did I think? : The tour met about a 5 minute walk from the Eiffel tour at Fat Tire Tours office. Despite its name, Fat tire Tours offered a great introduction to the Eiffel Tower. My guide lead a group of about 12 and myself to the tower, each guest equipt with a headset so that we could hear our guide at all times. We were able to skip the line to the elevator and toured the 2nd floor. It was an extra 4 Euros to go to the very top. I booked this experience through Get Your Guide.
Gelato, Wine, and lots of baguettes.
Day 5 - Paris
What did I do?
Muse Du Louvre
I overslept and didn't make it to my free walking tour of Paris with SANDEMANs, unfortunately. I did, however, take a late-morning walk around Paris to see sights like the Arc De Triumph. I purchased Skip-The-Line tickets for the Muse Du Louvre which saved a lot of time. I spent about 2.5 hrs exploring this massive museum seeing things like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Great Sphinx of Tanis.
One of the reasons I travel is to date. Why limit myself to dating people where I live? You never know, I could meet someone incredible I otherwise wouldn't have. I also was feeling a little lonely because I hadn't really made friends with anyone in my Paris hostel. I'm upfront with everyone I travel date. I'm looking for fun and little bit of a tour guide. Many guys are happy to have dinner and talk to someone from another country. In my case, it turned my entire Paris experience around. I was able to have a great conversation and a world-wind romantic night with a Parisian. We ate spaghetti at a little cafe, wine later on, then walked the street of Paris together. Finally, I can cross getting kissed in Paris off my bucket-list.
Days 6-9 - Amsterdam
I'm going to combine all four days of Amsterdam into one section because I did many of the same things every day, save a few scheduled activities. When I didn't have an experience/activity scheduled, I mostly just tooled around Amsterdam, hung out at coffee shops, walked aimlessly, and attempted to satisfy my munchies with street food.
Duration Approx: 3.25hrs
What did I think? : Pleasant train ride. There was food service and comfortable seats. I do wish I had thought to bring something to do for the train did have free wifi which was nice, but spotty.
St. Christopher's at the Winston
Stay: 4 Nights
What did I think? : As I stated in my previous post, I really liked this hostel. I stayed for one night earlier in the week and then again for four nights upon my return to Amsterdam. The rooms are clean and not too big. Each bunk has their own underbed storage. Each room has their own bathroom set-up. Oh and free towels to use (unlike St. Christopher's in Paris)! and the heat and water pressure in the shower is spot on. That sure felt good after two days in Paris without a proper shower.
The staff is also extremely friendly. I lost my key card and they replaced it at no charge. You also get free breakfast if you book your stay online. Popular amenities included a smoking room, patio, luggage storage, and vending machines.
The only thing I did not like about this stay was that there was no kitchen. Since I was staying four nights I was hoping to cut costs by cooking for myself, but I was disappointed to find out I'd have to buy all my meals.
What did I do?
A'dam Lookout is a panoramic observation deck that gives you a great view of Amsterdam. I took the free ferry across the River IJ to make my way to the 21 story tower. Now, 21 stories may not seem like a lot, especially to a girl coming from Chicago, but you have to keep in mind that Amsterdam is not filled will tall buildings, so even though 21 stories sounds low, you still get a great view. At the top there is also a restaurant/bar and interactive exhibits showing the development of Amsterdam. On the Observation Deck there is even the option to do a swing over the edge. I was lucky enough for a local to take my picture while I went solo on the swing. I booked this experience through Get Your Guide.
Luxury Canal Cruise
Booked with Get Your Guide, this canal cruise offered both comfort and style. Forget touring with on of those enclosed tour boats! This one was a classic river boat equipped with pillows, blankets, and beverages for your pleasure. (oh yes, I'll have another glass of Rosé.) Our guide was hilarious but was also excellent at explaining the history behind many sights we passed on our cruise. He even took us on a detour through the smallest canal in the city. All the passengers had to duck when we went under the bridge to access that canal.
Cost: 29 Euro
One of the most beautiful and well known attraction in the Netherlands is the Dutch Tulips. Only open for 8-weeks a year (April-May) the Keukenhof Gardens welcomes thousands of visitors annually to show off it's iconic display of tulips and other flowers. The Keukenhof is comprises over 79 acres of land with over 7 million flower planted on it. I purchased my ticket directly from the Keukenhof website. My ticket included public transportation for central Amsterdam via bus to Schiphol Airport where I then was transferred to another bus toward the Keukenhof. This activity with travel time took up about half my Saturday.
Cost: Anywhere from 9 to 14 Euro for a pure pre-rolled joint
Aside for the Tulips, the Netherlands is also a popular destination for cannabis connoisseurs. Coffee Shops are where you can find and smoke legal cannabis in Amsterdam. The Red-Light district is riddled with them and tourists hopping in and out to try all the best strains. I, personally, loved the vibe at Babylon, the Jolly Joker, and Amsterdam City Hall.
Another Tinder Date
What can I say? I like to met new people and like boys. My second tinder date of my trip was with a expat living in Amsterdam. We met near the ferry at Centraal Station and took it across to the NDSM Werf. This is an old ship building facility transformed into community space. There are restaurants, bars, and space for artists. We had great conversation hanging out at Pllek which is bar/restaurant with a sand beach along the River IJ. This date definitely wasn't a world-wind romance like my experience in Paris but we ate food, had great conversation, and went our separate ways for the evening, but we both seemed grateful for the company and the opportunity to learn about each others way of life.