Thursday, January 26, 2017

Europe: The Journey back home

We had to wake up early in order to catch a bus and train to the airport. Brennan got stopped and questioned so many times at the airport! There also seemed to be an abundance of idiots at the airport who made the wait times so long! On the airplane there was some drama with a lady sitting in the wrong seat and not wanting to get up, because she had a lap child and wanted the extra seat, which wasn't actually empty. She put up a fuss! I barely slept on our journey across the ocean to Detroit nor did I sleep on the short plane ride to Green Bay. I was just sad and reminiscing about how crazy the last month of my life had been. My parents picked us up from the airport and were glad to see us.

Travel does the heart good, but it also makes it really hurt. You meet so many great people who you always have to say goodbye to. You experience so much, but coming back to reality is never easy. You can tell people about your adventures, but unless they personally experienced it they will never completely understand. After all of those feelings I still would recommend anyone and everyone to travel. It's an experience you will never regret. I think it is so important to spend money on experiences instead of things!

Europe you definitely have my heart and I look forward to returning one day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Europe: Anne Frank House

We slept until noon, before making our way to the Anne Frank House.
A nice old lady gave us great directions and was so helpful!

The tour was an emotional experience and I get teary eyed at a few parts. 
I highly suggest going to visit if you're ever in Amsterdam!
Just buy tickets ahead of time for you are guaranteed a spot. 
Brennan requested that we go to the Duck Store that I spotted the last time I was in Amsterdam.
Apparently, his dad has a collection of rubber duckies. 

We had crepes at a cute cafe, but were still hungry so we stopped at a place called Melly's for a panini. We decided to finish up our souvenir shopping, because we had run out of places to buy our family members stuff. Afterwards, we we stopped at a bar to drink our last La Chouffe, which turned into many more beers and shots. Brennan got to experience a drop shot, which Victoria introduced me to back in Den Haag. We were so drunk leaving that bar and decided to stop at Poshmark, which was six stories high, plus a basement. Our drunk selves decided to go on a shopping spree. After having pasta for dinner we headed back to the airbnb to pack. On our way some tourists asked us for directions and Brennan read google maps wrong and sent them the wrong way. 

Back at the airbnb we struggled unlocking the door again. This was the second time we couldn't figure it out and Frank had to come to our rescue again. He thought it was hysterical that we couldn't figure it out. I felt so sad packing up my belongings knowing that my adventure was almost over. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Europe: Back to Amsterdam

Brennan turned 26 on the bus ride to Amsterdam! I think we were still in Denmark, but we could have been in Germany. I made sure to get off the bus in Germany just to be able to say that I have stepped foot in Germany. Technically, Brennan got to spend his birthday in three different countries!
We got to Amsterdam around 10am, caught a train to Central station, and got on Tram 5 to head over to our airbnb. It felt weird to be back in Amsterdam, especially because I was with a completely different person this time around.
When Brennan went to ask the driver about the right stop he was no help! He actually made fun of Brennan and we ended up missing our stop. The guy said something in dutch and everyone on the bus laughed. I felt a little bad for him. When we decided to get off the tram door shut before Brennan got off. I was left standing on the platform alone with no way to contact him without finding wifi. I got on the right tram heading to the museumplein stop, which was the last place we had talking about going to.  Thankfully we reunited 20 minutes later to catch the 12 tram to our airbnb.

Our airbnb hosts name was Frank. He was a really friendly guy that had crazy hair and didn't speak english very well. He was such a character! He suggested that we eat brunch at Omelegg, which was a great suggestion. They had all kinds of unique omelettes. We then walked to the Como Museum where we saw the Banksy and Deli exhibits. We spent most of the time watching a documentary about Banksy's time in NYC. 

The IAmsterdam sign was near the museum and I made Brennan stand in front of it for a picture.
Our next stop was Vondelpark, which was beautiful! I loved the houses surrounding the park as well. After our walk we grabbed a slice of pizza and walked to the original Bulldog Coffeeshop where we got Brennan's first space cake.

Our next stop was the Red Light District!
We went to the Museum of Prostitution where I actually learned a lot. 
We stopped for a beer at a pub and an old man bought us another round just for the hell of it. 
We walked into a sex store just because and the guy working asked us to leave for no reason! We were so confused.

We got gelato, which was not as good as the gelato in Italy.
We then went to a live sex show, which was the weirdest thing I have ever seen. We pretty much spent an hour of our lives watching people have sex or seeing girls dance on a pole. Anytime they asked for a volunteer I would try and convince Brennan to participate. One stripper insisted that the both of us go on stage and wouldn't take no for an answer! She also got another couple to join us and they just happened to be from Wisconsin as well. We had to individually dance with the stripper, which was embarrassing, because I can't dance. She then put a banana right up to her crotch and we all had to take a bite from it. It was definitely an interesting experience. After downing our Jack and Cokes we left and got burgers. I was feeling so good and I couldn't stop staring at Brennan and laughing at everything he was doing. I somehow got us back home that night and I'm not exactly sure how.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Europe: More Copenhagen and Christiania

We slept in, made breakfast, packed our bags, and finally met Tina who's house we were staying at. We then headed back to the city center for coffee. Victoria called me so we talked for a bit. Brennan and I then walked to Christiania, which is a hippie commune. A group of people started living at an old army base in the 70's and didn't want to live by the standard rules of society. The government has been fighting them for years, but about 800 people live there now and it has become a huge tourist attraction. You can't buy a house in Christiania, but anyone can apply and if you get accepted you are given a place to live.

There are also no cars allowed and you're not suppose to take pictures.
The entire place reminded me of playing house in the woods as a kid. What my imagination imagined as a kid was this place. Surprisingly, when walking around the housing area we noticed a lot of "normal" looking people that call Christiania home. It was one of my favorite places to visit. 

For lunch/dinner, we went to Paper Island, which is a handful of creative buildings with art, showrooms, and street food right in the Copenhagen Harbor.
There were so many food options and the place was so warm and cozy!
I had beef carpaccio and Brennan had Turkish food. 
For dessert I had banana chocolate chip ice cream.

After finishing our beers we went to go and pick up our bags. 
We had to  ask so many people for help to figure out the right buses to take to get to Copenhagen's Central Station. Once at the station we had to once again ask so many people where the buses were located. We finally found a random street with buses. Of course our bus hadn't arrived yet and was running late. We met two guys who just found out that they had booked the bus for the wrong day and they couldn't change it. Brennan and I got lucky and had the entire back row to ourselves for the 12 hour bus ride. I watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey before attempting to sleep during our 12 hour bus ride.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Europe: Copenhagen and the Women's March

I introduced Brennan to fried egg sandwiches with cheese for breakfast.  We also got to meet Fredrick while we were eating and he gave us some suggestions on places to see. We hopped on the tram and our first stop was Decor a cool vintage store that had a lot of different costumes. 
Our next stop was Nyhaun, which is where all the brightly colored houses near the canal are located. They are all over postcards showing Denmark!
On our way to the Women's March we ran across the changing of the guard ceremony and watched that for a while.

We also came across Kastellet, which is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram. We walked on the pathways on top of the fortress hills and I got to see a windmill close up! It was a really cool unexpected find.

On our walk to the US embassy we started to groups of people with signs. We just happened to be next to two people from Wisconsin! We got to the US embassy and there were so many people! 
I felt so unbelievably happy to see so many people coming together for each other. 

There were some great really great signs, we all participated in the chants, and there were some amazing speakers before we marched! You could feel the energy from this crowd. We were suppose to follow all the traffic stops, but that turned out almost impossible for 5000 people. We held up a lot of traffic. 

It took us almost an hour to march to the Parliament building. We all gathered together to hear more speakers and listened to a band that wrote a song about getting rid of the trumpet aka trump. It was surprisingly good. My favorite line was "Build the wall ten feet higher and your hands will look even smaller." I wasn't even in America and people were protesting Trump.

I felt so alive at this march. I have always had a desire to be a part of a march/protest that meant something to me and I finally get to say that I did! I got to participate in a historic event. The only good thing about Trump getting elected is how fired up he is making people feel about important issues that he clearly doesn't care about. 

Afterwards, we decided to look for food, but got distracted by the observatory. We walked all the way to the top. Unfortunately, it was foggy so the view wasn't the greatest. At the observatory they had the Museum of Broken Relationships, which we didn't even know was in Copenhagen! People donated items that reminded them of past relationships and told the story about them. It really tugged at your heart strings.

We still hadn't found food so the search for food continued. 
I finally gave in and ate at a Falafel place. We then walked around some more and picked up a few souvenirs for our family members, before walking past a movie theater. We decided to share a slice of chocolate cake at a cafe, before going to see the movie Manchester by the Sea. Brennan fell asleep, but I thought it was a decent movie. 

On the tram back to our house a girl got pick pocketed and called out the guy.
She even stuck her hand inside the guys pocket before they left the tram. She started to cry and a random women comforted her. They only got away with her sunglasses. I wish I had noticed while it was taking place, but everything happened so fast. We ran into Fredrick again at the house and talked with him for a bit before going to bed. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Europe: Copenhagen, Denmark

Anna drove us to the train station where we had a quick breakfast at Espresso house, before saying our goodbyes.Our train ride was only an hour and a half long. We arrived around noon and couldn't check into our AirBnB until 4pm. We walked to a "small" castle called the Rosenburg Castle, which belonged to Christian IV. We sat in the garden for a bit talking before wandering around the city.

We saw a few military members marching down the street. 
We windowed shopped for a while and stopped for a smoothie before buying our tram ticket. 
Our airbnb was only a short walk from the station. We went a bit early, but luckily Morten arrived home just as we walked by and waved us over. Our airbnb was in a family of five's basement, which had a really nice bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. A med student named Fredrick was staying in the other room near us. We dropped off our stuff and headed back to the city center. 

We hit up another H&M, saw the City Hall, and Tivoli Gardens.
For dinner we had wok before going on a search for a cool bar.
We went to a place called Zeppelin, which was a rock music bar. We ordered two Dark and Stormy's and found out a band was going to be playing later on.

We finished our drinks and decided to run to the grocery store to buy tooth paste, before the start of the band. That made me feel old. Back at the bar we ordered more drinks and got some nasty wine for free. I attempted to get Brennan to drink mine, but he wouldn't!
The band was like indie techno. We spotted a nun taking in the show and hanging out. It was really funny. After the show we went on a search for more food. We stopped at a 7/11 and when I was looking at the pasta salads Brennan thought I didn't know what a sun dried tomato was and tried to explain it to me. I burst out laughing and asked if he really thought I was dumb enough to need a sun dried tomato explained to me. It made jokes about tomato's the rest of the trip. I didn't end up getting the pasta salad and instead we stopped at a grocery store to buy breakfast supplies and a salad.

Back at the airbnb we took showers and I watched an episode of Downton Abbey before heading to bed. Fun fact: The netflix in Europe has Downton Abbey, but not the one in America.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Europe: Kristianstad, Sweden

Anna had us up by 9 o'clock to start the day. 
After breakfast her friend Marta came over and our official tour of Kristianstad began. 
We first went to the beach pier to see the Baltic Seat. The area reminded me of Door County and was really cute! We learned that Sweden loves recycling so much that they buy other countries trash to recycle. Oh Sweden.

We then walked around the tiny town near the pier and counted six pizza shops on one street. 
I'm not sure why we found that so funny.
Anna and Marta showed us all the "old" buildings that they knew nothing about, but they all had signs near them so we could all be educated about them. We started joking about how something can only be important if it has a sign in front of it. 
Absolut Vodka is made in Kristianstad and we walked around the outside of the factory.
They only offer tours in the summer so we didn't go on one. Anna and Marta then drove us to Sweden's lowest point, which Anna had never been to either.
It was in a wooded area and if a sign wasn't there telling us it was the lowest point I would have had no idea. Thank goodness for signs. We all had a good laugh about it. 

We then drove downtown. 
Marta left to us have lunch with her Grandma and we went to a place that had the best club sandwiches that I have ever tasted! I don't even like sandwiches. We then went to the Regional Museum and just happened to run into Anna's Grandma! How ironic. She was nice, but definitely liked to talk about herself. At the museum most of the exhibits were in Swedish so Anna had to explain a lot of it to us. We did learn a lot about Kristianstad's history of film and saw some cool artwork.
We then walked to a nature museum, but found it closed so we went to get coffee and to try the famous Semlor lent buns, which you're suppose to eat only a few weeks before lent to fatten yourself up before fasting. They were great! We saw and talked for a few hours about our time in Winona, Trump, Swedish politics, getting old, and so many other random things. Those kind of conversations are many favorite! 

I bought the cutest cat sweatshirt at H&M and got some non-alcoholic beers for my mom at the liquor store. While walking past Anna's old high school cafeteria she informed us that during the summer they turn it into a night club. Sweden is one of a kind! By this time it was getting dark so we headed back to Anna's house. Her dad made us chicken curry and we had dinner with her family. It was really nice!

To end the day we watched Confessions of a Shopaholic and made plans for our time in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Big cities will always have my heart, but being able to explore smaller towns gives you a different experience away from the typical tourist stuff.