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3 posts from October 2012

10/30/2012

A Trip to the Edge of the World

During my first week in Amsterdam I signed up to go on a weekend trip to Gronigen with CIEE, the program that organized my study abroad experience here in the Netherlands. At the time, I had no idea where Gronigen was or why we would ever want to visit... but hey, it's a free trip right?? So two weeks ago, the special weekend finally arrived. I packed an overnight bag and loaded a giant bus filled with sleepy students at 8 AM. I still had absolutely no idea where we were going, what we would be doing, or why we would want to go. Yes, I could have easily done a little research on the city, or even opened the itinerary sent to me by CIEE, but what's the fun in that? Much better to be 100% COMPLETELY unprepared... (My futile attempt at sarcasm).

Kayak
SURPRISE. It turns out, we were to go kayaking through the canals of Gronigen.


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Thank goodness it was an absolutely beautiful day!

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Friend on a houseboat.

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Soaking up a little sun and enjoying the view.

Later that afternoon we ventured out to climb the clock tower and explore the little town of Gronigen. Thankfully CIEE took us to a delicious pancake brunch after our kayaking adventure, providing us with the energy we needed to get to the top of the tower. There were so. many. stairs.

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View from the bottom...

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After a steep spiral staircase on a full stomach of pancake...the stunning view from the top

After dinner we decided to check out the Gronigen nightlife of course! Much to our surprise, it was so fun! Apparently, Groningen, which is in the northern Netherlands, is home to a large university with lots of young people and a vibrant nightlife scene. Our favorite spot was called the Three Sisters, which had a rotating bar, a great DJ and a room full of hot Dutch boys. Yet another surprise from good ol' Gronigen. :)


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Our CIEE leader Erik with a classic photobomb

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Annabel and Renee, two of our other CIEE leaders, dancing the night away. I love them!

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The awesome bartenders dancing on top of the rotating bar

The next morning, after a few somewhat difficult hours at the Gronigen Art Museum, we hopped back on the bus and drove as far north as we possibly could. We drove until we hit the coast, or as I like to call it, the edge of the world.

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Where are we?
The CIEE group looking a little confused

The farm we visited produces their own Dutch wine and grows a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables. They let us sample the wine and pluck a few fresh carrots out of the ground. Why not?

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I don't know if I'll ever make it back to Gronigen, but I had a wonderful time! Thank you to CIEE for a weekend of great friends, great food and great memories!

Kelly Tate, CIEE student

10/16/2012

Antwerp Adventures

Hello again! I'm so sorry it's been such a long time since I last posted here. I've been gone traveling the past three weekends and finally have a little free time to catch up!! (Well...not exactly free time but I DO NOT want to write my paper.) The good news? Now I have lots to fill you in on! I'll start with my weekend in Belgium.

Three weeks ago, I spontaneously decided to take a trip to Antwerp, Belgium. My friend Hannah and I booked our train tickets on Thursday and 24 hours later we found ourselves in the land of strong beer and delicious chocolates!

Now I know what you're all thinking: Antwerp?? Where is that? Why in the world would she want to go there?! I will admit that I had never heard of the little city of Antwerp before coming to Amsterdam. When I got the travel bug and decided literally last minute to go somewhere, a quick trip to visit my neighbor Belgium seemed like the perfect destination. And when I asked for advice from my Dutch friends, everyone seemed to give the same recommendation - Antwerp and Brugge are WAY more fun than Brussels (the touristy, well-known capitol of Belgium). Hannah and I did a little research and found that Antwerp was closer and less expensive. Next thing I knew, I was on my way to an adventure in Antwerp.

The first thing I noticed upon arriving was the train station itself. It was INCREDIBLY beautiful. For those of you who remember the Sound of Music flash mob to Do Re Mi that went viral on YouTube...it was THAT train station!!! I love the Sound of Music. I love dancing. I love singing. And I LOVE flashmobs. So naturally, I freaked out. I wanted to start dancing right then and there, you know, recreate it? But then I realized that no one would be there to join in...

Here's the flashmob! Picture me doing this alone in the middle of the train station....



This is INSIDE the station!

The stairs from the flash mob dance...
The rest of the architecture in Antwerp was just as breathtaking! I was honestly so surprised. Who knew that Antwerp was so magical? We got lucky because the weather that Saturday was practically perfect. It made seeing the city even more enjoyable.

The old Church.
The streets in Antwerp were straight out of a fairytale land!
Still not quite sure why everyone was taking a picture with this giant hand statue?
But being the good tourist that I am, I had to join in.

Beautiful City Center. 

Such a gorgeous day!
 While exploring Antwerp we couldn't help but try a famous Belgian waffle. Let me tell you....they were fantastic. I don't know what they did to make that waffle so delicious (probably like, double deep fried it with extra butter and sugar?), but it was so good we had to get another the next day. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS!

In Belgium, they don't have fast food. But they do have waffles.

So. Yummy.

 

That night we went to a famous pub called the Kulminator. It's famous among beer connoisseurs for its incredible selection and quirky atmosphere. Seeing as my dad's practically a professional beer taster now, I knew I had to check it out. It was SO fun!! We expected the bar to be crawling with tourists, but much to our surprise it was full of locals! We were incredibly overwhelmed at first... On each table was a HUGE binder of beer types - maybe close to 200 beers? Not a Corona or Coors in sight. Lucky for us we made some friends! Yes, they were about 40 years older than us, but THEY KNEW THEIR BEER. They saw how uneasy we looked and invited us to their table where they proceeded to write us a list of their favorite Belgian beers and the order in which we should drink them. So sweet! Of course, we couldn't try them all. Some of the beers had up to 13% alcohol content!! Hannah and I split most of the beers in order to taste more, but (with our stomachs practically empty aside from the delicious waffle) we just couldn't get to them all. The Belgians sure know how to drink!

The list (written on a coaster)! The last beer, Quercus, has an extremely high alcohol content.
Our friend recommended drinking this last - "to sleep?"

Our helpful new friend!

A local Belgian favorite: De Koninck!

The Bush Noel - a Christmas beer!
The damage...

Our friend gave us a gift when we left! It's a beer opener that allows you to open a bottle without destroying the cap, so beer tasters can save them as souvenirs or memories. And he made it himself!! The ABC engraving stands for "Antwerp Beer Company." How sweet is he?!

 

We had to end our trip with one more Belgian delicacy - chocolate of course! I bought a small box containing an assortment of my own personal selection of dark chocolates to bring home. I made myself promise that I would not eat them all at once. I usually have zero self control but somehow I managed this time. ;) They were both beautiful and delicious!! I wish I could have bought some to bring home to the States for friends and family!! But the sales girl told me they wouldn't last.

Belgian Chocolateee!

Until next time Belgium!! Thinking of my friends and family at home - love you guys! xo

 

Kelly blog3Kelly 
CIEE Amsterdam 
Semester: Fall 2012 
Homeschool: USC Annenberg

All Pictures by Kelly, see more of Kelly's pictures and blog posts at http://kellytate2.blogspot.nl/

 

Fashion’s Night Out Amsterdam!

School has finally kicked into gear (and I just spent the weekend in Paris!) resulting in my neglect of my blog. In addition to rambling about my life for strangers, I also write for Audrey Magazine, an award-winning national American publication that focuses on successful Asians. Click here to read my recap of VOGUE Fashion’s Night Out in Amsterdam. It was the first time that Amsterdam ever hosted FNO since the Netherlands only started publishing their own issue of Vogue this year. And now for some blatant self-promotion, pick up the Fall Issue of Audrey Magazine which includes my interviews with Harold Koda, Head Curator of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, fashion designer Gemma Khang, and actress Suzy Nakamura!

 

Olivia in front of student dormName: Olivia
CIEE Amsterdam
Semester: Fall 2012
Homeschool: Amherst College

All pictures by Olivia. Read more of Olivia's blog at http://asianinamsterdam.tumblr.com.