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Euro-Trip Part 1- Amsterdam to Belgium

by Amanda Musumeci |  Published: Mar 06, '14

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  Armed with coffee and too much sleep(from 30 hours of flights), I took my first step ever on to European soil. Walking out of the airport was amazing. I couldn't believe that I allowed myself to make this my life. Like, how do I end up here?! Alone, dragging 130lbs in luggage(girl problems), I managed my way to the cab line. I couldn't really tell it was a cab line because they were all Mercedes'! I found this odd at first, but through my travels in Europe, I learned that nice taxis are quite common. I hop in, and take off towards the center of Amsterdam, where Bryn, Ana, and several of their friends lived. I arrive in a most magical place...


Bryn comes to find me in the middle of town on his motorbike. We took the short journey to their local breakfast spot, where I was thrilled to have the added comfort of seeing a familiar face of my buddy, Lesko.



The morning I'd arrived may not have been the best if I'd been hoping to hang out with the group. Amsterdam had a poker series going at the time of my arrival, and everyone was tied up playing events. But me... I was here to live, not play poker!!! So, shortly after breakfast, I waved goodbye to that which was familiar to me as they all rode away on their bikes, and I started out on my journey.... my first day in Europe all alone, ready to conquer like a brave lil lady!

And so I set out. Let me say that Amsterdam is the best for the situation I'd so found myself in on this particularly magical day. It is quite walkable/bikable, perfectly safe by day for me to walk around, tons of snacks everywhere for me to try, and lots of shopping!



Tons of bicycles, vespas, and motorbikes flood the roadways of Amsterdam, constantly whizzing by you. To be honest, at first... it's scary just being a pedestrian-by-foot in that city! Trying to dodge the bikes when you're crossing a road, along with all the vehicle traffic can become quite a feat.

However, within a day or two I was feeling more comfortable in my new favorite city :) I figured it was time that I try it out for myself... and so I did... mandermotorsports! I received a quick instruction on how to use the bike, and was told that I "was a bit dodgy." lol. But I managed. Again, within a day I had a hang of the bike. I was riding Ana around on the back like a boss(I'd rather not discuss the one time I almost drove us right into the canal when confusing the gas and break lol). And I mean look, for a 10 day stay, only getting pulled over once isn't bad, right?!





 As I buzzed down the streets on my last night in Amsterdam, I remember having a moment to myself... just an overwhelming sense of joy. A sense that all was right. A few tears slipped down my cheek as I pondered upon just how grateful I was that this was becoming a part of the story of my life. Such an essential catalyst to the puzzle I've been looking to piece together over my own lifetime... a patchwork of deeply moving life experiences. I couldn't believe that this was my reality. Never did feeling breathless offer such a sense of freedom as it did when I came to this place.

After an amazing week+ in Amsterdam playing tourist, it was time to mix in a little work! I obviously wanted to soak up my last day in town, and so I booked the last train of the night to Namur, Belgium. It wasn't so much one train as it was three trains that allowed me mayyybe 10 minutes to run from one to the next(...I presume you can see where this is going?)...

Yes(gasp!), it's true! Around midnight, I found myself stranded in Liege, Belgium. I'd missed my connecting train, and it was the last of the night. The train station was closed at this hour, so I was pretty much screwed. To top it all, I had no cell phone at all thanks to varying service providers when traveling country to country.


Ok... so you're probably thinking, "get a cab Amanda," right? Well friendos... I walk outside of the station... and I'm practically in the middle of nowhere. The area was rather dark as I ventured further outward. I heard hooligans laughing in the distance... and in a way it kind of frightened me. I was just a little lady traveling alone in a place where few people speak my language...and I'm lost, and it's the middle of the night. LOL. I planned this one out well, huh?! Live and learn I suppose.

I pretended to be on my cell phone as the hooligans approached(as a deterrent). I realized quickly that they weren't a threat, and so I called them over too see what the heck I could do to get to Namur in the middle of the night. Of the 5 guys there, only one spoke English and not very well.  He could barely make out what I was saying. I finally successfully communicated my situation to the drunk young man, and asked him where I could get a cab in the area. He responded by pointing at me and laughing. He proceeded to tell me that there aren't really cabs in this small town.

He and his cronies offered to walk me to a local hotel where I could try to call a cab. Thankfully, mid-trek(mind you, walking down the street with like 130lbs of luggage at midnight in the freezing cold), a cab drove by, and we flagged him down. How lucky I was to have the french-speaking boys with me, as the driver couldn't understand a word of what I was saying nor could he understand where I wanted to go. For 100eu, I found a way to Namur, finally arriving around 2am after the hour long cab ride.


The plan for Namur was to play a main event for one week there. I fired 3 shells into the event, but couldn't get anything going. This was, after all, my very first experience playing live poker in Europe.

Back in Amsterdam, my friends had all warned me of how different the game is in Europe as compared to America. The Europeans are really station-y and loose. I guess I would need this experience with me in order to make a dent in Prague in a few weeks.

Since I did end up playing all starting days, I didn't end up with much free time while in town. I did get one free day to stroll around, try some local foods, and snap some pics. Here's a taste...





Oh and speaking of taste...I must share that I had the best Chinese food that I've ever tasted in this here little town! Incredible! (weird, right?!)

Without much success on the felts in Belgium, and with a few weeks to kill before Prague, it was time to get the heck out of the cold and get back to vacationing!! I was considering going to to France.... I could imagine myself getting swept away in a Parisian adventure... or maybe I could go to Switzerland.... have always heard of the breathtaking beauty that the area had to offer!

Without knowing for sure what could be next, but armed with luggage and passport, I headed to the Brussels airport. Standard chick move, I get sucked into airport shopping for like 2 hours. My bags weren't heavy enough I suppose, so I picked up a few things along the way. Interesting tid-bit... in Belgium, one of their national symbols is a little boy peeing. I discovered this while shopping for souvenirs for my family. I had to wonder what the heckkkk the story was behind this one...


The Brussels airport brought about even more whimsey when I found this astonishing invention! I love this idea!!


... you can actually charge your devices... but you have to work for it on the exercise bike!

Anyways, after spending many hours enjoying the airport, I finally flipped a coin and decided where it was that I'd be heading next!

Tune into my next blog, Euro-Trip Part 2, to see where I landed :)

Peace n love peeps
 
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