A Travellerspoint blog

Leiden Exploration

sunny

Today we saw what Leiden had to offer and walked to the University. Let's just say that these kids are really lucky to have such a sweet library and cafe that only serves healthy food (no chips in sight)! Unfortunately our host mislead us into believing that we would be able to get internet access just by being a student, but that was not the case for a SUNY student from America. But we enjoyed the trip nonetheless. We spotted McDonalds on cobblestone roads surrounded by more legitimate forms of dining.

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windmill where someone lives (seriously)
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Count Dracula's home
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mmmm cheese
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Unexpected
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Party like its 1860!
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Bridge towards the University
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Posted by Eighteyes 14:55 Archived in Netherlands Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Fine dining

or lack thereof

sunny

We got an early start to the day since our host had to leave for work. Walking the 15-20 minute trek to the train, we dodged an army of bicycles in both directions. It's not a city for pedestrians, we'll tell you that! At the top there's bikes, then scooters, then cars, and then us...I think.

While looking for a place to eat after leaving the Amsterdam Library where Michelle was taking care of some school work, we came upon a Mexican themed restaurant after passing various spots of different nationalities. Not realizing the implications of what an empty restaurant means we soon found out that we were the only customers in the place. In spite of a full coat rack to contradict our theories (the coats on it might have been from lost and found for all we know) and a table outside finishing up, we decided to sit outside overlooking the canal. Once seated, we were greeted by a waiter in his 20's who seemed fairly new to the job and didn't speak much English or Spanish (we think we heard him speaking French).

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We were poured sangria with a few sliced oranges and apples in the cup (not pitcher) and were given cute glasses. Once we toasted and our glasses touched, we noticed a lack of clinking immediately. What's wrong with this picture? we wondered. And we tried toasting again with the same lack of clinkliness! That's right, we were given fake plastic glasses in the Netherlands. We didn't bring it to their attention but instead asked to be seated inside since a breeze was getting stronger near the water. The sangria had as much alcohol as Sunday school Communion! Walter took this opportunity to ask the owner how much alcohol was in it because he was feeling buzzed, to which he said it was various alcohols (yeah right) and fruit juices. It was more like carbonated Hawaiian Punch to us.

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It only got better when the food arrived and made Taco Bell appear to be for la raza. Did we mention the name of this place was Guadalupe? Yeah, that's right, and it said Tapas so we really didn't think it would be bad. But then the food arrived and it was just, well, not even Del Taco worthy but at least they had decent portions and we were pretty hungry. We soaked up the food with the practically non-alcoholic sangria and added a "CLINK!" sound every time we toasted just to make us feel like it was somehow a legit place, even though our fake clink left an echo through the large empty space (could probably fit 100 people but we remained the only customers).

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We kept wondering where the kitchen was located as we only spotted the boss and waiter hanging on front of a cashier and small bar (with tons of "glasses" hanging...hm). After Walter dragged (or clutched for dear life) down the eternal spiral staircase to get to a bathroom practically located in a closet, he discovered where the kitchen produced the magnificent feast. Why, downstairs with a dumbwaiter (small food/dishes elevator contraption) which allowed the culinary artists to produce their works in private and ring up when it was ready. Luckily we have some photos for posterity. Oh wait, and that business card that has '10% Discount!' across the back of it. Yeah, that'll keep us.

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We wished we were wiser than the retirees who sat down, looked at the menus, gazed around and split.

no tortillas here
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Posted by Eighteyes 15:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged food Comments (0)

Lazy day in Leiden

oh wells

After arriving at Wouter's apartment in Leiden we felt extremely drowsy, due to Michelle's late night essay cramming (last week of school). We took a nap on two mattresses provided in a small room at the front of the apartment.

We awoke quite late and decided to freshen up. Not to our surprise, the shower-room was separate from the toilet and small sink. We were completely unaware of the fact that the entire room was a part of the stand-up shower and totally un-contained (the curtain was irrelevant). This led to some freaking out, when after 10 minutes, the water just past the curtain and onward towards the washing machine (yes, in the shower room) and second sink. The water was quickly turned off and we are still freaked out by the experience. Our host forgot to mention that little detail, assuming that we've experienced such showers...

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Posted by Eighteyes 14:47 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Leiden is very quiet...

overcast

...coming from an NYC perspective. We left Anita's after breakfast and took a rail to our next stop. The view was very peaceful and tranquil with farms and colorful flowers being grazed by livestock sandwiched in between an occasional factory. Wouldn't have minded if that lasted a bit longer. Upon arrival at the train station we were greeted by our next host Wouter (Dutch for Walter). We walked and walked and walked and walked with our bags consisting of two weeks of necessities until we reached his apartment which he is currently in the process of being painted. After much lighthearted talk over coffee, tea, water and cookies we are now planning the remainder of our day on 4-6 hours of sleep.

Leiden
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Amsterdam
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Posted by Eighteyes 06:11 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Our first stop...

Here we are, Netherlands!

sunny

...was in beautiful Haarlem. Due to a lack of cell phone we had to figure out how to use the payphone with some guidance from an elderly woman and her two wolves, and then a nice older man. Once with communication, we shared a space on the second floor of a house with a student named Anita who was very helpful and informative. Michelle slept on her small couch with her feet dangling over the end, while I rode the waves on an inflatable mattress. We wonder, why must the sink, toilet and shower all be in separate rooms? It's unique. The cuisine so far has been very healthy consisting of breads, cheeses and fresh fruits and vegetables. The Public Library in Amsterdam is very chic and modern with a full kitchen serving pastas, salads, soups, wines, and beers. The kitchen is on the top floor which also features a terrace overlooking one of the many canals. The coffee shops sell more than just coffee as we could tell by inhaling the air once we stepped inside. Looking forward to re-visiting. Anita showed us a lot of maps and took us around to thrift shops and funky stores. We got a cell phone that works in Europe, and we also purchased very potent cheese! In addition we sampled many breads with pesto spreads and such. We also saw teenage trumpeters and small amusement park rides set up on a side street. It has so far been breath-taking!

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train

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sleeping quarters

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Library cafe
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Anita & Michelle
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Posted by Eighteyes 16:46 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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