Amsterdam for work and then on to play in Brussels

First off.... Amsterdam is very different at 27 than it was at 19. 

Day 1 – Friday, October 24: After a week long trek to West Texas… I had Friday morning to unpack, clean and repack before my flight to Amsterdam took off. I flew through Chicago (quick layover!) and then straight on to Amsterdam. 
Sidenote: Last year when I flew to Indonesia, I was obsessed with Asiana Airlines. It was seriously the best flight ever and made me have high expectations for international travel. Asiana Airlines is a part of Star Alliance reward program so naturally I started using them whenever doing international travel expecting the same amazing experience from before…. Whomp whomp, expectations not met. To be extra bratty, I’m even going to complain about the married man who left his sleeping wife to sit in the seat next to me because his seat did not recline…. There I was an exit row to myself, window seat, plenty of room, easy access to the restroom and front row bar service…. BAM, taken away in a flash. Long Dutch legs stretched out in MY aisle seat and took away all of my perks... as limited as they may have been.   

Day 2 – Saturday, October 25: I arrive to Amsterdam. Thankfully all of my luggage arrived too. Including a big box with no  handles

Day 3 – Sunday, October 26: What a good feeling to wake up in Amsterdam and have all your work finished. Time to explore this amazing city! I realized by the end of the day that I walked about 15 miles all said and done. I kept challenging myself to walk a certain direction until I was lost and then try and find myself on the map and then go another direction. I ended up seeing things within the city I don’t think I would have seen otherwise! Mamas with their babies playing on the stoop, historical churches that would else go unnoticed, secret (or at least somewhat hidden) passageways to ease a transfer from a private drive to the nearest bridge……
As I learned later in the week and as Toby explained when he arrived, Amsterdam was originally swampland that was built into a city.

The layout is beautiful and distinct with the city rings and extensive canal system.

During my adventure getting lost in the city, I managed to make a planned stop at the Van Gogh museum. One hour later (not a bad wait time for a weekend afternoon) I was inside admiring some of the most beautiful pieces. Even better than seeing the remarkable pieces of art, was learning of Van Gogh’s biography and reading his letter to his brother Theo. Really was great insight into the mastermind of someone that goes undiagnosed for too long when they have a severe disability. I know there are not any confirmations of these illnesses, but it’s impossible to hear his story, read his letters, watch his art progress and not come to a conclusion at least somewhat similar to my own.
That evening my co-workers arrived. In preparation for the early start the next morning, we naturally drank too much and intended to skip dinner; Typical oilfield. Thankfully I had the good sense to sneak off and grab a kebab in the midst of it all.

Day 4 – Monday, October 27: After 2 days of walking nonstop and putting ~20miles on my boots, standing for another 8 hours at the booth got difficult fast…. How was I supposed to survive 3 days of this without my feet just completely giving out? I know…. Entertainment!
I gained some smarts that evening and decided to eat a nice dinner and skip out early for a decent bed time.

Day 5 – Tuesday, October 28: Another day in the life of a marketer during a trade show week.

Day 6 – Wednesday, October 29: He’s here, he’s here, he’s here! Toby finally arrives and my excitement is in my smile all day long.
Toby came to visit me at the show, but I had a few more hours to finish up work before I headed back to the hotel. Nap time for Toby, work time for me.

Day 7 – Thursday, October 30: This was our day to explore the city together (A.K.A. Get lost on purpose and love every second of it) and see some of the historical sights the city has to offer. First of which: Anne Frank. I had been reading her diary in preparation for the trip and was, although apprehensive to see such an emotionally moving location, even more excited when the house was featured in a recent book/movie I had become fond of: The Fault in Our Stars.
It’s incredible to think that the Nazis, the Holocaust, Anne Frank…. All of this was only 70 years ago. This actually happened while our grandparents were alive. Even more placing in the timeframe that this was…. One of the helpers to keep them fed, clothed and hidden while the Frank family went into hiding, Miep Gies, died only 4 years ago. The house, memorial, memories, left at that house were done very well. It reminded me of Normandy with the purposeful voids to mark the zone as tainted.
Next, we explored the city and took pictures…and then explored the city and took more pictures.
That evening, time for the craziness….. Red Light District here we come. For more stories, please contact my lawyer.

Day 8 – Friday, October 31: Halloween in Amsterdam…. Yes, that really happened. Again, for stories: Lawyer.

Day 9 – Saturday, November 1: We slept in until 10am. Felt awesome! Then after a quick check out, stop at the shopping center and lunch we headed towards Amsterdam Centraal Station to catch a train for Brussels. We load up and are forced to learn the transfer experiences quickly. Amsterdam to Rotterdam to Roosendaal to Antwerp to Brussels.
Wanna know what made it really fun/kinda really sucked and got scary? 10 Dutch hoodlums with loads of Axe body spray, drugs and booze that loaded up our train after our transfer in Rotterdam. The cloud of Axe body spray, mutual disrespect for eachother mixed with the usage of the “F” word, “B” word and other words that sounded equally distasteful in a foreign language stayed with us for ……. Remind me to travel light so I can run away from weirdos next time without having to discharge my luggage from the top rack and expose my ribcage to shanks. I don’t think the foreigners were fond of my RBF.
After we arrive in Brussels at the Central Station, we were off on the hunt to find The Dominican Hotel, which would be our home for the next 2 days.
After a few wrong turns, we ended up making it to The Dominican... GORGEOUS. Thank you sister Morgin for your wonderful hotel suggestion. 

Day 10 – Sunday, November 2: 
Time to go out and about on the town in Brussels..... this is of course after sleeping in until 11am. We proceeded to grab lunch.... and by that I mean a cappuccino and a chocolate croisant.... and heading to the "Hop-On-Hop-Off" bus that would tour us around everything awesome in Brussels.
This bus is exactly what it sounds like.... you can load the bus at any point and then hop on and hop off at different stops along the way with new buses coming every 15 minutes. 

After our intellectual side was sparked, we decided to fulfill our other tourist needs and dine in some traditional Brussels food and drink. We found this amazing alleyway that housed 20 different European restaurants with tables covering the slender path of cobblestone and brick. YUM! 

Next... time to get some Belgian Beers at Delirium Bar!! They have over 2,000 beers. No joke.

Day 11 – Monday, November 3: Today is the day we leave Europe behind…. What a wonderful trip it has been!


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