Saturday morning, after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we left at 7am to head to Brussels and Amsterdam.
It took about 4 hours (including a quick rest stop) to get to Brussels. I slept basically the entire way since our plans to get a full night of sleep seem to always fail.
Once we arrived in Brussels, we went to the Grand Place, which is the center of Brussels. It is a beautiful square with a huge cathedral and I think the parliament building. Brussels is not a very big city, but the architecture is also very beautiful. We also saw the Mannekin-Pis, which is the most notable symbol of Brussels. I was expecting it to be much larger than it actually was.
After that, we had a little less than 2 hours to explore the city. Our group decided to try Belgian waffles. We got the from a little stand and I got one with bananas, strawberries and chocolate. Waffles will never be the same. These waffles were life changing and so delicious. The waffle has little bits of sugar inside and it is seriously so good.
We also visited the first Godiva store and did some shopping for some Belgian chocolate, which is also delicious. The stores were all very cute and there was basically a chocolate store every other store. They sure do love their chocolate there!
After chocolate tasting and shopping, we decided to enjoy another Belgian specialty, frites, also known as French fries. The Belgians were actually the ones who invented French fries so we wanted to try them. We went to a little frites shop and got some with mayonnaise (which is lot like American mayo, but was suggested by our friends who had been abroad before). The frites were (as Meredith R said) underwhelming. Nothing too special where we went.
We then did a little more browsing and wandering around the city. Two hours was the perfect amount of time to be there since there wasn’t much to do. We met back up with the group at Grand Place and boarded the bus to head to Amsterdam.
We got to Amsterdam at about 5pm. The hotel here is by far the best hotel we have had some far. Not only in the room about twice the size of our room in Paris, it has many of the amenities that we have been missing like ice machines, an iron, wash cloths, lots of outlets and a mini fridge. There are also some really nice special things too like a heated towel rack and complimentary water, chocolates and pillow spray (which is awesome). Even though there is no Internet, these things seem to make up for it. I would definitely give it five stars.
After a quick change, most of the tour group decided to go to the Heineken Experience, a brew tour. With some help, we managed to take the metro to the other side of the town. I can sum up our travels with what someone else said, “Thank God for the school system in the Netherlands.” Everyone in Amsterdam speaks very good English and is very willing to help some lost tourists.
Amsterdam is very different from the other European cities we have been to. There are canals running through the city and basically everyone rides bikes. There is even an entire separate road for bikes on the road.
Just outside the Heineken brewery, we ran into some Phi Mus from South Carolina. After snapping a quick picture, we hurried inside since we had only like 3 minutes to get in the last tour.
The tour was really cool and went through the history of Heineken and its importance in Amsterdam culture. We learned how beer is brewed and the tour finished with a cute little moving ride where the audience was the beer being brewed. Afterwards, we got to taste some beer in a room that was basically a Heineken commercial. It was really fun since most of the group was there and everyone was hanging out.
Next we grabbed a quick dinner at a fast food place nearby. On the way there, we saw the cutest little boy riding the front of a bike. He was adorable and his reaction to about 10 American girls oohing and awing over him was priceless. The original plan was to go out that night, but it was cold and rainy on the way back, so most of the people I was with just decide to hang out and have a couple drinks at the hotel bar, which was also really fun! Nico summed up the conversation by saying Meredith R “is a nut case.” Good times in Amsterdam.