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The Netherlands, Belgium & Northern France

21st Jul 2013 - 26th Jul 2013 -

After a very very long drive we arrived at our hotel in Amsterdam around lunch time. We had found a cheap and classy hotel located at Schiphol airport, we decided this was a good idea as it had free parking, and a free shuttle to the airport and then a quick 20 minutes on train into Central Amsterdam.

We took the double decker train into Amsterdam and found a lovely Argentinian steakhouse for dinner, washed it down with a few Heineken's then wandered around the Red Light District. (I've been before with my mum and dad of all people) I knew what to expect and I guess Shan imagined it to be all these sexy girls in the windows but I guess they cater for all men’s needs/fantasies- there were dwarfs, fat ones hanging out their bikinis, ones that look off their faces amongst others.

We had a wonder around, amazed at the people blatantly smoking weed, and wondering how many people have fallen off the banks into the canals.

In the morning we headed back into Central Amsterdam to soak up all it had to offer, we took ourselves on the water with a canal cruise and joined an hour long queue to visit the amazing, inspiring Anne Frank’s house. It was eerie and very fascinating- although it was crammed full of tourists all shuffling along and understandably no photos were permitted. On the way out I bought Anne Frank’s Diary in the gift shop (which of course was a fascinating read). We wandered all around the streets and over the bridges in Amsterdam, and we came across a Magnum ice cream shop where you pick and choose your own coating and flavours to make your own individual magnum ice cream. I was thoroughly in my element! For dinner we went to another Argentinian steakhouse as there seems to be 10 on every street. And then back to hotel and that was the whistles stop tour of Amsterdam and indeed the Netherlands complete.

Making my own magnum

The next morning we stopped off for another obligatory MacDonald’s- it was literally on our doorstep so would've been rude not too, then we headed out the maze of Schiphol airport and headed through Rotterdam to Belgium. We knew we didn't have long so pre-planned that we would visit Bruges for lunch. Again I had been before and knew it was a gorgeous city. We had waffles, and Belgian beer. Wondered around the square, went inside a church which claimed to have a viral of Jesus' blood, and even popped into H&M. Then we stopped off at a chocolate shop and picked several yummy pieces and then quickly ate them as it was such a boiling hot and sunny day that the chocolates were melting, but my, were they delicious, until we ate too many and felt sick!

Belgian chocolates
Belgian chocolates gone

Made our way on to France our third country in one day and arrived in Paris for dinner time. Are we in seine? !We had guessed it would be super crazy of us to think about driving in the city centre, so we booked a nice hotel near a train station about half hour out of Central Paris. We made our way on the metro, which was scruffy and we did feel like we had to watch our backs a little. We got off the train and wandered around watching the sun set over the Seine and spotting our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Then we found ourselves a quintessential Parisian restaurant. I had escargot and Shan had Raclette whilst listening to Parisian music and Parisian hostesses running around tending to our needs, it was a very beautiful building and maybe a bit posh for us, but it was lovely.


The next day again we took the metro into Central Paris, and jumped straight on the open top sightseeing bus, as we thought that the best way to know where everything was. We saw all the famous landmarks including stopping and going inside the Cathedral Notre Dame, and the Louvre, where we saw the world famous Da Vinci's, Mona Lisa, that was really cool. Also went to the Arc De Triomphe. Then we climbed by foot to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and soaked up the views below us. Afterwards we jumped back on the sightseeing bus and headed to a great view point up on the hills to see the Eiffel Tower now in the near distance. It was indeed very magical. For dinner we went the opposite of quintessential and had a Chinese meal, and lovely it was, although not the same as we are accustomed to in the UK.

Cathedral Notre Dame
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

The next day drove on the last leg of journey to Normandy and its beaches. We visited the war museum and took in all the harrowing stories and facts that came from the Second World War. We then drove past all the D-Day beaches and went onto the sand of them to look at a ship wreck, it was a beautiful sunny day and calm blue waters so it was very harrowing to imagine those boats arriving onto the beaches and what was to follow.

After the Normandy beaches we were mean to visit Mont Saint Michel but we had taken so long absorbing everything in the museum and on the beaches that it was getting dark so we headed to our final stop on this trip, back to where we started at St Malo. Our hotel for the night was very basic and more like a Motel, but it served its purpose. large supermarche and bought lots of cheese and biscuits and other things, and headed to the old part of St Malo, drove through the cobbled streets and ate our cheese. Before boarding our ferry back to Guernsey.

French cheese

#europe2013 #europe #amsterdam #netherlands #annefrank #belguim #bruges #france #paris #normandybeaches #stmalo

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