Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brussels Deserves an Overnighter

On the way home from Amsterdam, we transferred trains in Brussels.  Why not spend a few hours exploring?  I'm glad we did, because Brussels is wonderful.  But, we were so tired and didn't really have enough time to relax and enjoy.  Not to mention the EuroStar station is a 20 minute not-so-scenic walk from the city center. 

But, when we walked out into the Grand Place, which is a huge cobblestone square, it took my breath away.  I had a moment, in spite of being exhausted.  I can't even describe the architecture.  

I think Brussels would be perfect for a relaxed, romantic one or two night getaway.  It's only a few hours from London on the Eurostar.  I would suggest you splurge on a really nice hotel, stroll the streets in the evenings in search of a wonderful meal, relax and enjoy.  (TE, if you're reading this, that's a subtle hint just for you.)

I really love seeing how each European city we visit has it's very own style and character.  

I hope you enjoy the pictures.  They are some of my favorites.  I took all the of them with the Nikon D90.





Friday, April 27, 2012

I Spy Friday featuring Amsterdam

Okay, so this is my last Amsterdam post.  Promise.  Well, until our next visit.  
Talk about a great place to people watch!  

There were street performers everywhere.  

There are bicycles everywhere!
It was funny to see people riding around holding umbrellas. 

 You have to be really careful.  
You're more likely to get run over by a bike than a car.  

 We saw both dogs and children as passengers.  
There was one lady who was managing to balance three little ones on her bike.  

There were so many families with children around.  

 This little guy was excited to try out this police motorcycle. 

And here's a future blogger.  Adorable.

But, be careful with the little ones in Amsterdam.  
You never know what you might see. 

My first clue that we weren't in Kansas anymore were the public urinals out in the middle of the square.

They were used and used often, even in broad daylight.  
The design does lend itself to modesty.  But it was a little shocking to see them. 
And this was in a very open and popular area right across from some cafes.

 I suppose when you bring together large groups of young men and lots of beer, they are a necessity.   

These guys were pedaling this contraption down the street with a keg on the back.
Notice the guy in the puppy costume.  

There were many stag parties strolling the streets.  The groom is typically in some ridiculous costume.  

We saw one poor guy that was so drunk he was being carried from bar to bar.  

Or, he was high on something.  

Cannabis (marijuana) use is tolerated in the Netherlands.

You can visit any one of the many Coffee Shops to catch a buzz.  
It does seem to be highly regulated, but I'm not sure the legalities of it. 

There are also a large a number of Head Shops where you can purchase pipes and such.

We even found this Head Shop tucked in behind a local church.  

These pipes were on display at a regular little souvenir shop.  

And then there is the Red Light District.
Prostitution is also legal and highly regulated.  

There are Sex Shops up and down the streets with everything you can imagine and more on display. 

There are also ladies of all shapes and sizes standing in the windows enticing visitors in for awhile.  
Some of the windows have curtains drawn indicating they were successful. 

I'm not easily shocked but I really didn't know what to think.  
It's all very disturbing, titillating and bizarre.

One of the ladies hit her alarm for some reason and 
people came running from everywhere to assist her.

We strolled through after dinner one night and the most shocking thing was the number of children walking through the area with their parents.

I think some might stumble upon the district without realizing it.  

So, if you are exploring with the kids make sure you know where the district is
and be careful which windows you peak through. 

See!  I told you that Amsterdam is a city that will both shock and awe!

I hope you've enjoyed the Amsterdam recaps.  It was a stellar weekend.

I still have the pictures from our afternoon in Brussels that I will share next week.  

For now, I'll leave you with some pictures from the Flower Market.  
Another area of Amsterdam not to miss!!