¡BON NADAL! Oh boy am I pooped. Let’s start from the beginning!
Saturday morning I had to wake up at 3:30 am after only sleeping for about an hour to take a shower and head to the metro station. I left the apartment at about 4:40 armed with my backpack and an apple! It was so funny to see people still wandering around drunk while others were on their way to work. This one guy had brought one of the Bicing bikes down into the Liceu stop (typical Liceu), started yelling about it proudly, and was seeking applause. It was hilarious! As the train was pulling away, he reached over and started ringing the bike bell like crazy! Ahahaa, oh Spain! So I got to the Renfe station and there was 7 minutes til the train to the aeropuerto, so I waited to see if the girls would get there. No go. So I missed the first train since I assumed they would be there soon and that we would still be fine taking the next one. I called them about 8 times. No answer. That’s when I started worrying. Assuming they had not woken up, I called Holly who also didn’t answer. So I started weighing my options—wait and possibly not be able to board due to late check-in, or just go by myself (possibly on the whole trip). So I got on the Renfe and just as I got on I got a phone call from Allie’s phone. I didn’t even say “hi,” it was more of a, “HURRYANDGETONTHETRAIN—I JUST GOT ON! PLATFORM 9, PLATFORM 9!!!!!!!11” And all I got was a, “huh? I didn’t really catch any of that.” It was Holly. Hhaha! I guess they didn’t wake up to their alarms nor the phone calls (late/rough night), so I told them to just take a taxi. No problems from there on. It was weird to be at my gate when it was still pitch black. I felt like such a real person—going somewhere super early in the morning, haha! The sun rose as we were taking off and it was gorgeous! Jess wasn’t feeling too hot and we all wondered whether she would throw up all of the sudden. Poor girl. We got in fine and got some food at the Amsterdam airport which was so freaking cool! It was so modern and artsy! It was all decorated for Christmas and there was even a Christmas DJ in the middle. We got some twisty fries and a drink at the BK Lounge and hung out for a bit til Jess felt a little better. We had some serious troubles figuring out the ticket machines, but succeeded after about 15 minutes. Off we go! Amsterdam is ADORABLE!! I seriously love it! Having no map and no idea how to pronounce anything, we wandered south? We apparently passed some prosti’s while walking (since we were near the Red Light District), but I didn’t notice since I was on the phone. It took us so long to find our hostel. Since Amsterdam nor Brussels have metros (or they’re really small), you pretty much had to walk everywhere or use the tram. So we took the tram but still had some difficulties. Once we found it, Jess and Allie decided to take a nap and I met up with Amy and Kel who were staying with Amy’s cousin’s boyfriend (since her cousin was in the US at the time). They showed me around, which was a HUGE help! We went to the Van Gogh museum which was super cool. Afterwards, we all met up again and went over to Mark’s apartment which looks right out over a canal. It was such an awesome apartment. I guess it pays off to be an ER doctor and a…I don’t know what Amy’s cousin does. So we had a beer and then he said he had made a reservation for dinner for him, us, and some of his friends nearby. And by nearby, he definitely meant the restaurant 5 feet away next door. Haha! I had some stir fry which was soooo delicious! Mark got us wine and he ended up paying for us. I felt so bad since there were 8 of us total. We said we felt bad, but his friend says he does it all the time and not to worry. Still felt bad. Afterwards we went to a café and ate some muffins with gummy dolphins on top. Yummy! Then they took us to the RLD. Let me just say, I’m so happy they took us and that we didn’t just go 4 girls all alone. That place was sooo weird I just cant get over it! It just doesn’t seem right. Some of them looked my age or younger!! I was totally shocked. Definitely scarier than I had anticipated! So glad we weren’t alone! We wandered around for a bit before ending up at a club/bar to look for a tall, blonde Dutchman for Amy, haha! Since it was Jessie’s birthday that day, Mark kept (jokingly) asking if we should get her a stripper, haha! What a funny guy! They bought us drinks, which I again felt bad about. We went back to Mark’s for a beer while talking about American v. Dutch traditions, myths, food, etc. Mark is too nice. He definitely went out of his way to help us experience the city. What a crazy, drug experimenting doctor, haha! When we finally got home, our heads hit the pillow and we were OUT!
Sunday we started out by going to the Anne Frank House/Museum, which was beyond cool! We got to walk up part of the knee-breaker stairs, go through the bookcase, sneaky-snake door, and see where they all hid out. They had original things still in there, including her diary! They still don’t know to this day who turned them in. How horrible. It was probably somebody who was with them just trying to save their own ass. So scary =(. We walked around town, did some little shopping, went back to The Dolphins, and then went to the Boom Chicago show, which was alright. We decided that they couldn’t do any ridic fabulous jokes since the dutchies wouldn’t understand them. Oh well—still funny stuff!
Monday morning we got up early to catch the train to Brussels! Once again, we had a horrible time trying to find our hostel. This time we wandered COMPLETELY into the ghettos and were a bit unnerved. We got out of there quickly and went back to where we started. I went up to a taxi an asked how much it would be to take us to our hotel/hostel, and the guy said, “oh, its only about a 10 minutes walk right down this street!” Fabulous! How nice of him not to just rip us off—I would have! After lounging a bit in our lovely hotel, we went out to get some dinner and hang out at the Grand Place. I got some hot wine at the little Christmas market and Allie and Jessie got some hot chocolate! I didn’t really realize how hot my wine was and reacted in quite insanely. Allie and I laughed about it for a while since she witnessed it, ahahahha! They were having a lights show in the Grand Place (which I attached part of). It was so pretty! Their big nativity scene had live sheep as well. They were so fluffy and cute! While waiting for our hotel’s shuttle back to the hotel, we got a “Smartees McFlurry.” The word “Smartees” didn’t even register to me since they looked like Spree. I was very iffy about our choice to get this particular McFlurry since what appeared to be Spree seemed like a weird choice of candy. When we got it, Allie asked “what is a Smartee? Like, what’s it made out of?” Jessie and I both described Spree since that’s what they looked like in the picture, but Allie interrupted to ask, “but what’s INSIDE!?” Turns out they were M&M’s! Oh, you crazy Belgians with your “Smartees” which look like Spree in your ads, but are truly M&M’s! Then some drunk guy wandered up and put his arms around Allie and Jessie and was pulling them forward towards me so we could all 4 do some awkward hug? But I grabbed my purse and backed away. He kept moving. And then I almost walked into oncoming traffic to get away from him. The other 2 followed me into the street and he wandered away. What’s with the drunks in Europe…so odd.
Tuesday we got up and went down to get our complimentary breakfast. Usually we get cornflakes and a roll or something as free breakfast at hostels, but this was a legit breakfast! There were eggs, bacon, toast, yogurt, cereal, juice, fruit, etc. Sooo insane! That started our day nicely! We hopped on one of the Brussels tour busses, where we ran into a recently graduated U of I sorority girl (who I totally recognized), ahha! Turns out she was on her way to Israel to see her sister! Seriously, what are the chances of that?! Oh life! We got to see the Atomium, walk through the Japanese Gardens while singing and dancing to Christmas music, and then played in the Jubelpark! We took some great action shots there, hha! After the tour, we got Belgian waffles & hot chocolate (for our Belgian dips), souvenirs, and street fries before searching for the Manneken Pis. We got a chocolate version of him on the way, which was a nice clue that we were getting close! We found him and he was rather smaller than I had expected. Nonetheless, he was dressed in a Santa costume, and we took some pictures to make it look like he was peeing into our mouths since we’re classy like that, haha! It was soon time to start heading back so we could catch the shuttle to the train station, which would take us to the airport. Successfully home and tuckered out! We only thought it appropriate to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development when we got back since we had been quoting it all weekend. Perfect!
On Christmas Eve we went out to get cookie making supplies, started making the dough and realized we didn’t have powdered sugar to make frosting! So we went back out and made an event out of it! I got a picture with Jack Skelington (dressed as Sandy Claws of course). He was fun. He’s totally my boyfriend. We got the stuff but got distracted by wonderful music on the way up. There was an awesome Spanish band playing music up by Hard Rock and we ended up buying their CD’s from Mr. Miyagi as a Christmas present to ourselves, haha! Cookies were a success!
Christmas morning Allie and I got up at 10:45 to make blueberry muffins and start making the stuffing! Cleaning out the chicken was kind of fun. I didn’t realize how wiggly they are! We made them dance and then pretended they were a newborn from the Lion King while singing the Circle of Life. We’re awesome. Jessie came out to help us after that. We stuffed him up, Jessie sewed him, we oiled him up with our hands, threw on some seasoning, and threw him in! In the mean time, I took a shower, we had our little Christmas (complete with presents, Sunny D, cookies, M&M’s, Christmas music, and some cake thing Allie made)!! It was nice. Right after, we had to start working on the mashed potatoes which were harder to do than I expected. But considering I thought the whole meal would be one large failure on my part, I was quite proud of the final product! It was sooo yummy! The stuffing was my favorite! Allie managed to make some gravy, so we had that too! It was such a delicious dinner! I don’t know how all women don’t hate Thanksgiving and Christmas! You cook all these huge meals that take hours to make and people eat them in less than 20 minutes. I mean, its very rewarding, but still. Clean up blows too, but we did it in small increments throughout so that helped. Allie and Jessie opened some presents with their fam while I cleaned up in the kitchen, then I opened with the fam via Skype. So strange! I don’t think it ever actually dawned on me last year that I wouldn’t be there this year for Christmas. It was so strange not to be home, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Sure, its different, but it was filled with exciting “firsts” for me this year! It’s just too bad I missed the white Christmas, ahha! I’d rather have Barcelona than a white Christmas though, haha! A Christmas Story tonight with Allie and Jessie tonight, yay!!!