In this week's post, Elizabeth spends fall break in Brussels, Belgium, and Amsterdam, Netherlands, and explores new cultures, food, art, and history.
Whether it was eating waffles, seeing Van Gogh’s paintings, or sitting on the bench from The Fault in Our Stars, the past week has been a wonderful opportunity to experience new sights outside of Dublin. The past few days I traveled to Brussels and Amsterdam over my fall break. My friends and I ate and wandered our way through these amazing cities.
My friends and I on a canal bridge in Amsterdam.
We left early Friday morning for Brussels and once we arrived we immediately started to explore. As we turned a street corner and were met with a breathtaking view of the Grand Place, we stood and gazed up at the intricate gold designs in the architecture. The small figurine statues were patterned throughout the walls and shimmered in the early morning light.
The Grand Place was our first stop in Brussels.
After admiring the Grand Place, we decided to find some food at a lovely restaurant called Perk47. The quaint hipster-styled brunch spot was a short ways away from the plaza and it was absolutely delightful!
Our delicious brunch at Perk47.
The rest of the day was spent popping into stores and exploring the city of Brussels. The city is known for having murals of cartoons throughout the city and we were able to find a few of the paintings during our walk.
We decided to end our day with some traditional street food, fries and Belgium Waffles. The perfect balanced meal! We found two quaint places right around the corner from the Grand Place that were across the street from each other. Although there were so many types of toppings for the waffles, I decided to do the traditional powdered sugar version. (Yes, it was absolutely delicious!)
The next day consisted of more exploring and waffles. We stopped at the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral which was originally built in the 9th century. Since then, the church has been added and reconstructed and they found remains from the original buildings underneath the foundation. Despite the rain we were able to find beautiful parks and a donut shop to conclude our time in Brussels.
Outside St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral.
Sunday morning we headed by bus to the city of Amsterdam. When we hopped off the bus, I felt like I stepped into a movie. From the ‘gingerbread’ style houses to canal bridges, the bike filled city seemed unreal. Although the first day consisted of rain, we trooped through the puddles to explore the beautiful streets of Amsterdam.
The beautiful architecture in Amsterdam.
While in Amsterdam I had the lovely pleasure of visiting the Van Gogh Museum. Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists and seeing his work in person was quite surreal. His painting can be seen in pictures on socks, prints, and postcards all over the world. I have seen these images many times, but walking up to a canvas and admiring his work was truly breathtaking. I had the opportunity to see the painting, Sunflowers, which is one of my favorite paintings. To stroll through the museum and learn more about the life of Vincent Van Gogh had always been a bucket list item and I feel blessed to be able to have seen it.
The outside of the Van Gogh Museum.
Later that day, my friends and I had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House. Being able to experience such a historic place was overwhelming and memorable experience. I remember learning about Anne Frank when I was in middle school and seeing the house in person was unforgettable. It currently was undergoing renovations, so it is recommended to get ticket online if you are looking to visiting this historic site.
The famous bench from a scene in the movie 'The Fault in Our Stars.'
The rest of our time in Amsterdam included riding bikes through Vondelpark and finding the bench used in the movie, The Fault in Our Stars. The city of Amsterdam is full of such rich culture and an outrageous amount of bikes!
My friends and I at the I Amsterdam sign.
It was absolutely incredible to visit 2 countries within 5 days on my fall break. Traveling during my break allowed me to experience other cultures outside of Dublin. The culture, norms, and languages of Brussels and Amsterdam were slightly different from what I have started to become familiar with in Dublin, and it was interesting to experience the differences in countries that are a two hours plane and bus ride away. The people have a completely different style of living. My time in the two countries were wonderful and I would highly recommend them visiting them while abroad!
Elizabeth's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.