So I am starting late, but I will be blogging as often as possible, on my day-to-day experience during my Europe trip. I will start from the beginning.
Day 1 - Tues. Aug. 11
Margot picked me up from the Amsterdam airport at 8:30 am local time, which was 1:30 in the morning for me. We didn't waste any time though. I went to her family's summer house and showered, we had some coffee and breakfast then went into town for some grocery shopping. The local grocery store here is Albert Hein, a sister company of Albertson's...sound familiar? Everything is so clean and orderly here. It's amazing! At the store we got breads, cheeses, fish, tuna, meats, spreads, juices, wine, beer, and some chips and snacks. Lots to munch on!
That evening after I took a nice nap we went out for dinner with their neighbors to a restaurant on the water called The Otter.
Day 2 - Wed. Aug. 12
My first full day in Holland we went to Utrecht, where Margot lives. This is an area where a lot of students live and it is absolutely gorgeous. It was rainy so we had to lug around rain jackets and umbrellas but I loved walking around in the rain being surrounded by such beauty. Everything is green here!
We ate lunch at Olivier, a Belgium cafe. Then we just walked around and sat at a cafe in the center and had a glass of wine and cheese and olives and people watched. Later on, Margot's mom, dad and sister Roos met us in Utrecht and we ate dinner at an Asian cuisine restaurant called Opium. We had the greatest conversation and shared wine and great food! It is such a pleasure eating here, especially with her family! They are on vacation so everything is pretty decadent where we've eaten. But also, everything is so relaxed. We take our time and sit for hours. But at the same time, we end up eating a ton of food! Everyone here orders a starter to themselves and then a main course, in addition to bread or some other sort of table starter. It's quite filling. I can't do this every day for the rest of my trip!
Day 3 - Thurs. Aug. 13
We woke up to dreary weather, it wasn't raining, but it definitely wasn't nice out. A bit chilly, too. Some days are really sunny and beautiful, in the 70's while others are dark and cold. But Margot and I got in the car and drove to Antwerp, Belgium. The drive was about an hour and a 1/2 and when we drove into town, the sun came out and we enjoyed a great day. The architecture is absolutely gorgeous there. Everything was old and beautiful. We ate mussels, which is what Belgium is famous for, and shared a Beglium waffle from a street vendor which was without a doubt the most amazing thing I've ever had. We took a tour around the town on a small bus, and did some window shopping. Then we went to a Mexican cantina off of this tiny street that was secluded and quite. We were the only ones at the restaurant! Let me stop and say, do you realize how many times I've mentioned food!? its crazy and definitely starting to catch up with me. But I'm enjoying it too much. We barely ate much food there because we were really full after the appetizer. But we made the trek home and went out last night to a bar that margot used to work at, and her boyfriend Paul currently works there, so we visited him while he was working. This was in Amersfoort in Holland. The day ended great because I got to talk to Josh on Skype for the first time since I left! It was nice seeing my honey's face :)
Day 4 - Fri. Aug. 14
Today was lovely! We slept in til 12 and met Margot's family at a restaraunt by the summer house. They took the boat from the summer house to the Brasserie Kompas. We sat outside from 3-7 and had wine and lots of great food! I noticed today that I can sit around the table and listen to everyone speak Dutch and sometimes they will interpret what someone said in English, or they will speak English for a bit, but even when they're speaking Dutch, I can usually understand what they're talking about. This is sometimes, not all the time, but for the most part, I can get the gist of what's being said, not what exactly they're saying, but I'm catching on slowly. And reading menus is getting easier and easier :)
After our meal we took the boat back to the summer house and had some coffee then took the speed boat back to the restaurant to get our car. On the way Paul went wakeboarding which looks like a lot of fun and I want to try it but it was way too cold tonight to attempt that.
From there, Margot, Paul and I went to Amersfoort and walked around the center and met up with some of their friends. We drank tea, I tried a rose beer they have here, and ate some bitter balls (typical Dutch fast food that look like hush puppies but are filled with some sort of meat) and now I'm home in bed uploading pictures and finishing this blog. From here I hope to update daily, but we'll see :) Tomorrow we're off to Dan Haag to visit Margot's cousin, Clare.