Monday, November 17, 2014

Europe Trip Day 4 - Brugge

Day 4
We took the train from Antwerpen Centraal Station to Brugge. Michael and Anne drove 5 hours from Germany to join us in Brugge for the weekend. So, we met at Brugge station and started our day from there.

Brugge is the largest city of the West Flanders in Belgium. It's beautiful like a fantasy world. Something like Disney. Lol. I love its medieval streets, winding canals and green ramparts.

We actually walked from Station Brugge all the way to Grote Markt

I had Flemish Beef Stew which was really good. I shall learn how to make this. Ryan went to one of the many chocolate shop and bought us some Belgian chocolate. I must admit that they are really good. As for the waffles, it wasn't the best I had. In fact, the best waffle I had was in Tokyo. We probably went to the wrong shop for waffle.

Flemish Beef Stew and a glass of Duvel

Michael then drove us to the beach-y side of Brugge. On the way, we dropped by Carrefour to get some bottles of mineral water and as usual, the supermarket was a happy place for me. I always love angmoh supermarket. Lol.

After the beach, we drove back to Antwerp and we had a nice dinner and drinks with Michael and Anne at a nice restaurant and bar.

Europe Trip Day 3 - Antwerp

Day 3
We departed Amsterdam for Antwerp via Thalys. We stayed in Antwerp for 2 nights at Antwerp Central Youth Hostel. The hostel was pretty nice but there were mosquitoes in our room. Same feedback from Michael as well who stayed in the same hostel on our 2nd night.

What we did in Antwerp:
- We went to Groenplaats, Cathedral of Our Lady, Grote Markt and Hetsteen
- Drank lots of Belgium beer
- Had the best mussels and fries
- Walked a lot
- Took the subway to Chinatown at night which was a mistake because that area was pretty dodgy

Cathedral of Our Lady - Built between 1352 and 1521 as one of the world's tallest building

Grote Markt - The main square in Antwerp and is a popular tourist destination

In the centre of Grote Markt (in front of the town hall), there is a statue of Brabo who cut off the hand of the giant Antigoon and threw it into the river. Antigoon lived near the Schelde River and used to charge a toll for people wanting to cross the river. For people that couldn't pay the toll, their hands would be cut off and thrown into the River. This is a famous folklore tale in Antwerp and that is how Antwerp got its name from. The name Antwerpen means 'Hand Throw'.

Hetsteen (The Stone)
Often referred to as The Castle but was originally one of the old city's fortified gates

One of the many beers we had, best mussels and best fries

Credits to Ryan Chew for the photos.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Europe Trip Day 1 & 2 - Amsterdam on September 2014

We were supposed to spend 3 nights in Amsterdam but because of the 25 hours flight delay, we only had 2 nights.

We arrived at Schipol Airport early in the morning. Took the train from the airport to Central Station. From there, we walked about 10 minutes to the apartment near Dam Square where we stayed for 2 nights.

Central Station

We rented an apartment in Dam Square for 100 EUR per night. Lovely apartment with original very steep Dutch staircase. The owner (if I'm not mistaken), Kevin, was very kind to help us carry our luggage up.

The original very steep Dutch staircase
Day 1 Itinerary
Anne Frank's House was just a 5-minutes walk from our apartment. So glad that I did my research and bought tickets online. With that, we didn't have to join the crazy long queue at the entrance. There was a special entrance at the side of the house for pre-bought tickets.

Just look at that queue to Anne Frank's House behind me
Our route for the day

After Anne Frank's House, we took a bus to Blue Boat Company. We had our brunch around there and then we went on the City Canal Cruise.

After the canal cruise, we then head to Van Gogh Museum via P.C. Hooftstraat (a street full of designer boutiques and fancy lunchroom). The street was pretty empty though. Van Gogh Museum was great. I love his art work.

We then walked towards Rijksmuseum again for this picture below.

Albert Cuypmarket is open every day of the week except Sundays. We tried the typical dutch snack here, a herring.

I love it
Heineken Experience was fun. Tickets were inclusive of 2 free drinks and a Heineken glass. I wasn't sure if I was jet-lagged or the beer was really good (fresh!) because I was really tipsy after 2 glasses which was unusual for me.

This is our last attraction for the day and we still had time to kill, so we took the tram back to Dam Square. Since Red Light District was nearby, we went but it was still early (around 5-6pm) so there wasn't much to see.

Day 2 Itinerary
I bought a Countryside Bike Tour by Mike's Bike Tour. On this bike tour, we cycled to the south of Amsterdam where most time were spent riding along the Amstel River. We went to one of the few remaining authentic windmills and then visited an entertaining and funny farmer at his cheese farm and clog factory. The bike tour was really fun.

We went back to Red Light District after sunset this time and it was so crowded with tourists. This time, ooooh so much to see. Sorry, no pictures as it was not allowed. Didn't even try. I was informed that there were bouncers everywhere and they will damage your camera if you were caught taking pictures.

We went somewhere near Leidseplein for some food and drinks on our last night.

Tips: If you know you will be taking the tram or bus a lot on that day, buy a day pass for 4 EUR and you'll get unlimited rides for the day.


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