America and Germany in France, a trip to the Netherlands and it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I have been so busy I haven’t even realized how fast the past two weeks have gone bye and now I realized it has been 2 weeeks since I have posted!  Where has the time gone!?!  There is only about 2 weeks of classes left until xmas break, and I can’t believe it.  Now there are only 35 days until I return to the states!  OMG…I can’t believe it.  I feel like I just got here. 

So these past two weeks have been the most busy since I have been in Paris I think.  I had one of my best friends from Germany come to visit 2 weeks ago. 
tiff and celine small
She was an exchange student at my high school in 2004-2005.  It was really great to be able to see here.  We were very busy when she was here.  We saw Twilight: New Moon the day it came out here, which by the way was ywo days earlier than the states.  I made sure to call my family after we got back to let them know how incredible it was, of course I didn’t give any spoilers, but it was fun to call because my family are all Twilight fans.  Later that weekend we did lots of sightseeing and we went all over Paris just enjoying our time together in PARIS!  We both couldn’t believe we were in Europe together, it was such a great experience!  I had such a great time with her here and it was really nice to have a familiar face around. 

The next week was filled with orale presentations and homework and lots of work.  I was so busy I didn’t have time to think.  When Thursday came along, it was hard to believe it was Thanksgiving because I had class and work.  I was so impatient all day because the family I babysit for had invited me for Thanksgiving dinner.  They prepared a turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and all the wonderfulness of food at a great American Thanksgiving.  I was so grateful and happy that I got to share that exerience with them.  I feel so thankful and lucky that I got a job babysitting for such wonderful people.  They really have made my experience in Paris complete.  One of the things I had really hoped to do when I was in Paris was to live with a family.  It was about double what I could afford to spend for rent, but they have taken me under their wings and made me feel like I am really accepted in their family.  They are really amazing. 

Then Friday, I got up early to take my train to The Netherlands.  I arrived in Rotterdam in the early afternoon and my friend Evy, who was also an exchange student at might high school in 2004-2005 picked me up.  We went to her mom’s house and we had lunch.  From what I hear it is was a very Dutch lunch, not necessarily in the food, but that it is something Dutch people eat a lot for lunch.  It was just bread and cheese and meat and cucumbers and tea.  It was simple but very good.  Later that day we walked around Breda, which is the city Evy grew up in. 
This is Breda at night:
breda
It was such a nice quaint little city.  I really enjoyed it.  For dinner we went to a resturant called, Buxuelles where I tried a Belgium rosé beer.  It was very very good.  I had never had a beer that was pinkish before and it was quite sweet.  The bartender made fun of me, in dutch of course, that it was like drinking lemonade.  Haha, it may have been sweet but don’t diss the American for trying something new!

The next day was sooo busy.  We went to Den Haag, which is the political capital of The Netherlands. 
This is the Peace Palace in Den Haag(or The Hauge in English):
peace palace
It was great visiting such a political city.  I did learn that The Netherlands has a government quite similar to that of England.  There is a Queen and she has some small responsibilities but mainly she is a figure that represents The Netherlands.  They also have a Parliment which makes the rules and governs the country.  I saw were the Queen works, but her residence is outside of Den Haag so we didn’t go there.

After we had lunch, we got on the train and went to Amsterdam.  Immediately I felt a great atmosphere in the city of Amsterdam.  It was alive and beautiful and really fun.  It was a little windy but it was so cool to be there.
One of the many many canals in Amsterdam:
amsterdam

I am in Love with the Arcitecture in Amsterdam.  It is such a beautiful city. 
I am Amsterdam!
i am amsterdam

My FAVORITE thing I did while I was in Amsterdam was my visit to the Anne Frank House.  It is the actual house that she and her Family lived in when they were hiding from the Nazi’s.  It was such a great visit, they told you the whole history and the background and I learned so much about their lives.  It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen in my whole life.  Just to be there was one of the coolest things I have ever done.  You are not allowed to take pictures, so I didn’t get to document it, but the visitors guide includes pictures of the whole house.  If there is anything I recommend, besides visiting Paris of course, GO TO THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE IN AMSTERDAM!  It is INCREDIBLE. 

Of course you can’t go to Amsterdam without visiting the red light district at night.  Warning:  Do not go alone.  It was an eye opening experience.  It is hard to believe that it is really something that people look forward to doing in Amsterdam.  It was something I am glad to have visited, but it was just very bizarre for me.  Walking in the red light district, you go down narrow ally’s which can prob fit at most 3 people wide.  And there is window after window and all there is, are women in the glass windows in lingrie posing and dancing.  There is a bed and a sink and a door to each room and since obviously it is prositution they are just trying to get men to come in. You would be amazed at how many of these rooms had closest curtains!  I was so shocked, it was quite an experience to say the least.  I guess as an American, I just was not expecting it to be as real as it was.

Anyway, Amsterdam is not just a beautiful city during the day, it is at night as well:
amsterdam night

I loved visiting Amsterdam and it was one of the coolest things I have done in Europe so far!

On Sunday, Evy and I spent the day exploring the city she goes to school in.  She lives in Tilberg, it is about a 15 min train ride from Breda, where her Mom lives.  Tilberg is a very old city with lots of culture.  It was a veyr beautiful city as well.  We did some shopping and of course got some Saint Nicolas cookies. 

 This Saturday, November 5th is Saint Nicolas for The Netherlands.  Saint Nicolas, is a Dutch holiday like Christmas (although the Dutch celebrate Christmas as well).  Saint Nicolas is a man (who looks a lot like Santa Claus, but he has a red hat that looks like the Popes and it has a cross on it) he comes from Spain with his helpers, who are in all of the stories 2 black men.  I found this so strange, but it is such an old religious holiday that noone believes the old tradition should be changed.  I still cannot fathom how they are so accepting of something so obviously racist.  Anyway, Saint Nicolas and his helpers come by boat at the end of November and there is always a celebration in the cities welcoming him to the town.  The following week he spends visiting children and checking his naughty and nice book.  On Nov. 5th all the dutch children leave a shoe by the chimney with a drawing and a carrot.  The drawing is a present and thanks to Saint-Nicolas and the carrot is for his horse.  Then the helpers go down the chimney and put presents in the little kids shoes.  It is a lot like christmas with a few differences.  It was interesting to learn about a new culture. 

I returned from The Netherlands on Monday and I was busy as soon as I got back with a test and lots of homework to do.  There are officially only about 35 days until I come home.  I cannot believe that. 

Christmas is in full swing here.  There are decorations everywhere.  There is a Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysees, which is incredible.  It is so big and it has candy and food and lots of other things that you can get that are mostly all holiday based.  It is a great experience.  There are trees and lights everywhere and the Christmas Spirit is full swing in Paris.  Before I know it I will be heading to Germany for Christmas. 

I hope everyone enjoys my long post of my past two very busy weeks.  Good Luck to everyone at Oswego on finals and such all coming up very soon at Oswego.  I heard their was snow there last night!  At least there will be a white Christmas somewhere because it is still 50 degrees here!

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