Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 1.5 - Amsterdam (I may be sleep on my feet!)

I gather up my belongings and hop on the tram into the city. I feel so adult! Oh wait.. I am, lol. I get to the Flying Pig Hostel around 7ish. I am close to deliriousness and refuse to go to sleep. I freshen up, lock up my goods, and opt for the hostel breakfast.

Boy.. it's carb heavy, but hey.. it's breakfast! I had some chocolate cocoa crisps, toast, and some apple slices. A breakfast for Queens!

I head back upstairs and opt for the free walking tour that I've heard rave things about. Of course, what would I see on the way.. There were 4 of these on this short strip!

Here is our guide who walks us down and around for the next 3 hours.

Here is the Royal Palace

The National Monumnet of Netherlands (yes, that's the name)

Everywhere is a Chinatown. I was fascinated that this was snuggled in the middle of the Red Light District (or very close to it).

The beautiful views and me in the alley!

Interesting Fact: The buildings in Amsterdam or slanted to the left or right or slightly forward. Many of the homes used to be warehouses. Workers used to hoist goods up via a rope and hook and sometimes the bags would sway. If they swayed and the building was flushed then the bags would break the windows or damage the buildings.

This door led to the secret garden. This building houses women that are not nuns but a variation. They live here alone and serve, but can leave a start a family and get married. Either way, you would never expect it, especially when it looks like this on the outside.

This is a small size I am amsterdam outside of the local museum.

This is by far one of the most awesome things I have seen ever! The neighbors had a problem with people being near their homes so they started installing this 'traps'. When someone went to whip it out and potty.. the potty would ultimately splash back on them wetting their clothes up! Ouch.

Who says you can't be green? Outside chiller!

Reypanear had delicious cheese! I hate we couldn't make it back for a official wine and cheese tasting!

One of the most narrow houses in the world.

Ciara is all over the place! She is doing a concert on the day before NYE. I mean she was everywhere! Beautiful display nonetheless.

We saw the Anne Frank house.. really really well done!

One of my friends recommended we check out the Pancake House. It was pretty tasty! Here is the savory and sweet versions.

We head back out to get ready and get dressed to head out. We are planning to hang out in Rembrandt Square and happen across a Christmas market and have these famous fries (I sure can't remember the name) that were tasty!

Somewhere in between we have this Dutch shot.. Licorice, special wine, and something else. It made my chest hurt.

As we continue to explore, we go to the Ice Bar. WE don't stay long because it is such the tourist place, but we couldn't miss the polar bear experience, lol.

WE finally make it to Club Home. WE were sooooooooooo early, but decided to post up at the bar with Fissel (the bartender).

This club played AMAZING music.. I mean some old school tracks, but we quickly realized a couple of things:
1. People don't come out until like midnight+
2. People are unusually young here. We later learned you only have to be 18 to get into clubs and drink.
3. I may be old, lol. While grooving to the tunes, we realized we were the only ones. I asked the bartender did he know this song.. he was like nope and the others behind him agreed. LAWD!]
4. I am anti-smoke! I thought I was going to die with the range of the 'scented air'.

No matter, we are still in exploratory mode and walk down a few alleys.. Amsterdam is the city of alleys and hidden places. We met someone and he signaled of sorts that we had on big long coats. Someone who had better english said we looked like we had on long sleeping bags! We could not help but to laugh!

Still on a mission.. we head to Club Smokey.

the only thing cool about this place was the toilet cover! 

And this..

I don't know what time it is, but at this point I quit and think it is fair for me to take a nap.

Ooooooooooo Amsterdam!

Until tomorrow! Whoo.

Day 1 - The Netherlands and Germany (Here we come!)

Firm shutdown, scheduled vacations, and a desire for change, plus some last minute shuffling, my bestie and I decided to head to The Netherlands and Germany for the holidays. The funny thing is the timing of it for the both of us did not really allow us to do any pre-planning.. so we are going on a hope, a prayer, and a few tickets (air and rail). We figured as long as we have some cities in mind, then we can figure out the rest of the stuff, right?

This picture was taken at 6am this morning. I have not completely packed but I have soo much work to do, I can't really focus. I don't even know if the right things are in my bag, but work is calling before I leave since I'll be disconnected for the next 2 weeks.

I'm working HARD, grinding out these last deliverables and I get a call that makes my heart drop! My bestie says that they are not going to let her board the plane because she was not at the airport 2 hours prior. I mean who needs to be at the airport 2 hours prior if you have a domestic connection that has a 3 hour layover.

They said they can rebook her for $2400. Now mind you her flight was still in the airport. it was 1hr and 20 minutes prior to her flight. I just cannot believe it. We spent the next 75 minutes pleading with the front desk and calling the customer service. The front desk came up with a $900 option. Still devastating. It's the devil, the devil I say. I'm on the phone with customer service and with my bestie and this guy has the nastiest attitude. My first thought was to hang up and call again but we don't have time. Eventually, we make enough of a connection where he is now listening to what I want him to do (look at other options that are significantly less than $2400. I thought he forgot about me, but came back, and fast forward.. he can only find the $900 flight as well. At this point, if we skip on the flight then we lose a lot of time and money invested. We have the agents at the airport talking to me via Porsche.. it's a mess! 

But I promise, I don't know what happened.. but some kind of way the customer service person made it to where we just paid the change fee and got a less than appetizing flight back to her, but we are back in the G-A-M-E and Germany is on again.

I finish up work, catch a cab, and I'm off to the airport. I get to the airport terminal for them to tell me I'm at the wrong gate and I need to go to the tram and ride to the other side of the airport. Are you serious right now? I check my watch and get nervous (see paragraph 1). I make it over and I see this ridicualously long line. Then I realize everyone is on the same flight. We are in business.. I asked the lady to take a pic of me waiting in line.

I stand in line for about 20+ minutes.. get to the front and KLM puts a sky priority tag on my bag. I guess they treat the Delta Medallion members better than Delta. So I could have walked through the express lane. Go figure! I caused myself to be worrried for no reason. I digress. I'm here and checked in.

As I approach security.. the guy says if you want to eat you need to grab something before you head in.. WHAT?! There is no food on the other side of security.. he says no. I'm like what in the world is this?! The only reason I type this entire paragraph is because this was the best (and greasiest) chicken philly eva (or at least in a long time).

So I hop on the plane and I'm in economy comfort - 86inches of space. I had to take pictures. I've never seen a plane so big. It had a upstairs and downstairs on the plane. This thing is HUGE and nice. A few photos!

This TV is nicer than mine at home. It's also flat! lol. I watched several horrible movies.. Contagion and Hangover Pt 2. I am not sure what it is with me and bad movies. I opted for Fast Five and caught a couple of Zzzzs.

I arrive in Amsterdam at 6:30am.. oh boy! That's a few minutes earlier than I was expecting and more time to add on to when I can checkin to the hostel and hours before Porsche is expected to arrive (2pm).

I think this is technically the end of Day 1.

Day 49 - Medellin (Until we meet again)

It would not be me if there was not an adventure waiting to happen. Everyone kept telling me there was a shuttle that left from the middle of Medellin to the airport. It was better to move in groups at the wee hours and more importantly much more cost-effective. I had one of the ladies write the information down at one of the hostels.

Guys this is it.. this is it. I put everything I had learned plus this piece of paper in hopes of getting to the location to catch my flight.I get to the area and I am like this CANNOT be it, lol.

This man walks up to me and offers to take my bag.. being super paranoid, i was like no thank you and look around. I find this sign and this really is the place.
I guess the man that offered to take my bag worked here, but he did not say as such. I felt awful for making him feel some kind of way, but it's too early to take chances on things I am not familiar with! So I load up and hop on. This really is it.. until we meet again.. South America.. you've been a wonderful life-changing experience.

Sooo what are my lasting impressions:
1. Stay off the beaten path.. The pueblos are sooo beautiful. You can find a big city in any country.
2. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone.. never in a million years would I have thought trekking was my thing.
3. Take a moment to just take it all in. I think this is the first trip I actually took a few days to relax.. I milked a cow and volunteered for a week!
4. Adventures and encounters are what you make of it. I loved every experience I had, especially the termales!
5. Be flexible... this allowed me to change my direction at the drop of a hat and even keep in good company!

This is my last entry from this trip! I hope to continue to post my other trips on this same blog. Will I start blogging for GP.. iono. I gotta think about it. xoxoxo to everyone that has been soo supportive of me and following my adventures.

Day 48 - Medellin (A Whole Lotta Moments)

Let me preface this by saying that this next to last entry of my Colombia experience comes 4 months-ish late, but I must complete this! The odd thing is that the last day in Colombia offered as much as experience as the whole trip (well maybe not the entire trip, but a good portion).

So as you knew, I moved over to a hostel in the less toursity part of town, but since it was my last day, a nice meal was in order and of courseeeee it would be on the other side of town. So the thing that made the most sense was to move back over to that side of town, but NOT before I decided to get that pedicure that I've been talking about for days. 

Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of this..but let's say that it's nothing like the states! I walk in and it seemed as if no one wanted to work (or maybe with me). The person that finally helped was fabulous. With the Spanish I had accumulated to-date, we had small (very small talk). She did my nails and they were great, but let's fast forward to the pedicure. They do not have chairs, instead they line buckets with plastic.. and I made it all the way to the end before the big moment happened.. I flooded the entire salon (or at least the back of it) when I accidentally kicked off the bucket! Can you say traumatizing? Who uses buckets anyway, lol.

So 5 hours later, after a very 'warm' bus ride across time, a serious journey uphill carrying my bags (that in retrospect might have been able to be lightened), and messing up my freshly pedicured toes, I make it to Diego's in time for him to let me in before he has to go to his daily Spanish classes (did I mention he's getting really good?!). I take a breather and enjoy the overlook from his balcony! I can't believe it's my last day.

We've chosen dinner at el Cielo's. A restaurant known for its creativity and offering it's diners an experience. A lot of people come to el Cielo's for their moments which is equivalent to a small bite. When we arrived, we were nervous because it was EMPTY! For this place to have gotten such great reviews, we were like is something wrong. We later learn that this is more of a later night spot. Oh well, let's proceed.

The restaurant had fabulous decor and overall look and feel.

To prepare you for the moment.. they brought us this small white thing that when they added water it expanded into something for us to wipe our hands with. I must try this at home!


Then they served us this sweet sparking wine of sorts.

 So I am doing the disservice of not knowing what everything IS and allowing my camera to die to not capture the rest of the evening. I digress! So for anyone planning to go.. bring a bad of paper to remember what everything is and a fully charged camera!


My main entree was soo delicious! Not sure what these jello-cube things were, but they were awesome!

Diego and I hanging out in between meals

So after dinner, we opted to go to this place called Dulce Jesus Mio. Boyyyyyyyyy I am sooo mad I did not have my camera. This was the most gaudy place eva. They had lights and costumes.. I mean costumes from security to waitresses to the 'host'. Since my camera died, I borrowed a few pictures. And yes, it is really like this. But it was pure entertainment and a lovely way to close out the evening. I got a dance with Batman I believe!

Entrance to Dulce Jesus Mio

Dulce Jesus Mio Nightclub in Medellin

Putting it alllllllll together..

After such a vid... I don't know what else is there to say!