Belgium and the Netherlands- mainland Europe

Brugge Travel Blog

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After a night in the ferry, we finally anchored in Oostende in Belgium. I instantly could smell the sea, and the port of Oostende was never a big one. Now it is mainland
Europe. Remembering this was before EU was born, every single country in Europe used different currency units and passports. We used british pounds and schillings for
three days, but now we need to exchange money. It does not apply to the travelers of these days who travels Europe with the exception of England and Switzerland, but
it was a fun job for us to think how much money we would spend for a day. Spending an hour or so to wait for the train from Oostende, we decided to stop by Brugge of
Belgium. We could have gone to Amsterdam directly, but one of our colleague said that she can't miss this great town of Belgium for chocolates and lace goods. Well, if that is the case, we better stop by, don't we? Brugge is a quite small town, but has a river. Believe it or not, it was called the Venice of Northern Europe. Literally there are many
chocolate shops and lace shops, but the town was really small one so that you can walk around in 3-4 hours at best. On the day of visiting Brugge, we were quite encouraged by nice weather. Youngsters from the town might not have seen too many foreigners and they were trying to make a hassle with us, but didn't work out very well. This town of Brugge once the central position of Northern european economy with lamb wools and furs of Flemish, and now it has its own unique feature with peaceful scenery and delicious chocolates.

After spending some time in Brugge, we got on the train to Amsterdam, and that was the fist time I saw two-story train. One of the best thing you can travel in Europe is that the cities are so well connected by so many different types of trains, and intercity train was one of the most comfortable ones. We already started our Eurail pass, and for students, it was almost jack of all trades. The color of train was light green, which we would never see in hometown or US, but quite funny and comfortable. Outside over the window I could see light green meadow with cows. So rural and peaceful and for a while we did not think about anything except enjoying the scenery.

Finally, the train arrived in Amsterdam centraal station. Still remember the first sight of Amsterdam was chaos, but just the next moment it turned around as an interesting mixture of everythning. The first thing in sight was a band probably from South America, playing instruments and singing songs. I believe it was quartet. Next we stopped by information center, and exchanged our money to the Netherlands Guilder which had Queen Wilhelmina on the backside of coins. The first big fight came to our mind to buy a map or not. After all, I decided to buy a map by myself and started my own journey to hotel. I still remember very nice people of Amsterdam, who spoke English in such a good manner, and kind enough to show me the way to the hotel. Obviously, the subway in the amsterdam colored Orange. I was the first one who arrived at the hotel and the rest of my colleagues arrived an hour later. We finally be OK with each other and there was a small party celebrating our landing on mainland Europe. The sunset was
coming down, and our faces were glowing with it, and we drank Heineken beers. One of our colleagues were painter and she suggested to sing a song with toasting. On that night, we were probably the happiest people. I push stories in Amsterdam to next blog entry as it has more cohesiveness and perhaps more informative.
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photo by: Chokk