Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bruges, Belgiumness

The Gigantic bottles of water, as you can tell they really amuse me
Hallo! Bonjour! Aloha! Hi! It's already been a whole week of Europeness for Ali! Feel very comfortable walking around the town, can finally navigate my way around without our maps yay! Today is a free day, which meant sleep in day for me didn't get out of bed till 11:20 and boy did it feel dood! I uploaded pictures from Friday and yesterday's adventures. Friday we had class for much much shorter than we had expected. Dr. Wright decided to cancel the 3 afternoon hours, so class was only 3 hours wahoo! We have had a total of 9 hours of class, will have 5 more hours monday and then finish tuesday with an exam. When we get back to the states we have a paper to write about differences between countries of the EU in their retail sector. What I am getting at is that this trip is really the greatest way to spend a semester. Yes, we are still learning, but mostly from all of our field trips. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn abroad for a shorter time than a whole semester thanks to NDSU CGI. Okay enough of that nonsense. Back to Friday: we ate dominos for lunch oh yeah dominos needed a little taste of home, except the taste wasn't completely the same. We loved the pizza, but here they have not yet updated to the new garlic crust my tummy has really grown to enjoy silly Belgium! We then hiked a long ways to the port's museum and were able to see some pretty amazing sights! After the museum we shortcutted ourselves back a better route which terrified me at first. We spent some euros at the Delhaize grocery store here where they do not provide bags for you sooo we carried all of our items home by hand walking as fast as we could. One of the main reasons we went to the store was for Oven Paprika lays chips, the oven here is like baked back home so healthier which of course means you can eat more! We are addicted to these chips! We Farkled friday night, everyone is going to go home a farkler! Friday we also got in trouble with our apartment manager for having to many people in the lift/elevator woops. That's one thing we have to adapt to a bit better. Even though there's room for more, they are built so differently here that they just can't hold the weight. Saturday we took the train to Bruges for the day! The train station is gorgeous, i could sit and stare at its beauty all day and not be bored. Bruges was a bit more beautiful than the train station though! It's a town filled with canals, it has such a romantic feel and made me miss my lee a lot :/ After touring the city for a while we rented bikes and biked our way up to almost the coast of Belgium, we didn't quite make it there though :/ we ended up biking a total of 18 miles! Talk about a sore butt! I don't know how Lance Armstrong does it! We were trying to reach the ocean and get back to Bruges before dinner at 5, but it just wasn't going to happen. Biking on the cobblestones was also a task in itself. bumpity bump bump. We felt like the sound of music all the way with all 16 of us in a row it was hilarious! After the death ride was over we headed to the restaurant where we were served a 5 course american style meal! So classy and fun and well deserved after all that biking! I also tried cherry beer for the first time and loved that one as well. Once we got back to Antwerp, we all went out expecting people to be out and about on a sunday, but nope! They go out on weekdays rather than weekends which is silly to us. We did meet some already graduated Antwerpen locals and let out all of our american questions. They were sweet and put up with our curiosity. They even told us that until they heard us speak they would never have known that we weren't from around there. That was an exciting moment knowing that we fit in!! They told us that we were far from the cliche of the ugly american which also made us feel good. They like George Strait and The Eagles. College for them costs only 700 euros a year umm that's what a class costs for us! A big thing they shared with us which really erked me was that many young people in Belgium do not believe in God. Of course I had many questions for them and did my best to let them know that Heaven is fo real people! It just made me really sad. I will be praying for a change of heart for the Belgians. Anywho it was fun to meet some locals. We go to Paris at the end of the week it's going to be glorious. Hope everyone had a fun weekend! Miss you all! Smile :) A Tot Ziens!
Near the Port, Belgium's version of palm trees

A museum we climbed to the top viewing deck of. You were able to see the whole city and Port.

the architecture was unbelievable!

All windows on the whole building were curved like this

Katie and I with our new belgian sunnies on!

The Port area

Buildings everywhere


Boats in the port

Goes on for miles and miles

all of the cranes you see even way off in the distance are used to load and unload ships in the port

Diamonds :)

Antwerp train station

Once again beautiful architecture

Real deal train station clock

Our first views of Bruges, Belgium

The "lake of love"

Pretty brick

Kinda reminds of the brick on our house

breathtaking swans

A nowadays convent they were referred to as Begijnenhuisje's (pronounced begginhouse) you will see in the next pic

Canals of Bruges

The buildings are all intertwined

A medieval age road, they were not very wide!

Supposedly the smallest gothic style window

A golden tunnel

Packed graveyard in Damme, Belgium. Their graveyards are very interesting. You rent your spot for 100 years and after that 100 years is up they cover your name with someone elses and bury them on top of you, weird!

Biking in Belgium, 18 miles worth!

Our cherry beers! Talk about nummyness! Everything comes in the cutest little bottles too!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Antwerpen, Belgiumness

Door to a Chocolate Factory
Hoi everyone! It's day 4 of this fabulous adventure! Finally over the whole time difference and tummy aches that not getting the right amount of sleep was giving me, it probably doesn't help that our pillows are only 1 inch thick talk about a back ache! For yesterdays class, we all assumed we would be stuck in the classroom for 3 hours taking notes, but Dr. Wright surprised us all with a field trip to 4 different chocolate shops!!! It was called a chocolate crawl going from one shop to the next taste testing an array of choccies. This is not your average chocolate either. Here, in Belgium, the stores are cooled and chocolates kept refrigerated to the right temp to keep them from melting, there is absolutely zero fake wax added to them whatsoever. They were very yummy, but after one my tummy was satisfied-too rich for me. I still tried them all though, who can resist? My last one was filled with banana which was not the greatest Ali had to spit half of it out woops! Still loving the bread! The worker in the bread shop almost knows us by name, he always say to us as we leave "see you tomorrow" he knows its our fave! After the chocolate crawl we went on a cultural tour of Antwerp with our very own Antwerpen tour guide, she filled us with lots of Belgian fun facts and showed us some pretty neat places around town. Our feet and mostly shins are sore as can be, but boots have been the comfiest shoe for us even though we were told by the locals that boots scream foreigner, still don't believe that one! Today we toured the Port of Antwerp and had our very own backstage passes and again an Antwerpen guide. Hard hats and bright yellow construction vest were a must as we were in on the loading and unloading action from ships all over the world-Saudi Arabia to Tanzania to China to the beautiful USA. We saw the Chiquita banana port and coffee bean headquarters and a couple others, but those were the coolest. Saw millions of bananas in the warehouse just waiting to be shipped on out. It's so fascinating to see the puzzle pieces of the world that can sometimes be so broken be placed perfectly together. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the warehouses it is that top secret soo the pictures i have are just of the whole port and some ships, but let me tell you there were docks everywhere and ships coming in and heading out to all different directions. Oh and we also had class earlier today from an Antwerpen professor, it was a long 3 hours but well worth our time! Tonight we went out to a billiards pub and I found my new favorite and only favorite beer... Framboise for only 2 euro 20 euro cents! If you know me you know that I am not a beer girl so this was big for Ali! We had a fun and very safe time, making the boys of the group walk us home thanks guys. Tomorrow we have class for 6 hours yuck! But can't really complain when next monday is our last day of classes for the whole 5 weeks yippeee! I am adjusting to the whole not smiling thing slowly but surely but i will still leave you with smile :) A
Belgian chocolates are thee best

Want for mi casa someday

So pretty lightelicious

Do you see the giant chocolate bar?

Chocolates galore

An artist sculpts these figures out of chocolate

Mousey on the loo

Next stop Godiva, the real Godiva

Long license plates


Rows and rows

The next stop on our chocolate journey

A bar in the middle of a shopping mall, fancyness

So many sizes and colors to choose from

These were hand made/sculpted

The final stop. This is a sun protector in front of the store for the chocolates to not get melty

Had to

Just want to take one for a spin

Aldi in Belgium

Fresh bread in the grocery stores

Funny sign in town, they must run into a lot of peeing problems

Our favorite lunch time belgian version of subway, way yummier

Days of the week!

Katie with the giant water bottle you can't see it but her hands are still holding onto a good amount of bottle that's how tall they are

Bready bread bread

Some of us girls in a little market square by campus

On campus with the group

Curly haired girls

Our boots were made for belgium

Trying to capture Katie in action

Another pretty building

Windows galore! Very wealthy people used to live here back in the day, but now they are offices why would you ever give them up?

A cruise ship was docked at the port

A castle in Antwerp

Their speed limit signs

The cathedral from a far

The picture says it all, Belgium is the land where beer is cheaper than water

A restaurant under the ground

So cute and very true!

Another fancy hotel!

The beautiful classroom

The Port of Antwerp

A ship coming in to unload


They have the flattest nosed semis they fascinate me!