Friday, April 15, 2011

Another weekend, another country...

In March I went with Ashlee, her brother and sister-in-law to Berlin for a night. It was a quick but amazing trip. As soon as we got in we asked the hostel about a concentration camp memorial. We got on a train and an hour later we were at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial. Not that far from the center of the city, and was established the same year that the Olympics were held in Berlin. It was just unreal to walk through there and be in the bunkers where they lived and see the wall that kept them in. It was so sad to see and I heard a lot of interesting stories in the museums there. I never knew that the men made the woman prostitutes in the camp to give the men incentive to work hard. The men that worked the camp would "try out" the woman first . They gave the male prisoners coupons for hard work to go visit a prostitute. Much of the camp was destoryed but some orignal buildings remained.
The first night we went over to another part of town for drinks and stumbled upon the east side gallery. This is a part of the Berlin wall that has a big mural on it that is redone frequently.
One Sunday we took a free walking tour of the city. At our meeting point the tour guide pointed out a big hotel near by. This hotel is famous for many reasons. It is where the current movie unknown is filmed. It is also where many famous people have stayed including Michael Jackson. This is actually the hotel that he hung his baby of the balcony. Later on in the tour we visited more important things. Next was the Memorial for Murdered Jews. The guide pointed out immediatley how harsly this had been named. He said that they picked such a powerful name for a reason. We then stopped on top of the old bunker of Hitlers. This was the place where he got married and then killed himself. This was just a random plot of land that had no marker or anything on it. The tour guide told us that this was intentional so that he would not be able to be honored in any way but rather just forgotten about.
That night we happened to walk by the East side gallery. This is a part of the Berlin wall that is frequently repainted with art. We had a very quick visit to Berlin but saw and learned a lot!

The next weekend Ashlee and I took another quick trip to go visit a friend we had met in french class here. She just moved to Valencia, Spain so we went for 24 hrs to visit! Another quick but very fun trip. They toured us all around and fed us well. We had little montaditos (sandwiches) and patatas bravas. We went to the beach but unfortuately it was unusually cloudy this short time we were here. It was great to see another place and visit with a friend though! They treated us so well. We had pizza in and dyed Ashlee's hair before going out for the night!

My mom was just here for a weekend also on a quick trip! She came for a nice girls weekend and we had so much fun!! I have never spent that much time with just my mom and I loved it! We started with just exploring Brussels and catching up. Then on Saturday I took her on a surprise location to Keukenhof! This is a huge flower garden in Holland. We saw soo many beautiful flowers! We spent 6 hours admiring and walking around enjoying. Then we headed back to Brussels for dinner and rest. The next day we went to church, the market to get lots of yummy food that we then brought to the park. It was such a beautiful day that we sat in the park til the sun went away picnicing, napping and playing cards. I got a sunburn and mom was even hot! It was so nice and relaxing. We even stopped at the little vendor in the park to get some ice cream to cool off. Monday we met for another picnic at my school and a walk in the forest. After school I met back up with mom for another park walk near my house and dinner. Tuesday I was sad to say goodbye but we had so much fun and I will be home soon!
School just ended on Friday and I am running out the door to go home quick then go meet Donna and Eric at the airport! They are coming for the first week of my break and then I will travel just with my roommates. I am off for 2 weeks to 4 countries... :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

What a wonderful world...

Well it has been quite a while since my last post. When I got back from Christmas things really got busy around here. It was hard coming back to get into the swing of things but a few days later I woke up and decided not to be sad anymore, since then things have been great. My first big event since Christmas was having Nick's mom Rita and sister Lauren visit! There visit was so much fun and we even got to travel together. Over the weekend we went to Venice with my roommate Ashlee. We loved walking around and eating our way through the city. One day we ate dinner then walked to the next restaurant and got another dinner. The pasta was just so good and we only had two days!! We also walked around Brussels a lot and the grand place was one of their favorite things in Europe!

After they left was my birthday! It was a great birthday and I am lucky to have such wonderful people here to celebrate with. It was also a friend of mine, Erin's birthday so we combined forces and had a get together at our house then out to the bars. We went to a very interesting karaoke bar in the city for a bit before dancing. For my actual birthday I had French class. But before we went to class some of the girls grabbed drinks at an outdoor cafe since it was a beautiful day! The fact that we were at the bar for "happy time" made French class a bit more difficult. I also brought some cake and wine to class. It was a great time.

The next weekend I set off to Croatia with Ashlee. We did not really know what to expect here and were delightfully surprised! The weather was nice and the city was beautiful, but the best part was the weekend we happened to chose to go. When we checked in the person at the desk informed us that it was the 100th year of the football team there. They had a big celebration all weekend. At one point we were at the ATM and Ashlee saw a bunch of guys in warm ups and said , is that the team? I told her there was no way, but we followed them anyway. Turns out it was the team walking down the street and they were going to this square to be honored. They set off flares from the bell tour as it went off. That night at midnight before the game the street was flooded with people. Everyone set off fireworks and starting chanting soccer chants. It was crazy but so much fun!

Next was Nick’s visit here!! He planned it to come on my break to celebrate our one year and it was amazing!! We first relaxed and explored Brussels. We enjoyed some days out seeing the city and some days being lazy, reading together and enjoying each others company. It was perfect. Then we headed to Paris to explore. We did museums and walked all around. The weather was a bit rainy but the rain made paris feel even more romantic. We even enjoyed an amazing, romantic meal on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel tower! After seeing all the sites and enjoyed lots of crème brulee we headed off to London. There we were supposed to see Arsenal play a game but it got cancelled so instead we did our own tour of football stadiums around the city one day. We also went to see Love Story the musical which was amazing and I cried the entire time! After the show we went out for drinks and were drawn into a bar by the loud soccer chants. Nick loved it so much he was taking videos of these intense fans. Later he was approached by this large bald man who asked if he was a cop. After much convincing the guy told him he would not head butt him and throw him into the river Thames. It was a bit horrifying but then we befriended him. He went on to explain that he was a fan of the team that was playing arsenal the next day. He explained that he loves his team and would die for them. Him and all of his friends showed us their chains and tattoos in honor of the team. I thought sox and Yankees fans were bad, but this is like nothing I had ever seen before! We survived that night and then headed back to Brussels the next day. On Monday it was our anniversary and I had to work. When I got home Nick had cleaned my place for me I was so excited. We got ready for a nice dinner and went out. It was a nice night and a great way to end his trip. It was really hard to say goodbye but I am excited that I am so close to coming home for good!

The weekend after Nick’s visit I went to Copenhagen with Ashlee to cheer up! Again we did not know what to expect and of course we loved it there. The city was just so nice. They had beautiful sites, great cafes and some of the best street music I have ever heard. We just walked our way through the city drinking coffee and stopping to listen to music. It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend that definitely cheered me up.

This past week Jen and Jeremy have been visiting. It has been so great having them here! As soon as they got here we went to Amsterdam. The weather was great so after the Van Gogh museum we walked all around the city. It was a long day, especially since they had not slept in a while but we really enjoyed it with our caffeine highs! We have been enjoying walking around Brussels as well and eating as much waffles and frites as we can. I have loved having them around and when they try to convince me to live in Rochester it is hard to say no :). Tonight is there last night so we are going out for a nice dinner and drink. Tomorrow when they go to the airport I will go with them and head to Berlin with Ashlee, her brother and his wife!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Did you bring my life jacket?"

Well it has been a while since I posted last and a lot has happened! Before break school was crazy and it felt like we had a celebration every day. I love working in a place with so many cultures because we just celebrate every holiday! Santa came in and everything, it was a fun month.
Then I went home and had an amazing time with friends and family!! When I got home Maddy and Jackson were at my house being watched by grandma and grandpa. It was lots of fun because we all got to do Christmasy things like bake togheter! Maddy enjoyed eating the cookie dough most and then told me it was my fault she had a tummy ache, even though I had cut her off :). The next day we headed down to Maryland to return the kiddies and celebrate christmas! For one day while we were there ALL of the siblings, spouses and kids were together!! It was so noisy, chaotic, and wonderful....the best Christmas present possible! We even got a photo of everyone on the couch! Then for Christmas number one, on the 25th we had my parents and the Maryland arnolds. It was lots of fun and Maddy enjoyed leaving out cookies and seeing the crumbs and note that santa left.
It was sad to leave them but we ran out at 8 at night ahead of planned because there was a store coming up the coast. My mom drove all night running from the storm and we arrived back in Rochester. Here Nick came and stayed with us for the rest of my time! It was so nice having a relaxing week to be with him and play lots of games with family! On the 28th we had Ryan's baptism. I was the godmother and since my brother Mike who was the godfather could not make it Nick stood in as godfather for the baptism! Our church has a rather large baptismal font, about the size of a hot tub, so when we arrived big brother Tyler went over and asked "did you bring my life jacket?" We had to explain to him that it wasn't really for swimming but for Tyler to be baptised :). Both him and Ryan were very good during the baptism. Ryan loved the water but got fussy at the end with the oil. After we all had cake and watched Tyler run around.
That night the Virginia Arnold's spent the night at grandma and grandpa's for Christmas number two. We woke up and the tree was surrounded by presents! We had a great Arnold family Christmas. Tyler is at such a great age that everything was just what he wanted! That night after some naps we had game night at out house. We had lots of people over and played some great games of Mafia, Spoons and the oven mitt game. It was a blast.
On the 30th Nick and I headed to Niagara Falls, Canada to bring in the new year! Everything was wonderful and the only bum in the road (a hole to let everyone into our hotel room) was easily fixed. We had so much fun playing glow in the dark mini golf and eating out at a nice restaurants. We even went Under the Falls and looked at them from the tunnels below. We walked around a lot in mostly cloudy weather but just as we got to the horseshoe falls the sun came out to make a rainbow! On the 31st Jen and Jeremy came to meet up with us. We went out to a really nice dinner at a restaurant overlooking the falls lit up at night. It was fabulous. We went into the casino for a bit to gamble and get some hats! We were successful and went back down to the free concert of Barenaked Ladies by the falls for midnight! They stopped playing for a count down with fireworks on the Skylon tower and above the falls. It was the best way to bring in a new year! The next morning we got up for breakfast and hit the road.
I had a few more days at home to play games with my parents and relax before heading back. Now I am back and getting back into the routine of real life. I was really sad to leave, but starting to feel back to normal now. Thanks everyone for a wonderful break!! :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like christmas!!

Last weekend I went to Lille, just across the boarder in France for a christmas market with my roommates. When we arrived it was blizzarding and the market was not open yet. So we hid from the snow in a warm cafe until it opened up. The market was nice, got some good gifts for the family. It is always fun to just walk around and drink the hot wine looking at all the christmas things. It really gets you in the christmas spirit!
That night we returned home to quickly get ready and go out for our friend's bachelorette party! Erin was a new hire with us so we got to know her as soon as we got here. Her and her fiance moved here together and are getting married over break. So we did it up Beligan style! It was a great night. We started with dinner at a nice italian restaurant (her fiance is italian) and i have the best goat cheese filled pasta ever!! Then after a very long dinner we followed the belgian tradition we had heard of and had her burn a pair of panties in the street. After that we continued to dance clubs and danced until the first metro at 6am! It was lots of fun and a night she will not forget I'm sure.
School has been very busy lately in the holiday season but lots of fun! I love working i a place where so many cultures are celebrated. Just in the past few weeks I have had more sweets than in my life. We celebrated St.Nicholas day (which the dutch celebrate), Hanukkah and this coming week we will celebrate Santa Lucia and Christmas!So much fun. Teachers are also turning in there contracts for next year so there has been buzz about who will be staying and what will be open for next year. I change my mind daily but we will see where I will be next year. Who knows.
This weekend Heidi from Lesley came to visit! It was so nice to have her visit and we had a great time. Friday night we went to the christmas market in Brussels and walked to the christmas light show after getting a pita! We saw the magical light show and then went home to bed because we are all tired and getting sick. The next day I had tickets to Koln, germany so she tried to get tickets but it was too expensive the day of. Knowing this might happen she stayed and explored Brussels while I went to Germany. This market was so big since Germany is where they started. There were 6 markets throughout the city and they had lots of good stuff. We ate our way through the market with things like a half meter of meat on a stick and gingerbread cookies. We spent the entire day there and were exhausted when we returned! Sunday morning we got up early to head to my favorite market. Heidi , Andrea and I walked around buying some fruit and warm leggings! After the market we went to go get noodles at a new place andra had discovered. It was so amazing! They made the noodles right there while we watched and the noodles and chicken I had was so delicious! When e got home we were pretty tired so we just hung out and read cosmo. We made some tea and turned on the TV to discover how amazing rugby is!! What a fabulous sport! I am watching right now so there may be some errors in this blog. It is just so crazy intense and a wonderful combination of all sports. There are fights like hockey, lifts like cheerleading a little soccer and lots of football. I love it! Needless to say it was a well spent sunday and a great weekend.
I leave to go home in less than a week and am getting very excited! If I don't see those reading this blog (Donna) I will talk to you on the phone when I get back to the states and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mom and dad visit!

Last Saturday morning I met my parents at the aiport and a week of adventures began! Right after we dropped their things off at the hotel we headed to the trainstation to visit a town nearby called Waterloo. This is where the battle of Waterloo happened so we climbed (I tried to run) up a very high monument for the battle. This town also had a christmas bazzar going on so we went to that. It was nice to see another town and begin to get into the christmas spirit!

The next day we went on another adventure to Amsterdam. This was a packed but fun day! As soon as we got off the train we saw signs for Boots (or boats heh) and knew we had to take one! We got tickets for the next boat tour through the canals. This was a great way to start our tour and see the sites. After the tour we were on a mission to find the I Amsterdam sign! We found it and saw much of the city on foot on the way. After many pictures and more walking we went to the Anne Frank museum. It was so amazing! I had complained earlier that day about not seeing the sun in Brussels because of the clouds but after seeing where she lived I cannot complain about that again. She lived in such a tiny space and had to have black coverings on the wall. Not only could she not see the sun she could never go outside in the fresh air. It was absolutely incredible to see where she lived and even the things that were left of hers on the wall! My parents and I were actually able to compose oursleves through most of the museum but towards the end we heard a mother explaining in the most amazing way the story of Anne Frank and answering their questions. When the children were asking what a prisoner was along with other questions we all started to get a little teary eyed. The mother was starting to choke up as she talked with them, but still made sure to help them understand. It was so sad but what a wonderful mother! After the museum we realized we had not had much of a real meal so we stopped for pancakes on the way to the train station. :)

Monday I met my parents after school and we went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving! Thursday I had French class so we moved Thanksgiving to monday. We had a delicious dinner with my roommates including sweet potatoes and homemade apple pie! Yum!

Tuesday I met my parents at MiniEurope. It is a very touristy park at the outskirts of the city, but still fun. All of the major monuments of Europe are there in mini version with stories about them. So we travelled all around Europe in just over an hour! Then we went to the Atomium. This is a giant atom that you can go up in that was built for the world fair in '58. It was fun to go up to the top ball and see the atomium lit up at night.
That night we went to a nice french restaurant near my house for a delicious meal and amazing creme brule!! After dinner we walked back to my house for some Christmas belgian beers and cards. 
Wednesday was my dad's birthday! They met me at school to see where I work and then we went to the market together. At the market we got the best waffle I have ever had, followed by crepes. We walked around in the chilly weather eating food and trying hot wine. Since it was so cold we ducked into a bar to warm up. I got my dad a birthday beer and my mom had some hot cocoa. After the bar we were not really hungry for dinner so we headed back to my house for some cards with wine, bread and cheese.
Thursday I walked around the city with my parents and we saw the grand place being set up for it's christmas market and light show! We had a short day because I had to go to French class. The next day after school we headed back to the grand place for the first night of the music and light show. The grand place was so beautiful and christmasy! I loved it and it really got me in the christmas spirit! We even got to see the show in during one of the first snow falls which was a nice treat.

Saturday morning my parents left, it was sad to see them go but we sure did have a great week! It was so nice to have my parents over to my place and to be able to pay for things! It was a very different experience but a wonderful one. I felt like a real big kid :). It was so wonderful to have them here for a visit!!
Things have kept busy since they left. Saturday I went to my friend Jess' for another thanksgiving dinner with friends from work. We had a great dinner then played lots of games! We started with the ovenmit game, which was lots of fun and will be at my next family get together. Then we played a series of games from minute to win it. That was also lots of fun. The girls and guys played each other racing to do tasks like move and orea from your forhead to your mouth. We all had a great time and laughed a lot!

This week has been good at school, not too tired after the long week and lack of sleep. It has been very cold and there has been a lot of snow this week! I am currently in my inside-out pajamas and hoping for a snow day!! :)

ps- Sorry for any typos the spell check is in Dutch...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend in Switzerland

My roommate Ashlee and I knew nothing about Geneva but found a good deal on flights and a hostel a little while ago and booked a fight. We went into the weekend with little expectations but were excited for a relaxing weekend out of wet and cold Brussels. The weekend was so wonderful! The two of us are great travel buddies and were both incredibly laid back and flexible. The first night we got there late so we just checked in and grabbed a pita near the hostel. The hostel was so so great, free internet and a lounge room with movies every night. Great find, even though I got some spider bites at night.

Saturday we went out and walked around all day long. For breakfast we got the most amazing crepes right by our place. Mine was filled with egg and goat cheese! Then we started walking. We intended to go back after a bit and go out for a run but we just kept walking.It was so beautiful outside that day we were so excited! We had not felt sunshine in a while so at one point we just sat and enjoyed the weather by the water. It wa very nice and relaxing. On our walk we saw the big cathedral from afar and saw that there were people in the tower. So we made our way over and climbed up what felt like a million windy scary stairs until the top to the best view of the city! It was so beautiful and we could see forever out over the lake. The city’s big attraction is the jet d’eau which translates to the jet of water…exactly what it is. It is only on for certain hours of the day so we were lucky to be up in the tower while it was running. Ashlee kept calling it the jet blue by accident because it sounds similar which I thought was hysterical. This jet is the world’s largest fountain and rather impressive. We walked and ate chocolate all throughout the day. Then we stopped for cheese fondu for dinner. We were so beat after walking all day we headed home early and caught some of the movie showing at the hostel.

The next day we had to leave at 1 so we got up early and went for a run to explore. This was great because we got to farther things that we could not get to the day before. We saw the botanical garden, which I am guessing is more impressive in the warmer months, but it was still a good run. Then we ran past a sign for a boat tour on the lake. We looked at the times and prices and decided to get breakfast and do that instead of showring. It was such a fun and spontaneous decision. So about an hour before we should have been on our way to the airport we were on a boat. We left ourselves plenty of time and made the flight but it was just a quick day. The boat tour was a ltitle chilly but very nice. We saw casles and mansions of the man that invented colgate toothpaste and other important things :). All in all it was a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

There's no place like home

For my fall break I had to return to the states to get my visa. I am so glad I had to make that trip because I had such a great time seeing family and friends! Being home it was hard to remember why I ever left. I am sure once I get busy and back into the swing of things that feeling will fade. It was great to see everyone though!
First I went to Springfield for the weekend. I landed at 6 on Saturday and when I arrived at my Uncle's house there were lots of wonderful people ready to say hi and play games! Even Mike, Christina, Maddy and Jackson came up as a surprise! Maddy and I had quite the reunion hug(s) hehe. It felt so good to be back at a family party! Nick even got to come up for the weekend which of course I was looking forward to. It felt like no time had passed and I had never even left.
Early Monday morning my parents and I got up, got lots of Dunkins and headed to NYC! I had to drop off my visa paperwork but that only took a few minutes. So we stayed for a while and enjoyed the city! We went up in the Empire State building, which I had never done. Quite the view! Then we walked to times square and had a delicious lunch at Planet Hollywood.

After lunch I went on my way to Maryland! I had dinner in Maryland with Mike, Christina, Maddy and Jackson then Maddy and I went on an adventure to Virginia! We spent Tuesday with the Virginia Arnolds! After breakfast Maddy, Ty and I went to Chuck E. Chesse's for some games and rides. We had lunch with Jeff at his school and then played at home with Kim an baby Ryan! After dinner Maddy and I headed back to Maryland so she could get back to school for Wednesday. 

Wednesday I went  to Boston to see Nick! We got Indian food with his parents. It was lots of fun and great to catch up. I got to talk with Lauren about her visit and get excited for her to come here in February! Thursday when Nick got out of class we went and got a delicious American breakfast! We went to a cute little diner near him called The Breakfast Club. It was so good, I had an amazing blended coffee and we laughed a lot like always. Thursday night I got dinner with the girls from school. We went to Cambridge Commons for old time sake! It was a blast and again felt like no time had passed. We caught up over some beer punch and mac n cheese bites. After dinner some of us went to watch the Lesley girls win their soccer game. Then celebrated with Berry Line! Yum!

Friday I ran to NYC to get my visa and returned back to Boston because I could not had to see Nick again. I ended up staying to see his game that night as well. The result was not great but I was glad to be there to see him play because he did well.
Saturday morning I returned to Springfield to say goodbye to my mom and head back to reality. We got to spend some time together in the morning before I left which was nice. Then I had to say goodbye. It was sad to leave but I am already looking forward to my next visit home! Thanks everyone for making my trip so great I love and miss you all!!