October 05, 2007 - 3:24 pm
It's really hard to recap a trip that consists of 35 days of experiences. I certainly can't do it justice.
I can't say that I didn't come back to Vancouver a changed lady, because I must have changed just a little bit. Surely, I have. I remember watching a Japanese movie for the first time about 15 years ago and saying to myself, "oh, it's like that is it?". Europe is probably nothing like a Japanese movie, but purchasing train tickets in Liege in a rusty French, or hoping what I ordered in a Kaunas restaurant wouldn't end up being some kind of scary animal part, is as stressful as it is wonderful.
Favorite country? Lithuania. Totally and I'm not just saying that because it's part of my heritage...the mystical fatherland. The food was great and filling, hearty (oh! peasant food!) and dirt cheap. The litas (the currency) is low....it's 3.5 litas for every 1 euro which makes travel there super affordable. We were in both Kaunas and Vilnius and they are amazing and crumbling and pretty much un-restored cities filled with wonder. I totally want to go back and explore more of the country and the Baltic cities of Tallin and Riga too.
Berlin was incredible and very livable. It was filled with dirty hipsters and 50 year old aging punk rockers who still wore their purple hair and punk rock finery. It was cheaper than the rest of Europe (save for Lithuania) and filled with great museums, galleries and great bars and restaurants. I want to go back!
London was awesome...who knew? It was fucking crazy ass expensive and just for that reason I don' t think I could afford a return ticket back. But the museums are free (FREE!) and that was a fucking awesome bonus. Plus the tube is amazing and so well designed, obviously. We discovered a great pub on our last night in Earl's Court called "The King's Head" which had great burgers and beer and a great soundtrack. What more could you want?
Brussels, Ghent and Brugges in Belgium were wonderful and I didn't sense any kind of political craziness, you know, since Dutch Belgium wants to split with French Belgium. Don't do it, I say! I can speak and understand French and that made the living so easy for me in Brussles. The Liege waffle is the best snack ever and if someone opened a Liege waffle cart in Vancouver, I'd be visiting every day. The Grand Place in Brussels was amazingly ornate and took my breath away. We walked like crazy muthas everywhere. Ghent was great and pretty and had lots of interesting niches. Brugges was medival prettiness with awesome bars and I'd move there in a heartbeat. Antwerp sucked ass, but thats a whole other story.
Amsterdam was overrated but had great falafels. Utrecht was pretty and sweet. Rotterdam was the shit. I loved that city with its modern architecture, crazy design events, art on the streets and yummy Indonesian food. If the weather was better, I'm sure we would have cycled more and I certainly would have given higher marks to these Dutch cities. Cuz really, any city where cycling rules is pretty much my kind of city.
Germany had great bakery and the buttery-est croissants and pain au chocolates at the train station. Yum. Cologne was pretty interesting and livable and the Dom just freaked me out with it's black gothic hugeness. I loved it.
Walking about 8 hours a day took it's toll. No more cute shoes for me. Our last day in Amsterdam I was a total wreck. I couldn't walk at all...AT ALL. I thought our trip was ruined and I was miserable and in so much pain. We flew into London and after one painful day of limping, I got myself to the closest shoe shop the next day: The Nike Store. Sad to say it, but I had $$$$ Nikes on my feet for the rest of the trip. White. Fucking. Nike. Trainers. $$$$$$. So long cute shoes, hello, comfort. I may have branded myself as an American Tourist and remained super self conscious but whatever, the Nikes saved the trip. Praise be.
But recaps aside, am I a changed person? I made several resolves to tidy myself up a bit. Sure, I did feel a bit on the sloppy side while traveling (especially since I only carried 3 tops, 2 bottoms and the required underthings to keep my pack light) and those damn Nikes didn't help things one bit. It's funny because I expected Lithuania to be the babushka capital of Europe (and while I did see a few grey haired babushkas), all the young people were stunningly well dressed and groomed. I figure that it's about time to shake up my act and put a bit of effort into how my outsides appear. And so today, I even though I am wearing jeans, I am wearing a very lovely fitted sweater, a turquoise pin purchased for 50 cents at a Berlin flea market and there is indeed a bit of sparkle to my step. The Nikes have hidden themselves in the closet, naturally.