I AMsterdam and Paris Here We Come!
As many of you know Dustin came to visit me for two weeks in April. He arrived on April 5th and was my first face from home since I left... Needless to say I did not sleep friday night out of anticipation for Dustin's arrival!
I left the house with my sign which read "Mr.Dustin Kardolus" in the morning. I got to the airport and found a killer spot right by the doors, tons of area so Dustin could see his 'important' person sign. I have to say I was the cutest 'driver' holding a sign on the sidelines!
I collected a very exhausted looking Dustin, but we both had smiles on our faces! HE WAS HERE! CANADA!! A REAL FRIEND! We headed for the tube, where instantly jokes and jokes and jokes began about the announcement that comes on over the PA on the tube "Please mind the gap between the train and the platform". Dustin couldn't believe his eyes as the tube left the station... He couldn't believe he was here.... I couldn't either!
That night I dragged the jet lagged Dustin to the Slug and Lettuce Aussie bar in Fulham. It was Kelly and Melissa's birthday (2 South African friends I made here). I introduced Dustin to Snakebites, Fosters, Strongbow and Blackcurrant, which were on special for 6pounds a jug! And they weren't small jugs either! (I am still talking about beer here boys). We proceeded to get shmammered and Dustin, of course, managed to stay awake... He was proof to my friends in England that my friends and I NORMALLY DO NOT head home at 12:30am, which has been a problem for me since I've been here. Amateurs!
Sunday was a long and eventful day for Dustin and I. Ladies and gentlemen if you come to London, I tour guide Katie, can show you all the best sights in exactly ONE day! We left the house at 10am and returned around 11pm that night. Dustin, who claimed he didn't care about sightseeing... was hooked by my excellently planned and executed tour guide services! Basically I treated it as if I were on a field trip! I taught Dustin many things, such as the story about the London bridge, The Globe Theatre and even who the Prime Minister was.... Tony Blair in case you're reading this and have already forgot Dustin!! This was actually a funny story... Let me reflect:
Katie "Just down here is 10 Downing street"
Dustin "What's that?"
Katie "It's where Tony Blair lives"
Dustin "Who the hell is Tony Blair?"
Katie "uhh... the prime minister of the United Kingdom"
Dustin "Who the hell knows something like that Katie? Seriously?"
Katie "ha ha, I don't know... I did..."
The following 2 weeks the name Tony Blair came up ohh... a good 10x in conversation... further proving my point to Dustin.
(I do know now he was replaced last year by Gordon Brown).
Monday we went to Arsenal and Dustin nearly pee'd himself. He spent the most money at the Arsenal sports shop at the stadium... only for me to have to tell him he shouldn't really wear it around too much... especially in Ilford where they are West Ham supporters... I mean I am tough, but I don't think I could hold back hoards of angry footie men!
Tuesday we just got our stuff ready for our trip to Amsterdam and Paris. We also headed to Tooting where the Aldous family is from (of course we come from a place that has such a flatulent name!). We spent 1 hour and 1/2 at the St.Nicholas church graveyard where my great great grandfather was buried... no luck though.
NOW FOR THE MORE FUN STUFF:
We get to the bus station disgustingly early (yes ladies and gentlemen we took a 12hour bus to Amsterdam... hey it was cheap okay?). We got there early because I am anal and I hate being late. We finally board the bus and my narcolepsy sets in. I am set for the 12 hours... Dustin on the other hand discovers he cannot sleep on busses... sucks to be him! ah ha ha.
We arrive in Amsterdam and have no clue where to start. Let alone where to go... we ask directions, eavesdrop on another guy who's trying to figure out how to buy train tix and finally we're on our way.
Our hostel was awesome and I recommend it to anyone - StayOkay Vondelpark. The staff was oober friendly and the place was clean!! Our first day we wandered around Amsterdam and just took in the sights. There is a constant lingering smell of weed everywhere you go in Amsterdam - all those coffee shops I guess!
The first thing we notice when we get there is that the sidewalks are really big and great to walk down.... until you hear about a million bike bells going off and you look behind you and realize you aren't on a large sidewalk at all... YOU'RE IN THE BICYCLE LANE AND YOU'RE GOING TO DIE! Everyone rides bikes in Amsteram. They have thier own lane and traffic lights... although they are hard to figure out, people generally do thier own thing...
Either way Dustin and I thought renting bikes would be the best way to get a true Amsterdam experience.
For 8 Euro we rented bikes for 24hrs. A great deal! We got our bikes and decided to practice a bit in the park (thank god we did, Dustin AKA Mr.Wobbles ALOT really needed the practice!). After 30min of riding around Vondelpark we decide to take to the street. HOLY COW THAT WAS A DEATH WISH! We soon figured out that people ride really fast and scooters AND motorbikes were allowed in this lane! Very stressful! We start out our journey and Dustin is in the lead... and not paying attention to much... I am yelling at him "Dustin we are not on a bike path, we need to turn around... Dustin! DUSTIN we can't ride here!" He finally acknowledges my screams and looks at me "How do you know we can't ride here?" he asks. "I point out the fact that NO ONE is on bikes on this busy street of pedestrians and tram lines and that everyone on bikes is using the side streets..." So we use the sidestreets and things are a bit more smooth.
I almost biff it a couple of times, apparently the curbs are rounded and really smooth... not optimal for jumping the curb to get out of vehicles way... WHO like to ride your arse!
We ride up to North to where you can cross on ferry to North Amsteram and check out the water and the view. We then decide to go East, or what we thought was east, to a nearby park for a break from the stresses of street biking. We randomly find the park... aaaand that's where everything becomes a blur.
4 hours later we get directions from a man.
Dustin "Can you tell us where on the map we are?"
Man "You're not."
Dustin and Katie "What? where are we?"
Man "You are outside of Amsterdam, you need to..." and he proceeds to give us directions. He told us 20min and we'd be back.... We knew ourselves and gave ourselves 1hour. We FINALLY made it back to the hostels and our butts KILLED. Needless to say the bikes remained parked until the next day!
When we came in from our 4 hour bike trip we were starving.... so we asked where the kitchen was. Being thrifty we planned to cook some of our food at the hostel.... well there was no kitchen and the restraunt (which turned out to have awesome backpacker deals so we were ok) wasn't open for another 2hours... Sooooo Dustin and I ate cold ravioli out of a can in our room... without utensils!!
That night we went on a tour of the Red Light District. Dustin was in heaven I am pretty sure! This place makes Las Vegas seem like a small town bully! There's prostitutes, strip clubs, live sex shows, coffee shops and bars everywhere... and most are owned by the Hells Angels... talk about big man on campus! Of course on the tour I managed to lure all the crazy's around us! As we were walking by one bar a HUGE bald man dressed in black says something in dutch and grabs my pony tail and ruffles my hair....then proceeds to say to one of the other girls "come on barbie let's go party"... clearly hilarious... and creepy... Next we stop at Blood road where back in the day there was a guillotine set up... whenever it rained all the blood would stream down the alley and stain the road red.... craziness! While our guide was telling us this some hunchback comes and stands next to me. He starts cackling. Then he starts talking to me "Oh yes yes, I get it now, yes I know what this is all about bah ha ha ha!". He clearly made no sense and Dustin thought I was the one talking (nice compliment, I'm not self concious about my voice now at all!!). The hunchback finally left and everyone on the tour laughed and looked at me and said "we need to stay away from you, you attract all the crazys!"... sad but true.
We ended our tour at St.Christopher's bar... where we got a free shot of Jaeger Meister... or 2 free shots if you're Dustin and Me... clearly we were the only ones who bought drinks and were planning on getting our drink on!
We met all kinds of people that night, mainly from London... how that works is beyond me... I even managed to meet a guy that lived in the town next to Ilford!! At one point I get a tap on my shoulder "Katie is that you?" a voice questions.
I turn around... "Natalie??" I yell. Natalie and I work for TimePlan together. Small world. We proceeded to drink together for the remainder of the night.
Leaving day to Paris.
Envision this: Dustin and I get home at 8am from partying all night. Check out is at 10:30am. I manage to get up and tell Dustin to get up.... 5 TIMES... He still isn't up. I take his key, tell him to get his stuff together and I'll check him out.... he still doesn't know how I managed to wake up in time!! He was clearly dead.
Our bus didn't leave until late that night. We had seen the sights, we were still tired and REALLY hung over. We sat in the hostel sitting room for 8hours... with a bunch of teenagers from New Zealand on a field trip. We couldn't wait to get outta there!
We arrive at 6am. We get to the hostel at 7:30am Tired. Dustin is more tired due to his inability to sleep on the bus. We are informed we cannot check in until 4pm...
"Do you have lockers or a luggage room for us to keep our bags in?" I ask. This is after we came through a wide open door only to find an empty front desk.
"you can keep them over there" he points towards the corner of the lobby.
"I'm sorry, but that isn't very secure so we're not going to do that" I reply.
Awesome. 8hours, nowhere to go WITH backpacks. I am suprised I didn't have to drag Dustin half the way he was so tired. But we didn't want to sit because if we did it reminded us of how exhausted we really were. So we walked. We walked past the Eiffel tower, The Louvre, Parliament, Central Paris and we ate at a Pizza Hut. I know what you're thinking 'you went to Paris and ate at Pizza Hut!?!?!'... But I can explain:
Chez Restaurante, La Belle Manger, Chez Bon... Now you read any of those DO YOU think they're going to be cheap? Didn't think so. And that was our mentality too at the time. And Pizza Hut was having a lunch buffet and it was starting to RAIN! We spent 2 hours in that Hut. It was amazing! ha ha
We get back to our hostel at 2:00 expecting to have to sit around for 2 more hours. But a new guy was there and he checked us in right away! We crashed instantly... woke up at 9pm and fell back asleep at 10pm! Don't worry we made the most of our second day!
This is really long... so here's what we did:
Walked up the 2 tiers of the Eiffel Tower
"Where's the staircase to the top??" we ask
"You can't walk to the top you must take the lift" we are told.
AMAZING views from the Eiffel tower... Of course I decide to stand near the GLASS elevator doors of the Eiffel tower and FREAK OUT "Why am I standing here?" "Just look at me Katie, it's okay" Dustin reassures!!
We bought crepes and sat and people watched until the Eiffel Tower was lit up... we thought it would get dark a lot sooner... we sat there for a LONG time... we got a little nutty.
Notre Dame Cathedral
SO COOL! Looks just like the Disney movie... No Hunchbacks though... but a girl did trip over a post and fell behind me... I had to refrain from laughing. OH and I blinded a man with the flash of my camera.
Jim Morrison's grave, Fredrik Chopin's grave and Oscar Wilde's grave. Very cool. Smells like death in there though (go figure)
We had an awesome trip and there are so many memories and stories I couldn't possibly fit them all into one entry... you'd be here forever. Just remember to ask me about it when I get home... Don't ask Dustin because we discovered he suffers from memory loss... both short and long term!!
Our last couple of days we just hung out and partied here in Ilford and London. It was great to have a friend from home, it definitely made me remember what I get to come back to... and makes me appreciate all my good friends even more.
Down to my final adventures!
Follow the dream.......