31 May 2010
Brussels Bureau, Reuters TV
Time for a quick blog over lunch (orzo pasta salad & a roll) at work! It’s really nice to be back at Reuters after a busy, busy weekend. We took two trips: one to Amsterdam, one to Bruges — two completely different cities with completely different atmospheres.
First, we (Cassie, Amanda, Lee, Tyler, and Marshall) hopped the train to Amsterdam on Friday afternoon. The trip through the Dutch countryside is quite scenic: lots of pretty country homes, a windmill or two, the river Hollands Diep, and lots of lush farmland.
Amsterdam is, simply put, an experience. Where people in Brussels can sometimes give off a chilly vibe, Amsterdammers are generally warmer — they’ve integrated tourists into their lives more than the Bruxellois have. The main difference: I feel apologetic speaking English in Brussels (although it’s spoken very commonly here), but Amsterdammers all spoke English and were happy to speak it with you in it.
Lucky for us, Amsterdam was a very easy city to go bar-hopping — the streets are lined with restaurants, cafes, and clubs. But of all places, we ate out almost as soon as we arrived (around 5 p.m.) at an Asian take-out place called Wok to Walk. Really, really good — a huge portion of food for about nine euro.
After that, we explored, popped into a few bars, ate again, and explored some more. There were people everywhere we looked, walking down tiny alleyways between the wider streets and boulevards. We were blessed
Of course, we had to foray into the Red Light district. Instead of gawking, though, a lot of us found ourselves averting our eyes. Honestly, it was much more awkward than I had expected. I thought most of the X-rated stuff would be a lot more understated, and after hearing the area had become more commercialized, I assumed that it might have been a little less serious. NOT the case! After a restful night’s sleep in the Hotel Barbacan (really cheap rates!), we took a tour of the old Heineken brewery, made the best of the two complimentary beers at the end, and hopped an afternoon train back to Brussels.
The next day, it was back to Gare Centrale for a day-trip to Bruges with our culture class. Really cute town, the weather mostly behaved (except for a spot shower during our boat tour, of all times!), and the history of the place is completely overwhelming. Glad we saw it in a day, though, I don’t think there was enough there to really keep us busy for a full weekend.