jump to navigation

Metz, France (again) and Strasbourg, France August 11, 2012

Posted by ryanmsimpson in Travel Log.
add a comment

So two days of class after our field trip, my group was back in Metz for a scavenger hunt. For our GTL 2000 seminar class, we had to participate in at least one activity, and so we chose the scavenger hunt. They gave us a list of 36 different clues, ranging from straight up, ‘this is the place in the middle of city you should find’, to ‘here is the most obscure clue we could think of to vaguely describe this one building/location/statue/all of the above, no go find it’. So we did some research the night before, dropped pins on a Google map, printed it off, and spent the first day of that weekend walking around the city, finding these things and taking pictures with them. And to make it interesting, we tried different poses in each one that was at least partially related. So thus, I got my head chopped off at the site of the guillotine in 1800’s Metz. But it was a fun day.

The second day of this last weekend we went to Strasbourg for a day trip. Since we only had the one day, and Strasbourg is close, it seemed like a cool place to visit since we aren’t exactly expecting much touring time during the field trip with GTL.

So we got to Strasbourg, decided to put away the map and basically wander. After a long meandering path generally towards the center of town, we finally found the cathedral. And dang, is it large. Additionally, we were able to go inside right as one service was ending (it was a Sunday) take some pictures as people were leaving (there were lots of tourists in there, so it’s not like we were the only ones and looked like idiots during a sermon), and see a really cool, impressively large organ and some vibrantly colored stain glass, before we were kindly ushered out to make way for preparations for their ordination of priests that afternoon. Which I thought was pretty cool. Went across the square and visited their Archaeological Museum, and learned about how culture and the inhabitants of the area developed over the course of several thousand years, and then once more walked through the city. At that point, my phone (which is also my camera) was about dead, so we quickly looked up what else we should do in the city, and settled on going through the Petit France area of the city, seeing the famous Covered Bridge, and Vauban Dam farther upriver, before heading back for a train to Metz that evening.

Walked through the Petit France area, which was very cool, definitely has its own particular culture separate from the city. Got some good gelato (not Italy, I know, but it was good), and then went on the the Covered Bridge. We went ahead and crossed the river on one of the many other bridges right by the area and walked on the other side of the river. So we walked along, pretty relaxing until we got to the covered bridge. Except it was under construction. Or renovation. Or something. but the point is that it was covered in tarps – every square foot of the thing – was completely covered up. Couldn’t see a thing, couldn’t walk across it, nothing. All you could see were the large, sweeping arches underneath were the water flowed smoothly through. So that was kind of unfortunate. But you know, us being engineers, we (especially me) were more interested in the Vauban Dam anyway.

So we kept on going, walking along bike trails right on the river and stuff. And going. And the river curved. And we went a bit farther. And now we’re on the edge of the city. And at this point, we’re doubting ourselves rather significantly as to whether we missed it. I mean yeah it’s a dam, but at the same time we were talking, and there’s a junction in the river, so maybe it was on the other side, or maybe it’s actually pretty small or something. But we know it has to be past us, because it’s at least in the city, and we’re practically not anymore. So we decide to cross the river and walk back on the other side. So we do, and we walk, and walk, and nearly get run over by bikers, and walk some more, and then we’re back in site of the Covered Bridge again, but from a different angle, so we can see it straight on. So we’re like, what the heck, right? We’re Tech students, I mean we’re even looking for the stupid dam, we can’t have missed it twice! So I pull out my phone, now at about 3% battery, and look up the stuff again, maybe hoping to find a better source that can tell us where the thing actually is. And first thing we find is about the Covered Bridge. Well, turns out that there is no single ‘Covered Bridge’, but a collection of covered bridges all down the river by the Petit France area that were collectively known as the ‘Covered Bridges’ and had very beautiful overhangs or covers or whatever you like to call them, on top. Except that those covers were removed some several hundred years ago, yet are still called covered bridges. So we walked over them, in search of them. So then, we’re confused because we don’t know what bridge we saw, and we still don’t know where the dam is. So continuing down the site, I find a picture of the Vauban Dam normally, and a picture of the Vauban Dam currently, under construction. The Vauban ‘Dam’ happens to actually just be a bridge with large, sweeping arches underneath, that fails to dam anything at all, doesn’t produce and electrical power output, and is still called a dam. Sometimes I just don’t understand French Engineering…

But after that fiasco, we headed back to Metz, confused, but still having enjoyed our time in Strasbourg.

Until next time.


Metz (again): http://imgur.com/a/jndUz#0


St. Avold Cemetery and Hackenburg Fort August 11, 2012

Posted by ryanmsimpson in Travel Log.
add a comment

After two days back in class this last week, we had our first GTL field trip. There are 2 of them this semester, this one was to the St. Avold Cemetery, an American World War 2 cemetery in eastern France, and the Hackenburg Fort on the Maginot Line. The next field trip is to the European Parliament building in Strasbourg. Which should be very cool to. Although I have no idea what we’re doing in the Parliament building..

But as for the St. Avold Cemetery, that was almost indescribable. Touching, but that’s not the best word. Powerful of course, but that doesn’t fully describe it either. Impactful maybe, but that’s along the same lines of ‘powerful’. Whatever the word that perfectly describes it is, whether I ever think of it or not (if I do, I’ll try and come back and edit this post with a note about it at the bottom), it was definitely an experience that I haven’t had before. In that cemetery there were 10,489 graves. 11 of them women, several sets of brothers (I don’t remember how many), 4 Medal of Honor recipients, and 151 bodies who could not be identified. After walking among the graves, through the large memorial to the soldiers, finding a set of brothers, finding graves that have no names, and finding one of the men who received the Medal of Honor, it’s hard to describe how I felt. I have several great-grandparents who fought in World War 2, and a grandfather who fought in Vietnam. I was lucky and all of them made it back. Not untouched, but they made it back. Visiting that site made me very, very grateful for that fact. Though not your typical tourist attraction, if you ever get the chance, I would definitely recommend visiting. It’s an experience I highly value and am thankful for the French staff who started it and continue to maintain that site today.

The second half of the field trip was to Hackenburg Fort. Hackenburg Fort is the largest of the fortifications along the Maginot Line, a line of fortresses and bunkers dug into the eastern front of France along the German border, constructed not long after World War 1. At the time of their construction, they were top of the line fortifications that were entirely self-dependent and could maintain several companies of infantry for months, along with the ammunition to fire from all of the dozens, if not hundreds, of turrets, artillery cannons, and mortars for more than a week, non-stop. That’s maximum fire rate, 24 hours a day, for over a week. Which is a TON of ammunition. We were given a tour of several sections of this fort, including traveling several kilometers underground (all inside the fort) on the electric train they have (original electric train, no modifications from early1900 tech, very loud), the operation and near firing of a mortar, an artillery cannon, the anti-infantry retractable turrets, and of course the workings of the fort, such as the generators, the kitchens, the cafeterias, the ammo depots, and then restored and refurbished equipment from the time. Very well thought out establishment, and I was quite impressed. Unfortunately for the French in World War 2, the Germans simply went around the whole Maginot Line and through Belgium, before proceeding to conquer the country quite quickly. However, had some poor old Nazi sap decided to try and attack this place, or simply walk through it for that matter, had he survived the incident, he would surely have been promptly discharged (or executed, I don’t know the Germans’ military discipline practices at that time) for making the idiotic attempt and killing off most, or all, of his men.

So that was our field trip. Quite nice, I liked it, and it was a good break from classes.

Until next time.


St. Avold Cemetery: http://imgur.com/a/wWQ9b#0

Hackenburg Fort: http://imgur.com/a/09vBI#0

Caen, France August 11, 2012

Posted by ryanmsimpson in Travel Log.
add a comment

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged, mainly because the time in between trips has been so short that I’ve been extremely busy with classes. One of which, my Engineering Econ class, is now over. So I finally have some time to blog again.

So, Caen. Very cool, quaint, city. The plan was originally, to head up into the Normandy region for France for the annual celebrations (more of a respectful, thankful celebration than a normal one) of the D-Day invasion. We had found out that several cities have parties and fireworks and other cool things, and that, along with the opportunity to go see Omaha Beach and some other museums and such sounded cool. After closer consideration however, we couldn’t make it up to our original destination – Bayeux, France – because of a lack of hostels or cheap hotels. So we decided on Caen and made our way up there. Got there, found a crooked church (really crooked, as in several feet difference between the bottom corner and the top corner – think Leaning Tower of Caen kind of church..), found the Tourism Center, and then found out that all the D-Day museums were quite a walk away, and you needed your own vehicle to get to stuff like Omaha  Beach. Darn.. But oh well, we found William the Conqueror’s Castle, and went through the Normandy region museum in there, had lunch at a really good bakery in the town and ate on the lawn in front of the castle, and relaxed a bit. But then one of the members of our groups started feeling really crappy, she was getting fairly sick, and I wasn’t exactly all sunshine and rainbows either, so we split into two groups, my friend who was sick and I went back to the hostel, had some food, and slept, while the other two went through a few more museums before coming back to the room to crash that evening. So yay for a castle and sleeping.

The next morning my sick friend was still sick and in no condition to make the hour and a half walk to the D-Day Museum and back again for the train back to Metz. So the healthy and peppy two of our group went on to the museum early that morning while I stayed back with her to let her sleep and then check out of the hostel and make sure she got to the train station safely and on time.

And that was Caen. It really was a cool little city. Had a very different feel to it than the large cities of Amsterdam and Berlin did, but I just didn’t have a lot of time to tour the city to shreds as we had previously.

But that was alright, because I got better, my friend felt much better after sleeping a solid 14 hours, and she was back on top of things with a day or two. Which meant no prolonged, dragging sickness that dampened several weekends. Which was very nice.

Until next time.


Caen: http://imgur.com/a/B3keT#0

Prague, Czech Republic and Berlin, Germany August 11, 2012

Posted by ryanmsimpson in Travel Log.
add a comment

So I’m back again from another trip. This last one was split between two cities, Prague and Berlin.

In comparison to Amsterdam they weren’t nearly as packed. Well, Prague wasn’t. But we didn’t have that much time in Berlin either, so it wasn’t the same in that respect. But anyways, on with what actually happened.

So in getting to Prague, we took our first night train. These trains are specialized trains with a wide range of possible seating and sleeping arrangements that effectively attempt to take nearly as much time as possible to get from point A to point B, so that you can board the train at 11 or so in the evening, and arrive at your destination, which may only typically be a 4 hour train ride, at 8 or 9 the next morning instead of 3 am in the middle of the night. As for the variety of seating arrangements, you have your luxurious, nearly hotel rooms that include multiple beds, small kitchens, showers, bathrooms and so forth, for a reasonable price I’m sure, but still much more than I wanted to pay. Then you have the private rooms for anywhere from 1 to 4 people, individual beds for each and some amenities included. Then the couchettes, which have 2 sets of bunk beds, one on each side of the room, with either 2 or 3 beds to each side, and about a foot and a half of space walking room between the sets. And finally, the sleeping chairs, which are basically airplane chairs that lean back a bit and with a little bit of an edge around them so that when you sink as far into the thing as possible, you only mostly feel like you’re still surrounded by people and not secluded instead of completely feeling that way. Unfortunately, we reserved a bit too late, and so only managed to get spots in the sleeping chairs rather than a couchette (which are actually fairly cheap since it’s like a train hostel kind of room). So since I’m not able to sleep on trains to begin with, I had a rather interesting night. First came the large German with the deep, resonating snore that shook your bones (he was about 10 feet away from me and still managed this), then the individual about 3 rows in front of me with the whistling “snore” every time the breathed in. The lady blasting scream-o music in order to tune out the German’s resonating snore, and the train officials who came by about once every hour and a half to check my ticket and make sure that I was, in fact, still supposed to be on this train (I hadn’t moved, hadn’t switched identities or anything weird, but they kept checking my ticket and Eurail Pass…). But after that night, and about 45 min to an hour of sleep, because I did actually manage to sleep some, we arrived in Prague.

So, first off, the train station in Prague was pretty cool. Half of it was really old, and the other half rather modern, and the met rather abruptly, but not badly. It’s hard to describe, but if you ever make it over there, it’s something to note. After finding our way out of the train station (that part always seems to be difficult after long train rides…) we walked out into Prague and started wandering around. We really didn’t have much of a plan for Prague, we just wanted to see the city and find out stuff to do once we got there. After checking in to our hostel and dropping our stuff, we mainly just started wandering towards the general direction of the city center, and it was really nice. Prague had a lot of old architecture still intact, mainly because it had managed to escape most of the major wars in Europe relatively unscathed, and it was all well kept and in good, clean condition. In much better shape than most places I’ve seen so far. So we walked through the city, browsing open markets (of which there were quite a few), souvenir shops with random tourist junk that was funny to look and laugh at, and intricate glass shops that had amazing pieces of animals, palaces, or whatever else seemed to have struck the maker as interesting to craft.

Eventually we did wander into the main square and saw their huge clock-tower with their famous astronomical clock on it. It was enormous and intricate, along with large moving statues of all the disciples that rotate around the top of the clock at the top of each hour. It was awesome to look at and we arrived just in time to see it go off that hour. So a nice experience overall. For the rest of that day, we walked around the city, browsed through the street vendors on the famous Charles Bridge that spans the Vltava river that flows through Prague. We saw the Prague Castle, their mini Eiffel Tower on a small mountain/large hill right outside the city, and ate good food.

Second day in Prague started off with a tour from a local that was free for people staying at our hostel. The guy was really cool, knew a lot about the city and was pretty chill. He took us through some of the older parts in the southern part of the city, walked along the Vltava river while a national crew rowing competition went on, past the famous Dancing House, all the water towers along the river, and through the western part of the city, across the river and by the Prague Castle. So with that start to the day, we went on, ate lunch, went to the Prague National Museum, the Lego Museum (which is the largest in all of Europe and has over 5,000 models – I am not ashamed to say that I found this place quite entertaining), and the Jewish Quarter. After that, we had to book it back to the train station to make sure we made the train out, but got there in time and headed on to Berlin.

And then we got off at the wrong train station… Luckily we still got off in Berlin. Just one of there many other train stations, and not the Hauptbahnhof, the Central Station. After about 15 min of confusion in trying to meet up with a friend who wasn’t in that train station, we made our way over to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof and started with a clean slate. However, we only had two half days in Berlin in order to see everything we could, so not as much time as we’d have preferred. To start things off, we went to the Reichstag building. This is the building which used to house the German Reichstag Parliament, and now houses the Bundestag Parliament. I have a very shaky knowledge about the details concerning the name change, but suffice to say it is a very important governmental building in which are held all of their parliamentary meetings and such, and (more importantly to our visit) also was designed with a large glass dome on top, through which any individual can come tour, free of charge (with a reservation). From this dome you have an amazing view of the city, all they way around the spiraling ramp that leads you to the platform on top, and audioguide that details different aspects and history about the surrounding buildings and areas, and if it is sunny that day, they say that you can look down through the glass spire in the middle of the dome, through the glass roof in the building (that’s below the dome) and into the parliamentary meeting hall where, if they are in session, you’ll be able to look down upon the whole of the German government throughout there proceedings. Unfortunately it was quite cloudy last weekend, so we didn’t see an parliament, but nevertheless, it was very cool.

Right outside the Reichstag is Brandenburg Gate. Very large and impressive!…and under construction… Or the are was at least. Got some great pictures however, and also got pictures of where the Berlin Wall once stood. Right between the Reichstag Building and Brandenburg Gate is a section of where the Berlin Wall passed through, and in the ground they have paved that line with stones, going off in either direction as far as I could see. While I didn’t see that paving anywhere else in the city, I presume it went all the way through the city, as far as the Berlin Wall had extended. After that we made it down to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, which was very extensive – a lot more so than I had expected when we went in – and that ended up taking the rest of the evening (at least until everything closed that is). The Checkpoint Charlie Museum was quite powerful though. The entire museum was in 3 different languages, they had escape stories of people, rescue stories, actual cars and devices used, videos and audioclips from the time period, and so very much information about life in either side of Berlin, how it affected the inhabitants, and how it affected today’s culture in Berlin and Germany as a whole. I was quite impressed with it all. And to top it off, I got a piece of the Berlin Wall as I left.

The following morning we had a few hours to spend before we went on the train, so we made it over to the Deutsche Historiches Museum, the German Historical Museum. And even allowing a full 4 to 5 hours to go through it, we still underestimated how long it would take us. This museum is gigantic. They have over 1.1 million different artifacts related to German History, dating back several thousand years. It was intense. Hard to talk about it all, but I saw spears from hunter-gatherer societies, mosaics from Roman times,  suits of armor from the Medieval Ages, paintings and sculptures from the 1800’s, cannons, guns, and modern artillery, and who knows how much more from everything in between. It was ridiculous how large of a permanent exhibit they had there. And everything I’ve mentioned was only across 1 and a half floors. They have another 4 more floors for temporary exhibits. Crazy. But very, very cool.

So after leaving there earlier than any of us would have wished, we headed back out to the train station to head back to GTL for another week of classes. And now that that week is over, I’m heading out tomorrow for Caen, France.

Until next time.

And once more, pictures:

Prague: http://imgur.com/a/eXhwD#0

Prague Lego Museum: http://imgur.com/a/mQ1nP#0

Berlin: http://imgur.com/a/RiGBj#0

Amsterdam, Netherlands August 11, 2012

Posted by ryanmsimpson in Travel Log.
add a comment

Hey all again,

So this last weekend was the first 3-day weekend of the summer. And wow was it busy. So a friend of everyone in my traveling group used to live in Amsterdam, and so when we told her we were headed there and asked what would be a ‘must-see’, she decided to send us a 2-page list of museums, churches, and other cool stuff in and around the city. So we decided that we’d do as many of them as possible.

However, in order to do cool things in Amsterdam, first we had to get there. Well, when we had gone down to the train station to get tickets for this trip, the guy behind the counter told us that he couldn’t book any train (that needed a reservation) outside France. And since we needed to go through Germany to get to the Netherlands, that meant we were in a good bit of trouble. So we searched and searched (using bahn.com, Deutsche Bahn’s website – the German train company) and finally found a series of trains that for sure wouldn’t need reservations. And so in order to get to Amsterdam, we had to start traveling Friday evening, May 25th, and travel through the night. This would have been fine were it one train, you known – you get on, you sleep, maybe toss and turn a bit, sleep some more, and then get there in the morning, not a big deal. But instead it was 7. And of course, the night before, I get an email from Lojack (a company that has software designed to locate your computer in case it gets stolen) saying that my computer is about to lock down because it hasn’t contacted their center and basically told them that it’s fine and not stolen and stuff. And I need my computer for my work. I can’t do half my homework for Tech if I don’t have it anymore. So that required me being up until almost 4 in the morning in order to finally get that (and my Thermo homework) finished and sorted out.

So then the trains to Amsterdam. The first train left Metz at 7:25 to Saarbrucken, Saarbrucken to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Koln, Koln to Monchengladbach – the most sketch/cold 3 hour layover from 2:30 am to 5:30 am I’ve ever had and probably will have – Monchengladbach to Venlo, (frantic 3 min transfer across half the station to the next train before it left) Venlo to Nijmegen – where I almost got off at the wrong station – and finally Nijmegen to Amsterdam Centraal Train Station (and yes, Centraal is spelled right).

Once in Amsterdam and having gotten lost and un-lost in the train station, we hit the tourist info center for maps, picked up some city passes (50 euros) which let us see tons of museums for free, and gave us access to the trams and buses through the city, and then started off. First thing I noticed: TONS of bikes. Bikes EVERYWHERE. You’d see 5 bikes go by, almost get run over by 2 or 3 trams, see another 15 bikes, 1 car, 8 bikes, 2 trams, then another 18 bikes, 1 car… and so forth. And that doesn’t even count the THOUSANDS of bikes locked to anything cemented to the ground. There were bikes locked to bikes locked to the bikes that were actually locked onto rails or bike racks. There was a 4 story BIKE parking garage right next the the train station that had at least twice as many bikes on it as it was supposed to hold! (And I’m still sad I didn’t get a picture of it…) It was crazy! There were bike lanes on every road, bike crosswalks and bike traffic lights, bike parking lots (though small and few and far between because of the city’s space restriction), and more bikers than there were tourists on foot. Although we did see hundreds (literally hundreds, no joke hear) of tourists on bikes getting bike tours around the city. So that was crazy.

Second thing I noticed were the canals. I’d never realized that Amsterdam was an entire city of canals. Amsterdam’s altitude is actually an average of like 4 or 5 meters below sea level, and since Amsterdam is located on the sea that wouldn’t work out too well without some careful dike and canal-work. Which had been done quite well. But yeah, so canals everywhere, tall, thin buildings that went back quite far, and small, narrow streets (filled with bikes). After that realization (which pretty much came while I stood in the middle of the way of an oncoming tram going like 20 kph) we started walking around haha.

We walked through the city, saw the Oude Kerk, the Old Church, which was the oldest church in Amsterdam (shocker) which was also right across an alleyway from a preschool (that wasn’t unsuspected), except that the preschool (and church) were sandwiched in the middle of the Red Light District, and so had strippers and prostitutes on both sides… (not somewhere I’d send my kids…)  And that was interesting. Kind of surprising when we realized that the Red Light District was active at 10am… So we left there fairly quickly. Went and toured Our Lord in the Attic, a famous Catholic church in the attic of 3 adjacent buildings – very very cool church, a lot more ornate than you would expect, even through the renovations that were going on when we were there.

From there, we went to Verzetsmuseum, the Museum of the Dutch Resistance – a really cool museum about the Dutch resistance that went on during WW2. The only picture I have there (since pictures weren’t allowed inside the museum proper) is of a camera from one of the men from the time who risked his life to take pictures at a time when taking pictures was outlawed.

From there, we moved on to the Canal tour, where I took a ton of pictures, especially of the bridges and buildings all though the city. If you go look at my pictures on Imgur with the link at the bottom of the page, one of the pictures towards the end of the canal section is actually the only spot where you can see the arcs of 7 different bridges along the track of 1 single stretch of canal. Cool stuff. You can also see the spire of the Church of St. Nicholas (I believe) which was the first Catholic church built once Catholicism was allowed in the city again and made Our Lord in the Attic unneeded after like 150-200 years of church services holding upwards of 100-200 people being held there. In addition to the Church of St. Nicholas, you can also see De Nieue Kerk (The New Church), the second oldest church in Amsterdam, which I have pictures from inside up later in the album.

From there, we got dinner, went back to the hostel, and fell asleep at like 8 haha. Although, to our defense, everything in Europe closes by like 6, so there was nothing left to do.

The next day we started with the Tulip Museum of Amsterdam. Fun fact: tulips were prized so highly at one point in Amsterdam that one flower cost as much as an entire townhouse. Which, when you don’t have much space to live in to begin with, is pretty expensive. That starts in my album with the picture of the model Ottoman Garden. We got a nice tour of that place, stuck our heads in giant flower bulbs to try and determine smells of different flowers, saw some really cool chinawork – including the EPIC FLOWER TANK vase complete with exploding bright red flower blossom – and a model house setup from old-time Amsterdam, we think.. We weren’t exactly sure what that part of the exhibit was for. But we did find a giant bunny on the wall.

Next came De Nieue Kerk and it’s epic stained glass, organ, and general awesomeness. Really cool inner architecture – every single surface had detail, not a single piece was plain or simple.

Then, the general Amsterdam Museum. It was about, well, Amsterdam. History and whatnot. Pretty cool. Some nice facts and interesting pieces. A really cool glass ship in a bottle that I wanted.

Now the Van Gogh Museum, or if you asked one of my friends, the Picasso Museum. Even though it didn’t have single work of art from Picasso in there.. He just couldn’t seem to remember Van Gogh and kept saying Picasso. Anyways, lots of nice paintings, although I will say Van Gogh is not my favorite artist. His works are impressionist (as you probably know, I just know that I’m typically art-dumb), which means it’s hard to tell what he’s painting sometimes (for me at least).. But it was cool. Saw a lot of his famous works, and went through 3 different floors of art, 98% of which was his, and organized by time period, so you were able to see how his worked developed through the years, and then his track downwards with his epilepsy (or they think it was epilepsy, they’re not exactly sure what he had). No Starry Night though, that was traveling somewhere. But we did see his famous sunflower painting (can’t remember the name), his famous blue flowers and yellow background painting (can’t remember the name) and some other nice ones. And of few of his pointillist paintings which I thought were actually quite nice, like his triptych of the Pink Orchard, the Pink Tree (I think was the name), and the White Orchard. So not all bad, haha

Then the Rembrandt Plaza, and chilling on grass in the small park.

From there, we went and made a trip to the grocery store for peanut butter. Not only are the Netherlands the only country in Europe you can get peanut butter without paying an arm and leg per ounce, they have honest to god, PEANUT butter, not corn syrup butter with peanuts. And it’s really good! I got 1800 grams. As did almost everyone in my group.

Then back to the hostel, some more sleep, an early morning, and off to the Anne Frank House. This one was really cool. Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures inside and didn’t get a picture of the outside, so no pictures at all, but I can tell you about it. Right next to the house that held Otto Frank’s (Anne Frank’s father) store, they’ve built a modern building that holds the pre and post exhibition to the walking tour. The tour is self-guided, but it’s really cool and pretty powerful. They have models of the house and arrangement at the time that it was being occupied by the Franks and the other 4 people, videos of survivors and friends of their memories while it all went on, then you actually walk through the door behind the bookcase, through each room of the Secret Annex, including the main bedroom, Anne’s room, the living room, Peter’s room, and the bathroom, with quotes from Anne’s diary detailing each room put on the walls. After walking through the entire house, you go into a different part of the new building next door via an enclosed bridge and see replicas of pages of her diary and interviews of Otto Frank, and a bunch more stuff. So overall, the museum was certainly one of my favorites.

And then that concluded our stay in Amsterdam. We went to the train station, caught our first train at 12:38, Amsterdam to Sittard, Sittard to Maastricht, Maastricht Liege-Guillemins, Liege-Guillemins to Namur, Namur to Luxembourg, train from Luxembourg to Metz cancelled, bus from Luxembourg to Battenburg, train from Battenburg to Metz, and then a bus back home.

So a really cool trip and all. Definitely jammed pack of stuff, all of which I’m fairly certain I included and didn’t forget anything, although it is entirely possible that I did, what with all the museum hopping that went on.

Once more, if you’re interested in pictures, feel free to check out the ones I took: http://imgur.com/a/IlpRA#0