A Travellerspoint blog

Gouda, Crepes and Tapas

Amsterdam, Holland; Paris, France; Madrid, Spain

Amigos,

After catching our train 'amazing-race' style in Berlin (since then we've allowed ourselves more than one minute to be on the train before it starts rolling), we arrived in Amsterdam ready to unwind after Eastern Europe. We spent 8 days in a beautiful apartment just south of the city center near the enchanting Vondelpark. It was excellent; kitchen, balcony, big table to do some reading and research. Also, there was a nice little grocery store around the corner and a great coffeeshop across the street.

Robert cutting veggies in our kitchen in Amsterdam

Robert cutting veggies in our kitchen in Amsterdam


Houseboats in a canal, can you spot Jennifer in this photo?

Houseboats in a canal, can you spot Jennifer in this photo?


Canal houses in Amsterdam

Canal houses in Amsterdam


Robert taking in the sunset in a flower patch in Vondelpark

Robert taking in the sunset in a flower patch in Vondelpark


Jennifer with tulips in Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Jennifer with tulips in Vondelpark, Amsterdam


Red light district at night--can you guess what's in those red-lighted storefront windows on the left?

Red light district at night--can you guess what's in those red-lighted storefront windows on the left?

We went to the Anne Frank house in central Amsterdam. It was a lot like we imagined it to be when we read her diary in grade school, especially the bookshelf hiding the secret door that leads up to the annex. It's a very small space for 8 people to live and remain quiet for over 2 years. Obviously the story has a sad ending, but that doesn't take away how incredible it was that they were able to live together and evade capture for such a long time. Here's a video of what it looks like from the outside:

Bicycles in Amsterdam

Bicycles in Amsterdam


When biking around Amsterdam it's essential to have a good map to navigate the canals

When biking around Amsterdam it's essential to have a good map to navigate the canals


Quintessential Amsterdam:  Bicycle, lamp post, tulips, houseboat, canal

Quintessential Amsterdam: Bicycle, lamp post, tulips, houseboat, canal


Jennifer keeping dry in the bike lane near our apartment in Amsterdam

Jennifer keeping dry in the bike lane near our apartment in Amsterdam


Robert and Paul watching some Champions League Football

Robert and Paul watching some Champions League Football

We took a day trip southwest of Amsterdam to Keukenhof, the world's largest flower garden. Wikipedia says that approximately 7 million bulbs are planted here annually. As you can tell from our attire, it was pretty chilly for us in Holland, but it was worth it to be there when the tulip fields outside of the gardens were in full bloom.

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the lilacs

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the lilacs


Robert wearing wooden shoes inside of a windmill

Robert wearing wooden shoes inside of a windmill


These flowers cut through the forest like a river

These flowers cut through the forest like a river


The many colors of flower at Keukenhof

The many colors of flower at Keukenhof


Robert crouching in a yellow stripe of tulips near Keukenhof, Holland

Robert crouching in a yellow stripe of tulips near Keukenhof, Holland


It's preposterous that this pile of tulips is considered garbage

It's preposterous that this pile of tulips is considered garbage


It feels like walking through a rainbow, Keukenhof

It feels like walking through a rainbow, Keukenhof

Here's a 360 view of the tulip fields:

Holland was great. Besides checking out beautiful flowers and relaxing, we got to hang out with Robert's friend Paul who lives in Utrecht and Jennifer's friend Pam who was on holiday in Amsterdam. We wanted to stay in Holland longer, but alas, it was too expensive. We had to start heading south where the dollar goes farther. But first, we got off the train in Paris for a week to take a look around. We just adore Paris in the springtime.

Our first up-close look at the Eiffel Tower

Our first up-close look at the Eiffel Tower


Jim Morrison's grave, Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

Jim Morrison's grave, Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

The view from the 2nd level of the tower:

It costs less to take the stairs than the elevator, and you get a good workout <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

It costs less to take the stairs than the elevator, and you get a good workout :)


5 Euros ($6.48) for a small coke in the gift shop on the Eiffel Tower.  No thanks.

5 Euros ($6.48) for a small coke in the gift shop on the Eiffel Tower. No thanks.


The two of us on the Eiffel Tower

The two of us on the Eiffel Tower


The tower casts a cool shadow at sunset

The tower casts a cool shadow at sunset


View of the Eiffel Tower from the 2nd Level

View of the Eiffel Tower from the 2nd Level


View of the Esplanade du Trocadero from the Eiffel Tower

View of the Esplanade du Trocadero from the Eiffel Tower


Paris at night from the Eiffel Tower.

Paris at night from the Eiffel Tower.

Here's what the Eiffel tower looks like at the top of every hour after the sun goes down:

Chandelier and archways in the Notre Dame

Chandelier and archways in the Notre Dame


Stained-glass window from inside the Notre Dame.  The glass is so old that the bottom is thicker than the top due to gravity.

Stained-glass window from inside the Notre Dame. The glass is so old that the bottom is thicker than the top due to gravity.


The Eiffel Tower looks stunning from the hill of Montmartre

The Eiffel Tower looks stunning from the hill of Montmartre


Jennifer in front of the Moulin Rouge.  Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

Jennifer in front of the Moulin Rouge. Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?


The hunchback of Notre Dame?

The hunchback of Notre Dame?


Crepes!

Crepes!


Jennifer outside of the Louvre

Jennifer outside of the Louvre


Robert coming in a distant 3rd place in a beard-off with Philospher Metrodore at the Louvre

Robert coming in a distant 3rd place in a beard-off with Philospher Metrodore at the Louvre


Look at that face; it's true that her eyes follow you around the room

Look at that face; it's true that her eyes follow you around the room


Robert admiring the struggle of the protagonist in Pierre-Narcisse Guerin's work

Robert admiring the struggle of the protagonist in Pierre-Narcisse Guerin's work


Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

A short train ride from Paris is the Palace of Versailles. Lots of history here, dating back to the days before the French Revolution. Also, it's the place where WWI ended. We thought it was beautiful, especially the view from the Hall of Mirrors.

Jennifer with the golden gate at Versailles

Jennifer with the golden gate at Versailles


Hall of Mirrors Ballroom at Versailles.  It would have been neat to see what people wore to events in this room a few hundred years ago.

Hall of Mirrors Ballroom at Versailles. It would have been neat to see what people wore to events in this room a few hundred years ago.


Sun pouring into the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Sun pouring into the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

We opted for the cheapest seats possible to Madrid, which turned out to be a pretty comfortable place to sleep.

We opted for the cheapest seats possible to Madrid, which turned out to be a pretty comfortable place to sleep.


Our reflection in the window in the bar car of our overnight train from Paris to Madrid

Our reflection in the window in the bar car of our overnight train from Paris to Madrid

We were eager to get to Madrid, especially Robert, who hasn't been back since he lived here for 2 semesters while attending the Universidad Complutense de Madrid from August of '02 until July of '03. The weather got better and cost of living got cheaper as soon as we got off the train. Not to mention the fact that we were ready to dive into some tapas. One interesting fact that we learned on our walking tour was that a few centuries ago, legislation was passed in Spain that required taverns to serve a small snack with each alcohol purchase. The reason was that people couldn't afford food those days and the government wanted to make sure that no one was drinking on an empty stomach. Also, a leg of ham hangs in almost every tavern to this day because during the Inquisition it was a way to prove you were neither Jewish nor Muslim. Spain has a lot of neat history; it's more than just beaches, people!

Robert's old apartment building in Madrid

Robert's old apartment building in Madrid


Plaza Mayor in Madrid is much more peaceful these days than it was during the Inquisition.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid is much more peaceful these days than it was during the Inquisition.


Robert getting reacquainted with Sancho and El Quijote at Plaza España.

Robert getting reacquainted with Sancho and El Quijote at Plaza España.


Enjoying chocolate con churros at the Chocolateria San Gines, est. 1894.  This restaurant is open all day, every day, except between 7am and 9am

Enjoying chocolate con churros at the Chocolateria San Gines, est. 1894. This restaurant is open all day, every day, except between 7am and 9am


Jennifer with the statue of the Ángel caído (Lucifer) at the Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid.  The statue is exactly 666 meters above sea level.

Jennifer with the statue of the Ángel caído (Lucifer) at the Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid. The statue is exactly 666 meters above sea level.


Robert enjoying a caña and tapas at el Museo del Jamón, Madrid

Robert enjoying a caña and tapas at el Museo del Jamón, Madrid

We went to El Rastro on our Sunday morning in Madrid. It's Europe's biggest outdoor market. It's almost more fun to people-watch than to look at the funky merchandise available for purchase.

Where's Jennifer?  El Rastro, Madrid

Where's Jennifer? El Rastro, Madrid


Purses and wallets made out of recycled LPs and 45s.  One example of the many cool things you can find at El Rastro flea market.

Purses and wallets made out of recycled LPs and 45s. One example of the many cool things you can find at El Rastro flea market.


Stop the world, I want to get off.  El Rastro market, Madrid

Stop the world, I want to get off. El Rastro market, Madrid


El Oso y el Madroño (Bear and Strawberry tree), symbol of Madrid.

El Oso y el Madroño (Bear and Strawberry tree), symbol of Madrid.


Madroño, a sweet, fruity liqueur served in a chocolate shot glass that you can eat.  Madrid, Spain

Madroño, a sweet, fruity liqueur served in a chocolate shot glass that you can eat. Madrid, Spain


Puerta del sol, Madrid.

Puerta del sol, Madrid.


Café con leche and flan for postre.  Flan-tastic!

Café con leche and flan for postre. Flan-tastic!


Even though the wheel has been broken since Bulgaria, Jennifer's 2 hours of sleep inspired her to give it another chance.

Even though the wheel has been broken since Bulgaria, Jennifer's 2 hours of sleep inspired her to give it another chance.

Our current city is Sevilla, Andalucia, Spain. It is HOT; daily highs are reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The last time we had weather like this was in India. Tomorrow we're heading farther south to Cadiz, to spend a few days on the beach and plan the next leg of our trip: On Tuesday we plan to cross the Strait of Gibraltar into Morocco. Can't tell you how exciting this is for us!

Today is May 11th, which means that we've been traveling for exactly 7 months! Wow. Seems like time is moving at lightning speed these days; we were in Madrid for a week but it may as well have been only a day. As excited as we are to get home, we are really looking forward to what's in front of us. We miss you. Wish you were here.

Un abrazo muy fuerte,

J & R

Posted by JennyandRobert 15:20

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Comments

Hi Bob & Jen,

Your blogs are absolutely incredible & your photos are priceless! I can't thank you enough for keeping us informed during your amazing trip. We are so happy for you! Can't wait to see you this summer!
Safe travels!

Much love,
Milly

by Milly Babcock

Words completely fail me. Such a mind boggling trip. Seven months of joy reading about your adventures. Inspiring.
g

by Glenn Fuller

Hi Bobby and Jennifer,
I spent the last half hour catching up on your trip. What a time you are having! The tulips are so beautiful in all the photos, along with everything else. When you go to Ireland, give a hug to our dear cousins for me.
Sending you two hugs and love,
Milissa

by Milissa

It was so great to Skype with you two on Sunday! Also really enjoyed the new blog. The flowers in Holland were wonderful! Look forward to seeing you this summer. Love, Aunt Carolyn

by Carolyn MacLaurin

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