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Ambling in Amsterdam

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I sat up in my bed and looked around the room.  After emptying both of my backpacks, cleaning them, and refilling them I was getting hungry.  I grabbed an apple and headed through the pumpkin orange lobby to the hallway.  The sun was shining all the way down the brown-painted hallway.  I stood on the sidewalk outside the hostel and ate my apple.  I waited for clouds or rain but nothing came.

I threw my apple core in the rubbish bin and headed east.  I decided to follow the canals from the center out until I reached Vondelpark.  Looking at Amsterdam on a map this looks like a very simple task.  The city is shaped kind of like a horseshoe with a rectangle at the top.  The rectangle at the top is Centraal Station.  The horseshoe underneath is a series of canals that are formed by progressively larger horseshoes.  When walking them it is a tangled web of alleys and one lane, one way streets shared by bicycles, pedestrians and automobiles.  Here are some pics from my wanderings in the sun…

 When you come into Amsterdam this is where everyone starts.  This is Centraal Station Amsterdam.  From here you can take buses, trains, metros, or trams to the airport, Moscow or just about anywhere in between.

 This is an inset of the right tower of Centraal Station.

 At the corner of Nieuwe Brugsteeg in the tight streets of Amsterdam.

So finally I reached Vondelpark.  It was nice to see people seated on the grass instead of hiding under trees from the rain.  The lawns were filled despite being two months before the high tourist season here in Amsterdam.  Here are a few things I saw in Vondelpark before reaching my destination…

I was near the middle of the park and I was beginning to wonder if I had lost my way.  With one sudden scent I knew I was close.  In the center of Vondelpark is a garden with dozens of flowerbeds.  On my first trip to Amsterdam there was not a single flower.  I had hoped that this time would be different and the lingering, sweet smell assured me that it would be.  Here are a few of my favorites from the gardens in Vondelpark…

I spent the afternoon in Vondelpark and by evening made my way back to Dam Square for the carnival celebration.  I have more pics and stories but this is my last night in Europe for a while so I am going to get out and enjoy it.  Until our next adventure…

 

 

 

Porto on the Duoro

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I arrived in Porto a couple hours after sunset.  The warm sea breeze and smell of kebab shops settled me into the second most important Portuguese city very quickly.  As I enjoyed the sights and smells of Porto I began to get my bearings.  Unsurprisingly, I had gone the wrong way at the first roundabout.  I soon found the long road that would bring me all the way to the neighborhood where I had a room waiting for me.

As I walked the road got wider.  It opened up into outdoor cafes, restaurants, and bars.  I passed a cathedral and a park.  I took note of them so that I could take a visit after I unloaded my packs.  Then I continued down the road.  It took a sharp turn to the left and pointed me out over The Duoro River, which end here in Porto after travelling across the Iberian Peninsula.  This is what it looks like at night a short distance from the ocean…

Now I was in the neighborhood of the Tattva Design Hotel and wondering how I could miss a hotel on a tiny residential street.  After a quick search I found the hotel without a sign.  It was identical to all the surrounding flats on the outside but when I walked in I knew this was probably not what the apartments in this neighborhood looked like.

The two girls at the front desk were busily trying to check people in and answer questions.  When it was my turn they explained that the hotel had only opened the week before so there was still a lot of chaos whilst they tried to figure out how to run this hotel.  The hotel’s short existence also helped explain why they were pretty much giving away rooms at prices I had never seen anywhere before.

The first floor had a fish lounge with aquariums, computers, and other rectangular boxes for people to spend their time looking at.  The second floor had a kitchen for self service food, as well as a private restaurant/bar for the guests.  The roof above the hotel had been transformed into an outdoor tiki lounge, fitted with a high brush-fence and torches.  Each floor had its own theme of either fire, wind, water, or earth.  It was an interesting place but the thought of Porto in the twilight piqued my interest more than any caged fish or roof without a view.

Around midnight I headed towards the city center.  I had not eaten yet so I looked for one of those kebab shops that had wafted its way over to me on my way from the bus stop.  There was not a kebab shop open so I looked around for a bar with a kitchen.  After hearing the same story (kitchen closed at midnight) a few times I moved on to another option.  After spending ten minutes walking around a parking garage that I believed was an entrance to a shopping mall (due to the similarity of a Portuguese word and a deceptively unrelated English word)  I was told that there were no supermarkets open in Porto tonight.

It seemed that I was probably not going to find anything to eat so I moved on to more important things, like adventure.  I had just under twenty four hours to spend in this city so I had to make every second count.  I went back to the park I had noted earlier.  I saw cathedrals built into the surrounding apartments.  I followed the roads that run alongside the river at different heights.  By the end of the night I had seen all six of the famed Porto bridges.  Here are a few of my favorite pics from that night…

As the night grew to be morning I knew it was time for some sleep.  I had a lot to see the next day and not much time to see it so I went back to hotel, walked past the aquarium, and made my way up to my pillow.  Well, this is how I spent the shorter of my two partial days in Porto.  The next day proved to be filled with even more sights, sounds, smells, and finally tastes than the first.  Until then…

Hello Again

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Hey friends, I know it´s been a while since my last post.  I just wanted to let everyone know that there are plenty more adventures to report and I will do that as soon as I can.  I have been in Barcelona for about two weeks now and have had some great times.  I strolled around the Olympic Village, sat in the mountain top park designed by Gaudi, got a job doing promotions for a few nights, and much more.  Well, I am preparing for my next move (to Paris) and going to see the magic fountains at Placa Espanya tonight so I had better get going.  Until next time…