A Travellerspoint blog

Berlin

I want to live there!

sunny

Note: Many pictures I post will not be angled easiest for the viewer - I tried to rotate them appropriately and I kept getting error messages from travellerspoint so you will just have to rotate your head in the direction necessary to view the photo....my patience only goes so far

Slacking on the blog, but to be fair just as soon as my rendezvous with this city was finished, my mom flew in and we are traveling together until I return state side.
This city. This city has a hold on me. Art scrawled everywhere. Musicians on street corners and playing in venues throughout the city. Jazz, punk, rockabilly, and probably anything else you want. The feel of the city is relaxed, the transportation system is efficient, and I felt like I fit right in...minus my lack of ability to speak German (I could learn).
As soon as my internship finished I headed out the next day, Wednesday, August 1st, for this city.
The train ride was exciting as I was sitting in a style room I hadn't sat in yet and I was in the caboose!
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Arrived in Train station
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Arrived at my hostel - The Circus. When booking there weren't any small number of all female dorms (the kind I wanted to stay in) so I ended up splurging and booking a single for myself where I shared facilities (yay shower shoes!). However, i did feel like I spent a bit too much after I made some friends with some guys from the UK who spent a lot less per night for an apartment they rented for a week. You live, you learn...you hope.
View of/from my hostel
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Mirror in the elevator of my hostel
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My train got in during the afternoon and as it doesn't really get dark there until 10ish I had plenty of time to explore the city.
The street art I wanted to see most and I have to say this next image broke my heart. Even if the street art is commissioned, there is some sort of purity about it to me, the art form, filling space, likely to not be permanent, and sending messages for all the world to see whether political or art for the sake of art. Paying an artist for their talent is worthwhile - one reason I love tattoos - but this art form being used for advertising didn't sit well with me. personal preference I suppose.
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Anyway - no more of that, onto seeing more art in the city and exploring some of the history. I headed to a park first to orient myself to the city with a map and to enjoy a little sunshine. I proceeded to take many photos of street art - professionally crafted and not so professionally crafted. There is so much art I couldn't possibly capture it all, an unfortunate truth.
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In my wandering I cam across this statue that was my first wake-up call to the dark history of the country I was in, like being shaken from a dream into the coldness of what the world can really produce.
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Later there will be darker things to come, but for now more wandering through the city - exploring what the Berlin of today has to offer.
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I made my way to the Berlin wall, or what is left of it. Though this speaks of a dark time in history it is an uplifting sight as the wall has been turned into the Eastside Gallery and covered with art, surrounded by a park, and a really nice area to lounge around. Groups of people were sitting in the sunshine drinking, eating, talking, playing music, and yes, there was some spray painting action taking place.
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I tried to take a picture of every single piece on the wall...in case that wasn't obvious.

Onward I went - it's still Wednesday, August 1st folks.
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After all this I wish I could say I have pictures from my night out, but I do not - too good a time at the b-flat club listening to some absolutely phenomenal jazz. I made some friends here from the UK, 2 jazz musicians and 1 metal musician and a bunch of stand up guys who I hope come visit Texas some time. I made some other friends too - from the U.S. and New Zealand when I went on an alternative tour of Berlin the following day. All good people I hope to see again some day.

Thursday, August 2nd (my mom's birthday I might add)

Before the alternative tour I roused myself for some free yoga on the rooftop of The Circus Hotel...across the way from their hostel in which I was staying. The sun was strong and the air was clean.
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I could definitely live in a place with this sort of terrace (as could be seen from the hotel's roof top)!
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After yoga I took my yoga instructor out for a fresh glass of orange juice as a way of saying thank you for the class - in our discussion I learned of the affordability of Berlin - 3 bedroom apartment with living room and kitchen for 600euros total. She was really nice and we discussed the health care system in Germany as well as the system in the UK. She moved back to Germany after living in the UK for 9 years. Interesting discussion and I won't bore you with the details.

Onto the alternative tour and the artworks I saw there!

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Historical info
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These golden squares are put in front of places where Jewish families were pulled out and taken/killed. They are controversial as people walk on them, but the more people walk on them, the more they shine and draw attention to the lives that were lost during WWII. (as told to me by my Scottish tour guide of the free Alternative Berlin Tour)
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This next piece is pretty amazing....it is 3D art (vines, chimney stack, windows, etc are painted)
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More tour

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Old bombed out train station in an area called suicide circus
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more suicide circus
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This turret was turned into a rock wall - was wishing I had my shoes and chalk on me
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Tour ends

Myself and one of my new friends from the UK (the one who joined me on the tour) and a few other people I made friends with all went out for some Thai food and then on our walk I saw this place and thought the sign was funny so I took a picture.
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That night, myself and some of my newfound friends went out to listen to some music. I wanted to go see a punk show and knew of one venue that had a show, but we listened to the bands before and didn't think it'd be that good and they were asking more money than we were willing to pay and a couple doors down we had seen someone playing a standup bass (my favorite instrument) and the show was free. It was some really amazing psychobilly. One guy on the standup bass, one guy on a sweet looking guitar (sorry musician friends - I know nothing more than the aesthetics) and one guy on one of the boxes you sit on and play kind of like a drum - tell me someone what this is called! Also, the singing was all in German. It was truly a great show and most of the people in the bar knew the songs and were singing along. The crowd was a bit older, but with their posters on the wall it seems they may be fairly well known. I can probably look the name up if anyone is interested in knowing who they were. Glad to hear some music not from the states as it seems to be EVERYWHERE (bad music most of the time too).
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Friday, August 3, 2012===Sachsenhausen===
I almost wanted to do a different blog for this section, but maybe no one would read it or look at the photos due to its serious nature - I went with some of my new friends to a concentration camp.
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Though it doesn't say it immediately on wikipedia, it was one of the first if not the first camp where they did gassings. They experimented with gassing people here. I cannot convey the weight of this space. I cannot convey the feeling you get when in the tight quarters of the prison and the flood of tourists coming in where the heat of the bodies are coming together and you can only get the faintest glimpse of the claustrophobic dread that must have surely been present. There is no way for me to fully understand what all those people went through, but the weight of the land is enough to make a person do nothing but wish for peace, to wish for no human to ever commit such atrocities ever again. To read quotes from prisoners talking about this first crematorium and then see the burners themselves. To read about how they would shoot and hang the prisoners and see the place where the very killings took place. I have never been to war and I cannot imagine it, but it is hard not to imagine the pain of all those suffering in this place. To think of all the people dying in the world even now at the hands of war. To see spaces that you might have considered safe, but to know prisoners were tortured in every spot of this camp. Everyone should be at such a place to remember and to feel in their bones this darkness that existed/exists amongst humanity. Maybe if we all knew the feeling I felt, we would all have more appreciation for life and less desire to harm "the other."
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There is a lovely neighborhood, just outside the fence - there was a neighborhood looking in during war time as well. I cannot imagine.
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That night I took a few more photos of art. I am still alive and appreciate what I love in life. I cannot stop contemplating and rummaging through the emotions and thoughts of that camp, but if we are alive we must live and enjoy the lives we lead as much as possible.
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With some of my new friends we went out for some more phenomenal jazz - a great drummer from Atlanta, Georgia who we heard playing at the b-flat bar and were now hearing with a much larger group of musicians at the "where is waldo?" bar. Say waldo like Valdo.

I departed Berlin on Saturday after a nice lazy morning and great breakfast at this cozy cafe.
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Somewhere along the way I saw this statue.
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And now I think I may constantly be thinking of how I can return to Berlin - the city embraced me in every way and I would love to call it home or at least a place to get away to again.
A city who had over 80% destroyed is now a living breathing masterpiece.

Posted by PlanetMEP 14:14 Archived in Germany Tagged berlin street_art concentration_camp

Netherlands

Final days, weeks, and taking another look

My time in the Netherlands is coming to a close. No doubt I will be homesick for some things here, such as my runs next to the canal and riding a bike with little fear of being hit by a car. I will miss the friends I have made here as well, they have truly ensured I have had a positive experience here. I can only hope one day they will all come visit me in the States and that I may have the opportunity to return to Europe and visit them wherever it is they are originally from.

I was supposed to go to see more of the Netherlands this past weekend, but the sun was so bright and beautiful I didn't want to get on a train and I wanted to relax a bit before I begin nonstop traveling this upcoming Wednesday. Upcoming travel plans are Berlin by myself from August 1st-August 4th then my mom arrives August 5th and she I and I do some traveling to Paris, France; Nice, France; and Amsterdam, Netherlands before my return home on August 15th.

Before those entries can be made you may want to see a bit more of Nijmegen, Netherlands and a bit of Arnhem, Netherlands

I must admit that I took a bit of time off work on Thursday because the day was too beautiful to be inside and I knew I could catch up on my final projects later in the weekend when the weather was supposed to be terrible (I got lucky and it was nice almost the whole weekend!).
So, I went with a couple of friends to this big park where they have a little lake.
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On this lake they had a pully system going all the way across with cables so people could water ski and wakeboard but without a boat! It looked like the tow lines you find on some ski lifts where you hold the bar and the cable line drags you. I thought it looked like a lot of fun, but I did not participate and instead laid on the beach lazily watching people do tricks on their wake boards. It felt like summer.

This same day I went with the same friends to a soccer match, which is of course called football here, in Arnhem Netherlands. Vitesse vs Loko or the Arnhem football team versus the Locomotives, a Bulgarian team (one of my friends is Bulgarian). The mascot for Vitesse is some kind of hawk/falcon/eagle and they have the actual bird which they have fly through the stadium. No cheerleaders and fireworks, but loud music and a giant bird. The match was very fun though the Bulgarian team was unfortunately not playing their best and lost the match- they need a new goalie and more active defenders. The stadium was pretty fairly large, but nothing in comparison to the stadiums of Houston,Tx. In the arena they also have a special section behind thick glass for the away-team-supporters. The Bulgarians were lively with their shirts off while singing and chanting throughout the match. At one point the rest of the stadium was quiet except for the Bulgarian section, then the home-team-supporters at the other end of the field began to sing back a chant. In the end the Bulgarian supporters still looked to be having fun and the song always look on the bright side of life was played at the end where some whimsical dancing took place...probably not the full monty python version I have linked you to.
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After the game we had a look around Arnhem and had a couple drinks in the town square. One of my friends will have to get me a picture of this awesome graffiti piece that my camera refused to take a picture of - cheapest digital camera at the store so I suppose that's what I get.
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Side note: Thursday was my younger brother's 16th birthday and I got to talk to him while I was at the game!

Friday the 27th
Went with my friends from the game and lake to hang out in some local park and then my Bulgarian friend and myself went for a bicycle ride along a dike when our Italian counterpart had to go to work.

The park
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Onward to the dike!
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After riding for quite a while on the dike in the hot sun we turned off and found this sort of castle/chateau which appeared closed so I only got a picture of the outside.
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On our journey back we happened by this farm store where I thought it looked like they sold ice cream and with all the heat and sun we were riding in, I wanted some ice cream. They had cheese, kitchy farm store stuff, pear liquor (it was a pear farm) and ice cream!
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you will notice in some of the photos I took pictures of how they bind the trees together to make them grow into a flat roof of sorts. They control the trees so they grow in this really nice canopy.

Riding back towards town
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We rode past a bridge being built where my friend told me about the famous bridge in Arnhem that is the bridge from operation Market-Garden in WWII, though we were thinking this new bridge may have been a recreation of another bridge destroyed during WWII that may be confirmed by this photo where the soldiers have an American flag in the procession. I think now I'd like to see the film "A Bridge Too Far."
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We stopped at the beach/sand bank where I took some photos of graffiti (pictures of the beach can be found in an earlier blog post) and then sat on the bridge for a bit
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The bridge photos may have been from later in the weekend as I have stopped by there on Saturday and Sunday as well.

Saturday I went to see the new Batman flick and now understand the whole Bane thing from the weird Romney picture I posted last. Also, they pause movies in the middle here - every movie there is a pause, or intermission as we might call it. The seats in the theatre are also way more comfortable than the ones at home I think - thick, red, and plush. It was fun to read Dutch subtitles of the movie, but I think you can save your money and rent the flick at a later point in time if you want to see it.

No pictures of it, but on Friday night into early Saturday morning three of my friends and I got caught in a massive downpour that was almost like a Houston flash flood - we rode our bicycles home in rivers of water with little visibility, after such a beautiful day it was comical though cold and wet.

Sunday morning I watched the sun rise after staying up all night to do so, something I haven't done in a long time and it was beautiful listening to owls and seeing a couple across the tree tops as they presumably flew to their nests. Other birds were waking and chattering while the leaves rustled in the wind throwing rain drops and dew to the ground. No pictures of this scene as I attempted to take it all in.

This is some graffiti I saw in town last night after sitting on the bridge to watch the sun set, had some wonderful fresh hot mint tea, and before watching an Italian flick "Habemus Papam" with some friends.
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I cannot say whether or not I will have any further Nijmegen photos or Netherlands photos posted. I cannot even say whether or not I'll find any time to post photos of my travels to Berlin and of travels with my mom until after we are both safe and sound back in the States.

Today and tomorrow are my last days at my internship where I have learned a great deal about the content I've worked with and a great deal about how I have no interest in a Ph.D. at this time.
Shameless plug in job search/interest: I need a job with people and it would be sweet to get involved in international development/aid sooooooo if anyone reading this knows of any opportunities available in 2013 for a freshly minted MPH, i'm all ears (especially if the job is in Hawai'i, West Coast, Colorado, Houston, Austin, Asheville, D.C., or somewhere in Latin America).

Posted by PlanetMEP 05:16 Archived in Netherlands Tagged nijmegen arnhem

Oslo

Norway

sunny

I took a trip this past weekend to meet up with some friends I hadn't seen in quite a while and got to see Norway. Fortunately the weather was lovely and I was told it wasn't usually so sunny, though flying in at 9:15 in the evening, in the plane it looked like it could be noon. Dusk was around 11:30pm and it probably wasn't completely dark until around midnight. Interestingly my flight was delayed an hour and on the airplane in one of the magazines found in the seat pocket in front of me was a magazine that proclaimed proudly that Scandinavian Airlines had won awards for being the most punctual airline...an hour delay I think will mean missing out on another award. Too bad for them. They also were out of water so were unable to serve coffee and tea, but orange juice was free - everything else was for purchase. I bought nothing and waited for my arrival. Still, an hour and a half plane flight with only an hour and a half train commute to Amsterdam from Nijmegen sure beats a 27 hour train ride from Amsterdam to Oslo. Also, I was a bit relieved at the late departure seeing as there were no direct trains from Nijmegen to Amsterdam airport when I left because of all the walking festivities going on in Nijmegen. The train took a bit more time and I had to transfer in Utrecht. I thought I might miss my flight.
It is important for me to note that the agents working security at Amsterdam airport and at Oslo airport are WAY friendlier than at any airport I've been to in the U.S. and the protocol to me are far more reasonable. Everyone does not remove their shoes, only boots and heels or if you set off the machine do you have to remove them. Also, no naked machines as far as I could see though potentially they have them for special use. My belt buckle looked like a knife at Amsterdam airport apparently so they had to check that out, but the most amazing thing was my return trip from Oslo. I had some souvenires in my backpack that I did not put in my checked luggage and I forgot that one of the items I purchased was a wine bottle opener, I sighed and realized as I approached screening that they would take it away so I let the gentleman know I had it and he asked and I was permitted to keep it! Imagine being able to reason that I would most likely not be able to do anything too devastating with a wine bottle opener. Coming from the U.S. where even nail clippers are the most dangerous of weapons on an airplane I was surprised and relieved for this. It also left something to be desired in my own home-town country.
Enough blabber and onto some photos!

On the train on my way to Amsterdam airport I saw this interesting photo in the paper that I cannot explain other than it is Romney in some sort of mask that is in the newest Batman flick. I turned to the page it stated for further information, but there were only advertisements for the new flick and no words to help me better understand how Bane Capital and Romney are related to Batman...
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The money used in Norway is the Krone $1.00 equals roughly 6 Norwegian Krone. It looks like a lot of money so when I went to the atm I felt like a baller carrying around this.
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However, it also feels like you are spending a ton of money all the time there because the numbers themselves are so large and I wasn't much a fan of this.

I took the shuttle to meet up with my friends and I pretty much passed out as soon as I got in.
The next day though, the only full day I was in Oslo I took lots of pretty pictures including where I was staying.
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There are parks all over Oslo and I spent some time in them in the sun after all the sight seeing. All women who read this, prepare to be jealous - the society is set up for family way better than our country (as are most of the European countries whose healthcare systems I am aware of) and in Norway you get to take the first year of your child's life off of work with full compensation. Men, you also get to take the time off. We could learn some family values from the Norwegians I think. Anyway, this was very evident with the families out and about even on the weekend.

Pictures!
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We were not interested in spending money to go in the museum, but here is a picture of the painting that the line forming outside was waiting to see...i'm sure it's much better than the printed poster outside.
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AND I probably wouldn't have been allowed to take a pic of the real one for you all anyway.

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I didn't eat here, but I thought it was interesting there was a "Texas burger joint" in Oslo.
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speaking of the food, my vegetarian/vegan friends made and showed me the best food I've had in Europe. Seriously. Primarily vegan stuff and incredibly delicious. I would have eaten completely vegan if it weren't for the spicy marinated feta. no pictures, just my teasing words to let you know that the food was wonderful.

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These next photos are my favorite - city hall with awesomely old wood carvings going through Scandanavian folklore - I really felt like I got in touch with my Norwegian roots by looking over these, or maybe I just love mythology. Here is where I told the city hi for my mom who asked me to say hello to the land of our ancestors. It didn't say hi back, obviously.
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A few final photos of touristy stuff before my friends and I just went to hang out.
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graffiti art I saw on Sunday before leaving to catch my plane back.
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I definitely hope to return to Oslo, but I think only in the summer months. It was good to see my friends and hang out with them and enjoy some sunshine! Although, my return to the Netherlands has had me pleasantly surprised with sunshine this week thus far. Will keep my fingers crossed the sun keeps coming and the rain clouds stay away. Only three weeks left in Europe and I'd prefer the weather do things my way (if only I had that much control).

Posted by PlanetMEP 15:41 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo

Nijmegen

International Four Days Marches

53 °F

I spend most of my weekends getting to know a lot of other countries outside of The Netherlands. This last weekend I intended to change that, but the weather was miserable and so I spent most of my time in my teeny tiny little room sleeping, working out, reading, and finishing up the Mad Men series. This week however, the weather has not been nearly as bad as it was predicted to be and the International Four Days Marches are going on. Wikipedia info on the Marches
Official Website
Official Festivities Website
During this week the town goes from a population of 160,000 or so according to wikitravel to a population of somewhere around 1 million (this last number is what everyone keeps telling me so it must be accurate). The normal calm streets are filled with people and they set up stages all over the city. The idea kind of reminds me of the Westheimer Street Festival aka West Fest, only more successful because the city is so much smaller and compact. There is quite the range of music playing and it is something else to hear so many different languages being spoken all around you. Many soldiers do the walking and so there are soldiers from all over Europe here walking (a few U.S. soldiers too I hear). I have tried to take pictures of places around Nijmegen during the festival.

The first night I went.
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By the way, they have castles here! (real ones)
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Where they keep pet deer.....
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the street all lit up
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Please note this ride is called the "American Wipp" ➔ the misspelling and the drawings to me indicate how many in this world see us. I face-palm at the idea of it.
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There is a big church in the middle I should really go take pictures of during the day sometime.
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I wanted to go another night but instead this is what I did...something I do quite a lot of
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[u]Thursday Night and into the wee hours of Friday[u]

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this is a bicycle museum I really want to check out when my mom comes to visit.
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these are me taking pictures that won't come out of a castle in the distance that for some reason i am just now really seeing - far more impressive the the castle-like pictures I showed you earlier
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The night was finished by going to an amazing headphones party. yes, a headphones party. There is a DJ and everyone is dancing to their own beat wearing wireless headphones. Someone needs to jump on this and do it in Houston because if you are not wearing headphones it is absolutely hilarious and if you are wearing headphones you dance to the same beat as your friends maybe and some strangers and it is truly an interesting experience - maybe like dancing alone in your room, but so is everyone else.
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I might add that riding on the back of the bicycle on the luggage rack, like so many people do here, is very fun and I recall riding my friends around on the back of my bicycle on the luggage rack when I was young - though I wasn't supposed to, this better prepared me for these experiences. *winking at you dad

Next place to explore will be Oslo, but as I am meeting up with friends I am not too sure there will be many touristy photos to share, but no worries, I will make more adventures for sharing on future dates. Only a couple weeks left of my internship and then it's non-stop travel time for two weeks and then I am home to Houston, Texas.

I nearly forgot - fresh stroopwaffles are deliciousa picture of someone else's stroopwafel that i got off the interwebs

a picture of someone else's stroopwafel that i got off the interwebs

Posted by PlanetMEP 18:52 Archived in Netherlands Tagged night nijmegen

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