Red Lights and London Town

Hello from the road!  As I start typing this,  I’m on a euro lines bus from Brussels to Paris. Mady and I had quite the interesting night in Brussels, and an even more unpredictable morning.  We hopped on the tram to Brussels Nord when Mady realised she’d left something back at our hosts place. I decided to stay at our stop while she bolted back. By the time she returned we had 25 minutes to get to our bus without a printed ticket. Somehow we hoofed it there and the clerk begrudgingly printed it for us. Mady knows I would have been pretty frustrated to have missed our bus for some shampoo,  but I guess fortune smiled on us today.  I hope I’ll find it funny one day…received_10153556144843304

The end of our time in London was just fine. We did a lot of walking the day of the tube strike. We wandered from Swiss Cottage down to Regents Park then Hyde Park. They had beautiful gardens so we stopped for lunch. We also stopped on Baker St at 221B!
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Yay for Sherlock fandom.  We also got a dose of Harry Potter hilarity by trekking down to King’s Cross. That photo at platform 9&3/4 is the best money I never spent!
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Heading home around 5pm was absolute insanity. The city was frenzied without the underground running.  We managed with the overground but as it runs mostly in the outskirts of all the desirable spots, it made for a lot of walking.  We had plans to go to the Jack the ripper tour at 8 but missed it, so we wound up at a pub called the Britannia near monument station. We enjoyed some karaoke and a beer Before an early night home on the DLR,  complete with change at Shadwell which is apparently a really dodgy area. Oops. The next day the tube was back on- ya!  We headed down to Borough Market and realised that we really shouldn’t have eaten before coming.  It was a food lovers PARADISE.
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  Indian,  fruit,  cookies, cheese,  meat, Croatian truffle, baklava, you name it… We had the samples our stomachs could handle and indulged in some sangria.  From Borough we returned to Trafalgar to get better views of the London Eye and went into the National Museum of Art. From there we headed to a 4pm old city tour. We did an hour before the guides slightly intolerant and racist commentary got to us. The guy even tried to debate us ô  what part of Canada we were from? ? We counted our losses and ducked out of the tour to grab coffee and relax before the 8pm JtR tour. Same company, but no way it’d be the same guy right?…wrong. As we climbed the steps and saw the same guy we sighed.  Defeated. We resigned ourselves to head back to the pub we’d found the night earlier and profit from their 2 for 1 cocktail deals.

 

We took our drinks outside and started talking to three guys beside us. One couple, a lawyer and med student,  and their friend. They were headed for drinks in Camden near us so we thought why not? We headed to World’s End Bar then Made in Brazil. After a few expensive drinks we called it a night.  To me, London is quite an expansive place and I think you need to spend a lot of Time to love it properly. Perhaps coming from a small town it’s too overwhelming. I loved Melbourne at 4 mil,  but I only ever felt the city crawled with people downtown on weekends. If it had to choose, Edinburgh is still my choice.  A manageable size, international influence and plenty of calming Highlands to recharge. Also, that accent though 😉

 

From London onto Amsterdam!  I was properly knackered and drugged up on anti nausea meds after the train to Southend airport made me want to Ralph. I woke up in Amsterdam feeling rotten.  Still, we sacked it up and got a little lost finding our airbnb.  Not a social guy,  but we didn’t care. We were staying again in a sort of dodgy area, but the price was right and 20 minutes by bus to Central.
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For both nights we mostly stayed in the tourist hub. Amsterdam was the first place that really surprised me. The smell of cannabis is wafting everywhere. Coffee shops on every corner near the red light district. The famous peep show theatre Casa Rosso was always packed with people dying to get in.
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We decided to be cheap and wander the district over and over. The women really do call the shots and run their own business behind the red doors. I was shocked to see a 90 year old man coming out of one! If you got it you got it I guess?  We sat by the canal with drinks and watched all the boaters go by. It did look quite appealing. Also, the bikes are everywhere. 750,000 people but over a million bikes in the city.  Yowza. We did a waking tour But it lasted so long that we had no time for Reijksmuseum or the cat boat museum. Mady was very sad. Our night became a repeat of the night prior. We had found pizza the night before that was to die for and went around for a  hour trying to find it. Finally digging in was a small success that day.

 

Then onwards to Brussels. The train ride was miserable.  I got sandwiched into one seat with my bags since it was so packed with people. Finally finding our host was a relief. I will merely say we had an interesting night… We did go to la grande place and I had moules frites since apparently it’s the thing to do!
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It’s been quite a ride the past few days though. Edinburgh feels like a million years ago though,  which is strange and also a bit sad. Each new place seems to put more time between the last in my mind.  I am both eager and nervous for Paris.  I’ve dreamed of it for ages. Me under the Effet tower, meeting some cute french man and drinking wine while accordions play. I think I’ve seen to many episodes of the Bachelor.  Still, we’ve been warned of pick pockets and stranger danger so I have to keep my wits about me. I hope Paris treats us well.

 

À bientôt!  Gros bisous,

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