Friday, February 22, 2019

My Second Trip to Madrid

Madrid, Spain
My sister and I left Amsterdam late morning to head to Madrid. We had the hardest time finding our terminal and no one there was helpful. Apparently there was construction, but there were no signs of where to go and there were literally lines of people. Luckily, my sister figured out where to go and we bypassed the crowd of people. We arrived in Madrid mid-day and were picked up at the airport by my cousin. I had visited my cousin in Spain back when I lived in Russia so it was my second time visiting. For me, it was more about seeing family than visiting Madrid. My sister had never been to Madrid, so when we went back out in the evening it was all about hitting those local spots.
Since it's really hot in Madrid in July, we waited a little bit until the sun started to go down to go back out. It was still a scorcher, though. We walked around and my cousin showed us some of the main sites in Madrid. She then took us to Puerta del Sol, and we dined in high style (or as I like to think) at El Corte Ingles. Well, we didn't actually dine, we just had a few glasses of wine which is what you do in Spain. There was an absolutely beautiful view of the city from the top floor, and we know how much I love a panoramic view. We also managed to get one of very few tables at the restaurant. It was so nice to just sit up there and enjoy the summer evening.
I honestly don't remember what else we did after walking around but probably not that much. Besides Moscow, Madrid is the first city I've ever revisited so I enjoyed just vacationing and not feeling like I had to visit a million different places.

Have you ever visited Madrid?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Amsterdam, Pt. 2

Amsterdam, Netherlands
This is going to be a short post (words wise) because, again, I have a terrible memory and can't remember everything we did. We only had two full days in Amsterdam, and on our second day we grabbed breakfast at Bakers and Roasters. After breakfast we headed back over to Museumplein. We both like Banksy, so we went to the Banksy exhibit at the Moco Museum. While I enjoyed the exhibit I just kept thinking, "I don't think Banksy would want us to pay money to see this stuff."
I don't remember exactly how we killed time but we headed to Dam Square because we wanted to go on a tour. I booked (or tried to book a tour) with Sandemans again because I really enjoyed my tour in Berlin. When we arrived at where the tour was meeting they didn't have enough room for us at the time we wanted, but they told us we would be first on the waiting list. We decided to stick it out for another 10 minutes and it turned out they had a spot available. There are several types of these tours in major European cities, but I went with what I knew. It was a good thing I did because our tour guide was this hilarious guy from Scotland. He kept us laughing the entire time.
Unfortunately, I don't really remember anything from the tour. I was interested in learning more about the history because I don't know much about Amsterdam. Basically, the city was founded because some guy said something religious happened at the spot and he turned it into a place for a pilgrimage which is how many major cities in Europe, Middle East, and Asia came to be. It was a total sham but the city began to build up from there. I also remember that the reason the buildings are built the way they are was because they were charged by the width of the facade. So most buildings are built back shot gun style. For this reason many of the buildings have hooks which were meant to lift heavy items to the correct floor. Other than that I don't really remember why I took photos of some of the buildings, except below is where the painter, Rembrandt, used to live.
After the tour, I was starving. I honestly started getting light headed and considered leaving, but my sister gave me a piece of gum and I stuck with it. She suggested a place called Moeders (meaning Mothers) so we could try typical Dutch food. We arrived before they opened so we had to wait a few minutes to get in, but when we did we were overwhelmed with so many pictures of mothers. People just send in pictures of their moms and they display it all over the restaurant. The restaurant can get quite busy, so I suggest arriving early. I believe we both ordered the Stamppot, which I actually liked even though it was really meat heavy, and I think it was the first meal I couldn't finish because they give you a generous portion. I honestly don't remember what we did after. I think we might have picked up a few more souvenirs and then headed back to the hostel to get ready for our flight.
While I would definitely recommend visiting Amsterdam if you're interested it wasn't my favorite European city. I'd definitely go back to Moscow (obviously), Helsinki, or Berlin before I made it back to Amsterdam. Obviously, that's my own preference as you can see I like concrete and cemeteries. The city is absolutely stunning, and I think most people would enjoy it, it just didn't catch my attention like the other ones did. By the way, the red house above is the smallest house in Amsterdam.

If you've been to Amsterdam, what was your favorite part?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Prophet Isaiah's Second Coming House

1308 Ontario Ave, Niagara Falls, NY 14305, USA
Before we left Niagara Falls J agreed to drive by this house since it was on the way. Actually he probably would have stopped anyways. As we turned down the street I knew right away that it was the house. You can't miss it. We parked across the street and had a great spot with nothing blocking our view (There's even a Pokemon Go gym at this house, if you play). I got out of the car for a second to take photos while they waited inside. I wasn't too happy with how my photos came out but I'm always afraid of gawking at people's houses.
The house was designed by Jamaican Isaiah Henry Robertson who came to America via Canada. He worked as a house flipper until God spoke to him telling him to start preparing for the end of the world. Unsurprisingly, his wife wasn't on board with this prophecy and divorced him leaving him to take his green card to American and focusing on what God had in store for him. According to him, this is the place Jesus would come before going to Goat Island where people would either be saved or thrown into the falls. Unfortunately for him two of his prophecies - that the world would end in 2014 and Barack Obama would be the last US president - haven't come true. Well, the last one is still up in the air until Trump decides to declare himself absolute dictator.
We didn't see Prophet Isaiah on our trip but from what I've read he's a very welcoming guy, and it's almost impossible for you to leave without being saved.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Amsterdam, Pt. 1

Amsterdam, Netherlands
After Berlin, the next stop on my European trip was Amsterdam, and that's the city I happened to meet up with my sister. I took the train from Berlin to Amsterdam, and somehow managed the Amsterdam metro was well. My sister and I met at the hostel. Since we both arrived around 6pm we decided just to eat at the hotel and just hang out for the night. I honestly don't remember a lot of what happened because I stopped writing things down in Berlin. The next morning we went towards the center because I had been told by two girls in my hostel in Berlin that I should try PANCAKES Amsterdam. It was a pretty popular place, but so good and the pancakes were so filling.
After breakfast we walked towards the Anne Frank house because we wanted to see it and didn't get tickets early enough - you need to order months ahead. The house she hid in are the two buildings below between the trees. The large one to the right with the class wall is the museum part. I know I say this a lot but it was weird seeing it in person. I was a history major and buff so actually seeing places you grew up learning about is just such a surreal feeling. There were so many tourists near the house that my sister and I were over it after about 5 minutes.
Afterwards we did some sightseeing and souvenir shopping. We didn't really have any plans and weren't really sure what to do so we thought we'd just walk around. We ended up around the Van Gogh museum and decided to check it out. You need to buy tickets online and we were having trouble with the wifi at the museum so we ducked into a cafe to get something to drink and use the wifi. About 1:45 we made our way into the museum. I'm not a huge fan of museums, but I enjoyed this one. My knowledge of classical art is very minuscule so my sister and I kept finding ourselves talking about different aspects of his life and trying to connect what we already knew about him.
My sister's friend told her about a brewery that was inside an old windmill, so after walking around the museum we headed to Brouwerij 't IJ. It was kind of confusing trying to figure out where to sit and how it worked, but it was worth it because the beer and snacks were pretty cheap. She'll probably kill me for saying this but we got a meat and cheese plate and we were having the most difficult time trying to cut the meat. When we went to get the second plate we realized we were cutting with the knife upside down. In our defense, though, the knife didn't make sense the way it cut.
After the brewery we headed back out to find the Red Light District just to walk around and see what it was like. It wasn't that exciting and if you're walking in the center of town you'd probably walk through it and not realize it. We stopped in a few places and got some ice cream. We both can't remember if we ate dinner that night or not, so I guess we just went back to our hotel. It was towards evening when we went though so we did a lot more walking than we thought, and I'm an old woman who likes the evening to relax.
Have you been to Amsterdam?
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