From where I left off, last Friday (4-15-11), I spent 2 days pretty much hanging out with Etienne (who also has found himself with a lot of extra free time since quitting his job) and being lazy and enjoying the good weather. Saturday, even though I was still a little sick, we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg to sit around in the sun and explore a bit (since I'd never been there). It's really quite a bit bigger than I expected. This picture is one part of it, with some sort of political building off to the side.
Saturday (4-16-11) we went to Beaubourg again (he as a musician and I as moral support because he was shy to play alone), and after getting told to stop by the police, we sat and enjoyed some performers in the square outside the Pompidou. This guy was really hilarious and had quite a large audience, very impressive (and highly energetic, he did this show about 3 times while we were there). The picture is not actually crooked (even though most of mine are ever-so-slightly slanted despite my best efforts, especially on this camera I'm using now), the square is sloped downward towards the Pompidou building (on the left).
Sunday (4-17-11): Amsterdam with Caitlin and Kyle!! My train left at 6 am so I had to take a taxi to Gare de Nord but I got there with plenty of time to spare. I arrived in Amsterdam at 11 am, went to the hostel to deposit my backpack, and we spent the day essentially exploring the city, walking along the many canals (pictured) and enjoying it's many coffeeshops (for the sake of my parents and my future employment, we'll leave it at that). We wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum but we thought the line was too long (of course, it was twice as long the next day so we never did go), discovered a stirfry restaurant that was amazing (or maybe we just thought it was), and after a short nap we embarked on our own mini pubcrawl around the city, which included shoarmas and which started and ended at the bar below the hostel where we got 10% off (not a bad deal).
Monday (4-18-11): More Amsterdam, including climbing in the I am amsterdam sign by the museum, a little shopping for Caitlin, seeing (but not entering) the wax museum and the giant statue that is supposedly devoted to "war and peace" but looks like a flaunting of phallic masculinity to me, and otherwise wandering around. Around 6 pm I had to catch my train and in order to arrive in Brussels at the same time Kyle and Caitlin left closer to 5 (they were on a slower regional train instead of Thalys) so I read a bit and lounged. Upon arriving in Brussels to stay with Caitlin's Uncle John and Aunt Irene (who I have met before in Maine a long time ago, which I didn't realize) we found a nice little Italian restaurant, had pizza and calzones and a few glasses of wine, and fell asleep pretty quickly.
Tuesday (4-19-11): Brussels, for a day. There really isn't a whole lot in Brussels; we took a nice walk down a very prominent shopping road and through a few gardens, chocolate shops, and one church to the Grand Place, which is essentially a large square with cafes and restaurants surrounding it. After some Godiva chocolate covered strawberries (I couldn't help myself) we picked a cafe and had a few beers (which is really what Belgium is about, no?), including the one pictured on the left, a special at many cafes called KWAK (yeah, we made fun of that for a while) which requires it's own stand. We had a few people come and ask to take pictures of it while we sat there. We also found the Little Delirium cafe (a smaller branch of the famous one) and tried the Delirium beer before leaving to eat and catch our 9 pm train to Paris.
I'll save Paris for later, I feel like this is quickly turning into the longest post ever. Part 2 to come soon (sooner than my last part 2 promise, don't worry.)