I apologize again for such a late post; it has been very busy time here at St Andrews. But, I will leave that for another blog later.
St Andrews has a 2 week spring break in March, just as Whitman does. My grandparents and my mom all came over during this time: my grandparents the first week and my mom the second week. This post will be only on the first week with my grandparents.
My grandparents spent a week in Edinburgh before coming to St Andrews. It was great to get to see them, but unfortunately the weather was not so nice. During the end of the week prior to spring break, another smaller “Beast from the East” came through and the temperatures dropped. It was also very windy, meaning we could not be outside for too long without getting blown away! I was able to show them around, specifically the golf course for my grandpa, and we got to eat some of the local cuisine, and they got to meet some of my new friends as well.
We then went off on a week long tour to 3 different European cities: Amsterdam, Brussels, and Cologne located in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.
We started in Amsterdam and I have to say that I was very surprised about how gorgeous the city was! The buildings are all very pretty and some lean due to their unstable foundations. I was not expecting Amsterdam to look like that, but it was a great surprise! We went on a canal cruise, went to the Anne Frank Museum, and went out of the city and saw the famous windmills. While there, we also saw how clogs were made, tried many different cheeses, and saw how the windmills worked. What also surprised me was the amount of bikes in the city! They were everywhere! You had to be careful or else you might get run over. Overall, it was a very fun city and I hope to go back someday.
We then went by train to Brussels, Belgium. Of the cities that we visited, I think that I liked Brussels the least. It was a typical city and we saw the City Center and visited the small town of Bruges for a day. Bruges was very pretty and a lot larger than I had realized. It is a mixture of a quaint town and a larger small-town tourist hub with canals and small shops. I of course bought Belgian chocolate and had a Belgian waffle. We stayed for 2 days and then went by train again to our next location.
Our final location was Cologne, Germany. It is a small town that is famous for its Cathedral. The Cathedral was one of the largest in the world and it was massive! Our hotel was right outside of the Cathedral, but it was easily visible from every part of the town. It was hard to get the entire thing in one picture! We were only in Cologne for a day, but we were able to see some good sights. We went to the Lindt chocolate museum, situated right on the Rhine River. It was fascinating to see how the chocolate was made and the history behind the Lindt company. Even though Lindt is a Swiss company, it was still fun to go to. The was a large chocolate fountain that we got to dip wafers in as well! Also, as the name implies, we went to a cologne shop, or perfume shop, which claims to be the makers of the first perfume in the world. Famous figures such as Napoleon, Princess Diana, and even Bill Clinton have been said to have bought the perfume. We got free samples as well and it is a very subtle scent. For dinner, we went to a Brauhaus which claimed to have opened in 1317 and I was able to get my fist German beer. To be quite honest, it was not that good, but it was all for the experience.
After Cologne, we flew to London to meet my mom.
Overall, it was a great experience and I was very glad that I was able to go to the cities that I did. Each had a different culture and learning to adjust to the culture shift with only being there for a short time was hard, but I gained a new appreciation for each culture as well. It was always a bit overwhelming when going to a new city every couple of days, but it taught me how to quickly adapt to change in a short period of time. I also learned how to travel by trains and accept that there will always be challenges when travelling. We had a couple of hiccups, including some lost possessions, but learning how to deal with these problems is a good life lesson that I was able to learn. It was time well-spent with my grandparents and I am very grateful for them taking the time to come out and travel with me.