Saturday, March 27, 2010

katie's top 15 Parisian delights

15. the ceiling of notre dame and its shocking similarity to the mines of moria
14. art on every street corner
13. our first taste of good weather
12. the most romantic bridge in the world
11. montemarte and the artists quarter
10. climbing thru the walls in the catacombs and coming out filthy
9. crying in a phone booth outside the arc de triomphe
8. Nadia, Alejandro, Jacob and Emile, our delightful roomies
7. prince cookies, frites, and red wine in paper cups
6. serenading kate with phantom music outside the opera house where the show is set
5. naps in a garden while listening to a charming gent with a guitar
4. Fraser our Scottish tour guide and Kayla our Canadian tour guide
3. conversations with Parisians in a combination of three terribly broken languages
2.The Rodin Museum and all sculpture acting
1. night time walks with lights and rain

beautiful. gorgeous. wish you were here! lovefromkt

Friday, March 19, 2010


We said goodbye to Tim and headed to Berlin to meet Simon and Sarah, our next remarkably generous hosts. After another inevitable train struggle we arrived in Berlin and had a relaxing afternoon planning our next days adventures while the snow raged outside. Weather has not been our friend thus far, but it has not stopped us from spending most of our time wandering outside!

Following helpful advice from S and S and also a fascinating walking tour we ventured to the Brandenburg Gate, the Berliner Dom, Museum Island, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Checkpoint Charlie, and many other beautiful and tragic historical sights in the city. We stood simultaneously in East and West Germany, sat on the ground above the old location of Hitler's bunker, and stood where his body was found. K and i are both becoming enthralled with all things WWII. If anyone has any good books on the subject, I would love to read more when we return home.

The hostel where we stayed in Berlin was called the Helter Skelter, a noisy and sometimes rather smokey place with rockin tunes and wonderful people. The lobby was a very socially welcoming place, and we made many grand new 24 hour friends. It is becoming quite difficult to have to say goodbye so often. K and i both got tattoos from an extraordinary young gentleman named Kenny who inked us right there in the hostel. It was an exciting and terrifying and painful and hilarious experience and we loved every minute of it. The Helter Skelter was a rockin good time.

We went to many a pub while here in Berlin. K and i went on an alternative pub crawl where we went to all underground bars with a small crew of about ten people. We went to a ping pong bar, an absinth bar, a death themed bar (with coffins for tables!) and ended the night at a raving techno club in a giant warehouse, where we experienced first hand the wonders of the Germans and their dancing. It was fantastic! We were also here for St. Patty's, so we met Simon and Sarah at an Irish pub called Kilkenny's for pints and live music, including The Girl From Belfast City and Drunken Sailor. Good times!

Once again we have to say goodbye to wonderful people and a new favorite place. But Paris is next, and we are ready for more! Genau, genau.


Aachen und Koln

Saying goodbye to Amsterdam was hard, but it meant that new adventures were ahead of us. We activated our Eurail Passes and headed to Aachen, Germany to meet up with my friend Tim, who is studying there. We had a bit of trouble with the trains but magically found Tim waiting for us in Aachen.
Staying with a friend offers a very different perspective than staying in a hostel. We got to see Tim's neighborhood (where KT and I got lost more than once), meet his friends at a wine tasting party and again at a cafe, share a delicious german meal in a german home (Thanks Amy and Stephan!), and get a feel for everyday life in Germany.
We were also made desparately aware of our lack of German language skills. We attempted to go out for lunch on our own one day, just KT and I. It took a while to pick a cafe, but eventually settled on a nonthreatening internet cafe near the university. Unfortunately we could not figure out how to order food so we each got a coke and headed on our way. Our next stop was a turkish fast-food kind of place. Again the language barrier made us very uncomfortable. We did not know where to sit, if we were supposed to sit down and then order, order at the door, when and how to pay, or even what to order. We stood in the entry just watching for a about 10 minutes. Eventually we did get our lunch, but we definitely have a new appreciation for others who are trying to bridge a language gap.
Saturday we took a day trip to Koln (or Cologne). We climbed the million steps of the cathedral for a beautiful view, hung out with my cousin Becca (!!) and wandered through the city. We enjoyed a great lunch of different authentic German dishes at a restaurant on the Rhine River. The food and company was fantastic. We laughed and ate and took a stain out of Tim's shirt with salt. Walking through the city we found many statues to pose next to (our favorite pastime).

Overall it was a great weekend spent with good friends. It was encouraging to see that three people from different parts of my life could have a wonderful day together.
Many Missings,

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Amsterdam Wrapup

Our last few days in Amsterdam were eventful and exciting. We found the bike rental and attempted to see the city as the dutch do. We roamed Vondel park and on the outskirts of the city along the canals. We made a valiant effort to ride in the main parts of the city, but the stress of avoiding other bikers and cars that appear to be able to drive wherever they please made that quite the challenge! Twas very fun, especially ringing our little bells at rogue pedestrians.

We stayed for three nights in a hostel called Amsterdam Hostel Centre. It was cozy, with bright yellow painted walls, and a family style feel. Our room was on the 4th floor, so we got plenty of practice hiking up the dutch stairs. Not sure how we didn't fall down when carrying our packs. There were always three other people in the tiny little room with us, different people each night. It was interesting going to bed with one roommate and waking up with another. But everyone we have met, both in the hostels and around the city, has been remarkably kind and enjoyable to chat to. Must be something in the water. (25,000 bikes perhaps??!)

Across the street from our hostel was a blues club called Bourbon St. The house band there is Bourban Jam Session, a fabulous group of gentlemen who played one set around 10, and then for the rest of the night invited different "jammers" to join them on stage. We saw different combinations of four vocalists, two guitar players, two bassists, a sax man, three drummers, a harmonica player and a pretty badass keyboard slash piano man. It was intense! Like camping. K and i had planned to pop in for a drink at ten and then head up to bed early. We stayed for another 4 hours. Like all things Amsterdam, we had to pull ourselves away. I for one am already making plans to return someday!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Today is bike day! We spent the morning wandering looking for a place to rent bicycles. We did not find it. However we did discover a wonderful market where we each got a hat for 1 Euro and we played in a great little park that we had walked by yesterday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

This is a canal near New Market Square. As you can see, all the trees are the same height...
When you are in Amsterdam, you are an Amsterdammer. It does not matter who you are, where you are from, what you are doing, all that matters is that you are here. And you are welcome. This attitude and over all atmosphere is the greatest thing about this city. It most likely stems from the fact that Amsterdam floods a lot. It did not matter who was standing next to you as the sandbags were filled and dikes were built, they were saving your city and that was enough. It is visible today in how people will ask if you need help finding something as you stand looking confused on a street corner, or the hostel receptionist will help you figure out what to do and how to get there and recommend things to try. Or in the way a bicycle will run over anyone that comes into its path, but the rider will always ring their bell first.

It is this attitude that poured out onto the city when the Nazis started taking Jewish people off the streets during WWII. People of this city did not see a battle between the Nazis and the Jews, they saw the Nazis tearing apart the families of their friends, neighbors and coworkers.

Amsterdammers did not take this sitting down! They protested for two days with a strike. Trams did not run; shops did not open. The first day 10,000 Amsterdammers gathered in New Market Square, near the Jewish neighborhoods. The second day the square held 15,000. At the point, the Nazi's had brought in more troops and shot at the crowds, killing several and wounding hundreds more. The went back to work, but did not stop caring and standing up for their Jewish neighbors. Even though most of the trees had to be cut down to supply families with food and fuel during the war, many Amsterdammers not only took care of their own families, but also provided for Jewish families hiding in their houses. All of the trees along the canals are the same height due to the devastation of that time, but nonetheless, they helped as much as they could.

Amsterdam was the only, THE ONLY city in the world to take a stand for their Jewish neighbors. The only one. I wish that when people thought of Amsterdam, this example of courage and sense of community was the first thing that came to mind.

I love this city. It is overwhelmingly joyful to be considered an Amsterdammer for at least one week of my life.

-Kate J

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 1

The Kates have arrived in Amsterdam!!! It was smooth sailing all thru the airports, and after a bit of trouble with the train ticket kiosk we successfully found our destination. We are staying in a hostel called the Stayokay, which is just outside of Vondelpark. Kate and I spent the morning (10am here, 2am back home) strolling the park in our new neighborhood. It's a gorgeous area, lots of dogs meandering about apart from people, and many garden areas that looked like they'd be lovely in spring. Today, unfortunately, there were no blooming roses, but what the park lacked in colors it made up for in wind. We had to go back for jackets to keep warm, but continued walking the city. We stopped at the Guiness Pub for lunch, then headed to the Van Gough museum after a much needed battery charging nap. Kate and i both brought music and looked at all the art with our own soundtracks. We picked up dinner from a market in our neighborhood and ate picnic style back at the hostel, which is currently being overrun by high school students on a massive field trip. Here's to hoping they're sleeping in our room! We've planned a big day tomorrow, so gotta turn in early. Good first day. lovefromkt

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Off to see the world

Katie and I are leaving tomorrow for a trip around the world! BOOM! I decided to start this blog because a lot of people have been interested in hearing what we will be up to and instead of spending the majority of my trip emailing each and every one of you personally (which I would LOVE to do...) this seemed to be a more efficient solution.

We will be taking pictures, videos and memories, and hopefully be able to share some of them with you. I am not sure how often or in depth the entries will be but maybe it can give you a taste of our adventures around the world.

Our itinerary:

Germany- Aachen and Berlin
France- undecided city and Paris
Thailand- Bangkok and Island
Australia- Melbourne, Sydney, maybe elsewhere??
New York

As for now, many missings to you all. Feel free to email either of us and we both have skype so keep in contact!

-Kate J.