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Luxemburg

I just got back from Luxemburg. It was really lovely. It took us 5 hours to get there because we drove through a snow storm in Belgium, but we got there! Jans aunt and uncle were really lovely, and had a really great home. They spent most of thier lives traveling around the world, so they have a very different looking house with things from all over the world. They are both teachers, so it has allowed them to get around quite a bit. They have two little boys who are 5 and 2, and are the sweetest little guys, and really made the weekend fun.

We were going to go to a German Christmas market, but we decided to go to a market in Luxemburg instead. It was so fun, we drank Gluhwien out of little boot shaped cups and waolked around the market and tried different foods, it was really nice.

We then went to the international fair that was in Luxemberg. They had a Canada stand! Everyone that was selling things in the fair was from their own country (I think almost half of the Luxemburg population is not really from there at all) so I talked to some Canadians! I bought a plate of Christmas baking that wasn’t nearly as good as Ma and Grams, but it was still nice!

The Denmark stand had Reindeer that you could try (Yes, to eat) and Jans sister had some. I accused her of eating Rudolf, and then told everyone about dads ‘Olive’ the other reindeer thing. Isn’t that one of Dads jokes? I hope so, or I’ve been falsely advertising his humor.

We had a really nice evening, where we opened our secret Santa gifts (Or in this case, SinterKlaas Suprise’s). Jan’s sisters boyfriend had me, and he got me this really hilarious weekly calendar. It’s called Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley. You should google it, it’s hilarious.

Anyways, this morning we went to a really beautiful forest and did a bit of easy hiking. They have lots of snow there, so we had quite a few snow fights and brought a couple sleds also. The car got stuck on a side road, and I felt very in my element. It didn’t take us long to get it out!

We caught the same snow storm on the way back, and it took us 6 hours total, so we’re all a little tired of the car. Anyways, I should get to my homework that I’ve been neglecting all weekend.

Love!

Ashley

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Venice, Croatia, Slovenia

I am the Worst Blogger EVER. Here is Venice, Croatia and Slovenia.

My two days of traveling to Venice were not the most pleasant. About half of my trains were late, which made me miss multiple other trains. The whole thing was a little bit of a mess, but I made it to Venice in one piece, and I found Liseanne and the guys.

The place we stayed was called ‘Camp Jolly’, which at first made me think I was going to get kidnapped and forced to join a circus, but it turned out to be a really great little campground that had big tents with bunk beds inside them. They had pretty much built their own little village. There was a restaurant, a small grocery store, a bar, and a couple giant swimming pools. The only down side was we got eaten alive by mosquitoes all week.

Venice was a beautiful city. There were no cars, bikes, scooters or anything along the streets of down town. It is all foot traffic and boats! Pretty cool!

Lise and the boys told me about this really amazing Gelato chain called ‘Grom’ that made their products from all natural ingrediants and had about half the sugar of most other gelato places. So naturally we had to find it. Venice is a pretty easy city to get lost in. We saw a woman walking with a Grom cup, so we headed the direction she had come from, thinking it would be close. We couldn’t find it anywhere. The locals didn’t seem to know what we were talking about, so we resorted to searching the city for anyone holding a Grom cup. We found a Gypsy lady holding out a Grom cup asking for money, so we asked her where it was. She wasn’t a lot of help, and seemed angry we were interrupting her. It took us almost three hours, probably after we had wondered down every other street, but we found it. And it was delicious.

We only stayed there for a few nights and then we took off too Split in Croatia!

We stayed in a really cool hostel in Split! The people working there hung out with us a lot and came out with us at night. There are really amazing Roman ruins in Split, and a beautiful Cathedral that you can sit outside and sip tea. (Or something cooler, because the heat is unbearable)

There was a lot to do, lots of shopping and a few beaches. Our second day there we went to Krka national park which was about an hour car ride from our hostel, and then a 20 minute boat ride. It was unbelievably beautiful. There were about 8 different stories of waterfalls that you could hike up beside. They were unreal. At the top of the waterfalls you could walk through the forest and along the river on a raised boardwalk. There were so many fish and beautiful natural flowers everywhere. I saw these beautiful double winged bright blue dragon flies that were everywhere. They had limestone pools below that you could swim in just under the lower falls which weren’t so big. It was an experience.

Ryan, Liseannes boyfriend, had relatives who were native to Split. We met up with them one night and they took us out one night for drinks and showed us a local side of the town. It was very cool, and they were pretty amazing people.

The coast was beautiful, but we really wanted to hit an island while we were in Croatia, so we hopped on a ferry and settled down in Hvar.
Our hostel was great. It was the first one we had stayed in for awhile that actually had a kitchen. It was relieving being able to cook for ourselves and not having to eat out all the time. We rented a boat almost every day we were there and just cruised around the dalmatian islands. The first day, we were in a group of six and we rented a 5 hp boat. It was hilarious how slow it went, but it was super cheap and got us there just fine. All the islands have little hotels, bars and restaurants on them. The ocean was so clear, you could see the bottom clearly around the entire coast line. Our hostel didn’t have aircon, so we almost died every night, and certainly got less sleep that we would have liked. It forced us to take extreme measures and seek other ways of inducing sleep, like drinking. On our last night in Hvar it was Zachs birthday, so we all went out pretty hard, despite our 6 o clock ferry the next morning. I can tell you that will never happen again. Getting dressed and packed up the next morning was a considerable challenge, which required more than a little bit of assistance from Liseanne, who had taken it easy the night before. The ferry ride back to the main land was not pleasant. It took more than a week before I could smell alcohol without feeling terrible. It was a long recovery.

BUT! We made to Bled lake, after a hard day of hung over traveling. We didn’t count on going to Slovenia at the beginning of our trip, even though it was grouped in with Croatia in our rail pass, but we saw a picture of Bled lake on the internet and decided to just go, even though we didn’t know a lot about it. I am so glad we decided to go, it was so beautiful.

The city is in the middle of the mountains, and is built around a small lake. It was a few degrees cooler than Croatia, which was nice. In the middle of the lake, there was an island that had an old cathedral built on it. There was also a big castle built into the side of the mountain. We stayed at a great hostel and met lots of fun people. There was so much to do in this little town. We went water rafting on our second day there (with a totally legit company, down a really easy part of the river, promise) it was so much fun. The river was pretty cold, but we got to go body surfing and swimming during the trip. We hiked to the Vingter Gorge which was only about an hour away from bled, where we walked along the river that fed into the lake. It had some pretty big and beautiful waterfalls and lots of areas you could just sit and hang out.

We rented a paddle boat from a guy on the side of the lake and took it to the center of the lake to see the island in the middle.
The local legend is that there was a young widow who lived at the Bled Castle who gathered all of her silver and gold and had a bell cast for the chapel on Bled island in memory of her husband. When the bell was being transported to the island, a storm caused the boat to sink. The boatman drowned and the bell sank to the bottom of the lake. The widow, who was even more devastated, decided to go to Rome and enter a convent. After her death, the Pope donated another bell for the church. The legend is that anyone who rings the bell in memory of the widow and makes a wish, will be granted their wish! I rang the bell! And made a wish! But I cant tell you what it is, I’m sure, or it won’t come true.

There is this famous cream cake that was started in Bled, so Liseanne, Ryan and I played a game of mini golf with the stakes being buying the group a piece of cake. My short game needs some work.

There were a little family of swans that hung around the same part of the lake all the time. They were SO cute! They reminded me of the Ugly Duckling, because they should have probably been so ugly compared to their parents. They were all grey and fluffy with little weird chicken wings with no real feathers. When they came out of the water and hung around on the grass, they were all clumsy and uncoordinated. So cute. I only got bit once, and I am pretty positive it was an accident. The mother also chased me once, that was not an accident.

Thats all for now! Love,

Ashley Lynn

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Queens Day

Thursday afternoon we decided to head to Amsterdam for Queens Day. Romain offered to drive there so Liseanne, Can, Emir and I hopped in his little car and hit the road.

We drank, we sang, and we yelled as loud as we could through every tunnel on the way there.

Three and a half hours later, we made it to Amsterdam. (Traffic + numerous stops = Taking us forever to get there)

Most of the evening was spent meeting up with different groups of internationals that had arrived at different times. We also met up with Dan and by about 10 that night, there was a pretty huge group of people to party with. We had troubles finding any bars that had enough room for all of us, so we ended up buying a bunch of liquor and just walking around the streets making our own party.

At around one we started looking for a club to go dancing, but it started pouring rain, so we took refuge under this huge bridge where this amazing drum line was playing. For the next two hours we danced under the bridge to live music. It was waay better, and way more fun than any club we could have found.

I feel like I’m over using the word ‘we’, but I don’t feel like editing.

Dan was awesome enough to put us up at his place, so we had a nice comfy place to spend the night. Awesome. Way better than the car, or a 50 euro hostel.

The next morning we woke up and headed back out, sans shower, brush, or change of clothes. Friday was the actual ‘Queens Day’ so the streets were absolutely PACKED, and there were all sorts of events happening. All the internationals met up again at a big concert at the Museumplein. (Which sounds easier than it was, finding people in a crowd of thousands requires holding Liseanne in the air so we could try and spot them.) After an hour of everyone trying to look like we were having fun, dancing, hung over to some guy singing catchy Dutch songs, we headed back out to the streets.

Vondel park was only a couple blocks away, and had amazing green grass perfect for laying away the afternoon in. I found a sketchy guy selling cheap beer out of a baby carriage painted orange (Very inconspicuous), so we bought him out and lay the in the grass listening to an awesome musical ensemble jamming in the park.

Leaving for Spain tomorrow, more soon.

With love,

Ashley

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Just a Note

For those of you, Grandma, who can’t help but find all of my spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors I am not taking the time to edit this, sorry.  Also, I know this is not as entertaining as it could be, but let’s be real, I am going to be an accountant not a writer.   🙂

Love,

Ashley

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