Monday, May 10, 2010

The Trouble With Paris...

Have you ever had that feeling that even though you might be miles away from home, you still feel like you're competely at home? Well I was starting to feel that way after two weeks in Vorstenbosch. The sun had shined his smiling face on my visit so the Spring weather was beautiful for exploring (and maybe sometimes getting lost in...) the area by bike. My relatives are also possibly the most hospitable people in the world and they made sure my days were filled with plenty of things to do and people to meet. I stayed around long enough to see my cousin Eefje's beautiful baby girl, meet an old guy at a farmhouse museum who knew my Opa, celebrate Queen's Day and I think meet almost everyone in the neighbourhood. I certainly met nearly all the Dortmans in the area, including the guy who owned "Dortmans Music Store" who claimed we all came from a French soldier during the time of Napoleon.

Now, I have been quoted in the past as saying "I would rather have a hernia than have a baby" but I have to admit when I saw Eefje and her husband Tom smiling down at the cute little baby girl they had created, I may have found just a little hint of maternal feeling stir deep down inside. Only a little. Don't get too excited mum, I still find them a little scary (my mum is totally jealous of the new Opa and Oma).

Another party worth sticking around for was Queen's Day or Koningendag as they call it. Basically, it's the Queen of Holland's birthday, but no one really gives a hoot about that because it's a day off which here means let's chuck some big stages in all the cities in Holland with DJs and just let everyone drink on the street for a day. All while wearing as much orange as possible (it's like their version of green and gold). It was crazy. I went to Eindhoven, a relatively big city where there was just a sea of orange people drinking and dancing in the city centre and every street was full too. Every trip to the toilet was an adventure... you needed to allow at least 45 minutes, because the queues were so long. At least guys could use the he pees which were located right in the middle of the street. I'm not sure if underage drinking is a problem here, I mean kids can drink at 16 years old anyway, but I'm sure I saw younger cruising the streets with cans of beer. I tried out some local cuisine such as oliebollen (a familiar favourite from home), krokette (also same as home) and the Frickendel Speciaal, but I've been assured that I don't want to know what's in it (sorta like our sausages I guess...). In Amsterdam some of the street cleaners were going on strike the day after Queen's Day. After seeing the mess on the streets, I can undertstand why. I have never seen so much rubbish in my life, just piles of it everywhere.

Now, my relatives Jan and Ine are so hospitable, they even organised a ride for me to Belgium, tour guide included. Who needs Lonely Planet? It was actually the son of the people who live across the road who was selling a house he owned in Gent, Belgium. He is also the brother of my brother's ex-girlfriend. And he offered me a lift to Gent, accommodation at his apartment there where four students live and to show me around the city the next day. So we hopped in his car and drove the one and a half hours to oh, another country. Crazy. There I stayed at his house where I met the four uni students and they were the loveliest girls and helped me to find my way around Gent. It is a really old city with big cathedrals and old buildings and a big medieval castle smack bang in the middle of the city. It was nicer even than Bruges I think, because the next day I went to Bruges and it was a tourist circus, which kind of took away the charm of it all. But I bought some delicious Belgian chocolate and cruised the cobblestone streets anyway. The girls also introduced me to a game called 'Molkee'. All you Dortmans at home would love this game, it reminds me a little of Kubb. I will have to get my hands on a set. So we were in the park eating frites and drinking red wine and playing Molkee and it was fun. So that was Belgium.

But another day, another country and Paris was calling. Paris is not the dreamy city everyone thinks it is though. It has some great history and the Notre Dame Cathedral and The Louvre were amazing, but it's not like a scene from Amelie. Actually it is just another big dirty city with not so friendly people and lots of tourists. But still a lot to see. I hired a bike and rode around town only once riding on the wrong side of the road and once getting burped right in my face as I rode past. If I wasn't so disgusted with how filthy the city was already I might have laughed. The Louvre was too much to take in, so overwhelming. The Mona Lisa wasn't even the best; she was surrounded by people and you couldn't even get close. I liked the sculptures the best. The Arc de Triomphe was cool, but walking back along the Champs Elysees alone at night was a mistake... I kept getting hassled by Africans asking me to go to a discotecque. I had to get brutal to shake one of them off who followed me for ten minutes. The Notre Dame was beautiful and the view from the tower (which I queued for like two hours for) was great, especially as the sun was setting. I saw the Eiffel Tower but I couldn't be bothered climbing it after waiting in the queues at the Notre Dame towers.

Now I am catching a train tomorrow to Nice along the French Riviera where I hope to do some star spotting at the Cannes Film Festival. Hello paparazzi!

Megan xo


  1. love how you describe the French, Megan, very diplomatic of you. I am too envious. beaucoup d'étreintes et baisers, au revoir xoxox

  2. Hi Megan, It's nice to read your stories and I'm proud that I'm on your blog. Groetjes Guusje

    Also groetjes from my mama en papa!

  3. Haha thanks Guusje, I hope you are not causing your mama and papa too much trouble by crying and pooping all the time. :)