Be Patient


Please remember that I am in school. As you can see, I have not updated my blog in a bit. I have not forgotten ya'll. I have been traveling for the past two weeks so, I am a month behind. Check daily (hourly) as I have a lot to write before I forget.



Antwerpen, Groundhog Dag & Kat voor Diner

In order to give Jason some time with his uncle, Aisha and I slept in rather late. However, we delayed a rather simple, yet hardy breakfast. It constisted of pastries, cheese, cerals, muffins and coffee. It was amazing. To top it off, there was reggae & Jamaican rap playing in the background. Unlike American rap, Jamaican rap has a message. We sat at the table for about two hours just talking. It was so relaxing and so amazing, yet this was not the end.

We loaded up the car and allowed Uncle Lukey to give us a tour of his tour. It is amazing how much he knows about the town. Then again, I supposed we should all know about the place we live. He was very pleased to give us tours of local attractions and introduce us to prominent community members. The tour concluded in a beer bar that is known for having famous jazz musicians. The only one that wanted a beer (a little after noon) was Aisha. We made her drink it pretty fast so that Uncle Lukey could drop us off at the commuter train station.

You ever have a day that felt like the same thing was happening over and over again? Well, I think today qualifies as one of those days. A local hottie got on the same communter train as we. However, she got off a stop before we did. She was really beautiful and I wanted to follow her, but I didn't. We made our way to the main station. Upon arrival, we found that the train actually picks up at the previous station. In other words, I should have followed the hot girl. After making it back to this station, we somehow got on the wrong train and ended up back at the same station. Learning our lesson, we tried again... ok, so maybe we didn't learn our lesson. It took about three tries before we finally got on the right train.

We arrived in Amsterdam a little after ten. We found our hostel and it had to be the most amazing place ever, St. Christopher's. It was at the entrance to the red light district and had a bar/restaurant on the main floor. The rooms were themed, so our place was painted wall to wall with the EastPak character. We were also on the top floor. This was a great place to end a day that was rocky for awhile.

After we checked in, we decided to get something to eat. While walking, I noticed a place that made doner kababs. Since I loved them so much, I persuaded Aisha and Jason to try them. They agreed. Alarms did not go off when I asked him what kind of meat it was and he said, "I don't know. It is meat. It is not pork, but it is meat." We ordered and waited as he heated up the meat. Heated up? The was no flame, so searing. He pulled the meat out of a freezer. I should have let it stop right there, but I didn't. While we were standing in line, three "interesting" girls from Wales walked in and began to hold conversation with me. They were in great spirits until they looked down and saw two kittens freely crawling about the establishment. They began to rant about how unsanitary this was (in the cutest little accents). Just as they calmed, the man handed me my "doner kabab". I didn't look like it normally did. I took a bite... then looked at the floor. I seriously think he cut up those kittens and served the meat. I payed for all three and advised Aisha and Jason against eating them. It was horrible. We walked up and down the street looking for a trash can.


Note : Le Louvre est fermé le mardi

With the events of last night, we didn't really get up at 8:00am like we intended. I think we were delayed about two hours. Anyhow, we all got up at about the same time, and began to get ready to depart. After locking our luggage in the train station, we had plenty of time to make it to the the food court, the Louvre and Notre Dame. The Pompidou Center was still a possibility, but we would really just see how the day played out.

We made it to the food court at the peak of lunch hour. The lines were not bad, but finding a seat wasn't the easiest thing to do. Oddly enough, Aisha and I had trouble finishing out food. Jason tore through his burger and fries, but we had a hard time. It was so disappointing. On our full stomachs, we decided to enter the Louvre from the Carousel level. For those that don't know, this is the level that was mentioned in Da Vinci Code. Upon making it to this level's entrance, we found that it was closed. This should have been a clue to us, but, like idiots, we went to the main level. It was not until then, that we found a sign saying that the Louvre is closed on Wednesdays. Maybe it just wasn't meant for my friends to see this place. I wouldn't say they were missing much, but it is something that everyone should do if the chance presents itself. I suppose this time it didn't really present itself.

The next stop was to Notre Dame. We never found the Metro station that went there, so we walked in the wrong direction for about twenty minutes. When we realized that we were being lazy, we decided to head in the correct direction. On the way, Aisha acquired a wine gift set to carry along. When we got to Notre Dame, it was everything I remembered. It remains at the top of my list of places to visit in Paris. This time, we started inside of the Cathedral and then climbed to the top of one of the towers. I got glimpses of Pompidou while I was there, but time proved that we were not going to make it there. While we were in the towers, there was this cute little girl that kept asking her dad questions in the cutest little English accent. She would say things like, "Is that one [gargoyle] eating a bird daddy?"

After Notre Dame, it was time to head to Antwerp. This trip was all Jason. Aisha and I were excited about finally meeting his family. We knew it was going to be great... and it was! It was really hilarious. We didn't have a chance to eat on the train, so we were pretty hungry when we got to Antwerp. Jason's cousin Earl met us on the platform. He was a bit hard to miss because he is like... 6'9". He took us outside to meet his sister, Debra. The two of them (and her husband) were responsible for bringing us to Jason's uncle's house. Before that, however, we had to get some McDonald's because the house was way "in the country". We got the food to go, and after about a 15min. ride, we were at his uncle's house. Jason rode with Earl, so Aisha and I got to meet uncle Cecil Johnson first. He was so cool, and still retained a heavy Jamaican accent. He was so excited to have us. He sat us down at the dining table and asked us what kind of wine we liked. Since I like white and Aisha prefers red, he opened individual bottles for both of us. Luckily, Jason showed up to help me and Earl was more than happy to help Aisha.

After eating, Jason's other cousin, Canasta, had waited up to see us. Earl took us around the corner to their new home. I was excited when we first pulled up because she and her husband were still building their home. They gave me a tour and talked to me a bit about the process. They also had a whole spread of food and endless drinks waiting for us. It was crazy. They knew we would be hungry and looking for a good time so they had it all set up. What started out as an hour visit turned into about two and a half. When we got back to his uncle's, I don't remember going to sleep. They had rooms set up for each of us to sleep in. I remember looking forward to taking a shower that night. Next thing I know, I was waking up because I missed my shower. I guess I was full and tired. Oh well, the coming day offered more adventure.

L'eau Libre e "Familia"

Waking up on the train is not bad. You go to sleep in one country and awake in another. This time, we woke up in Paris. The sky was overcast, but we didn't really care. We had not trouble finding our hostel, but (once again) we could not check in for a few hours. We left our bags there and decided to get breakfast. We found a nice little cafe and I had my first crepe ever. It was good, but left me wanting. I also had some of Aisha's omelette. I think the best part of the meal was Jason's water. When we got the bill, he found that he was not charged for the water. This was great, "Free water? I want to eat here all the time!"

After the meal, we went to Sacre Coeur. It was great that I still remembered how to get there. It was even better that our hostel was right around the street from it. This was one of the many benefits of our hostel, but I will get to that later. We didn't spend too much time at Sacre Coeur. We started at the top and walked our way down through the garden to the main street. We decided it would be best to get our train reservations at this time. This would also come in handy later in the evening.

Once we got our reservations, we went straight back to the hostel to complete our check in. On of the benefits of this place was that we had a private three person room with a private shower. The bathroom was public, but that was no big deal for us because we were the only ones on our floor. What was funny, was that our shower was literally in the room. There was no door. There was a curtain and the shower was directly behind the curtain. In order for one of us to shower, everyone else had to leave the room. It was funny. After we got the shower situation figured out, we decided to go to the Louvre and Notre Dame. After that we would make our way to a jazz cafe.

When we got to the Louvre, we were disappointed to find that we had arrived just at closing time. After taking pictures on the outside, we decided the best alternative was to go straight to Notre Dame. As we set out, we got hit by a big rain. Perfect! We got stuck under a bus canopy for shelter. Once again, plans changed. Now we simply wanted to get something to eat. Jason chose the place. A "international foods" restaurant. This we perfect because we would be able to get a variety of foods. After searching for more than an hour for the place, we found that it was connected to the Louvre. What idiots we were (or maybe just me). When we found the restaurant it was a Luby's style cafeteria. Even worse, the prices were high and there was no way we were going to get full. We decided to eat lunch there tomorrow and simply find a nice sit-down restaurant.

We found a place we had passed a few times earlier. Upon crossing the street I found myself standing next to a distraught older Italian man. He was trying to cross as well, but he knew it was not like back home (step into the street and traffic stops). I looked at him, patted him on the back and said, "Va bene. Andiamo!" He looked at me with a surprised smile on his face. Campioni del Mondo! Dinner was great. I had a croquette, but I don't remember what the meat was. The most excitement was trying escargot. We got a serving of six shells. Jason tried one, liked it, but decided against trying more. Between Aisha and I, they were all eaten (what a surprise).

Originally, we were going to go back to the hotel, and change for the club. However, we felt that this move was not best considering what happened in Barcelona. We were dry, so we took the opportunity to go to the Eiffel Tower at night. As we approached, I was struck by something new. They have installed lights on the tower that cause it to sparkle at night. This was amazed us as we took out our cameras for pictures and footage. We had a great time on at the top. Specifically, on the way down we were crowded by "familia". Now we have coined a new phrase that will ensure that we never lose each other in a crowd.

After the Tower, we went to the jazz show. We sat down and ordered some rather odd drinks. We thought we arrived on a bad night because we did not see the live jam session we had intended to see. As Aisha finished her madudu... Yes, madudu... I found that there was another area upstairs. I was grateful to find this because the experience after this is indescribable. I bought the most expensive black Russian ever, but I think it was worth it because the jam session was great. We walked in as they were finishing up a glorious rendition of Chameleon. After that the introduced a few featured musicians and began their next song. This was the first that I had heard of the drummer and my goodness was she amazing. I think I fell in love right there. If her solo is toward the end of the video, but she was wrecking the show at the beginning as well.

At the end of the song, we thought it was best to go back to the hostel and rest up for the morning. We had to get up early to make it to the Louvre. However, when we got to the Metro station, it was closed. We had no idea it had a closing time, but we had barely missed the last train. We were in a state of controlled panic. We were tired, damp and lost. Luckily there was a police station outside of the Metro station. The police seemed very helpful as they told us how to get to a bus station with a smile. It took awhile, but with the help of another Frenchman, we were able to figure out how to get back to the hostel via bus. Like I said, it is a good thing it was located near Sacre Coeur. However, our elevated stress level caused us to get off the bus too early. We had to navigate back to a closed Sacre Coeur at night Though I wasn't worried about the environment, we kept trying to get Aisha to walk like she was "hard". Inspite of her lack of toughness (and she is from Brooklyn) we made it back safely. After our arrival, we were so tired that all three of us crashed for the night without a peep until the next morning.


Barcelona a Paris- Tres Mohammads

After a "tiring night of fun", we decided we can't act like this throught the whole break. We are old, but we didn't come to waste our time. We woke with an agenda... sort of. After checked out of the hostel and set off to store our bags in the train station. Upon arrival at the station we found that there was a movie being shot. We were forced to go through tight security and only allowed to use half of the station. It was very odd, but we cooperated.

We left the station and ate breakfast outside under a cafe's canopy. The sandwiches were really nice. It seemed as if there was a music festival about to start, but while we were around they were doing mic checks. It would have been nice to have live music while we ate. However, as we walked to the first square, there was a young percussion studio that began to play. We think they may have been the opening act for the festival because they marched right up to the stage. We didn't stick around because we wanted to get some things out of the way.

We decided to go to the beach. But, we didn't exactly know where to go. We strolled down the wrong coast for about 20min before we decided to ask someone. Then we turned around and walked to nearly the end of the earth, but we found it. It was nice to be able to talk and goof around all of that time. We sat on a warf for some time and just felt the cool ocean breeze. It was relaxing for all three of us to be in our world.

After leaving the beach, we realized that we had more time than we actually desired. Aisha and I were hungry, and also wanted a cocktail. I also had to try paella. The first restraunt we sat at did not have cocktails, so we only ordered simple drinks (and Aisha had a beer). We found a place directly across from the train station. We sat down and the atmosphere was rather nice. We decided to order sangria. "We're in Spain... drink sangria!" This place had the worst sangria I have ever tasted. Ya'll know me... well it was so bad that I had to ask the waiter to take it away. We were afraid they were going to spit in our food because they seemed a bit offended (so I felt bad). I simply could not stomach the taste. But, they made up for it because the paella was magnificent. Aisha and I shared but I swear I ate more then she. Spanish food can fill you up really easily because we were stuffed...once again. Perfecto!

After the meal, we still had time to kill so we walked a bit more. On our jouney we came across a Great Arch. I dunno why it was there, but I took a picture of it. What was funnier was this boy riding his bike in the square leading to the arch. He seemed be enjoying himself a great deal- riding up and down the same slanted walkway. "Weeee!" We stopped by an internet cafe and checked messages for about 30 min. I can't remember what we talked about, but it was a relaxing walk. After getting so far, we decided it was best to head back to the station. As we walked, we stumbled upon an organized outdoor soccer game. It was nice to sit with this community and feel like part of it as they cheered on the players. The best part, was the environment in which they were playing. If you look at the panoramic, you will notice that the central apartments in the background have no facade. It was a true section of the building. Amazing!

When we arrived at the train, there was a photography display in one of the waiting areas. After looking, we found that the line for security had gotten extremely long. I guess everyone in Barcelona waits for the last minute to catch their train. They had to let a few people skip in line because there was no way for them to catch their train if they waited. We made it to our train on time.

Of all train trips, I must say this one was the most interesting and active. When I got to my couchette there it was empty. I figured my roomates simply had not arrived. I went to check on Jason and two of his roomates had already settled in. They were both older gentlemen, but he said they seemed nice. We decided to check on Aisha. When we found her room, we were in shock. She was surrounded by three young guys. She was smiling and saying how she felt safe with them. I didn't care, there was NO WAY I was letting her sleep in that room. We met the guy and two of them (the two that were friends) we name Mohammad. We thought that was weird. The third guy didn't know them, but he was of Arabic decent as well. Collectively, they spoke Hindi, Spanish, French and English. It was quite a feat to get everything translated. The ticket lady, did not have the best attitude and was very curt with us while we tried to get things figured out. She made Jason and I go back to our rooms. Upon arrival to my room, I found my roommates had returned. On top of this, they were women. Apparently, Aisha and I had accidently switched tickets and I had the ticket for her room. Once got it figured out, I had no problem switching rooms. Aisha kept trying to get me to get their contact info so that she could keep in touch. I wouldn't do it, but on the way to the dining car, I found that she had already taken care of the situation. One less thing for me to worry about. In the dining car, we found that the two Mohammads had another friend. As it turns out, his name was Mohammad as well. In other words, there were a total of three guys named Mohammad... hence the name Tres Mohammads. They stayed up in our car all night singing and one of them had a serious cigarette depencency. It was a bit annoying, but I managed to make it through the night.