Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brugge 8/21/08-8/23/08

Brugge - climbing the belfry

I totally fell in love with Brugge (Bruges) so this is going to be a long post. I got into the city in the early evening. I was absolutely starving, so after dumping my stuff at the hostel I found a cheap place to get a cup of pasta (3 euro, and it was a big cup). I took that over to Market Square and just sat and ate and soaked in the feeling. It is OLD. It looks old and it feels old. I love it! Something about Brugge was different than the other cities I visited. Amsterdam had nicer canals. Brussels had fancier buildings in it's main square (Grand Place). But I loved being in Brugge.
All the Brugge pictures are here.

chocolate! and fries!
I had my first Beligian chocolate here. I stopped at a lot of the little chocolate shops, there are a lot since it is a touristyish town, and got 3-4 pieces at a time. It was great to sit in a park or square and eat my chocolate and people-watch. I did a lot of sitting and just being while eating chocolate. Really good chocolate too!

I also discovered curry fries here. This is the best sauce I've ever had for fries! Soooo good. The fries are in a cone, they put the sauce on them and give you a tiny little fork to eat them with. These were amazing the next morning after a night of drinking!

friends and beer!
I met a brother and sister from Perth, Australia after dinner my first nite and spent the rest of my time in Brugge with them (as well as my first day in Brussels). They were a lot of fun. We did a tour of Brugse Zot brewery. Which, of course, involved sampling both of the beers there, and maybe the lighter one needed a second taste ;)

Brugge - Brugse Zot brewery

Brugge is where my beer drinking for the trip got underway. The first night I had 3 beers (a free one at the hostel, then a wheat beer and a fruit beer at a bar). The second day we did the brewery tour=3 beers. Dinner was another cup of pasta with 2 beers. Then we went to a different hostel to hang out and had at least 3 more beers. Oh, then to De Garre, a pub, where I know I had a big and a small beer, but it might have been 2 small beers after the big one? It was all so good!

Brugge - Empty beer!

the sights!
Of course we climbed the Belfry tower (that's where the first pic was taken from).
Brugge - Belfry

Underneath the fancy Crown Plaza hotel are some old church foundations so we went down to have a looksy at that. There was a full-out dining room set up down there!
Brugge - Crown Plaza Hotel

*warning*don't read this if you are religious or get offended about religious stuff*
We saw Jesus at the Church of the Holy Blood. Sorry, no pictures of the little vial of congealed Jesus (well, okay it was only his blood). That was quite nerve-wracking since none of us are religious and weren't quite sure how to act in front of Jesus. We got in line and watched to learn. You drop some money in the donation box, then go up a couple of stairs. A dude in robes is standing behind Jesus, you put your hands on the glass covering the vial and "pray" then mumble a thanks to the dude in robes (or tell him cheers like the Aussie boy did!) and cross yourself if you know how (I don't). The dude in robes gives you a pamphlet about Jesus and you walk off the other side. It was sooooo hard to not laugh. And Jesus looked gross.

Where Jesus lives!
Brugge - Church of the Holy Blood

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Amsterdam 8/19/08-8/21/08

Amsterdam - canal

I only ended up in Amsterdam because it was the cheapest place to fly into. Immediately I almost got run over by a bicycle...turns out I didn't look both ways before crossing the bike lane (which I didn't even see until I was in it). After that I was much better about watching for bikes and enjoyed seeing them all over the city.

Amsterdam - mini truck!

I wandered the first day. Ate a cone of fries and just took in the city. I went to the Torture Museum which was quite interesting and I saw a floating flower market on one of the canals!

This is the back of it.
Amsterdam - Bloemenmrkt

The next day I did a walking tour and met a few Americans (girl from Iowa and 2 guys from CA) so I spent the evening in the coffeeshops, bars, and Red Light district with them. It was a ton of fun. Quite a different culture than what I'm used to!

Here are all of my Amsterdam photos.

Amsterdam - guys can pee here!

Carved in the paint in a bathroom stall.
Amsterdam - carved in a bathroom stall

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reykjavik 8/18/08-8/19/08

I have wanted to visit Iceland since at least 9th grade, if not before. I'd been checking flight prices regularly since 9th grade at least! I flew Iceland Air to Europe specifically because they allow a free stop-over of up to 7 days. I only stayed 1 because of costs...I wasn't going to be there long enough to be worth renting a car and I didn't think I wanted to spend more than 1 day in the city.

Reykjavik photos are here!

Reykjavik - huge boat

I met a guy from Colorado on the bus from the airport into the city. At 7am after an overnite flight! We explored the city together. 1 day was enough for Reykjavik. It was an interesting city, but not much to see. Walking along the ocean was beautiful though and we spent a lot of time hanging out on the rocks near it and walking up and down there. The food was good, I found a vegetarian restaurant to eat lunch at and had a really good soup for dinner. Everyone was super nice.

Reykjavik - the shore


I definitely want to go back to Iceland. Maybe spend a few weeks backpacking around. It is still the #1 place I want to visit!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I've been lazy lately. It is kinda hard to get back into a routine after having 4 months off work. I'm still bringing my breakfast and lunch to work. Still mostly cooking dinner. Still not snacking on unhealthy stuff much. I'm definitely not going to be keeping a chart of it here like I thought I would :)

I'm not back in an exercise routine. I did make a deal to go running once a week with Batman's roommate. We both get bored running alone. So that is once a week. Maybe I can work it out with J to go another time a week. That would be twice a week. Then 2 times a week I can do stuff at home...pushups, pullups, crunches, squats, etc. I'm thinking about joining a gym near work for when it gets colder out, I can get it fully reimbursed so it would essetially end up being free. I need to check it out though, it might be overrun by students (they would just think I'm one of them). Or I'll start riding my bike to work, at least until it gets too yucky outside.

I am cooking and knitting and doing more of that stuff. I would like to get back into the swing of blogging. I was doing great with my last blog that I had until a year and a half-ish ago. I never really got into it with this one. I'd like to change that.

So coming up with be a series of posts about my europe vacation. It will motivate me to finish going through my photos mostly and I won't post so much that it is boring for you! This can get me back into blogging, then I'll share all the other stuff that I keep thinking I should blog about.

Friday, September 12, 2008


This week I've had pb&j for lunch every day. Healthy? Sure. Boring? Not at all. Some days were crunchy pb, some smooth. I've had 3 different flavors of jam throughout the week. Who am I kidding, they are boring.

I decided with a new job and all that I would try to eat as healthy as possible. Fairly easy since I'm vegan, but there is a surprising amount of vegan junk food out there.

My hopefully achievable goals:

  1. eat breakfast, preferably something healthy - yogurt, banana, bagel on occassion
  2. pack a lunch, trying to include a fruit and a veggie - just to make sure I get some
  3. make dinner more often than eating out - when I cook it is healthy
  4. one "unheathy" snack a day -- this need restrictions :)

Snack Restrictions:

  • it can be 2 small snacks
  • granola bars count in this unless included as part of a meal, they aren't really that healthy
  • total should remain under what I judge to be equal to a cupcake with a 1/4 cup of soy ice cream (that is a standard dessert for me)
  • I get to decide what counts as a cupcake/s'ice cream serving...1/2 Ritter Sport+2 mini cupcakes counts...a whole candy bar at work and a cupcake at home doesn't count

And since I'm a nerd, I'm going to make a table to track it all weekly, and then maybe a master one with points or something for long-term tracking. I can't help it, keeping track of the details of my life is something I've always done. I'll just keep track of weekdays...I don't really eat meals on the weekends. We'll see if I stick with it for more than one week.

Healthy Eating Wk 1 (9/8/08-9/12/08)

DateBreakfast?Pack Lunch?Lunch Fruit?Lunch Veggie?Cook Dinner?1 Snack?
9/8Yes-cerealYes-pb&jYes-grapesYes-grape tomatoes+carrotsYesYes
9/10Yes-s'yogurtYes-pb&jYes-grapesYes-grape tomatosNoYes
9/12Yes-s'yogurtYes-pb&jYes-grapesNo (I ran out)Prob not??
Grand Total for week23

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Great Outdoors

I mentioned back in April that I was going hiking this summer. I had planned on doing all 2,175 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Since I'm already back, obviously I didn't make it that far!

I do need to add up my total miles, but it is somewhere just under 300 miles hiked on the trail this year. I did it in a few pieces. Here is a summary which might actually tell more than my hiking blog (

5/13/08 - 5/26/08
14 days, 140 miles - Harpers Ferry, WV to just past Duncannon, PA.

I'd only been on 2 overnight backpacking trips before starting. My pack was about 30 pounds and I hadn't used any of my equipment. Amazingly I got into hiking shape really quickly...I did an 18 mile day on the 4th day out, on that day I met Gobbles and Maytag, who I hiked with until I went home. There were a ton of frustrating moments while I figured stuff out. Lighting my stove, pumping water, how much water to carry and how to attach it to my pack, and shopping for food in small towns. Blisters were a huge problem and it rained a ton so I hiked lots with wet feet. I also got lonely which I didn't expect. Even hiking with Gobbles and Maytag I was lonely. After 2 weeks I got a ride to the train station and came home, fully intending to go back out.

stream in MD
A stream in Maryland.

My pack sans rain cover
My pack with my water bladder on top of it. I could live out of that pack for a week as long as there was a stream or somewhere to get water.

6/6/08 - 6/8/08
3 days, ~36 miles, to Wind Gap, PA

J was planning on meeting me this weekend to hike so we decided to go out anyway. Her parents made transportation to and from the trail possible! I had planned on hiking further, but we happened to be out the weekend where there were 4 days straight of 100ish degree heat and I had a headcold and cramps. We did a nice 13 mile day to start. Then a brutal 17 mile day over Lehigh Gap, in the heat, without enough water. I felt like shit at the end of the day. The next day was supposed to be hotter so we hiked 6 miles to Wind Gap where her mom rescued us. I was pissed at myself that I didn't keep going, but I felt like shit and pretty much took a week to recover when I got home. It was a pretty area, we just picked a sucky time to do it.

Part of Lehigh Gap. There was also a rocky part and a part with some stunted growth and brambles.

Camp, although we tore it down and slept in the shelter due to threat of rain. I later learned how to better hang my hammock to keep out the water so the threat of rain isn't as much of a threat now.


7/18/08 - 7/25/08
8 days, 95 miles, Pawling, NY to Lee, MA

This was going to be a 3 week, 300 mile hike. My knee didn't cooperate. I was actually doing pretty good mood-wise on this one. I did a 10 mile day to warm up. Then there were a couple of HOT days, then the rain. My knee started hurting a bit after a few days. Then a bit more. Then really bad if I went downhill. It felt better when I got up, until the last day. I was near Lee so I came home. I didn't want to kill my knee. The hiking was good, I got into a nice zone. It was cool to see the thru-hikers, even if they did all pass me. And there were section hikers and stuff too...I hiked a couple of the days with Yahtzee. I had some very empowering moments during this week and was mentally much stronger. I grew as a hiker this summer and am sooo excited to get back out, hopefully soon!

View from Lion's Head. Elev. 1738 ft.

Dessert! Fresh picked blueberries from the top of Race Mtn. carried to camp in a water bottle. I ate soooo many blueberries that day!

Just in case you miss the raised train tracks...some hikers zone out enough that they might.

Tiny Red Eft. Guitar pick for scale.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm baaaack!!

I've had a VERY eventful last 5ish months.  I'll update on all of that later (with pictures!).

I just have to say...

how did I make it 24 years without being told how much better dried beans (post-cooking) are than tinned?  Hmmm?  Cookbook authors?  Every cookbook seems to say that it doesn't matter whether you use dried or tinned beans.  And my mom uses tinned everything so she didn't teach me this secret.  I was going on the assumption that they were pretty much the same and it didn't make a difference which I bought.

It so makes a difference!  I just made my very first batch of beans from a bag.  I sorted out the 1 stone, soaked them all day, and then simmered them on the stove (in new water).  When they were done I added a dash of salt and pepper.  I am now sitting here eating them from the pot.  

Oh, they are black beans.  I was going to freeze half, but I think I'll only have half left by the time I get them out of the pot.  It will be fun to hang out with me later...beans, beans, the magical fruit and all.  :)

I'm a dried bean convert.  I need freezer containers.  And a few more types of beans since I'll eventually get tired of black.  An extra bonus is the bags will produce less waste than all the cans of beans that I eat!  Score one for the environment!

Really, I'll have pictures next time :)