A few months ago, I found a cheap flight to Amsterdam and booked it on a whim.
Once I arrived in Amsterdam, I bounced around a little bit. I visited the Dutch countryside; stopping in places like Zaanse Schans to see the windmills, Marken and Volendam...as well as Brussels and Bruges in Belgium.
I'm a relatively new international traveler and am not only learning about the places I'm visiting, but myself as well.
Here are some of the random (and not-so-random) things I have returned home with, now knowing:
1). Belgian beer is delicious. I mean, like, really really delicious.
2). So is Belgian chocolate.
3). And the waffles? Those are good too; both Belgian and Stroop.
4). When people order espresso at 8pm, I get very stressed out.
5). The white noise of trains puts me to sleep faster than being on an airplane.
6). Wine is free on international flights.
7). Bruges is the lace capital of the world.
8). Only Germany exports more cheese than The Netherlands.
9). And their cheese is SO good. I brought a backpack full of it home with me.
10). Dutch pancakes are different than American pancakes.
11). Soft drinks taste different in other countries.
12). A LOT of people ride bikes in Amsterdam and they will literally run you over.
13). There's a show called "Your Home in Their Hands" that airs on BBC and I really think it should be shown in the United States. Or HGTV should just make a U.S. version of it. Think of it like Trading Spaces meets Top Design. Apparently there was only one season back in 2014. I don't know why...I was obsessed.
14). I don't like sharing hotel rooms.
15). Belgium is one of only 5 countries in the world that produces foie gras. I ordered some in Bruges and it was delicious. But I instantly felt guilty because of how it gets made.
16). I have an irrational fear of bed bugs.
17). The Manneken Pis is a two foot tall statue of a little boy peeing and symbolizes the rebellious spirit of the city of Brussels. An employee of the city dresses him up in little outfits.
18). There's also a statue of a little girl peeing (located outside of Delirium Cafe) called Jeanneke Pis. She is the counterpoint to Manneken Pis.
19). Delirium Cafe is the Guinness World Record Holder for the longest beer list. There are 2,004 different beers offered. I only drank 3 of them.
20). Eating french fries (frites) with mayonnaise is a BIG thing in Amsterdam. I tried it. Wasn't bad.
21). I'm an over-packer.
22). I'm also a sucker for touristy souvenir shops. I wanted to BUY ALL THE TRINKETS. And I did.
23). There's a store called Primark which is like, the IKEA of clothing stores. It's massive...and everything is pretty cheap. I bought two shirts, two jackets and two tank tops PLUS a pair of earbuds, finger puppets for my niece and nephew and a couple other little things for under $50 Euro.
24). The first question I almost always asked when entering a new place was, "Do you have WiFi?" I felt anxious if I went somewhere and couldn't get on a network.
25). Luckily, the two friends I was traveling with had unlimited international data! They got us everywhere we needed to go. Thank God for Google maps.
26). I love the feeling of waking up in a foreign country.
27). I was obsessive about checking to make sure I always had my passport.
28). I missed my dogs so much, I showed pictures of them to anyone and everyone who would indulge me.
29). There are things to do in Amsterdam besides smoking weed.
30). Traveling is addictive. Now that I've started, I want to go EVERYWHERE. On the flight home, I was already thinking about where I want to go next...
BONUS: The most popular thing I got asked about by people I met from other countries was something related to politics and/or Donald Trump. And not in a good way.