**April 28, 2010** The trip started at 4:30 am on Wednesday April 28, 2010. Of course that meant as a girl I would need to get up extra early to shower and check my packing for a 10th time. After saying my goodbyes to the girls at the house (they got up just to see us all off) Cara, Sam, Abi, and I headed to the charter bus where we loaded our bags and met our bus driver Jack. Everyone had boarded and attendance was taken when Jack started his comedy hour, Jack was an older many who was funny and had jokes but it might have been a little to early for these jokes. After a two hour drive to St. Louis Airport we went through security and found our terminal. We boarded the plane at 10:15 am to head to Houston, Texas. Our flight was short to Houston and we were back on the ground around 12:15 pm. The group had about three hours to kill in the airport so some of us went to the Fox Sports Sky box restaurant. We boarded the plane at 3:40 pm and were on our way to the Netherlands... it would only be nine hours and twenty-five minutes until we arrived. **April 29, 2010** We arrived at the airport at 8:30 am and went to get our luggage. CHECK 1: All luggage was accounted for!!!! YAY! Our tour guide, John, met us outside the gate and we began our trip. The group loaded a bus to head to the Amstel Botel (a boat that is a hotel) where we would stay for three nights. John took us across the canal on a ferry to have lunch at a Pizzeria. We ordered a four cheese pizza and it was delicious. The group was tired by now and we all traveled back to the Botel to rest before dinner. The restaurant for dinner was within 100 steps from the Botel so it didn't take long to walk there for dinner. It was our first taste of real Dutch food, we had beef with sauce, the famous frites and mayo, and chocolate cake for dessert. The group was then free for the evening and most of us mingled at the Botel when we got back. **April 30, 2010** The day started off with breakfast on the boat... for breakfast there was an interesting assortment of sandwich meats along with toast, cereal, bacon (that looks like it's boiled), and boiled eggs. We then started our tour by taking the ferry back across the canal then took a trolley to the Rembrandt House. the group had about an hour to tour the house which included paintings, etchings, and some floor plan decor. Afterwards Cara, Abi, Anna, and I went to the Pancake House for lunch. The pancakes were delicious but quite sweet. We then walked around the town for while until it was time to meet the group. Our group was slightly split up when we arrived at the Rijks Museum but even this was okay because our tour guide Marco was a fantastic art historian. We got to see the most famous painting in Dutch history then "Night Watch" by Rembrandt. John then gave us some free time and since it was Queens Day we got to see the city jam packed with people. A group of us went to Central Station to shop then met for dinner at the floating Chinese restaurant. After dinner and wonderful ice cream with fruit we all stopped by some souvenir shops and got to see some more of the chaos from Queens day. With all the crowd and commotion today we were really tired from walking everywhere today (all public transportation was shut down). **May 1, 2010** Today started the same as yesterday except when I awoke my body was rocking from the boat. Our first thing was to catch the shuttle bus to the Anne Frank House. We arrived at the Anne Frank House and got a short educational session on the timeline of Anne Frank's family. We went through the whole house and this was really moving because the story of her life was so dark and depressing and actually being in the place where all this happened made this experience moving. So far Anne Franks house was my favorite part of the trip. Afterwards we went to the Van Gogh Museum, the line to get in was wrapped around the block. John went to see if we could get our tickets early and when he came back he had gotten our tickets. The museum was pretty interesting to look through and very big. Afterward we went for a little shopping and I found a beautiful watercolor painting by a local artist. We went into a few cute shops then sat on a patio and watched the crowd. Later we watched a group of dancers dance for money. It was awesome! We at dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe over the canal and then I went back to the Botel for the evening. **May 2, 2010** This morning we left to go to Antwerp to view the diamond museum. We road on the coach for two hours and finally arrived at Antwerp. Cara and I went to a Food Marker place for lunch (which consisted of making your own sandwiches, pasta, etc.) We visited the Diamond Museum which ended up not being that great after I got my hopes up. The group walked afterwards to the Rubens Museum which was beautiful and very eye catching. John then took us on a tour of the local cathedral. It was very beautiful and the stain glass windows were amazing. We went to Chez Leon for dinner and the meal was pretty decent, especially the dessert, chocolate mousse. **May 3, 2010** This morning we ate at the hotel and the food wasn't that great (it was advertised as being American breakfast but it was like ravioli and hot dogs along with the usual). We then took a coach ride to Waterloo and visited the Wellington Museum. This museum is where the leader of the army (Wellington) had his headquarters for the battle. Michael was our local tour guide, he was and older man and was very knowledgeable. we then went to the Waterloo battlesite. Michael gave us a brief description of the timeline of the battle and then we got to walk the 226 steps up to the top of the mound. The mound was built by the King in memory of his son who was injured in the battle. At the top of the mound was a large lion which is the symbol fo the country. You could see everything from the top of the mound, the four farms that were used in the battle were visible from the top. We then went to the Panorma building to view the paintings from the war. The cafe at the site is where we ate lunch, pasta and salad. We had dinner at Rosa a Blache where we had roast and potatoes along with Belgium waffles for dessert. Some of the girls hung out the rest of the evening back at the hotel. **May 4, 2010** Today started off a bit slow when we went to the Royale Museum. The artwork was interesting but a lot of the works were really similar in style and subject matter and the museum was very disorganized when it came to group entry. The best part of the museum for me was the modern artwork on the 8th floor down (another thing about the museum... it was huge). Next we got a quick bite of food, I had frites (french fries) and met Andrea our walking tour guide for a tour of Brussels. She told us all about the square and the architecture of each building then we proceeded around the area. We visited the peeing statue, which is a iconic symbol there, and also went to a pretty garden with many statues of nobility. The best part of the day ended up being the tour of the two cathedrals within the city. They both were of the gothic style and massive in space... I would say breath taking. We finished our tour and had some free time to shop for the famous chocolate. Sam, Cara, and I also got to try one of Belgium's famous waffles and man was it delicious! At 7 pm we met for dinner, which consisted of Indian food. For dinner we had guests to accompany us, a C-SC Alum that lives in Belgium and two friends of Bob's that live on the border of the Netherlands. The rest of the night was free after dinner. **May 5, 2010** Today we left Brussels to travel to a towns called Antwerp and Bastogne. The reason for traveling to Antwerp was for the Diamond Museum and then to Bastogne to see the sites for the Battle of the Bulge. We ate before our tour at a small sandwich shop and we had more frites. We then met our local tour guide, Henri, and he told us about the town. The town of Bastogne is a full fledged American town because of the support from the Battle of the Bulge. This town flies American flags and loves when American groups come to visit. We got to see the tanks from the sites and the museum where all the machinery from the war was. Henri then took us to the monument that was dedicated to the American soldiers that fought in the Battle. The coach then took us to some wooded area where the Allies had fox holes and John and Henri told us stories about the use of the fox holes. We jumped back on the coach and went to another dedication, this is where they planted special trees for each of their soldiers along with each American soldier. We then went back to the coach and went to an American cemetery and German cemetery. There were over 7,000 people buried in the German cemetery. The group went to Liege next to spend the night. **May 6, 2010** We woke up at 4:30 am to board the coach for the ride to the airport. Our plane left at 9:45 and we arrived back in the states around noon and then we boarded the next plane out of Newark at 3:23 pm. We arrived in St. Louis around 5:20 pm and got our bags and headed back to school. Home Sweet Home!
Posted at 8:38 AM by Emily Johnston