Guten Tag, Manner & Frauen! This is Sam, blogging about my work trip to Europe. Normally Jackie is the voice behind this blog (and well, also the voice of reason) but it’s my turn to enlighten you about my month working overseas in Europe!
Last October I got the opportunity to spend just over a month working there. I spent time in 7 different countries including Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France (just a drive-through), Switzerland & Czech Republic. Despite not knowing what to expect, I ended up having a great time!
After landing in Brussels, I convinced my colleagues to spend some time in Belgium before heading to our German work site. Since we only had the afternoon in Brussels, we decided to hit up the most popular place we could think of, The Grand Place. The Grand Place was beautiful. We spent the little time we had there taking pictures & trying the local beer and food. Everything was extremely delicious!
After leaving Brussels, we made our way to Germany, where we spent the week working and trying out the local foods and beverages. We didn’t stay in a major city in Germany which I think added to the charm and made me feel like a true local. The neighborhood was quaint and I loved the authentic ‘German’ feel and the food and drinks were really good. Here are only just a few of the amazing things I tasted while there:
After I finished my first full week of working in Germany, I decided to explore another amazing European city – Amsterdam! My weekend in Amsterdam was great. I met a lot of really cool people in my hostel. We walked around the canals; the Red-Light District; checked out some local coffee shops (which to my surprise actually did serve coffee, among some other things); checked out South Amsterdam where I took a pic with the famous ‘I AMSTERDAM’ sign; went to some bars at night with my hostel mates; and tried some local food consisting of Pickled/Smoked Haring, Stroopwafels, Pofferjes & Fries with Mayo. The fries were my favorite. After the weekend was over it was time to head back to Germany for work.
Another full week of work had passed and I could not wait for the weekend to approach! I was really excited because I had a visit from Mama Saif. We had gone to Rotterdam, as my mom wanted me to meet her cousins who lived there. It was great to spend time with some family who I had never met before. The next day my cousin took me to one of the most magnificent places I have ever seen, Kinderdijk. The windmills here were old and mesmerizing!
Upon my arrival back in Germany after my fun weekend in Rotterdam, one of our European counterparts took us on a tour of the city of Aachen. There, we walked around the endless cobblestone streets, enchanted by the beautiful castles lining them. Two interesting things we saw there were The Rathaus & the Aachen Cathedral. The Rathaus is Aachen’s answer to a City Hall. Currently it’s the seat of the Mayor of Aachen and of the city council and the Charlemagne Prize is awarded there. Across from The Rathaus is the Aachen Cathedral. This cathedral is a Roman Catholic church and one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe. It was constructed by Emperor Charlemagne in 805AD. In 1978 the cathedral was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another thing we saw in Aachen was the Elisenbrunnen, which is a sulfur fountain. Aachen was a really neat and old ‘bathhouse’ town and I am glad I was able to get the opportunity to go there.
The next weekend I met up with my mom again. My mom and I decided to take a road trip to Zurich. Our way to Zurich took us through Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. While in Luxembourg we decided to stop in the city to take a picture. I have no idea what this is and it is the only picture I got to commemorate my short time in Luxembourg. I do hope to see the city in more detail in the near future.
Finally after a bit more driving, we reached our destination: Zurich. There we explored the city for a while. The next day we decided to take the train to the top of this big hill in Zurich called Uetliberg to get a great view of Zurich as well as a view of the Swiss Alps.
On the way back I decided to go through Germany so that I would get to fulfill my dream of driving on the Autobahn. Driving 220KPH is exhilarating but my mom was not as thrilled as I was about the ride.
My work trip had finally come to an end, but I decided it would be fun to extend my trip a bit and meet up with my beautiful fiancee Jackie (+1 brownie point) in Prague.
Be sure to check out our Prague blog (here) to learn more about all the fun we had in Prague.
More business came up in Germany so I got to go back and see a little more of the area.
The day I arrived I spent a bit more time exploring sites I missed in Brussels. My first stop was Mini-Europe. Mini-Europe is a really cool attraction. Basically just as the name states; miniature models of all the major sites in Europe are built and located in this one location.
In the same area they have the Atomium, which is a building that was constructed for the 1958 Brussels world fair which is supposed to resemble an atom. Do you see the resemblance?
Next I made my way over to visit the popular mannequin Pis statue which is basically a statue of a little boy peeing. Not sure what the significance is but it is very popular with the tourists. I also picked up a Belgian waffle on the way.
I spent the rest of the week working on my project, the weekend finally came along. A quick day trip from where I was staying was Cologne, Germany or Koln. Cologne is a beautiful city with a fantastic Gothic Castle at its Center. One really cool thing to do in Cologne is to try Kolsch. Kolsch is a beer which is served in a tall glass with relatively small quantity, making it easy to drink fast. Once your Beer is empty the waiters just brink you another. This goes on and on until you place your coaster on top of the beer. The waiter knows what to charge you by the number of ticks on your coaster.
The next day I took another day trip to a quaint German town called Monschau. Monschau was a really nice town to just walk through and enjoy the scenery.
I am really glad I was able to go to Germany. As much as I missed all my friends and family back home, Germany was never a place on my list I had wanted to travel to. I was lucky work gave me to the opportunity and I look forward to going back to the country at a later date (and with Jackie, since she has never been).
Until then … auf wiedersehen!