Belgium is more than just chocolate.

When you say Belgium the first thing that comes to mind for many people is chocolate. But Belgium is more than just chocolate (and waffles and frites). Belgium is beauty. Belgium is history. Belgium has been a love affair that I haven’t been able to get over and I probably never will.img_4206.jpg

When my brother backpacked through Europe and ended up in a little city called Bruges I couldn’t even find the city on the map. I knew very little about Belgium and I knew nothing about Bruges. But since he decided to fall in love with a Belgium-born woman and move there I knew I’d have to visit. Little did I know that this would begin my love affair with not just Bruges but travel in general. I will always be grateful to Bruges for opening up my eyes to a world many don’t see. I grew up (and still reside) in the Midwest. I wasn’t used to diversity. I wasn’t used to walking through a city and hearing dozens of different languages. I didn’t fully understand that as open-minded as I thought I was, I was actually very narrow-minded. I credit Bruges and travel for my eventual coming out. Bruges is where I came out to my sister-in-law. Bruges is where I eventually came out to my brother. Bruges is where my now wife proposed to me. Bruges will always have a piece of my heart.

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There is something to see around every corner and some little known museum, shop, restaurant, bar. I’ve been to Bruges 7 or 8 times and every time I am there I see something I haven’t seen before. There are nooks and crannies that only the locals are aware of but luckily I have some pretty amazing guides to show me the unknowns.

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While Belgium isn’t just chocolate I would remiss to say that I haven’t imbibed in the ritual of tasting some amazing chocolate. Go to The Chocolate Line where you can taste some of Dominique Persoone’s more…off the wall ideas. Or if you are feeling especially crazy you can snort a line of chocolate right up your nose. It’s like Studio 54 in the 70’s but with a much better high. FYI, I tried to google how many chocolate shops are in Bruges but I couldn’t find a definite answer. Good luck on your search for ‘the best’ but I would say in my opinion the best is The Chocolate Line. One thing I’ll say about any of the chocolate shops I’ve been in-everyone is extremely knowledgeable about the chocolate they are selling and they love to hand out samples. Happy eating!

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One of my favorite subjects in photography is architecture. I can’t get enough of it. Photographing a city like Bruges is a photographers dream. I can’t get enough of the brick Gothic. I’m amazed every time I walk the city. And I definitely cannot get enough of the churches! We have some impressive churches in the United States but the churches in Europe are incredible. I could spend hours photographing them because around every corner there is something new to see.

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While I could go on and on about just Bruges I can’t ignore a few other spots in Belgium. I have spent a few days in Gent and it is a wonderful city filled with (once again) amazing architecture, churches, even a castle! I’ve strolled along those streets and along the canal wishing I could pack up my life and move there because I really think I must be Dutch in a past life.

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The last time my wife and I went to Bruges we also took a day trip to Ostend with my brother. I had never been there before and I am glad my wife found the Atlantic Wall Museum because it was one of the coolest ‘museums’ I’ve been to. You go through trenches and bunkers with an idea of how the soldiers lived. It was pretty rainy the day we went which I think made for an even more authentic experience.

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We also spent an entire day Diksmuide where we saw a LOT of WWI memorials. We went to Dodengang (Trench of Death), Vladslo German War Cemetery and the Museum Aan De Ijzer. The Trench of Death is a small trench and bunker that you can walk through to try to experience what happened there so many years before. The cemetery is small but beautiful. It was a somber but moving experience.

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Then we went to the Museum Aan De Ijzer which was a really well done museum on WWI. It’s housed in this tower where you can go to the roof and you have a magnificent view of the area. From there you take the stairs down each level where there is different information on each floor. We were with 2 children and even they got a lot out of it. It was very informative.

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When visiting Belgium I really do recommend you see more than just Bruges or Brussels. Really try to explore other areas and get a feel of the entire country. I found the Dutch to be very lovely people and very patient with my very limited Dutch language skills.

But do not ignore Bruges! It may be small and I’m sure many websites and guide books only recommend a few nights but I’ve stayed for up to a week (multiple times) and I always find something to do.

And don’t listen to Colin Farrell in “In Bruges”. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

 

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The Cliffs of Moher and County Kerry

I’m going completely out of order with these posts but just work with me here. I go with what I feel most inspired by.

We started our Ireland trip with a night in Belfast, then to Sligo, then to Galway. From Galway we headed to County Kerry to see the Cliffs of Moher and then head to our cottage outside of Kenmare. We rose early because the drive from our hotel in Galway to the Cliffs was a few hours. We wanted to try to arrive at the Cliffs before it got too busy. As we were checking out of the hotel the woman at the desk told us to expect rain. Rain in Ireland, shocking right? But she said the sky looked like it was on fire which meant we’d have rain all day long. I am not Irish and I don’t live in Ireland, I figured I’d just believe her and leave it at that.

Road trips in Ireland are something else. By the time we were on our way to the Cliffs we were used to driving. We knew to expect twists and turns and sheep and rain and sun and everything in between. We took a few wrong turns on our way but it wasn’t too awful getting lost in Ireland. The lady at the hotel was correct about the rain though. It rained and rained. As we drove up the mountains, weaving around the turns (in my mind going too fast but we survived) the rain just kept coming. I was kind of laughing to myself and I just knew it would be a wet trip to the Cliffs. We finally found our way to the parking lot. The wind was ridiculous. We got out of the car and I swear we could have been swept away. I was trying to put my jacket on and I could barely get my arms into the holes, I thought my jacket was going to fly away and I’d be without a raincoat for the duration of the trip.

But..

What. A. View.

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We were fighting against the elements up there. I’ve never felt wind like that before. I actually thought my contacts were going to fly right out of my eyes. The rain was stinging us as we were walking up the steps. I took some videos and posted to Instagram just so my friends could hear the wind (@tripwithbrit if you feel the need to check out my Instagram posts).

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My wife survived the Cliffs of Moher and lived to tell about it.

We walked around a bit, it was damn near impossible for me to hold my camera steady so unfortunately I didn’t get many pictures and the ones I did get weren’t great shots. But we still had a good time. Because of the early times plus the weather we didn’t really come across too many other tourists so it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

From the Cliffs we made our way to Kenmare which took over 3 hours. We planned on grocery shopping in Kenmare then we had to text the owner of the cabin that we were close. We found Kenmare with no problems, stopped for groceries and headed to the cabin.

We had no idea the trip would take a really kind of shitty turn that day and into the night. We found the cabin without any real issues. But google maps didn’t do a good job of showing us just how far up into the mountains the cabin actually was. Neither did the couple we rented from. At certain points the only thing between our car and certain death was a tiny rickety fence. If we had known how treacherous the drive was up there we would not have rented it. The owners were lovely people. So sweet and helpful. They had chocolates and a card for us. They showed us around the cabin and then left. They live across the street from the cabin so it was nice knowing if we had any issues they were close.

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The view from the cabin.

But, the cabin was not what we expected. The stove/oven was gas and the pilot light was out. And of course,  there were issues lighting it. As in, we couldn’t and had to get in our car and go across the street to have the owner help us. We finally got it to light so we could make dinner. But because we had so many issues with it we decided to make the pizza and the bread we bought from the store and just eat it as leftovers for the next few days. We settled in for the night, did some laundry, and relaxed. We had no phone service whatsoever. I couldn’t even connect to wifi calling. There was also no home phone. That made me feel a little nervous because if we had any issues we had no way to call out. Later in the evening I was walking around the cabin to just look around. They had framed photos all around. I picked one up, felt movement on my fingers and turned the frame over and what do you know. Spiders. A lot. Just hanging out on the frames, no big deal. My wife had the same issue near the router. Just so many bugs hanging out with us. Bugs caught in cobwebs throughout various areas of the house. Bugs stuck to the walls. Basically, bugs everywhere. We finally decided to go to bed. I hadn’t voiced my concerns to Angie and she didn’t say anything to me (yet). We went upstairs to go to bed. Bugs in the bedroom. The heat didn’t work in the bedroom. The temperatures that night were in the 40’s. Luckily there was a big thick comforter on the bed and we were able to go to sleep but neither one of us were very happy and I don’t know about her, but I didn’t sleep all that great that night.

We woke up the next morning and the plan was to leave the cottage early and spend all day in Kenmare. But I think we both woke up in pretty grumpy moods. She went to shower. There was basically no shower pressure (it was a trickle coming from the shower head) and either the water was scalding hot or ice cold. No in between. My wife has short hair, my hair is past the middle of my back. I was already annoyed at how long I’d have to spend in the shower trying to shampoo and condition my hair in a bathroom that wasn’t very clean with alternating hot and cold water. I asked my wife if it would be awful to leave the cabin and just get a hotel. I don’t rough it on vacation. I like a relatively bug-free place to sleep, with water pressure and a stove that worked properly and a place that is clean. She told me that was crazy, it would cost us too much money. I waited as long as I could to take a shower (in hopes there would miraculously be hot-but not scalding-water and water pressure). I went into the bathroom. Walked right back out to argue with my wife about a hotel and what do I see when I go back to the bedroom? My wife on her phone looking at hotels in the area. We found a cheap(ish) hotel in Killarney, booked it, and then I hightailed it to the shower. I don’t want to talk about that shower but we packed quickly, grabbed our gear and left that cabin and never looked back.

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Quick stop in Killarney National Park on our way to our hotel.

Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

My friends.

We survived Ireland.

For 2 years we planned, changed plans, revised plans, and we made it. We finally made it to Ireland. We spent a fabulous 2 weeks, driving around the Irish countryside. Ireland is as majestic as you would imagine it to be. Driving along the narrow roads, feeling like we were soaring through the mountains, waving to passerby, praying for fog just to capture a brilliant picture. You see Ireland in movies, in photographs but until you are there and breathing it all in you have no idea. Before our trip, I had so many people tell me that Ireland gets in your bones, that you’ll want to go back again and again and what do you know? They were right. I will be breaking our trip up into parts. None of which will be in order. I had to start with my favorite area, an area we only spent 1 day in, but an area I can see myself retiring in.

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On our way to Slea Head

The Dingle Peninsula.

It is the nothermost of the major peninsulas in County Kerry. Our way to Dingle was, of course, on Slea Head Drive. We woke early to drive from Killarney to Dingle. The first order of business though was to see Slea Head before the tour buses arrived. So we were on the road by 7am. We were staying in Killarney. It took us roughly 2 hours, mainly because we kept stopping to take pictures of the area. For future reference, when Google maps says it will take you 30 minutes to get anywhere in Ireland, I recommend you add another 30 minutes to that, you will stop for pictures-frequently.

I will admit to all of my readers that I did not drive in Ireland, my wife did. I can’t drive a manual, she can and it was cheaper than an automatic. So I had it good, I helped navigate (which wasn’t hard with a GPS) and oohed and aahed at the scenery while she tried to avoid driving off of a cliff while taking in the views.

While driving in Slea Head I was so amazed at the rough beauty of it. It was cold and windy the day we were there. Living there probably isn’t easy but it has its perks. There were times I felt like we were on the edge of the world. I was in awe.

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On the edge of the world-Slea Head

There were parts of the drive where we would stop to take it all in and we literally couldn’t get our doors open because of the wind. I’d roll down the window, hoping that I could keep my camera steady. I so badly wanted to take beautiful pictures of this awe-inspiring place. If you want to feel inspired, go to Slea Head. You won’t be disappointed.

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Photo from the car-Slea Head

After driving along Slea Head for what felt like hours, we made our way to the town of Dingle. What an adorable little town. Packed to the gills with tourists but we paid no mind. We had lunch at a little hole in the wall restaurant. I asked for vegetable soup, that is not what I got but I just ate some of my wife’s food and then we were on our way.

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Dingle Ireland

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Dingle, Ireland

We booked a boat tour to spot Fungie, the dolphin that meets the boats in the harbor. We went with the Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours, we booked them through the tourist office right near the pier. We were ‘guaranteed’ we’d see Fungie. We were not disappointed. Our boat only had about 8 people on it and I think that made it even more fun. Yes, we did see Fungie. A lot. He seemed to be teasing us. Other than Fungie, the views from the boat are outstanding. Incredible. Beautiful. Amazing. The boat ride lasted an hour, Fungie spottings throughout and incredible views. It was rainy and windy and cold but we had a blast. I think every single tourist on that boat was thrilled with the experience.

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Blurry picture of Fungie-Dingle

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The incredible view from the boat-Dingle

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The view from the boat-Dingle 

I was sad to leave Dingle. I was sad to drive on Slea Head again, knowing we were leaving and wouldn’t return during the trip. I know that the next time we go to Ireland, Dingle will be a spot we stay in for a few days. One day wasn’t enough. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of that beautiful area of Ireland.

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Slea Head

 

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I made a friend on Slea Head

Missouri State Penitentiary

Growing up I had an obsession with the macabre. I loved horror movies, true stories about hauntings, books about serial killers, I loved telling scary stories and going to all the places in my hometown (and surrounding areas) that were supposedly haunted. My interest in it started when I was 11 or 12 years old. My family and I moved into an old house, started updating it, and one early summer day I woke up to a little boy standing next to  my bed wearing a suit and a top hat. I could see right through him. I shook my head and he disappeared. I assumed it was a dream and didn’t give him much thought until months later my parents friend saw the same little boy in my brothers bedroom.

My obsession only grew. I lived in Illinois, right over the river from St Louis, Missouri. There were many places in the area that were haunted. There were the Seven Gates of Hell in Collinsville, Illinois. They are old train trestles and tunnels with an unverified history. Some of which is that the KKK used to hang African-Americans there. Teenagers drove their car into the 7th gate and died and now haunt the area. The tall tale on the 7th gate is that at midnight a portal to hell opens up. I’ve been to the Seven Gates. Driving out there at midnight, nobody around, and getting out of the car was enough to nearly cause an anxiety attack but there was nothing strange there. Well, except for the group of teenagers we saw walking down the road near one of the gates.

There is a witches house near my parents old house. They tore it down before I was old enough to drive. There is an old train track where children were killed by the train and now haunt the tracks. If you park your car where the old track was, they will move your car. I don’t recommend driving to that area anymore, there are homeowners there that don’t take kindly to trespassers. They are also armed. The Lemp Mansion is just over the river into St Louis which has its own mystery surrounding the mansion and the family that it deserves its own blog post.

So, having a ‘Haunted October’ planned for 2015 wasn’t anything out of the norm for me.

Back in summer of 2015 my wife, my friend Jenny and her new husband Jon had the bright idea to spend our October exploring some of the ‘haunted’ spots in our area. We quickly decided to book a midnight tour at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri. I was expecting some creepiness and some cool pictures.

We experienced so much more than that.

We road-tripped to Jefferson City from St Charles county. It’s a quick jaunt to Jeff City. We checked into our hotel, grabbed dinner, and went back to our rooms to take naps. Our tour was started at midnight and would last for 3 hours. We roused ourselves up and made it to the prison around 11:30. The great thing about this tour is that it is a labeled a ‘ghost tour’. We had a few guides, they explain the history, but then they kind of let you roam around on your own. You can do EVP sessions. An EVP is electronic voice phenomena which is how a ghost can possibly communicate with us from beyond. You won’t hear it just sitting in a room but the recorder picks it up. My wife Angela and Jon had cameras (and most of the pictures here will be Angela’s). They have ghost hunting equipment that you can rent (with a valid ID) for the night.

The tour guides split us into two groups (there were about 30 people in each group), gave us a bit of history, and then we ‘hunted’. We began our night in the building that housed death row. You walk down the steps and can either go left or right. Our guide showed us the left side first. He talked about a shadow man that is seen in the building that is over 6 feet tall. He said the area we were in at the moment wasn’t really a ‘hot spot’ and not investigated much. We decided to check out that side first. In that wing there are 2 corridors. One corridor is directly next to the cells, then it’s split up with fencing and then there is another corridor (next to some windows). Jenny and I were walking down the hall next to the windows. Angie and Jon stayed at the end to take pictures.

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Death Row ©Angela Templer

I had my recorder going and we were talking that it was just a really creepy area. There was nothing happening to make us think that (there were no ominous voices or screaming or clanging). We just said we didn’t like it in that area. We walked all the way down to the end. We turned the corner and I think we both breathed a sigh of relief, I mean it when I said the air just felt heavy and ‘off’. We stood there and heard Jon and Angela yelling for us. I will be perfectly honest and say that I was annoyed that I had to turn back around and go back down that hall. I hated it in that area and I did not want to go back. Since everything echoed down there we couldn’t understand what Jon was saying. He was telling us to stand at the end with our flashlights and wave them around. We did that for a few seconds then met them halfway through. Jon and Angela were (plainly put) freaking out. While Jenny and I were in the corridor by the windows, Jon and Angela were taking pictures of the other corridor (directly by the cells). And Jon caught something up his camera.

A shadow about the size of a very tall man, just standing in the doorway. There was nobody down there with us, Jon caught it as were walking down the hall and I know we were alone. The reason he told us to mess with our flashlights is that he wondered if the shadow was us while we were talking. It wasn’t us. *

We all looked at each other and I think we were all thinking the same thing “This alone makes this trip worth it!”

We continued to tour the cells. We went down another flight of steps into another area, not sure what it was actually called but we hated it down there. My wife who is pretty level-headed was so creeped out I think we spent about 3 minutes down there and quickly went back upstairs.

We went outside for some air and told our guides about our experience. They asked us if we wanted to have an EVP session in one of the rooms. We said of course and went back in. We sat around and talked for about 25 minutes. The EVP sessions didn’t yield much to be honest but there was a lot of outside noise, it was a tour of about 30 people walking throughout the whole prison.

After Death Row we headed into A-Hall. We didn’t have an paranormal experiences in there. I walked up to the third floor and I felt very dizzy and weird but it was also very warm and humid in there so I can’t say that was paranormal, I think I was getting overheated at that point. It is all very open so you could literally hear every single person in the building so that took the edge off.

After you tour the main prison they have you load up into your own cars and drive to the gas chamber. It is a couple of blocks from the prison. As a forewarning-it is tiny in there. Our entire group couldn’t fit so I stayed outside and talked with a guide about some of their experiences.

All in all this was probably one of the best road trips I’ve had. It was an intense experience. If you are up to be spooked (or if you really want a very cool place to take photos) I really think you should consider heading to Jefferson City and taking a tour at the prison.

Basics:

They have a wide variety of tours. The prison isn’t just for ghost hunting. They offer history tours, photography tours, private tours, private ghost-hunting tours. The prices range from $14-$100. Contact them for more information at 573-632-2820 or Missouri Pen Tours

Accommodations:

There aren’t many options to choose from in Jefferson City. We like a nicer hotel so we stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton which was just a few minutes away from the prison. We were very happy with the hotel aside from the parking situation (limited parking outside and the lines for parking in the garage will only work if you have a tiny sports car).
DoubleTree by Hilton

 

*As of “press time” I do not have the photo of the shadow man that Jon captured. Once I receive it, I will edit this post.

 

“Ireland sober is Ireland stiff.”

So.
It’s been awhile.
I would apologize but I have nothing to apologize for.
Life happens.
Plus…I really had nothing to write about.

Now I do.

I love to talk about my travels. I just wish I did more travel to really discuss them. At least we are planning a trip now. I think I should discuss my trips less on Facebook and more on this blog. I think I am starting to annoy my friends. I’m starting to annoy myself!

Ireland
September 18-October 1.

As somebody that absolutely loves to plan trips, let me just say, this one is a doozy but I am loving every single minute of it. I’ve never had to plan a trip for an entire country. I’ve mostly dealt with 1 or 2 cities. But this time we are flying into Belfast, driving up to see Giant’s Causeway, then down to Galway, then to Cork, then up to Dublin. Mind you, these are the areas we are staying in, we won’t just see these few cities. We’ve already book 3 accommodations, need to book 3 more, plus a rental car.

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This is how I plan trips…

Shall I discuss the driving that I am so nervous about even though I won’t even be the one driving? A manual, steering wheel on the opposite side, driving on the other side of the road? My wife says she can do it. I think she is doing her best to reassure me. We considered renting an automatic but that doubled the price on a rental car. We can do it, right? We shall overcome, we shall persevere. We shall…okay I’m done with cliches.

Ireland travelers and Irish readers-if there is one spot (just one!) that you would recommend for us novices, what would it be?

 

 

 

Love is too beautiful to be hidden in the closet.

I’m gay.

I am so gay.

I love books about lesbians. I love movies with lesbian characters even though 90 percent of the time somebody ends up dead. I love rainbows. I love lesbian owned businesses. I Twitter stalk lesbian celebrities, pseudo-celebrities, lesbian writers, lesbian journalists. I frequent sites such as AfterEllen.com and Autostraddle. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to go against the ‘norm’ of the United States. I am proud to be in love with a woman. I am proud to be married to a woman.

10 years ago I was so far in the closet I was a part of the drywall. 10 years ago I was terrified somebody would find me out. 10 years ago I would rather drink myself into oblivion than really sit and think about who I was. 10 years ago I refused to admit what I am so proud of today.

I am gay.

And now that I am 31, nearing 32, I have to say this. I have to say it loud and proud. Fuck what people think. Fuck if you think I’m going to hell. Fuck you if you are worried about my salvation. Fuck you if you consider my gay marriage to be less than your straight marriage. Fuck you if you can’t even extend the courtesy to say congratulations to me in my new marriage. Fuck you if you think being gay is  choice.

I refuse to be ashamed anymore. And I refuse to let you get under my skin. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the love I have with my wife.

I am a gay woman and I am proud.

 

Brugge, Amsterdam and Marriage

So much has happened since my last post. I don’t even know where to start. Maybe from the beginning. I guess that would be the smart option. We came back from our Belgium and Netherlands trip not even a month ago and can I just say what an amazing time we had? I saw more of Belgium which is hard to believe considering the amount of times I’ve spent there. For such a small country there sure is a lot to see. I spent time with family. I bonded with my niece. I ate some chocolate. Drank some beer. We went to so many war museums. The Atlantic Wall Museum in Oostend. Go there. You won’t regret it. The “Trench of Death” in Diksmuide and the Ypres Tower also there. Go there. Again, you won’t regret it. We stayed at Martin’s Brugge again and I have no complaints with it. It is steps away from the main square. It’s clean and the staff is friendly. We had an top floor room with amazing views!

And…I went to Paris.

And I am sad to say this. I don’t know if I should admit it in my blog but I don’t think Paris is my favorite city anymore. Now, I may get a lot of flack for this. And I am willing to deal with the flack. It has been two years since I set foot in that city. We went on a Saturday, which I can imagine was probably not the best day to go. I can deal with tourists. I can deal with being shoved trying to cross the street. I can even deal with one of the birds shitting on my leather jacket as I stood outside of a Starbucks on the Champs de Elysees. What I cannot deal with is the throngs of gypsies/scam artists/aggressiveness that we had to deal with. The amount of scammers I saw and had to deal with was out of control. It was not like this two years ago when we went. I have always defended Paris. We never had problems with people being rude. We never had people talk down to us because we were American. This was my third time to Paris but my least favorite time spent there. I think it will be a very long time before I go back.

But I do have to say, Paris is still an incredibly photogenic city. If you can ignore the bad, just imagine the gorgeous pictures one can take there.

Then we went to Amsterdam. I went to Amsterdam years ago, for not even a full day and I really enjoyed my time there. But this time was really great. Now, sadly, when we finally got to Amsterdam we were incredibly sick. We had very bad colds, sore throats, I spiked a fever a few times. But we pulled through. Two friends from London flew over to spend a day with us which was amazing. I have ‘known’ Grete and David since we started talking on a travel website 8 or 9 years ago. This was our first time meeting and it was like meeting two old friends! We had a blast together. We went to the Anne Frank House. That was an incredibly moving experience. If you go I highly recommend booking tickets ahead of time. You save a lot of time! We got there right after opening and the line was already stretching around the building and down the block. We went to the Resistance Museum which was incredibly informative. I really enjoyed seeing that.  The Prostitution Museum was interesting but I found it more depressing than informative. The Marijuana and Hemp Museum was a lot of fun, lots of cool artifacts and a lot (and I mean a LOT) of history associated with it. We enjoyed our time at a coffeeshop called Basjoe’s. It was right across the canal from our apartment. We went one night and the budtender was very nice and patient with us and we have no complaints with his recommendations for us.

The apartment we booked:

http://www.dekorenbloemen.com/en

I cannot say enough great things about this apartment. It is centrally located. Just a few short minute walk from the Dam Square and the Red Light District. It is quiet, for the most part. With Amsterdam being a city of course there is always noise. The apartment is a basement apartment so we did hear more noise than somebody on the top floor but it didn’t really bother us at all. Just go down the street and you are right in the middle of the tourist track, shops, restaurants, coffeeshops, cafes all within a few minutes. When (yes, WHEN) we go back to Amsterdam I would not hesitate to stay there again.

And this goes without saying but Amsterdam is absolutely gorgeous.

And now for some big news. Big. HUGE!

Last week, on November 5th the gay marriage ban was tossed out for the state of Missouri. Which is great for us. Because we live in Missouri! We were already planning an Illinois wedding for the spring. But guess what we did? We got married on November 7, 2014! We really had no notice, our families couldn’t even come due to it being so last minute. But WE. ARE. MARRIED. In our home state! It was the most amazing day. St Louis City Hall is absolutely beautiful. We were lucky enough that our friend Jenny and her fiance Jon could get off work to be our witnesses. Jenny held our rings, Jon took pictures. We found a minister who was already up there with her church marrying gay couples and she married us with less than 24 hours notice. I still don’t know how we pulled it off. We are married now. I have a wife. She has a wife. Life is good.

Travel plans for the future you ask?

New Orleans next fall. Probably right around November so we can be there for our first wedding anniversary. And for 2016…well…who knows? Right now we are weighing our options. Alaska. Italy. Ireland. Normandy was thrown out there just tonight. We shall see what the next year takes us. Last week I was all about Alaska. This week I envision us in Ireland. This is me we are talking about, by the time 2016 rolls around we could be planning a vacation to Vietnam for all I know.

Until next time…