The Netherlands | Travel Blog

From Asia to Europe and Everything in Between

October 24, 2016
Bits of Bri | Tales of Bri

So maybe some of you have noticed, others maybe not so much, but I have been a little M.I.A for the past, say, 5 months ?? (when it comes to blogging!)

I wouldn’t say you guys missed much, but then again I’d be lying. šŸ˜‰ These past five months have absolutely flown by! In fact, they went by so fast that I feel as if I almost missed out on what happened myself!

It’s going to take quite a few hours to recount every detail of what happened in between, so let’s get started.

Just kidding!

I don’t have time for that and neither do you, so to summarize everything in a brief way, here is a list of everything divided into months:

May

This past May is where I left off. My last post is about debuting our Southeast Asia backpacking tour with our first three days in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. After that post, life accelerated and I started finding less and less time to write.

One day (don’t take my word for this) I will go back and write about our adventures in SE Asia. Until then, here’s a brief look at what happened the rest of that month:

First week of May was spent in Malaysia. We traveled by bus from Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown, Penang where we stayed for a couple nights and discovered some of the worlds most tasty dishes (which of course will appear on this website eventually). šŸ˜‰

We then took a cheap (very cheap and super recommended) flight to Krabi, Thailand where we spent a week cruising on our ScootieĀ on Thai highways, discovering beaches and road-side food stallsĀ along the way and waking up to fresh fruit smoothies and enjoying being free to go and do as we please.

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1 euro smoothies all day everyday!

From Krabi and Ao Nang we took a van to Phuket, Thailand, where we met my sister and her now fiance (who proposed to her on a beach at Koh Phi Phi islands!)

Next stop was in Bangkok (least favorite city visited at the moment…) and then Cambodia (Angkor Wat was incredible – definitely will be writing about this place!!) and finally we ended our one month tour in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

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Phuket, Thailand

At the end of our one month tour, we flew from Vietnam and drove back to North Carolina/Tennessee.

June & July

These two months are less adventurous, but definitely still flew by. We arrived back in the good ole USA after spending around ten months in Nepal and one month traveling.

I quickly picked up two servingĀ jobs, working both 2nd and then eventually 3rd shift. At one point during the summer, my hours went from 35 to 70+ a week! Though there were many times when I tried getting out of bed and my body felt as if it had just been rolled over by aĀ speeding bus, working two jobs paid off. I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my current master’s degree otherwise.

Making money at that rate was beneficial, but it definitely prevented me from spending as much time as possible with friends and family – who I was shortly going to have to say goodbye to, once again.

August

August is my most favorite month, and it’s definitely not just because it’s my birthday month, either, though I’m sure I’m still a little biased.

Everything “new” always seems to fall in the month of August. Maybe because school starts up again and the season is on the verge of changing in a few weeks, but who knows.

This year, August marked the end of my summer and the start of a new chapter in life.

I sold my car. I bittersweetly left newly-founded friendships and hugged goodbye to family I wouldn’t see for a while.Ā I packed my bags, among other “check-list” things traveling and moving abroad entails.

I was choosing to leave again,Ā which meant missing out on family’s birthdays, anniversaries, and festive holidays that are usually spent together. There is always highs and very lows when you always come and go. One minute you regret leaving, and the next you are excited. And it’s not always so black and white. Sometimes I walk through security at the airport tearing up only to find myself smiling at the unknown on the other side.

I left a day before my birthday and arrived in France the day of. In the plane, as we flew over Iceland in the middle of the night, someone told me to look out the window. I reached across a stranger apologetically and saw a faint yet vibrant green glow. It was the northern lights. The perfect birthday present.

We spent about one week in France in Paul’s family, and I ate as much Saint Agur cheese as my heart desired. At the end of the week, the three of us (Paul, myself and our cat Yoda) drove across Europe to our next temporary home – Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands, where we currently are and will be until the end of January ’17.

Bits of Bri | Bites of Bri
Saint Agur, my true love

SeptemberĀ 

September was a daunting month, but in a good way. My master’s program in international humanitarian action was about to begin and I was honestly freaking out. The program started off with an intensive week in Warsaw, Poland. That week involved meeting a 100 people and making new friends, long lectures and multiple coffee breaks, simulation exercises (favorite day), and general sightseeing of theĀ old market and learning all about Warsaw.

Bits of Bri | Tales of Bri | Warsaw Old Town
The Warsaw Old Town

Back in Groningen, Paul and I (and Yoda) still hadn’t found housing. It was impossible to find a place unoccupied that accepted an international couple and their cat. So our first month was also daunting in a way because we had no guaranteed place to live. But thankfully,Ā we were very lucky to be welcomed and hosted for a month by a Dutch lady who kindly accepted the traveling trio into her home.

Her home was situated outside of the city, however, and so Paul would driveĀ me thirty minutes towards Groningen, where I would then take my bike another 15 minutes into the city to class. Driving back and forth everyday definitely wasn’t very convenient, but we were so thankful to have someone so kind to offer us a place to stay until we got on our feet.

After returning from Warsaw, classes began at the university and time since then has only continued to slip from my fingers. I am not swamped with assignments, but rather just enjoying soaking in the Dutch life.

Bits of Bri | Tales of Bri
My uni <3

Within two weeks of being here I could ride my bike with no hands. NO HANDS! It’s a dream I’ve always had and when I first realized I could do it I was so happy and now I look like a real Dutch pro bicycler. šŸ˜‰

October

Just a few days before the start of October, Paul and I finally found a studio near the city. Again, we got very lucky. After weeks of sending emails and searching, a lady finally replied back saying that she wanted to rent out her place for two months while she went traveling. Without hesitation we closed in on the deal. Her only request was that we take care of her cat, Peter, which I was more than happy to do. Yoda could have a friend and I could have not one cat, but two! You can only imagine my excitement.

Groningen has treated us well – a little too well even. I am not ready to leave this place in about three months, as I know it will go by way too fast. I absolutely love being able toĀ bike everyday and to everywhere – whether to aqua-aerobics or yoga, the local market or the park, bars or restaurants, commuting by bike is such a fun lifestyle that I’m not ready to give up.

Bits of Bri | Tales of Bri | Groningen
Cruising around Groningen on a sunny Sunday evening

Groningen after all is the world’s number one cycling city! In fact,Ā about 50-60% of all trips are done by bike here. There’s literally thousands of bikes parked everywhere, especially in front of the university early Monday mornings!

Meanwhile at home, my grandparents celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary! <3

There is so much life happening all the time everywhere, but thanks to technology we all get to share in each others daily lives and experiences (which definitely helps whenever there is a gray rainy day in Groningen and nostalgia comes knocking!)

So for now, and for as long as I can, I’m going to keep enjoying all the hustle and bustle of classes, work, friends, going out, weekend getaways, writing, projects, and the list goes on, because in just a few short weeks I’ll be writing about how it all flew by so fast and how I have to once more restart the traveling cycle of bittersweet hellos and goodbyes.

Bits of Bri | Tales of Bri
My first impression of Groningen – colorful & cute : )
  1. Brittany, I am so thankful you are willing to share your travels and experiences, amd always in such a delightful way. Much love to you and Paul! Aunt Corinne

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