Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AIESEC UPd meets in Belgium

Last weekend, Ruthie, one of my EPs when I was VP OGX (Vice President for Outgoing Exchange) of AIESEC UPd visited me here in Belgium. She did her internship in Finland then now went to an interrail trip across Europe.
She’s the first guest from the Philippines in my place.

I took her around Brussels, which I found later as challenging as I am just as clueless as her about the city. We ended up instead having frites in La Bourse (the only thing I know "Brussels-ish").

We also went to Antwerp last Saturday. I've been there thrice already but it was my first time in Antwerp with the sun still up.

Castle in Antwerp
Antwerp Castle

Antwerp is very appealing. I noticed immediately the difference between Brussels to Antwerp – the architecture, the people and the vibe. What I particularly like about Antwerp are its lively streets, interesting statues, classy architecture and shops. I also liked the part that I can practice my dutch in Antwerp. Ik ben spreek in Nederlands. But do I prefer Antwerp over Brussels? Well, that’s tough to answer but I think I’ll stick to where I live for now.

Anyway, what was fun about our trip to Antwerp were the RANDOM moments. Just to list a few:

1. Random Brides-to-be asking to write a wedding message in your own language - I wrote in Tagalog!
2. Random Grooms-to-be tied in a bowling ball selling green scissors.
3. Random Flemish people asking if we need tourist help (because we looked exotic, but it was nice)
4. Random people getting arrested in the train back for possession of Marijuana
5. Random AIESEC Belgium friends that you see. :-)
6. Random FREE HUGS people in Meir Straat. It's nice to get a hug really.:)

Ruthie in Antwerp!
Ruthie in Antwerp. UPD unite!

Also, it was a nice opportunity to recconect and to hear that she enjoyed her internship. I saw that she had a wonderful experience during her AIESEC internship. And it's rewarding to hear that as her VP-OGX you played a part in making this opportunity happen. :-)

Spring Sensation

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Flowers at Keukenhof
Keukenhof Flowers

I never felt the real essence of spring before I came here to Belgium. I had a vacation in the US in spring 2002 yet it was cold. My relatives said it was quite warm but coming from 30C summer in the Philippines, 15-20C isn't actually what we call "warm".

Yet after braving a cold winter here in Europe and seeing as time passes the changes that springtime brought, you can't help but thank that spring is here. :)

So, what better way to feel spring but to just lay in the sun and enjoy the colors. And that we did.
We made a weekend roadtrip see Keukenhof, a flower park an hour drive away from Amsterdam. And we went the right time when the sun was out and the flowers were in bloom.

Digital Macro attempt
Me playing with the digital macro feature of my camera

Aside from touring Keukenhof, we also went to Amsterdam the previous days. We went again to a free tour, the Sandeman's New Amsterdam Free Tour (two free tours in a week, the other one the Saturday before in London, call me "addicted") Again, it's very amusing. Our guide, Steve, was as crazy as Amsterdam is (honestly, he is like a cuckoo bird in turbo mode but he's very fun and informative).

Amsterdam Tour
Steve, the tourguide, explaining those things in the wall

It was nice to realize that if you really pay attention, you will see Amsterdam beyond the marijuana and the redlight district and marvel on its beauty and history then understand the reasons and moments in history it went through to reach what it is perceived today. And that tour opened my eyes to a new Amsterdam, an Amsterdam that I never saw in my past two visits here.

Houses in Amsterdam.
AMSTERDAM HUISEN. Do you ever wonder what those hooks on the top floors are for? Actually, they are for lifting things up to the roof since houses have no big stairs. impressive trivia!

I also learned why there are hooks on top of the houses in Amsterdam!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Easter 2009 in Britain

For the past 20 years, I spent Easter with family with activities of going to church and eating lunch. And though I don't have that opportunity now, I'm happy to spend Easter with one of my families, AIESEC. Adding to that is a very good consolation, spending it in Britain.

Started our journey on Black Saturday in London. We were hosted by Csenge's friend, Albin, an AIESECer from Hungary. Then, we went to the centre after for a tour. It's not my first time in London. I was there last December and I only stayed for one night, that's why I went back again.

After joining the free tour by Sandemans' New London Tours (Try it, very well recommended). Carla, Csenge and I walked along River Thames where we saw everything that we feel is London - Big Ben, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, double decker bus, the tube and the London telephone booth.

Trafalgar Square

After walking the entire afternoon, we gathered in Oxford Circus for some shopping then dinner at Garfunkel's. We went directly to Brixton (where Albin lives) after to get ready for the next day. :)


Next day, we took the tour of Hampton Court, Stonehenge and Oxford. We were supposed to go to Windsor Castle but it was closed, so we went to Hampton Court instead. I went out with Csenge and Carla, along with Tina - FilAm and Microsoft Intern in Paris and also Dan, Tina's friend who was also an AIESECer in the UK.

Hampton Court Gardens

First stopped at Hampton Court Palace, a royal palace south of London. It used to be the resident of King Henry VIII. The place was rich in history and we were lucky that when we were there, it was costume day so people around were dressed in their Tudor-time costumes. Particularly like Henry's kitchen, the fountain court, the labyrinth maze (seriously, you can get lost) and of course, the gardens. The weather was cloudy, but still manage to "play" in the garden. I also saw a swan, which was nice. :) CLICK HERE TO KNOW MORE -

After leaving Hampton Court, the bus went for a 1,5 hour drive to Stonehenge in the Wiltshire country. Everyone knows Stonehenge, but for those who don't know, it is these rocks, arranged in a circular shape, and believed to have been there for more 4,000 years ago. It was believed to be either a monument, a burial ground, a temple, or an alien landing pad (?). It's a UNESCO world heritage site.

Stonehenge rocks.

Seeing stonehenge for me is a dream come true. I felt really blessed to see this place. There are some that say that these are just piles of rocks, but for me, it's more than that.

Two hours past, we went to see the city of Oxford - famous for its university. We were there for only short while though. It's just strange for me that a university can also be a tourist attraction, possibly thanks to its fame and its history. :)

Oxford University

Highlight of the tour was when we visited the outsides of ChristChurch, famous for our generation as one of the settings for Harry Potter movies. We didn't go inside though. Also in Oxford, I manage to taste a Cornish Pasty, or as I names it - English empanadas. :)


After the tour, we went back to London for Albin's Easter barbeque. Nice hefty food and chats with Hungarians and Polish. After the barbeque, we went out to the centre for a drink, but went back to Brixton as the bar that we were supposed to go to was closed. So, we went back to Brixton for some cocktails in this place called Mango Landin. not your typical english pub, but is very English still (at some point).

After drinks and mild drunkenness, we headed over to Albin's house for some drinks again. We were just chillin' in the house, talking about AIESEC, our experiences etc., and then we decided to do some AIESEC dances. From Tunak-Tunak, LeLe, Cotton-Eyed Joe, and even Life in a new Millenium (danced it last on NLDS 2006) and we were dancing til 4AM.

Next day, we continued our tour around London. We went to Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, St. Paul's, Camden Town then back to Oxford Circus. We also went back to Embankment to see the city at night (House of Parliament was nice!).

Unfortunately, we have to cut our trip short as we need to go back to work. :-( So early Tuesday morning, we went back to surprisingly sunny Brussels.


1. Topman - Shopping Galore!
2. AIESEC Dances til 4AM - It's nice to reminisce on AIESEC dances! Life in a New Millenium
3. Stonehenge, of course - a fantastic place
4. The Maze over at Hampton Court. I got lost actually, seriously. :)
5. London Buses - 2 to Marylebone. :)

I promised myself that I will be back in London or somewhere in the UK.

Hampton Court Palace: Jump again!