Our Experience In Amsterdam

 

September of last year (2016) I began to write this post on our experience in Amsterdam, and not sure why but I had complete writers block. I really couldn't figure out what to say and how to say it. Truthfully, I think it's because I came away from Amsterdam wondering if I loved the city or wasn't fond of it. There were parts I loved and parts I hated and goodness I just couldn't bring myself to finishing this post. Well, one year after our trip I finally forced myself to finish this post. It might not be my best work, but gosh darn-it it's finished finally!! Whoo-hoo! Well here it is, our Amsterdam experience --


In August we began our month long European adventure, starting in Amsterdam. This was our first time in Amsterdam and we really didn't know what to expect. Of course when you first think of the city, pot leaves and prostitutes probably cross your mind... at least they did mine, but I was sure there was probably much more to the famous city than that, so I was excited to explore it. Before our trip I did a bit of research on the city, just the basic things like what to see. You can find that list in my what to do and see in Amsterdam and Italy post

My favorite part of this city was the canals. The water was beautiful, they are surrounded by quaint buildings, and there are always boats passing along each canal. Like much of Europe, you can feel the history all around you in this city. Another thing I loved about Amsterdam was the beautiful parks. We walked through Vondelpark and Museumplein, but I know there are other parks around town we didn't get to walk through that were probably amazing too. It was so fun to see everyone hanging out in the parks, reading, having a picnic, napping, hanging out with friends, etc. It gave you the feel that the city is very community based and the locals seem to love it. 

There are so many famous art museums in Amsterdam. I'm not even a big art fan and I really enjoyed those. Seeing so many famous paintings in real life was such an experience to remember. You don't have to be an art junkie to know names like Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Seeing their paintings in real life was so impressive, these guys are clearly famous for a reason. Like I said I'm not big into art, but I had a wonderful time touring the Rijks Museum and would totally recommend it to anyone visiting Amsterdam. We didn't get a chance to go into the Van Gogh Museum but if we go back to Amsterdam I'll for sure add it to my list of must dos. 

Another thing I loved about the city were the I Amsterdam signs. It's such a blast to watch everyone gathering around the signs and taking pictures. We saw one of the signs outside of the airport and then another one right outside of the Rijks Museum. And of course, as typical tourists do, we spent a great amount of time taking tons of cheesy photos with the sign. I even got brave and climbed on top of the sign for a fun shot (which I can't find now to add to this post dang-it). 

We were surprisingly impressed with the food in Amsterdam. There was a restaurant that we went to twice while we stayed there at the beginning of our trip and then went out of our way to go back to the restaurant at the end of our trip before our flight back home. The name is Cafe De Klos and I'd 100% recommend it ( unless you're a veterinarian) and get the ribs! There's a photo below of the outside of the restaurant. 

My absolute favorite part of Amsterdam was the Anne Frank house. You grow up reading The Diary Of Anne Frank in school which totally pulls on your heart strings, but nothing can compare to touring the ACTUAL house that her and her family hid out in. They've turned the house into such an amazing museum to tour and walk through, loading you with history on the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. I've always found World War II to be one of the most interesting times to learn about in history, so that might be why I enjoyed touring the Ann Frank house so much, but I'd recommend anyone who visits Amsterdam to tour it. 

With all that being said, there are many things about this city I could do without. The insane amounts of bicycles that are everywhere left me stressed out as we walked around the city. When I'm in a new place I want to be able to marvel at everything around me, but it was super difficult to do so in Amsterdam without having bikes wizz past you and pretty much run you right over. Now, I'm sure there are some of you reading this and the bikes are what you love about Amsterdam, but for me I just thought it was a bit much. The idea of biking through one of the stunning parks sounds nice, but the city just seemed too hectic for it. I do love that the city has a fit culture though, that's awesome and I can respect that. However, I wasn't a fan of having to be on defense all the time so that I didn't get hit by a bike.

I couldn't write about Amsterdam without mentioning the pot and prostitutes. I'm of course not saying that is all the city has to offer ( because that's absolutely not the case ), but it sure is a part of the culture there and it's definitely something that is unique to Amsterdam. Let's start with the weed... I currently live in Denver and unless you live under a rock then you know that people smoking marijuana isn't a huge shock to us. I personally don't smoke pot, but it is legal here too. In Amsterdam if you want to find some weed, look for a "cafe" or a "coffee shop". If you're looking for a nice cappuccino or latte and you waltz into a coffee shop in Amsterdam, you'll be very disappointed. To be honest, this part didn't bother me about the city, I really couldn't care either way. But the Red Light District is another story. We walked through the RLD during the day and fairly quick, but we were curious about it and wanted to see it with our own eyes. Well, it really is all that you hear about. As a woman, seeing the women in the windows selling their bodies just made me so sad. It made me sad for them. How and why did they get to that place in their life where that seemed like the best option for them? I wondered if at night they go home feeling dirty, used and worthless. Or are they so numb to it that they go home feeling nothing? I couldn't help but think about all of this as we walked through the famous Red Light District, with a pit in my stomach from pure disgust. It makes me sad that people, tourists, come to this city purely for this. Because it's "Okay" in Amsterdam. No, it's actually not "Okay" anywhere. To treat women as though they are an item, a thing, and not a human being. It's not okay at all, no matter what city you're in. Okay well now I've gone on a whole tangent about prostitution which I didn't intend on doing. But gosh the RLD made me feel some type of way... 

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rijksmuseum
AMSTERDAM VACATION

Overall, as I reflect on our time in Amsterdam, looking at pictures and reminiscing about all that we did, I'd say it was a great experience. Even though the city might not be my all time favorite destination, I still really enjoyed exploring the Netherlands for the first time and I'm so glad we made a stop there. If you've been to Amsterdam, comment below with your thoughts on the city. I've met so many people who absolutely love the city and I'd love to hear why! 

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Top 10 Travel Moments of 2016

2016 was filled with so many amazing travel experiences and adventures. I love looking back each year and reflecting on our travels. You can check out last years post HERE. This year instead of breaking down each trip we took, I decided to pick my top ten favorite travel moments from the year. Here they are, in order of occurance not importance...

Grand Canyon

Talk about majestic! I love the Grand Canyon and I feel so grateful to have seen it. I did an entire blog post on this, so to read more about my day trip to the Grand Canyon, click HERE!

San Francisco

There is so much to see in the city and surrounding regions of San Francisco! We took a wine tour through Sonoma Valley, visited Ghirardelli Square, toured and ate seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, rode a trolley, walked the crooked road of Lombard Street, drank wine in the park near the Painted Ladies and of course took a billion photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. Did I mention this was a girls trip?! I typically am traveling with my husband, and he is the best travel partner I could ever hope for. However, a girls trip with your best friends is so necessary sometimes. Wine, great food, new adventures and tons of laughs is the recipe for a perfect weekend getaway. 

Miami

Nick and I have been to Florida several times, but never Miami until this year. We are extremely surprised by the Cuban culture and influence in Miami. The beaches there are so stunning, with beautiful sand and clear turquoise waters. I did a full blog post on our weekend in Miami, read more HERE.

Amsterdam

In August we began our month long European adventure. We started in Amsterdam. I still need to do a whole blog post on just this city, there is just so much to say that I don't quite know where to begin. My favorite part of this city was the canals. The water was beautiful, they are surrounded by quaint buildings, and there are always boats passing along each canal. My other favorite elements of Amsterdam were the beautiful parks, and the historical museums, including many art museums and the Anne Frank house. With all that being said, there are many things about this city I could do without. The insane amounts of bicycles that are everywhere, leaving you stressed out when you walk around town and the unique culture of the Red Light District. Those things are part of what makes Amsterdam a unique city, I personally just wasn't fond of them. Overall though, our time in Amsterdam was great, we loved walking around while discovering new sights and foods, and we loved experiencing the dutch culture for the first time.

Trevi Fountain in Rome

Rome is my favorite city! It's my husband's favorite city too. We fell in love with Rome a few years ago when we were there on our honeymoon. Going back two years later was a dream. The first time we went to Rome the Trevi Fountain was under construction. It was one of the sights we were most looking forward to seeing, so when it was all covered in scaffolding we were so disappointed. This August when we went back to Italy, Trevi was up and running and let me say looking stunning. It is so much larger and more grand than I had anticipated. The way they light it up at night is just magical. Everyone gathers around Trevi in the evenings, eating their gelato and tossing coins into the fountain while they make wishes. We came back several nights, it just doesn't get old. 

Boating in Tropea, Italy

When it comes to touring Italy, we are spoiled. We are spoiled because we have family there and they give us the VIP tour. We get to see Italy through a local's eyes, not just our tourist eyes. Our cousin Antonio owns a boat in Tropea ( the most beautiful beach town in all of Italy). We took the boat out and got to gawk at the views of the coast from the sea. Tropea is stunning, I love the way the buildings are carved into the cliffs. The sea is such a bright blue, you would think you're sailing through Kool-Aid. We jumped in, swam for a bit, then headed back to the marina where we drank champagne and toasted to family. This is one of my favorite moments not just of this year but of my entire life. I'm so grateful to have family in Italy, they are so fun and such a joy to be around. 

Cinque Terre Hike

Hiking the Cinque Terre trail along the Italian coast had been on my bucket list for probably over seven years. I had first heard of Cinque Terre, Italy because amazing photos of the little fishing towns were going viral on Pinterest. It looked like something I would "pin" but never go to... a dream place that who knew if really existed. This August we actually went! And let me tell you it was as dreamy, quaint and stunning as the pictures on Pinterest made me believe. To read an in depth post on the hike we did, click HERE

Leaning Tower of Pisa

There are some things you see your whole life on post cards, computer screen savers, in movies and in books, but to see them in real life is something else. The leaning tower of Pisa is one of those famous landmarks. It was unbelievable to see it with my own eyes. I loved watching all the tourists take their "I'm holding the tower up" photos. Such a blast! 

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Sunset in Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo

Watching the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence was an evening I'll never forget. It was quite the hike to get to Piazzale Michelangelo but it is so worth it. There you can overlook the entire city of Florence, getting a birds eye view of the red roofs. At the square you will find food and drinks. We drank wine while watching the sun set. It was so peaceful and so stunning that no photo will do it justice. 

Breakfast in St. Mark's Square, Venice

Last, but certainly not least... breakfast in St. Mark's Square! This was the most peaceful, joyous and memorable experience of our Europe trip. I know that may seem silly saying breakfast was my favorite, when we did things like tour the Roman Colosseum, explore the Vatican, we even saw the Pope! But this breakfast was simply my favorite. You pay to sit at this restaurant, you pay for the view and the live orchestra playing right behind you. I ordered a cappuccino and a variety of macrons. It was all so delicious, the best cappuccino and macrons I have ever tasted. We sat there, ate, drank, listened to the music and people watched. There is so much joy happening all through St. Mark's Square, so it is the perfect place to people watch. You'll see people from all walks of life, but they are all seemingly happy. That was one of the most tranquil moments of my life. I can't wait to go back. 

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A Month In Europe | My Favorite Photos

If you did not already know, my husband and I just got back from a month long trip to Europe. We went with some of our family to Amsterdam and all over Italy. The trip was an absolute blast; I am still trying to process everything we experienced. When you cross that much off your bucket list in a short amount of time, it is important to reflect and really take it all in. My favorite way to do that is to look at pictures from the trip and reminisce about how I felt in that moment. And believe me, from this trip I have plenty of photos to look through, we went a little photo crazy! Heck, who wouldn't?! 

One of my favorite elements of blogging is sharing my experiences with you all, the readers. I am so grateful for the travel opportunities I have in my life and I love "bringing you with me" through my blog. So many times I have read about other bloggers and their travel experiences and it inspired me to add places to my bucket list or even to book a trip. I hope while you read through my travels and experiences, it does the same for you. 

Like I said before, we took a ton of photos on our journey through Europe, and in this post I am going to share my favorite photos and experiences with you! Feel free to PIN them (click over the top left corner of the photo). Enjoy!

Colosseum in Rome

Colosseum in Rome

Sicily

Sicily

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Canals of Amsterdam

Canals of Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Museumplein - Amsterdam

Museumplein - Amsterdam

Tropea Italy

Tropea Italy

Boat view of Tropea Italy

Boat view of Tropea Italy

Breakfast in Venice at Piazza San Marco

Breakfast in Venice at Piazza San Marco

Venice canals

Venice canals

Monterosso, Cinque Terre

Monterosso, Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre hike

Cinque Terre hike

Florence view from the bell tower

Florence view from the bell tower

Gelato by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Gelato by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Watching the sunset in Florence at Piazza Michelangelo

Watching the sunset in Florence at Piazza Michelangelo

*Please do not use these photos as your own. Thanks!

I cannot wait to share all of the stories behind these photos with you! Make sure to subscribe below to receive updates and the most current blog posts. Thanks!

 

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