So what happens when me, my momma (Lady Glo) and Frenchie go on vacation together? Magic. I mean these two love me unconditionally and by some force beyond my comprehension they love each other like they have always been friends. It’s really amazing. Around the end of last year we began planning a trip to Amsterdam and Paris. Frenchie first mentioned his desire to visit Amsterdam during one of our frequent “where would you go if you could go anywhere” conversations. I had never really thought about visiting but started looking into it and fell in love with the idea of a spring getawway to the Netherlands. We spent 4 days there before heading to Paris for a few days and aside from the blustery wind and sporadic snow flurries, it was perfect. There is nothing that makes me happier than learning new things, in new places with people I love. So sorry I kept you waiting… Here is the adventure run down:
Accomodations: We stayed in a Townhouse that we rented on AirBnB. This was not my first time using the site for travel, but it was my first time using it outside of the continental US and it was such a great experience. Our condo was super convenient and saved us a ton, because it was less per night than hotels in the same area and the kitchen allowed us to have and cook our own food for breakfast and snacks. On our way to Paris, Frenchie forgot his IPhone inside of the locked condo… Have you ever forgotten your phone somewhere? Yeah, he was freaking out! Luckily our hosts, Esmeralda and Rik were kind enough to ship the phone to us at home. We were so grateful. As indicated by my review on AirBnB, I would definitely stay there again.
Transportation: I love to visit a city that doesn’t require a car rental to enjoy your experience. Amsterdam is so fantastic because not only does the city have a fantastic system of trains, trams and buses, they also have a system of boats that travel through the cities canals. We used the CanalBus mostly for next to nothing, with unlimited rides. Amsterdam is also wonderful because of the ability to use a bicycle just like a car. Everyone is basically using a bike to get around, with bike lanes everywhere, so all my biker friends would love this place!
Adventures: Braving the cold (and sometimes the snow) we started out early each morning taking in our fair share of museums, local shops, eateries and popular attractions. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Hermitage Amsterdam. I am married to a sculptor, we regularly date at art museums and secretly I want to be able to say I have visited every notable art museum in the world… Glad to add this one to my list. There are two huge wings and our afternoon spent here was amazing. The Vincent Van Gogh Museum was being remodeled, so the Hermitage was hosting an interim exhibit in the first wing we explored. Definitely a must see. Learned some new things about this tormented artist and almost got thrown out for taking pics. LOL. The other wing held an equally interesting exhibit about Peter the Great. That exhibit runs until September 2013.
2. Flea Markets and Vintage/Local shopping. I love to find unique gifts for friends and family and take-homes for myself. We were lucky to be staying very near several great vintage shops which made for a good break from the cold on several afternoons. Additionally we took the bus to the Albert Cuyp Flea Market on one of the warmer afternoons. You have everything from clothes and jewelry to food, flowers and spices. We ate, shopped and ate some more. Definitely on my list of spots to return to on my next visit. My favorite local shop was Fair + Fair. We found it while out exploring and besides the fact that all of the jewelry and houswares are beautiful, the store only offers goods that follow fair trade laws and support economic growth of developing countries. So you find great gifts for everyone at home and help someone else… Quick thing to remember, shopping in Europe doesn’t go on all night. Stores usually close up around 7pm.
3. Amsterdam Museum I think I love history museums more than art museums, truth be told. I like old stories, and old places, so this museum which is housed in the old city orphanage was a pretty awesome way to learn about the long history of this intriguing city. Amsterdam has an interesting history of development and settlement and the museum is put together with plenty of interesting and interactive exhibits that were fun in an educational way.
4. Royal Palace of Amsterdam. I keep telling y’all that I love old buildings, but I am especially fond of old castles, homes and residences. I think this one is special because it is right in the middle of town and is still used by the monarch for special events and to host international dignitaries. It was a great break from the cold and gave an interesting picture into the lives of Amsterdam’s royalty, past and present.
I was looking forward to visiting the Rijk Museum but it was closed for renovations during our stay. I also tried to visit the Anne Frank Museum but the cold was too much for me to wait in those long lines. They are both on my list for my next visit to Amsterdam, hopefully during a warmer time of year.
What made this adventure a bit more hilarious were the small, yet funny travel snafus we had on this adventure…
1. We arrived and had to buy our first burner phone. You remember public phones? Yeah, try to find one. We spent nearly half an hour doing just that before pulling a spy move and buying a throwaway phone. So the burner phone works anywhere and at $0.10/minute it is only for emergencies and covert ops, but I bet I wont leave home without it again!
2. We picked a great condo close to everything but a bit too close to some things… We checked in after a morning arrival, freshened up and hit the streets to explore. We had so much fun and headed home after dinner. Imagine I am walking hand in hand with my momma and Frenchie, laughing at the day and I look to my right to see a big butt in the window. LOL! Then I realize that up and down our street the stoops all have red lights… We definitely didn’t realize where we were until that moment which made for a hilarious walk home on the first night. No pictures please… I heard it is a quick way to get your camera smashed.
3. We planned this trip since Christmas time last year. What we didn’t plan on was snow in Paris, which was our second leg of the trip. We were planning a cool train ride from Amsterdam to gay Paris but on the night before we learned that train service was interrupted and delayed by two days… With no further accommodations in Amsterdam and accommodations waiting in Paris we began the mad dash to figure out another travel option by morning. My momma (who is a Megabus rider stateside) reminded me that buses aren’t only in the US and we found seats (3 tickets for the price of one train ticket) on iDBus. Much longer ride but we got where we were going and I will keep IDBus on my list when traveling within Europe for comfort and its budget friendly pricing.
So I think that’s all I’ve got for you on Amsterdam… I will pick this up in Paris and while I would like to say see you next week, lets just say see you soon with Paris 😉Pin It