Tag Archives: Amsterdam

Our Trip To Europe: A Recap

After 9 plane rides, 8 train rides, 7 hotels, 1 AirBnB rental, 8 cities, 5 countries, 5 different languages, 3 currencies, more than 60 meals in restaurants, and 26 days of traveling, we have returned home from our trip to Europe.

Our adventure began in mid-June with a full day in Cinque Terre, Italy, where we hiked between the villages of Monterosso and Vernazza, ate pizza and local pesto, and sunbathed on the beach. We loved the peach, butter yellow and sunkissed pink colors that made up the landscape of this iconic beach town.

Cinque Terre (24)

From Cinque Terre, we took a train to a small village outside of Venice called Arqua’ Petrarca to attend Alina and Alberto’s wedding. The setting in the middle of the Italian wine country couldn’t have been better for this Ameican-Italian wedding. The meal at the event lasted four hours, not including appetizers, fruit or dessert, and the wedding itself lasted nearly 12 hours, going into the wee hours of the morning. Italian’s really know how to savor the best things in life!

Arqua Petrarca (29)

The best hotel and coffee on our trip was found here. We stayed at Villa del Poeta hotel and had the most incredible customer service we had ever experienced, along with divine Italian coffee. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.

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Our final stop in Italy was Lake Como. We took a cooking class, sunbathed, drank a lot of wine and toured the lake and a village by Ferry.

Lake Como (16)

 

Alex’s family was with us on this leg of our journey and we enjoyed getting to spend several quality days with them, especially his Great Uncle Larry and his wife, Jayne, who live in England.

Lake Como (22)

One of the highlights of our trip was the first day we spent in Switzerland where we took the Glacier Express train from the alpine city of St. Moritz to the ski town of Zermatt. We wove our way around mountains, through tunnels and across expansive landscapes dotted with brown and white Swiss mountain homes until we ended at the foot of the Matterhorn in Zermatt.

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My favorite city of our entire trip was Zermatt. Alex and I adore being in the mountains and I loved the small-town feel of the mountain town, as well as being able to look up and stare at a mountain peak as majestic as the Matterhorn. We had an incredible time hiking, taking in the scenery and eating fondue, which was our favorite meal on our trip. The meat fondue {pictured below} is from Whymper Stube and we also had a phenomenal cheese fondue from Restaurant Stadel.

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The customer service in Switzerland and Italy was by far the best in our trip. We were so impressed with the level of care and consideration that every person we encountered in the service industry in Italy and Switzerland had. The hotel we stayed in {Hotel Bristol} was great too!

{my little slice of paradise}

{my little slice of paradise}

The third country in our trip was Spain. We split a week between the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Barcelona and the quiet beach town of Alicante.

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Barcelona provided a lot of culture and tourist activities, a phenomenal wine tour through the Priorat wine region, as well as incredible sangria. Our two favorite restaurants in Barcelona were 15 Nights and Bilbao-Berria.

{overlooking the Priorat wine region}

{overlooking the Priorat wine region}

We were able to relax and work on our tans as we laid out on the Postiguet Beach in the coastal town of Alicante. By this point in our trip we were beyond tired of any type of ham, jamon or prosciutto and were really looking forward to a new type of cuisine. Even so, we had two exceptional meals at La Taberna de Tito and Piripi, where we dined with some new friends, Jose Luis and Conchita.

Alicante

Enter London, the fourth of five countries on our trip. It was a big change going from Spain to London, not just because of the language difference, but the architecture and overall feel of the city drastically changed here. We had the most idea of what to expect in London since there are so many iconic photos depicting the cityscape.

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It was really fun to visit places like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abby, ride the London Eye, as well as see the bright red double-decker buses and telephone booths.

{view from the London Eye}

{view from the London Eye}

Other than simply walking the streets, the best parts of our trip in London were seeing the Tour de France come through and eating Indian food at Gopal’s.

{part of the Tour de France}

{part of the Tour de France}

The final city in our Euro-trip was Amsterdam, Alex’s favorite. We both loved how quaint the town of 700,000 people was. It didn’t feel crowded or over-run with tourists. The weather wasn’t great at all until our last morning in Amsterdam, but being Seattleites, we didn’t let that ruin our time there. Both of us adored the architecture and structure of the city, where it was situated alongside semi-circle canals. The people were very friendly and we really enjoyed the food.

Amsterdam (23)

We are really looking forward to being able to return to Europe again one day. As Rick Steves says, plan to be back!

Trip to Europe: Amsterdam

After spending more than three weeks in Europe the time had come to visit the last city on our stopover. We spent our last two days in Europe in the heart of Amsterdam and we were pleased to find that we saved one of the best for last.

Amsterdam (14)

Even with really crummy, rainy weather we both quickly began to adore Amsterdam.

Amsterdam (2)

 

Similarly to how we felt in London, the culture and architecture feels so different in Amsterdam than it did anywhere in Europe.

Amsterdam (10)

 

The city center is built in a horseshoe shape based around five canals. Many of the buildings have brick facades that have been painted over, mainly in rich, dark colors. I really am not sure how old the buildings are, but some were noticeably sinking and leaning on their neighbors, so I am guessing they’re pretty old.

Amsterdam (11)

Nearly all of the buildings are residential with some having a restaurant or small shop on the street level. There are no skyscrapers or large companies {save for H&M and other retailers} in the city center. This keeps the feel of the city pretty quaint and quiet and helps it not seem like a huge city, which with a population of only 700,000 people, it really isn’t.

{"traffic"}

{“traffic”}

We felt safe across the city and were amused to see for ourselves how Amsterdam has taken the pragmatic approach to dealing with prostitution and marijuana. Everything blended together and nothing really seemed taboo in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam (6)

We had one of our best hotel experiences in Amsterdam, as well. We stayed at Hotel Estherea in the heart of the city, located on one of the canals. The building is extremely old {Alex asked and the receptionist replied that “indeed it is very old sir” so that’s the best we could get} and beautifully decorated and maintained. We would definitely return and recommend it.

Amsterdam (12)

Since we were there for such a short time and the weather was so dismal we didn’t have much of an agenda. We spent most of our time huddled under our umbrellas trying to stay dry as we walked the streets. Other than walking through the Red Light District and Vondel Park the only big thing we did was go to the Van Gogh Museum.

Amsterdam (9)

On our last evening in Amsterdam we got to watch the World Cup game between the Netherlands and Argentina. We went to a bar near our hotel and thankfully arrived early, scoring ourselves great seats, but only were able to stay until the half because the smoke was driving both of us crazy. Even though they have to label packs of cigarettes with “Smoking Kills” we don’t think that Europeans particularly care, as everyone still smokes somehow. I digress. In any case, we now know that Argentina went on to win that game in a shoot-out and go on to the final against Germany.

Amsterdam (7)

Finally on our last day, of course, the sun came out and gave us some better light for snapping some photos. We enjoyed our morning just strolling through the city, watching the “traffic” {bikes, bikes and more bikes} as we overlooked the canal. We loved that morning and were very bittersweet about leaving our final European city to make our way back to the U.S.