Doctor Who Experience

Doctor Who Experience

For Whovians everywhere, it’s a sad, sad time. The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff has closed after a 5-year run. Honestly, it could never run long enough for us–like the show itself.

In case you didn’t make it to Cardiff and experience the DW Experience, I’m going to walk you through it and hopefully you can get a sense of what being as close as a Companion is like. But first, here’s a vlog about my adventure.

 

The Doctor Who Experience was right on Cardiff Bay, Wales in a huge building. Walking in, the space seems a bit small, but that will change. If you felt a bit peckish, there was a cafe available. You didn’t know what adventures were ahead of you, so it was a good idea to grab a bite! The staff is very nice and super aware of how, um, passionate, us Whovians can be and were super friendly and helpful.

 

Doctor Who Experience

 

Once it was our time we went into a little room with a set number of people and got introduced to the concept and it was then that we realized that everyone is in character at this point. With the special access and a crystal around our neck, we entered a larger room with artifacts while the guide was explaining things that we didn’t pay attention to because we were just anticipating something unexpected to happen…

 

Entrance room DW Experience

 

Becoming the companion

 

An alarm goes off because there’s trouble! Next thing we knew, we were video conferencing with THE DOCTOR.

All the sudden, there we were, in our own Doctor Who episode. The wall with the crack–yes, that crack–opens and we rushed into the TARDIS (RUSH! It’s an emergency!). The 12th Doctor and his helper (the guide) gave instructions on how to land safely.

But where did you land? Skaro?! Oh crap. Try not to wake up the Daleks as you pass them and search for a time crystal. Aaaaaaand of course the crystal is in a Dalek. One of the brave souls in the group has to go get it.

I’ll give you one guess on what happens next. What does every Doctor Who episode have in common? You must RUN!!!! Don’t lose focus because we run into…

Weeping Angels!

Weeping angel

 

Seriously? Do they give anyone else nightmares? Sean loved this part because they are his favorite villain. I just wanted to get away from them!

We all find another one of these crystals and move along to the next room while being sure someone is always looking at all the angels.

Our final stop was in a junkyard where someone found the last crystal that was needed to defeat all of the villains. One lucky member of the group gets to put all the crystals in the receptacle and defeat all the evil! With our 3D glasses, we got to see them get sucked through all time and space and a roar of applause erupts. Well done, us humans. 🙂 The thank you from the Doctor was all I needed. I was happy to do my part in saving the universe.

You’re welcome, everyone.

The entire experience kept me on my toes and if it weren’t for us being an entire group, I could have actually felt like I was running around with the Doctor! What I would have given to be a companion on that show…


Jess and TARDIS

 

The Doctors’ legacy

Next up is the museum, where we were both inside, and surrounded by, Doctor Who history. Old TARDIS sets were scattered throughout to inspect the finer details you just can’t see on a T.V. screen. Circling around the consoles that I used to watch for hours on the show was surreal. I tried so hard to imagine myself with David Tennant while in his version of the TARDIS. Traveling across galaxies and through time…so exotic. So fanciful. Exciting. Dangerous. Life-changing.

 

10th Doctor TARDIS

 

As I gathered my jaw from the floor and woke myself up from fantasyland, I moved along to other costumes and characters. It’s so striking how in one glance, I knew exactly who wore which outfit. The characters on Doctor Who are so developed and that even shines through in what they wear. It’s fascinating and really makes me question my clothing choices…

 

companion clothes

 

From friends to foes, they are all here standing at attention waiting for you to snap your photo. You don’t even need to mark yourself when the Silence shows up…the proof is in the picture you take! …what creepy looking creatures.

 

Dalek

It was a great collection and so enjoyable to walk through. A little secret we learned was that the BBC Wales studio also (kind of) used it for storage. If they needed an extra Dalek in a scene…they could just ask the Doctor Who Experience! What a great relationship to have.

 

Through the gift shop

You guessed it! Our credit card was ready to visit the gift shop! It was overwhelming. I didn’t want everything, but I did want a lot. All the shirts, bags, art pieces, books, mugs, mini-TARDIS. I SO WANTED THE MINI-TARDIS.

 

Doctor Who Experience Shop

 

They had pretty much anything you could want. Housewares were covered. Behind-the-scenes books. Autographed memorabilia. Clothing, including some cosplay. It was definitely a kid-in-a-candy-store situation.

 

Doctor Who Experience Shop

 

In the end, I got a Tote-bag and a t-shirt to remember the day. I held back. It took everything I had not to go all swipey-swipey with the credit card.

 

BBC Wales set

BBC Wales sign

 

OH MY GOD! When we first got the email to say that we could add this onto our tour, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation. We had to go! There are some things in life that are legitimately once-in-a-lifetime, and this was one of them.

Now I’m also daydreaming of my Backstreet Boys cruise….OK SORRY!

Where was I? Doctor Who set. Right.

 

Jessica at BBC

 

Special badges, bag check, and a turn-style were all that separated us from the real TARDIS set. Once we were in the massive studio (a big rectangular room that you can do literally anything with to create television or films), our guide, Lauren, let us run around and snap-snap-snap all the photos we could possibly take. We were split into groups of two since the TARDIS set is not big enough for so many people and the first group went inside.

 

BBC Wales studio

TARDIS

 

That was totally fine because I got a lot of quality time with a disassembled Dalek and one of the TARDIS police boxes. There was something so strange about standing in the TARDIS police box looking at the massive TARDIS set that they film all the interior shots. BBC Wales has 4 studios and Doctor Who used the biggest one. *Shocking!* Not so much…have you seen the show?

TARDIS set exterior

Far shot of TARDIS

 

You see that police box above? That can get moved around pretty easily. It’s packable. That sounds insane, but it “flat packs”. The space it’s in can be used to build other sets for the show as needed. It’s so surprising how little space you need to make a big on-screen impact. Staff on Doctor Who do an amazing job transporting us to far off times and places with very little.

 

Inside the TARDIS

I was so excited for this that I had so much anticipation energy built up that I wanted to burst through the doors. But someone else beat me to it. Didn’t matter much because once inside I was in awe.

 

TARDIS

TARDIS BBC Wales set

 

I like to think that I don’t get too star-struck, but being in that structure where Peter Capaldi and his companions have been filming was just incredible. Balancing photos and just being there was a struggle since we only had about 10 minutes. We weren’t allowed to touch the set since there could be some continuity issues if they needed to film that exact set-up again.  Though I found that to be highly unlikely since they had finished filming the season and only had the Christmas special to go, I was a good girl and obeyed.

If you’re squealing inside like I was, here are some great TARDIS set shots:

 

TARDIS set

Doctor Who TARDIS Console

Doctor Who TARDIS Console

Doctor Who TARDIS Console

Doctor Who TARDIS Console

Doctor Who TARDIS Console

Doctor Who TARDIS Console

 

My smile was just painted on my face that this point. I wasn’t ready to leave! But eventually, I did have to go down the stairs into the belly of the TARDIS and exit through a door down there. At least there were a few more surprises to look at.

 

 

Guitar from Doctor Who

 

While it is a full 360-degree set, there are multiple points they can remove temporarily for crane shots. But usually, it’s just a person with a camera in the set with the actors. Of course, it takes more than one camera-person and the actors to make a show! Some of the rest of the crew might be hiding below or right outside the doors until needed.

 

TARDIS set exterior

 

I’m such a nerd for television and movie filming. I love the behind the scenes stuff–nothing is ever what it seems! When I learn little tidbits and see it all for myself, I feel like I’m in on the secret. If you ever get the chance to visit ANY set, I highly recommend it!

As for the Doctor Who set, I have no idea if it will be open for tours again now that the Doctor Who Experience is closed. All the Whovians are still hoping it will survive somehow. Maybe somewhere else or if a different form (like the Doctor 😉 ). Fingers crossed!

 

Sean Jess TARDIS

 

What a crazy awesome day! What’s the most amazing or memorable experience you’ve had while traveling?

Wishing you love and travels!


To finish off this post, here’s the finale video the BBC put together!

 

 

London Bridge Food Tour

London Bridge Food Tour

Thank you to Secret Food Tours for this complimentary tour!

Being surrounded by many types of delicious food is a dream for some people. if you’re one of those people, then let me tell you about the London Bridge Food Tour!  Secret Food Tours have tours around the world and they will vary quite a lot per region–because the food and culture vary! I went on their Paris tour which was less traditional and more of an educational experience while the London Bridge tour was a more traditional and definitely more my speed.  I’ve learned never to assume how a tour will go since they are all unique. We’ve done food tours all over Europe, including Stockholm, Barcelona, Lisbon, and many more! They are always so different – and that’s why I try not to compare them.

 

Borough Market Ceiling On London Food Tour

 

We met at an easy-to-find spot near the Borough Market and meandered our way down in front of the Southwark Cathedral as the first historical stop. It’s 900 years old and free to enter if you like. But, the bridge was the fascinating point for me. We all have different things that tickle our fancy and knowing that where London Bridge now stands has stood the only bridge to connect the two sides of the Thames since 55 A.D. seems crazy! Can you imagine what the traffic used to be like?! It’s still pretty busy but obviously much better than it was.

I always enjoy the little tidbits that each tour guide brings to the table.  Our guide for the day was Mat, a Brit who loves his British food and is happy to poke fun at very British things. I don’t think it’s even possible to get the same exact tour twice because guide personality is such a big part of it…and so is the tour group.

 

The Borough Market

Full of energy. Fun vibe. Tasty samples. Friendly workers. Great variety.

 

Secret London Tours - Borough Market

 

Walking in, I felt like a kid in a candy store. To be fair, there was fudge. So….it’s like an adult in a candy store 🙂

There is just so much to take in. So after a quick introduction, you’re given some time to wander on your own. Be careful not to indulge too much because you may regret it later — you get plenty of food on the tour, for sure. But if you find something interesting, definitely buy it and take it with you for that evening or the next day. I bought chocolates, sausage, and cheese and they were all delicious!

 

Sausage in Borough Market London

 

The first tasty treat you get to try is something I never understood–a Bacon sandwich (or Bacon bap). Why would you put only bacon on a sandwich? I get that bacon is delicious. But a bacon bap? Why wouldn’t you throw on some egg and cheese to make it worth eating?

 

Bacon Bap on London Food Tour

 

Then I tried the Whiskey ginger bacon that’s been cooking for 4 days piled on some tasty bread. I can definitely say it was a delicious treat. Would I eat it often? Nah. But as a treat every once in awhile when I’m in London? Maybe.

 

Goats milk ice cream Borough Market

 

We moved along to another part of the market and were given more time to explore which is when I discovered goat milk ice cream! Have you ever heard of goat milk ice cream? Me neither, but it makes sense. It tasted just like “regular” ice cream and was a nice treat after the bacon. Creamy cold and chocolatey goodness.

 

Borough Market

 

Take advantage of this free time to interact with the vendors. Ask them questions and get samples! You take food tours to try new things, so try them all! OK…maybe not enough time for that, but I had such great chats with the people at the chocolate stand, cheese stand, sausage stand, and ice cream stand. Go. Eat. Chat.

What is a London food tour without fish and chips? Hmm, actually, it would be interesting, but it’s a stop you’d probably expect and have your tummy grumbling for. But we did not get this well-known dish where I expected. Nope. We didn’t go to Poppies, we went to the stall that won best fish and chips 2017! It was mighty good, too. 

 

Time to sit down

As we headed out of the market, we stopped under a covered walkway since Mother Nature decided it was time for a little rain and Mat decided it was time for another taste.

You know me…I don’t want to give EVERYTHING away here. But I will tell you, if you like meat, you’ll probably enjoy it.

 

Sausage roll in London Secret Food Tours

 

Their secret food is part of the mystery, so I will keep it a secret too. Sort of 😉 I will say that it was light, fluffy, and delicious. But I would share one if given the choice!

The next part was super exciting for me. Going into a pub under a London archway is like stepping into history. How many different kinds of establishments was this before a pub? You can ask! Because Mat has the answer. I could just listen for hours about stories full of history there.

Sitting down we were able to try two ciders, both very different from the other. some lovely cheese options accompanied the cider. This pub definitely had a great atmosphere and I’d go hang out there any night. It was also a nice break just to chat with the others and rest a bit.

 

Tower Bridge on Secret Food Tours London tour

Being a goof

 

The walk to the next spot was so enjoyable. No more rain, amazing sights and we all just kept taking photos of the iconic Tower Bridge (this is not the London Bridge!). Our group really had fun together and really made such a great tour!

 

Selfies in front of the Tower Bridge in London

Secret Food Tours London group

 

We ended up at a restaurant with a phenomenal view to enjoy arguably the best dish of the tour. Gotta end on a sweet note! I’m so happy we shared this sticky toffee pudding between two people. I mean…mostly happy because I was full. But, really, I still wanted to eat it all.

 

Sticky Toffee Pudding

 

Wrap Up

The opportunity to experience the Borough Market with a guide is really nice. I loved hearing about the history while smelling the fresh produce and being tempted by chocolates and cheeses. While you do get a good amount of time to explore on your own, I totally suggest going back after the tour (even if another day) and explore some more and talk to more vendors.

While many vendors may take cards, definitely grab some cash before you arrive just in case there are big lines at the ATMs nearby. You know you’ll want to buy something to take back with you!

 

Secret Food Tours London - London Bridge

 

For the tour, bring a water bottle and make sure it’s filled before you arrive. It’s not totally common to get a bottle of water on food tours, so just be prepared! Because it’s London, an umbrella is always a good idea too. (This paragraph contains affiliate links)

Have you been on a food tour in London? Or anywhere? What was your favorite thing about it?

Wishing you love and travels!

 

3 year Amsterversary

3 year Amsterversary

Sept 5, 2017

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Oh, who am I kidding? Time just flies–whether working, playing, or just sitting in a chair. Life is flying by.

How is it that I’ve been in Amsterdam for 3 years now? It feels like it’s been that long and yet it feels like it’s been so much longer. How is that even possible?

First Trip Home as an Expat

 

Change, it happens

When I got off the plane, I remember being excited to see Sean again after 2.5 weeks and oh-so-nervous about what would even happen. Would this work at all? What did we do?!

Here’s a quick recap (but you can find more information in this post): We packed up what was left after getting rid of 95% of our things and moved to the Netherlands. We had a plan, yes. But even the one thing we thought we knew didn’t pan out. We thought Sean has some temporary work lined up but the company never delivered on that. We spent months job hunting, then apartment hunting, and then it happened! Sean got a job and was able to sponsor me thanks to his Italian citizenship.

 

TravelShoot_Amsterdam_canalside_lookingback

 

Since that incredibly emotional and scary first 3 months, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve flourished. From not understanding how anything works or even knowing one word of Dutch, to buying our first home and at least being able to order food in a restaurant, it’s been an insane ride. But, possibly the biggest change is that we travel as much as possible.

 

Traveling More

Traveling is one reason I love living in Europe. It’s also a huge reason we moved. I love going to London and Paris every year.  From Amsterdam, two hours in the air can get us to so many amazing cities! While we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, I’m in love with Italy, I know that I need to spend more time in parts of France that aren’t Paris and that I must discover more of Portugal and Spain.

 

Amalfi Coast, Italy

 

There is so much to see that it’s overwhelming, but I know I will see and truly experience more of it because I’m here and all those lovely places are just a quick plane ride away.

Not only do I experience the world by traveling, but I have friends from all over the world too! They inspire me, teach me, and bring more diversity into my life than I ever had before. I feel more educated and more tolerant just by knowing people from different countries, religions, and cultures.

 

Friends as expats

 

Does changing the scene change me?

Beneath it all, I will always be the same person with the same insecurities, issues, and worries as I ever had. I still have the same desires, dreams, favorite shows, and love to eat as I ever did.  The biggest difference is what I have available to me here and feeling incredibly independent.

My dreams are just a bit bigger than they were because I’ve seen more of the world and I see more opportunity in it. I meet people who are more like me which is empowering. I see what those around me accomplish and that inspires me.

I feel safe and secure. Finding a house was a pain in the butt–not gonna lie. But having a house–a home–is one of the best feelings ever. Being in Amsterdam makes me feel safe. While I don’t have the amazing community network I had in my last town, I still feel incredibly at home.

 

Rooftop tour in Stockholm

 

More things excite me. There’s so much to do in Amsterdam that it can feel overwhelming! Just look at the iamsterdam.com page to get a peek at what’s going on. Those are just the events they post, and don’t include the concerts, movie premieres, marches, private boat trips, picnics, and house parties.

My love: travel. Living in Amsterdam is perfect for travel. Our airport is a great hub that can take you anywhere. It’s a huge place, but I’ve been so many times that I don’t get lost anymore. I’m surprised I haven’t made some security friends yet! I should work on that.

Who would have ever thought I’d bike to work almost every day? Surely, not me. But I do! I love the exercise, the views, the challenge, and the way it clears my mind. It takes some mighty focus to cycle during rush hour!

Biking the dunes in Zandvoort

 

Living in Amsterdam has enhanced my personality. It’s taken things that have been there but made them more prominent. Things were fine before we moved, but now they are amazing.

Does that mean everything is perfect all the time? Heck, no. Some days straight up suck because of the weather, terrorism in Europe, trying to figure out Dutch mail, or even just figuring out who will deliver soil for our garden. Everyday is a new challenge in some way. It can be overwhelming, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.

 

3 years in, now what?

We have a great circle of friends that we can depend on and who can depend on us. We have a home that is all ours. We travel frequently. We’re all set, right?

My happy place in Stockholm

 

After living in the same town for 7 years and working at the same university, things (again) were fine but got incredibly stagnant. That’s exactly what we don’t want here. Our friends and our home are the staples, and everything else is unpredictable. What next year will look like, I’m not sure. I feel more in control than ever and yet you can never really know what life will look like.

The world is full of so many possibilities. It makes me excited. It gives me hope. It is inspiring.

Where are you hoping to be in 3 years?

Wishing you love and travels.

Relaxing day trip to Windsor

Relaxing day trip to Windsor

Every time I go back to London, I really enjoy it more and more. There are so many different neighborhoods with completely different vibes. Just go from Canary Warf to Camden Town and you will think you are in completely different cities!

London Little Venice

 

But, what’s really exciting, fun, and interesting, is getting out of the city completely and discovering what the Queen already knows–Windsor is a pretty cool place to hang out. She may not be roaming the streets like the rest of us, but that’s okay, it’s still a great experience.

We stayed in the Paddington area which is fairly quiet, full of posh-looking homes and has super easy access to many metro lines and regional trains. Grabbing a train to Windsor from there was simple and about 11 pounds a person roundtrip. While the ticket booths are available, there’s also usually a person alongside the booths with a portable ticket machine. You do nothing except say where you want to go and hand over your card. That person does the rest…and then it’s off we go!

 

London Front Door

 

You’ll have to stop at the Slough station and grab the direct train to Windsor from there. But it’s so quick that you probably wouldn’t even be able to finish a coffee!

Shopping at the Windsor station is an afternoon in itself, so if you have the self-control, keep walking and head into town where you’ll find some good ol’ fashion English charm.  

 

Train station in Windor - a day trip from London

 

Windsor Castle

Sometimes I’m more interested in walking around and seeing everything outside of what everyone else is there to see. I tend to go against the grain like that.

So…we didn’t go inside Windsor Castle! *Gasp*

I know. But it was a summer day and I’m not into crowds. Of course, I took some photos from the outside and walked around it. I mean, it IS cool to hang around a working palace!

 

Windsor Castle Day trip from London

 

If you want to see how current royalty lives then I highly suggest that you visit. A couple pieces of info for you if you do want to do the royal activities…

Changing of the guard is typically Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 11 am.

Regular price to enter the Windsor Castle is 20.50 pounds and you’ll definitely want to check opening times to make sure there aren’t any surprises…it is used for official functions.

As a commoner, it’s still interesting to hang around outside the castle. I really just wanted to have a picnic lunch in the spot right outside the wall. But after the photo, I saw that you aren’t supposed to sit on the grass. Oops! I’m just SUCH an unwitting rebel.

 

Day trip to Windsor Castle

 

…and then we found this. Not even kidding, it was in a castle window. I just busted out laughing.

 

Mini Queen

Getting more local

We meandered down streets with normal houses (for the non-Royals) and popped into various clothing shops that looked interesting. Somehow, I always end up shopping when I travel. This time, we met some super nice people in these shops and chatted it up a bit. They shared that the Queen usually hangs out in Windsor on the weekends and that they like living in the small community that is Windsor and Eton.

 

Walking around Windsor England

 

I love imagining what it would be like to live in a town like that. To go to the grocery store and walk past a castle. To say good morning to your neighbors as they walk their dog and pass by the colorful flowers. Find the hairdresser that would be your regular place to not only get a haircut but the local gossip as well. Really putting myself in the locals’ shoes is fun for me. Do you ever do this?

Inevitably, we always find a spot to people watch. We visited on a beautiful day filled with the sunshine and puffy clouds, so we watched over the water which was quite full of boats.

 

Keep walking all the way to Eton

We just went to Windsor on a whim so I didn’t look into at all. Sean knew that Eton was right next to it and was super cute as well. Walking down the main street gives you a view into village life. All the shops are right there with the Union Jack hanging above the street. Once you turn a bend in the road, you see it. The imposing structure of Eton College, mostly famous for its age and that they still wear uniforms, it’s a must-visit when in the area.

 

Eton College

Eton College

Fire alarm in Eton

 

Back in the main town, it’s almost like a fairytale. Cobblestones, shop windows, Union Jacks, perfectly placed flowers, clean streets. I wonder what it was like to live there 200-300 years ago.

 

Beautiful Eton

 

Eton day trip

 

This is definitely one of those places that you don’t need an itinerary. Just walk and take it all in. If you travel back to London or another city in the same day, try to take some of the calming effect you get from Windsor and Eton with you.

 

Reflect

This might be just me, but I’m sure some of you can relate…when I travel, I want to do it all and see it all and take all the photos. I rarely stuff to take it in. Sit down, look around. Feel the sun, wind or rain. Hear the sounds that surround you. Touch the old bridge. Smile and engage with the people around you.

 

Lunch on the Thames River

 

Travel is not about just checking places off a list, it’s about the experience. Please don’t forget to experience wherever it is you go.  

I do feel like this day-trip forced me to do that a bit. With so many quiet places and beautiful scenes, it was natural to sit and take it all in. Finishing the day with an easy stroll back to the train station was nice. There are so many trains that you really don’t have to worry too much about timing your pace.

 

Looking over the River Thames Day trip from London

 

Extending your travel outside of London

London is amazing and full of things to do. I doubt anyone will be able to do and see everything there! Still, sometimes it’s nice to get a different perspective of England and take a train (or even a plane!) to great spots around the country. Windsor and Eton are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Streets of Eton on a quick trip from London

 

As we discover more and more of England and the rest of the United Kingdom, we’ll keep sharing it all with you!

Wishing you love and travels.

 

Pin for later!

Windsor Pinterest pin


 

Buying a house in Amsterdam as an expat

Buying a house in Amsterdam as an expat

Finally! Here’s our story about buying a house in Amsterdam.

In 2016 we made a New Year’s resolution to make buying a house a top priority. We’re stubborn and wanted to make travel a priority as well with the #take12trips challenge.

So, while we didn’t buy a house in 2016, we did save and save and save some more…even while traveling! But 2017 was when we finally bit the bullet. Our landlord wanted to move back into her house, so we kind of had a soft deadline to get out. Ideally, it would be the 1st of May but she was really looking to get back in by June.

Keep reading for Amsterdam house-buying tips for expats!

The Amsterdam housing market

Canal Houses in Amsterdam

The housing market in Amsterdam is crazy. Pure insanity! I think it’s safe to say, that whether you’re a local or an expat, the process will be mostly similar since we’re all in the same market. We were told that it would likely take at least SIX MONTHS to find a place and get a bid accepted. 

It took about two.

Not gonna lie…luck was on our side, but we were also making appointments at every house we were even a little bit interested in. The first place we started looking was in our neighborhood (Westerpark) but came to realize really quick that the price per square meter was obscene.

We knew how much of a mortgage could get and how much we wanted to spend. These numbers were different because I don’t want to spend all our money on a mortgage. We want to save, travel, to work on the house, etc. We don’t want to feel strapped for cash.

Spending so much on so little space felt wrong. Like, really wrong. I felt it in my gut that it wasn’t right and we couldn’t justify it. I feel like I would have regretted it.

Could we have managed in a smaller space? Sure! We wouldn’t have been happy though. This is our HOME. We want it to be the way we want it. If you’re going to spend so much money, you should feel good about it, right?

 

Looking elsewhere – like Amsterdam Noord

Amsterdam Noord - buying a house in Amsterdam

Essentially we got priced out of our neighborhood and expanded our search. Thank goodness we did our footwork ahead of time and knew which neighborhoods we were okay with based on space, price, and distance from the center.

Noord began to look like a great option. This is the north part of Amsterdam that is across the IJ (the body of water behind Amsterdam Central Station). It’s really up-and-coming with some AH-mazing restaurants, lots of waterside hangouts, a soon-to-open metro, and cheaper houses.

Yep. I said houses, not apartments! Of course, there are plenty of apartments too, but we were looking at places that gave us good value.

We went to appointments for apartments and what you’d probably call row houses. During the visits that were open houses, we were packed in a small space with at least 20 people, it was a nightmare. Sometimes it was nicer, when we made one-on-one appointments, we really got to ask questions and think out loud without thinking the person next to us would hear our idea and snatch it out from under us.

 

Bidding wars

Old neighborhood in Amsterdam

More people are moving to Amsterdam and more people are being brought over by companies who pay them a lot of money. In case I need to point this out, we aren’t those people. We make normal salaries just as the other residents of Amsterdam do. The people that move here for work and only plan to stay for a couple years see a great opportunity to buy a house and make a profit in a couple years. This along with people buying up properties for short-term rentals makes the market a really hard place even for two people working normal full-time jobs who just want their own house.

This adventure took us to 7 houses and we bid on 4 of them. The bidding game is scary. We found houses, fell in love with them and we had to keep telling ourselves that they weren’t ours yet…if they ever would be. After the first bid was rejected I was heartbroken and frustrated. Everyone told us how difficult it would be, but I knew we had to push through if we ever wanted to do this. Prices would only go up.

The game had to be played! So, we overbid by 5-15% on some homes. Didn’t get any of those. We stopped trying to fall in love and started being practical.

Would it work? Was it worth the price? Then bid on it.

That’s how we handled it.

 

I bought a house in Amsterdam without my husband

Buying a house in Amsterdam as an expat

Hear me out. We were basically scrambling to find something worth buying that we were comfortable paying for. Sean had to fly to the United States for work for a week and a half. Bad timing doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. We couldn’t stop looking. The market moved too fast for that.

I went to two viewings without him. One of which I was accompanied by my friends that lived right down the street (what a treat!) and my agent. The second I went to by myself (intimidating!). I bid on both. Sean had to email his consent to the agent that I could sign on his behalf if needed.

I talked to Sean about every detail, sent him pictures and even videos. I wanted him to feel comfortable. Luckily, I’ve picked out many of the places we’ve lived in and he’s been very happy with them. So, he trusts me. The great thing about the Netherlands is even after you go to the notary to formally say yes to the house, you still have 3 days to back out. So, really, I couldn’t screw up too bad.

The house we ultimately bought was one Sean found online while he was gone. So, he initiated the whole thing! We make an awesome team. But there’s still something about visiting a home, making a bid, and negotiating when you partner isn’t even with you. I think I would just say that it was incredibly nerve-wracking. My biggest fear was he wouldn’t like it. After all that work, what if he hated it in person?

He didn’t! It was a good buy and we even got to UNDER-bid. Unheard of right now and I think we got a bargain.

 

It’s our house!

Signing all the papers for our house in Amsterdam Noord

We are homeowners! WHAT?!

We went to the notary for the final time to sign the official papers for the mortgage and the deed. It was scary and exciting and so many things at once. I couldn’t even believe it was happening. This is our first major purchase together and we did it in Amsterdam–the place that makes us happiest.

We have more to do with the house and I’ll keep you all in the loop on the exciting stuff since it’s all part of our expat life. Next house post will be photos of the house as it looks now! You won’t want to miss it — we’ll even take suggestions on a few things we’re still working out.

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House-buying tips for expats in Amsterdam

Toast to a new home in Amsterdam

  1. Get a makelaar (an estate agent). Angloinfo Amsterdam has an extensive list. But with all things, ask around and get recommendations! There are a couple ways to use them.
    1. With a full package, they can help you find apartments and meet you (or take you) to viewings that they arrange. If you want to make a bid, they do the area research to see what houses have been sold for and the average price per meter. They also check out the history of the house, create the bid, negotiate, and finally set up the final steps. These steps include an appointment at the notary, a translator, inspection if you want one, and the valuation of the home. They go to the notary with you and generally just keep you in the loop with everything.
    2. Or you can use them just to bid and you do the house-hunting and such. In general, I would make sure which ever way you go that they house and the paperwork history is all checked out! There are variations of these two, so don’t hesitate to ask questions of the ones you are interested in.
  2. Get a mortgage advisor. They will handle all the bank paperwork for you. If they are good, they are easily able to explain the different mortgage options and let you decide which works best for you. You may not even have to step foot in a bank! Now that’s stress reduction. Again, get advice
  3. Research your neighborhoods. But understand there are gems even in undesirable places. I would have never looked in the center because it’s too busy, loud, and touristy. But there are quiet places that people just don’t find and are made even affordable!
  4. Be realistic in your expectations. It’s Amsterdam, there are just certain things you are likely not going to be able to find…or afford. Example: You won’t find a 3 bedroom detached house with a swimming pool in the center of the city. Oh, and get used to the idea of stairs unless you’re really lucky or live in a proper apartment building.
  5. It’s likely you won’t win your first bid. It will suck. But it gets a little easier each time because you know it’s possible and you learn more about what you like and what you don’t.
  6. Be aware of costs that aren’t immediately in the mortgage, like the ground lease and the homeowners association costs.

Please remember that I’m just a regular person explaining what we went through and the advice I would give a friend. I’m not an expert and do not have expert advice. There’s plenty of people in Amsterdam willing to take your money to help you through this process. I hope you find this to be a good jumping off point and that you start asking your network for their experience as well.

Until next time, wishing you love and travels.  

 

Waterland: Postcard Perfect

Waterland: Postcard Perfect

Guys…I just. I just can’t with this place. I grew up on a mountain in Virginia and never, ever saw myself living in a city. Though my heart belongs to the city of Amsterdam, I will always feel most relaxed, most comfortable, and happiest when surrounded by greenery and water. Waterland is the perfect area in Holland for a quick escape for someone like me! Even with an area full of great day-trips, this is one that really slows my pulse.

When given the chance to take a boat ride through Broek in Waterland (still in North Holland!) I was so excited. This small town is a ridiculously close 30 min by bike from Amsterdam and you will walk through (or boat through) while asking yourself so many questions.

 

Broek in Waterland

 

You’ll wonder how it’s possible to live in a place as beautiful as this. Or how does it stay so unspoiled? Maybe you’ll even ask what I did…”Can I have a weekend house here?

We live in a time where everything wants your attention. Think of the device you’re on now…how many alerts have you gotten in the last 5 minutes? Broek in Waterland is that place where all worries, and responsibilities somehow melt away.

I don’t get it. I don’t need to. It makes me happy.

 

Broek in Waterland

 

Getting to Broek in Waterland

Even if you’re not keen on grabbing a bike to make the trek. Worry not. Just grab a bus from Amsterdam Centraal Station–head to the back of the station and go up the stairs. Buses 312, 314, 315, 316 all get you there in about 25 minutes. These aren’t Amsterdam city buses, so an anonymous OV chipkaart (travel card) is best since your blue paper GVB passes will not work on these buses, whereas the reloadable OV cards will.

To get around, you could definitely explore on foot…or you can rent a boat and feel a little bit more Dutch. We got our boat from Broeker Bootverhuur. They have quiet boats and super quiet boats. What I mean is, there are quiet motor boats and there are arm-powered boats (canoes!).

I’m going to stop rambling now because really, I don’t need to say anything else when these photos can speak for me! Of course, the sky was a little bit moody, so I give you some moody photos.

Have you ever seen a place so pretty? If you have, definitely share the name in the comments!

 

Waterland_canals

Waterland house on water

 

Waterland day trip horses

 

Broek in Waterland

 

Cow in Waterland

 

Picnic in Waterland

 

Broek in Waterland

 

Boat in Broek in Waterland

 

Wishing you love and travels!

Exploring Edam: A quick trip from Amsterdam

Exploring Edam: A quick trip from Amsterdam

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Day trips are fabulous because you can be somewhere awesome, like Amsterdam and be so close to many other experiences. Spending time in one place, only to be able to discover some other really amazing but totally different places, is so much fun. I feel stimulated, excited, and eager to see something new when all the “must-do” things have been done.

The Netherlands now has a super special place in my heart. It’s home. It’s more comfortable than I could have ever imagined. Even with a country so small, there are so many different experiences to be had. Amsterdam has its own amazing and wonderful culture. The Hague has a completely different vibe. And the absolute charm of Geithoorn is something to be experienced with its postcard perfect scenery.

 

Beautiful Edam has the best views

 

My expat journey included finding places that make my heart happy. When I discovered the small town of Edam, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was so cute, I just wanted to pick it all up and take it with me. Yes, I realize how irrational that sounds. It’s an old fortress town that has been able to keep its quaint and adorable feeling throughout the times. It’s the perfect place to hop on a bus from Amsterdam with your day bag, water, snacks and of course a camera. Maybe an umbrella too. You never know!

Yes, it was a gloomy day, but in person, it’s still a wonderful and happy place to be. I don’t overly edit my photos, so it’s as real as possible for you to experience. I promise that we do have sunny days in Holland too! 

 

How to get to Edam from Amsterdam

 

Bridges in Edam - only a quick trip from Amsterdam

 

Edam is only about a ½ hour bus ride (depending which bus you take) from the Amsterdam’s Centraal Station and costs under 5 euros each way. So it’s a super fast and quick day trip from Amsterdam. I definitely suggest that you grab an anonymous OV chipkaart (a transportation card) that you refill as you go. You can find where to buy them here, or just go to the tourist office in front of the Centraal Station. Then you can easily refill the cards at any station with the big yellow machines.

The buses you take will be behind Centraal Station and up the stairs. Just follow the signs. Amsterdam is pretty great with signage! Just one of the many things I love. Check the 9292 website for which bus is best for your time. Don’t worry, that’s the English link 😉

If you want to spend the night in a super unique room in Edam like I did, check out L’Auberge Damhotel Edam which is right in the middle of the old town. Not a hotel you’ll soon forget!

 

Day trip from Amsterdam to Edam

 

Interesting things to do in Edam

Edam is a pretty small place and walking around the town center is very easy. It’s the perfect place to just wander and weave through the small streets and waterways. Edam is a very Instagrammable place…if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂 And plenty of shops are in the town center with lots of goodies to eat, drink, or take home as souvenirs. Between taking photos, taking in the atmosphere, and window-shopping (or real shopping), it’s a great day out!

 

A great view of Edam - just outside Amsterdam

 

Walking around might sound boring for those of us who want to go-go-go and do-do-do, but every once in awhile, I think we all need to stop and smell the roses-or tulips-a bit. Take in the scenery. Find a spot to just imagine what life is like for those who live there now…and what it would have been like in the past. What do you think your role would have been back then in a town known for cheese? I’m thinking quality control.

 

Typical Edam street

 

Visit the cheese market! Is it touristy? Yep. But it’s also history. To see the old-fashioned outfits, and hurried pace of a cheese market from the past, be sure to visit on a Wednesday in the height of summer at 10:30 am. All the specifics are on the tourism site (in English) so you can confirm everything is still the same!

 

So many adorable streets in Edam

 

Side note: Blogs are awesome for inspiration and tips, but personally, I always check the local tourism site just to confirm everything. I highly suggest doing this too!

And of course, it just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t recommend getting on a boat. Seeing the town from a different perspective is always a bit more interesting in my opinion. The tourist office runs a boat and for 6 euro a person, it’s a pretty great deal!

Related: Day trips from Amsterdam

 

Kayak in Edam

 

Did I mention that you should eat cheese? No? Well, DUH! You’re in Edam. Of COURSE, you should eat cheese. Many places give you samples and you should try them all! I found flavors I didn’t even know I liked because I had the chance to give ‘em a try.

 

Edam_Cheese

 

Recommended souvenir from Edam: It might be cheesy, but honestly, grab some cheese! Be sure to ask if you will be able to take it back to your home country.

Since I went to Edam on my own, I’m already planning a trip back with Sean! I loved it that much. And to go that extra mile, we are going to bike there. It will be about an hour, but we biking regularly, I don’t think it will be too bad. Still, good vibes and wishing us luck is always appreciated. Hoping for no flat tires!

 

Fun times in Edam - So close to Amsterdam!

 

If you want live updates on when and where we travel, the best places are Twitter and Instastories. See you on social 😉

What do you think…what is a cool day trip you can do from where you are? We are all a local somewhere! Share your tips for your town or city so we can all discover corners of this amazing world.

Wishing you love and travels!

 

It's so green in Edam

 

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Day trip from Amsterdam to the beach

Day trip from Amsterdam to the beach

This post contains affiliate links.

The words “Amsterdam” and “beach” may not be two words you think of together. But the beach is a quick day trip from Amsterdam! This area is known for being cloudy and rainy. Believe it or not though, that isn’t always the case. Some days are actually sunny and hot! Those of us who live here cherish these days. So, throw on your swimsuit and hat, don’t forget the sunscreen and let’s head to the beach!

 

Zandvoort - Amsterdam Beach

 

Sunshine makes us all a bit happier it seems. Stress melts away as the warmth of the sun’s rays hit any skin it can get to. When in Amsterdam, the immediate thing we think of is that we need to get on a boat. Floating along the canals in a small boat is one fabulous way to enjoy a long summer day. If you’re in an already-been-there-done-that kind of mood, then getting outside the city and exploring something new is definitely the way to go!

And while I am head-over-heels in love with the canals, the canalhouses, and the houseboats, I can’t think of a better thing to do on a sunny day than spend it at the beach. Can you?

 

How to get to the beach from Amsterdam

Train from Amsterdam to Zandvoort

 

From Amsterdam Centraal Station, it’s about a 30 minute train ride that drops you so close to the beach that you can hear it.

I just need to say that it took me far too long to discover this beachy town called Zandvoort. It’s so exciting to have a beach so close! In the US, I lived about a 6 hour drive from the closest beach, and now, living in Amsterdam, I have one 30 minutes away. Seriously, how crazy is that?!

Zandvoort is common knowledge for the locals. But even being a popular spot on a summery day, it’s not crowded as I’m used to in Virginia. There’s space for everyone!

 

Day trip to Zandvoort from Amsterdam

 

Putting my toes in the cool water while they sunk into the sand was pure bliss. I’ve always been a bit of a water baby. I can’t remember there ever being a time when I didn’t know how to swim or want to be near or in the water. Laying on my beach towel on the sand with the sound of the waves crashing and the feel of the mist as the wind blows is all part of the magic of the beach. It’s the perfect place to unwind.

 

For a more adventurous afternoon…

Dunes in Zandvoort

 

If you’re not feeling like lounging all day by the beach (I’m sure there, then rent a bike and explore the nearby dunes in the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. I got my bike from Behind the Beach and it even fit me! I’m Miss Shorty…so I’m always impressed when a bike isn’t too tall for me in Holland. Isn’t the cute little basket on the front so handy? I tossed my Pacsafe backpack in it because it was making my back too hot. Oh the real life problems!

 

Biking the dunes in Zandvoort

 

Cycling through this landscape made me feel like I was a world away from the “big city” of Amsterdam. It was an escape to a quiet place with some pretty amazing scenery. I love the canals and the houses of Amsterdam, but sometimes it’s nice to just be out in nature, you know?

I can’t even believe that we saw a BUFFALO. Yes. That’s right. It was hanging out by the watering hole and we just admired its size and stature…and total coolness to stand there munching on grass while we took photos. That’s a cool buffalo right there.

 

Buffalo in Zandvoort

 

Of course, you can always *start* your day with a nice bike ride and end it at the beach. That’s completely acceptable. I promise you, there are enough hours in a day to explore AND be a beach bum.

 

That’s a full day outside of Amsterdam!

By the time you ride around, sit in the sun, get splashing around, dry off, sun some more, and eat a few things, you’ll be ready to rest up for your next day full of adventure. There are a bunch of day trips so close to my favorite place (Amsterdam, if you haven’t been paying attention!), if you’re looking to have a varied Dutch experience.

 

Amsterdam Beach - Zandvoort


Enjoy Amsterdam, enjoy Holland, and enjoy all the Netherlands has to offer! Where is your favorite place to base yourself for day trips? We’re going to start writing more about these kinds of places around Europe and would love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you love and travels!


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Our surprise travel anniversary tradition

Our surprise travel anniversary tradition

I love love. I love the love I have with my husband. We can be one of those couples that make you go “Ohhh, stop it!” and I feel beyond lucky to have a life partner that is my match.

Any Ever After fans out there? “But she’s your match, Henry!” That’s us. Yay, us!

Ok, ok. Enough about that. Though, I’d really like to emphasize that you should be with someone who makes you happy (if you want to be in a relationship). You deserve it!

 

Sean and Jessica in Italy 2016

 

Looking Back

We’ve been together a long time. As of March 2017, it’s been 12.5 years since we’ve started dating and 7 years that we’ve been married.

In the United States we would always go out for a delicious dinner for both dating and wedding anniversaries because it’s just nice to have something to celebrate!

Now that we live in Amsterdam we travel somewhere each year for our wedding anniversary and usually eat out at a nice place somewhere, too. The first year we were still figuring out finances and a bunch of other unpleasant things but we still took a quick trip to Paris. We had no agenda, no timelines, no pressures. It was important to us that we be able to stroll along at our own pace and enjoy the city with all its romantic sides and quirkiness.  

 

Notre Dame

 

The new tradition

The next year Sean really wanted to surprise me for our anniversary. Since traveling within Europe is relatively cheap and quick, I let go of the planning responsibilities and let him have at it! For someone who wants to plan for everything–or at least needs to know everything–that was hard.

When you have been together for so long, it can be difficult to surprise the other person. We know how each other thinks and, to a certain extent, can anticipate what the other is going to do for anniversaries and birthdays. It is nice to have something that makes our anniversary a complete surprise and feel a bit more special.

 

Ischia, Italy

 

So, this is the new tradition…and I’m REALLY excited about it:

We take turns, every other year, to secretly plan our anniversary trip. Together we talk about a budget to keep in mind since circumstances are constantly changing and we want to ensure a stress-trip. Because Amsterdam doesn’t give us a lot of time with the sunshine, we each figure it will be somewhere warm. We need more sun in our lives! You never know though…it *is* a surprise 😉

You might be bummed to find out that we don’t wait until we are at the airport for the other person to find out. As cool as that sounds, it freaks me out. I want to look into the place a bit myself to see what I might want to do. I want to know what to pack. And of course, we both want to be excited and have a little bit of that anticipation before going on a trip rather than nervousness.

One month before we fly away, we’ll let the other know where exactly we’ll be going. Hopefully it’s in a fun and interesting way. Giving little hints is fun too!

 

Our last couple trips

The first year we did this, it was Sean’s idea and I was soooo nervous! I didn’t like not knowing what was going on. But I trusted that he knew what we would be able to enjoy together.

It was certainly worth the wait! He took me to the Amalfi Coast!

Amalfi Coast, Italy

 

We got warmer weather, amazing food, unbelievable scenery and had the best time. The food itself was incredible and something I’ll never forget. We even joined in on a wine and cheese tasting in a hidden cellar. It’s was all pretty much perfect!

Luckily it was warm and we visited the famous island of Capri, and then stayed on the island of Ischia which is where all the Italians (and apparently, Germans) go! We can’t wait to go back again. Pompeii was incredible too…how would I be able to pick a trip as awesome as this one?!

Then it was my turn. To find the right place, the food had to be good and ideally we haven’t been before. I was so excited, but nervous to plan this anniversary surprise. There was only one problem…there was AT LEAST a half dozen places I really really wanted to take him.

 

Secret anniversary trip to Lisbon

 

I thought about Croatia, Greece, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Malta, and I wanted to go back to Barcelona and Italy. These are all amazing places but I could only pick one! The excitement turned into overwhelm, but ultimately, I chose a spot. Lisbon was the perfect place for us to explore and eat. I even had a colleague who taught me a tiniest bit of Portuguese!

This year, since we were going to Lisbon, Portugal, I set up the dining room table with a photo of Lisbon on my computer and bought some Pasteis de nata to let him in on the surprise. He was so happy! I love that one moment when you get to see the reaction. That is something you just don’t get when you plan a getaway together.

 

View from castle in Lisbon

 

He loved it and I’m so glad. I think it’s so amazing to make your spouse happy! Now it’s my turn to wait again. Where do you think he’ll pick? It always feels like the date is not far away, so I love guessing as soon as we are back from the previous anniversary.

That’s SO bad, right?! Hehehe Oh well. That’s just me 😉

 


Surprise anniversary travel

 

This new tradition is super exciting and gives some mystery into our relationship. Not to mention, it involves travel around Europe which you simply can’t go wrong with! I also love that I know at that time every year, we’ll be off to somewhere awesome. I fully believe that you should always have something to look forward to, something to work towards.

What fun traditions do you have in your life? We’d love to hear them. Let’s inspire each other!

Wishing you love and travels!

 

Sintra, Portugal

 

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Traversing the Amsterdam countryside by bike

Traversing the Amsterdam countryside by bike

I live in Amsterdam. I love Amsterdam. It’s such an amazing city with the canals as the perfect backdrop of a sunny day.

BUT…and this is a big BUT…it’s not all that there is to see in the area. While there are day trips to other cities like Delft, Utrecht, and The Hague, you really don’t have to go far for a new adventure.

Recently I’ve gotten into a new mindset. I don’t want to just travel. I want new experiences. New flavors. New sights. And a new perspective.

 

Nieuwendam - Amsterdam countryside bike tour

 

Biking tours around Amsterdam was never really on the list since, you know, I bike around pretty often. But I was offered the chance to go on a countryside tour from Amsterdam by bike with We Bike Amsterdam. Ummm, YES! Let’s get out of the city!

I think you should always take advantage of what you have right around you. We usually miss it because, you know, it’s there, it will always be there. So why do I need to bother going now? If you think like that, you will likely miss out.

 


I’ve never biked from Amsterdam to anywhere else. I haven’t really even biked that far before. I was a little nervous (would I have the stamina?) but super excited because I finally get to see the countryside that is oh-so-beautiful.

While I want to write about the experience so you know what to expect (that’s usually kind of the point on a blog), I really just want to tell you to book it. Don’t ask questions. Just go! That’s how much I loved this tour around the Amsterdam countryside.

 

Canal lock -Amsterdam countryside bike tour

 

The basics

Meeting up was super easy. The shop where you grab your bike from is right by Central Station. It’s easy to find and there’s a bike waiting for you!

Since I love my bike (it’s purple), I brought mine with me. SUCH an Amsterdammer ;), I know. 

After a quick introduction of the guide and an adjustment of seat heights for those who need it, we learned our itinerary. Let’s just say that it involves biking around impossibly adorable areas and eating appeltaart (like an apple pie/cake combo).

And with that, we were off! We headed behind Central Station to grab a ferry and go north. The ferry itself is pretty awesome. The views are incredible! And it’s free…just in case you want to take it again on your own.

 

Cycling through the Dutch countryside

 

Cycling in the countryside

Once on the other side of the IJ (that body of water the ferry is in) you hop on your bikes and won’t see another stop sign or stoplight until you get back to Central Station.

FREEEEEDDOOOOMMMMM

I had a smile on my face the whole time. It was a perfect sunny day in the Netherlands and was thrilled to be taking advantage of it and the natural, and not so natural, scenery.

This bike tour was so chill. The guide would stop every once in a while to point something out. You could stop and ask questions. You can bike together with the guide or another tour-goer and learn about them.

 

Nieuwendam - Amsterdam countryside bike tour

 

Small, but at the time, terrifying, note: I took my camera out to take the first photo and DROPPED IT! Turns out only the filter broke and just a small crack on the casing, so it still works. But, with glass everywhere and wanting to enjoy the trip, I just took photos with my Galaxy S7. Apologies if the quality isn’t a high as normal!

 

The Dutch are masters of water and you get to see some pretty cool examples of that throughout the trips. From locks, to dikes, to irrigation canals, the Dutch control water like nobody else. Be prepared to be wowed!

Of course, the animals love the water too and you might see a few cute sheep along the way like we did. How cute are these babies?! They were flaunting it for the cameras. EVERYONE stopped to take pictures. Even the locals.

 

Amsterdam countryside bike tour

 

These views though. It felt amazing to be cycling alongside the water. I’m usually a woods kind of girl, but I love bodies of water too. Something so peaceful, so calming about them.

At some point, after freeing my mind of all thoughts and just pedaling away, it was time to make a left and head to a cute restaurant called het Schoolhuis for a traditional Dutch treat…the appeltaart! I hesitate to call it apple pie. It’s more like a cross between a pie and a cake. However you want to describe it, it’s delicious. Just be sure to get it with cream on the side. It’s extra delicious that way!

 

Appeltaart -Amsterdam countryside bike tour

 

After the pie/cake/taart and coffee/tea/hot chocolate, it was time to saddle back up and start a roundabout journey back to Amsterdam. The difference in scenery was nice. We weren’t along the water anymore, but among the villages and fields. We were even lucky enough to be on the cycling tour during Open Tower Day. We took advantage of that and went up the Ransdorper Toren (tower) that was never quite finished, but had a great view! You could see for miles since this country is super flat. It was such a nice surprise to be able to do that and it’s a shame they only hold Open Tower Day once a year.

 

Above the Dutch countryside

 

Before getting back into Amsterdam “proper” we stopped to take a few photos with a windmill. It even has a name! “De Admiraal”. It’s a must to have a selfie in front of a windmill if you are visiting, right?

 

Windmill group photo from the Amsterdam countryside tour

 

After so many cute villages, meeting some animals along the way, getting a snack, and making friends, it was time to cross the water and get back to the “big” city of Amsterdam. Totally kidding about the “big” part. It feels like a village in itself!

Cycling on the country paths and feeling that sense of freedom is just incredible. While I feel so fortunate to be able to do that anytime, I hope you take advantage of the opportunity if you’re visiting my favorite place 🙂 I am fairly certain it would be a highlight of your trip!

 

So many great spots on the countryside bike tour from Amsterdam

 

Huge thanks to We Bike Amsterdam for the invitation and being confident that a local would still get a kick out of a bike tour 😉

When you do come to Amsterdam, do check out the city guide I made for you, and while I know you have a couple things on your must-do list that every visitor “should” do, make a random turn down a street when you’re walking and find something new and interesting.

 

Funny group photo from the Amsterdam countryside tour

 

This was a complimentary tour thanks to We Bike Amsterdam, which I thoroughly enjoyed. All opinions are my own and I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience this tour so I can share it with you!