Exploring the rooftops of Stockholm

Exploring the rooftops of Stockholm

Did you ever think “If I could just climb up there, I’d get the perfect shot”? Well, that’s exactly what I did in Stockholm. I’m not sure what these people were thinking when they created a rooftop tour in Stockholm, but I’m glad they went through with it. Big shout-out to Takvandring for taking sightseeing to the next level!

Would you climb onto a roof for this kind of experience?


Safety first

Harnesses for a rooftop tour

 

As we prepped to go out on the roof, we got in all the safety gear. We had harnesses, carabiners and helmets. Felt like I was rappelling into a cave! Not that I’ve done that. But I totally would…I have climbed down a 7 story building before, though! 😀

Even our phones got safety gear so they wouldn’t fall off the roof. That was super thoughtful! Who doesn’t have their life on their phone? The little pouches are designed so that we could still use our phones–I mean, how else was I going to Snapchat?!

 

Rooftop tours of Stockholm

 

I’m not afraid of heights. In fact, I love getting up high to get an amazing view. But more than that, I love doing something a bit quirky–something others don’t think to do, but should really be on your list.

 

Let the adventure begin

Rooftop tour in Stockholm

 

There was a woman on our tour who was afraid of heights but did amazingly well! I can only imagine what was going through her mind before we stepped out onto the roof. The only thing going through my mind was “Let’s gooooooo!” as my heart started to beat just a little bit faster as we ascended the stairs.

I definitely have an adventurous side that doesn’t get out to play very often. That needs to change. But going up on a roof to catch all the sights from above while being attached by carabiners and straps seems to be right up my alley.

 

Roof top hiking

Rooftop hiking in Stockholm

 

The views were incredible. I kind of wish I was on my own so I could go at my own pace and take it all in…and stay up there forever.

 

Rooftops of Stockholm

 

The group went fairly slowly so everyone was comfortable. You had to pay attention because there was a very specific way to get your clips around the joints in the railing you’re attached to and it takes a little finesse to get it through and around the corners. But once you get used to it, it’s a flick of the wrist and you’re on the next view point!

 

Rooftop tour safety

 

On this tour, you’re walking and climbing (stairs) on a roof. So there’s never a dull moment! A guide is always at the front of the line and at the back of the line to keep you safe.

 

Bloggers on the roof

 

We learned a lot about the area and what kind of people lived where and why certain homes are built the way they are. Stockholm is a fascinating place. It’s made up of many islands and each have their own personality. That’s why it was easy to come up with 10 reasons you’ll love Stockholm. I wish we could spend a month there every summer!

 

Stockholm is stunning from above

Great views of the Stockholm rooftops

 

My mind drifts a lot when it comes to this city. Every experience we had there was great. From the summer weather, to discovering my happy place on Djurgården, to eating incredible food, it all made for a trip that makes me want to go back again and again. For now, let’s get back to the rooftop trekking experience so I can relive it with you!

 

Rooftop tour

 

This view over the city is really one-of-a-kind. You can see Södermalm, Gamla Stan, Östermalm, and you overlook the water too! The colors, the shapes, the twisting roads, even the sky, all comes together for an experience like I’ve never had before. I didn’t want to go inside and have it all end.

 

Rooftop tour of Stockholm

 

If there had been a chair I could have locked myself to, I would have done it just to stay for sunset. All good things come to an end though, but I am a happier person for having gone on this mini adventure. A big smile was fixed on a my face for the rest of that day.

 

Stockholm roofs

 

You can probably tell that I HIGHLY recommend this tour. I want to keep writing about how awesome it is just so I can keep “talking” about it and experiencing those feelings again. But I think you get the idea.

If you’re screaming “I want to do that!” Good. Because I could almost guarantee you won’t regret it (unless you really are crazy scared of heights).

 

Here’s how you do this

Stockholm roofs

 

Easy! Just not cheap since you have to book your flight to Stockholm, then book your tour on the Takvandring website. Best to do it in that order.

 

How to get there

Rooftop tour in Stockholm

 

Take the metro to the Gamla Stan stop, then take the exit towards the water. You’ll be going under a bridge. Once you walk out, you’ll be right at the water’s edge! Make a right and head to your meeting spot. You may want to download Google maps of this area just to feel secure in knowing where you’re going. I’d actually get there early and take a quick walk around this part. It’s quite small and charming. In the height of summer there was hardly anyone around. I love finding quiet spots! If you do too, then this walk is definitely for you.

 

What to wear

Rooftop tour in Stockholm

 

You’ll be wearing a harness, so I suggest clothes that fit snugly to avoid bunching in the wrong places. Wear sneakers or shoes you feel super comfy in and won’t slip off.

 

Go for it!

Photos from the rooftops

 

This was hands-down the best thing I did in Stockholm. It gave me a different perspective of the city to fall in love with–and I don’t know about you, but I found this place so easy to fall for. I truly hope you get to visit Stockholm. Of course this tour is amazing, but even if you don’t take it, find your own way to explore and find your little part of the city.

 

Pin for later

Stockholm Rooftop Tour - must do when in Stockholm, Sweden

The was a complimentary tour while we were at the TBEX conference. However, this is all my personal opinion! I always tell you what I really think.

“Wow!” travel moments to inspire

“Wow!” travel moments to inspire

One of the glorious things about traveling is that you have the opportunity to experience feelings and emotions that can only happen when faced with something completely new and different.

One of the glorious things about being a travel blogger is inspiring others to chase those feelings and emotions.

I’m not here to tell you that you should be doing everything in your power to travel. I’m here to tell you that the stories in the post are the kinds of things you can experience if you do take the time/get the chance to go somewhere completely new.

 

 

Some wonderful travel blogger friends sent me stories of moments when travel had them in awe and left them speechless. Well… for a little while at least! These are moments that change your views, fall in love, and leave you stunned in the best way possible.

Now, I give you some “wow!” travel moments:

 

Norwegian Fjords

Everywhere Bucket - Lesley

Photo: Lesley of Everywhere Bucketlist

 

My greatest travel memory has got to be hiking to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) in the Norwegian Fjords! The view was breathtaking and made me feel so small compared to the world around me. A place like that really gives perspective & I realised just how lucky I am and have been.

Ever since, appreciating those big or small travel moments is more important to me.  Whether it’s checking out 1,000 year old buildings in a cute European town, struggling through a hike, or chowing down on local fare in a particular region/country I’m visiting –I am privileged to be doing it – and that’s what drives me to continue my passion of exploring this great wide world.

From Lesley of Everywhere Bucketlist

 

Paris

Paris Photo by Alex from Life Well Wandered

Photo: Alex from Life Well Wandered

 

The first time I left American soil was when I was 18. I had just graduated high school and was preparing to head off to university when I boarded a plane to Paris with my mom for two weeks. Upon my arrival, I was overcome with happiness wandering around the streets of Paris, seeing the oldest parts of the city for the first time, and experiencing a city I’d always dreamt about. I remember that moment as a catalyst for the next years of my life, leading me to specialize in French at school and study in both London and Paris for a year-and-a-half. That first trip abroad and those feelings of wonder and pure happiness as I was a flaneuse in Paris for the first lit a fire in my soul that made me want to incorporate travel into my life.

From Alex from Life Well Wandered

 

Tokyo

From Karen of Travelling K

Photo: Karen of Travelling K

 

After watching Lost in Translation, I desperately wanted to visit Tokyo. This was my first trip overseas and on my own. After a bumpy landing, I managed to find my way to the underground. I became lost, but the locals were very friendly and directed me onto the right trains. Arriving at my station I walked to where my hostel should be, but seriously could not find the entrance! I ended up walk round and round the building. I finally took the correct lift up. When I emerged and saw the view…. wow. It was just like Lost in Translation! All I wanted to do was sit on the window sill and stare out over the city. I had arrive, on my own, in a foreign city and it was just like in the movie.

From Karen of Travelling K

 

Vatican City

Photo from Leslie of Blue Skies and Open Roads

Photo: Leslie of Blue Skies and Open Roads

 

I have had visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on the top of my bucket list ever since I saw a video clip of it in high school.  When I finally studied abroad in Europe during college, I made sure that one of the flights I arranged was headed to Rome to finally see the Basilica with my own eyes.  On the day of, I had huge butterflies and a lot of expectation. I walked into the Basilica and even though the place was crowded with tourists like every other attraction in Europe, the inside was completely silent to me.  All I could focus on was the breathtaking natural light that came through the windows and the exquisite details that made up the interior.  I felt like my insides were going to burst as I slowly walked around trying to take in every detail of the place that I dreamed about seeing. Before I was scared that it would not live up to my high expectations, but it exceeded every one.  Conquering the number one on my bucket list fueled my fire to travel because it showed me that the world is huge and that there is a lot of it that I have not discovered yet.

From Leslie of Blue Skies and Open Roads

 

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey

Photo: Lyn Gateley (Flickr CC BY 2.0)

 

My first trip outside of the United States was to take a river cruise through Europe with my grandparents. They were seasoned travelers and knew what to expect–from the castles to the cobblestones. Since we arrived in Vienna in the dark and with rainy weather, the first thing I remember seeing was the Melk Abbey in Austria. I had been in the White House, but that was the grandest building I had stepped foot in. This Abbey used to be a palace and the thought of people living there and creating something so big, so expensive, and so showy was fascinating. All I could do was stare.

Europe felt like a different world with different languages, cultures, money, and food. I was hooked after my first disembarkation. You know the saying “…like a kid in a candy store”? That was me! Honestly, it still is. Europe is my candy store and I love it.

From me! Jessica of A Wanderlust For Life


From life-changing moments, Mother Nature’s scenery, and the seeing the work that humans can accomplish are all part of traveling and seeing the world in a different way.

HUGE thanks to the contributors of this post! Your stories are uniquely your’s but I think all travelers relate to the sense of wonder you felt in those moments.

What’s your awe-inspiring moment while traveling? What’s your first travel “wow!” moment?

Monday Check-in (Feb 27th, ’17)

Monday Check-in (Feb 27th, ’17)

 

Hey there!

How was your Valentine’s Day…and the rest of the last two weeks that had nothing to do with candy hearts and roses?

Since I’m being totally real with you on here, mine was super stressful! You probably know by now, but we aren’t full-time travelers, we live in Amsterdam and work full time. This means life is fairly normal but hardly simple or boring. In an effort to simplify things, we have to go through some complex things right now. It will all turn out great though and will give us a sense of freedom we’ve never had before.

Why the stress? Well, once things finalize, I’ll tell you!! But with so much up in the air, I don’t want to share too early. Soon, friends. Soon. I hope.

 

Tulip fields in Lisse near Keukenhof

 

Looking back

I’ve been keep a low profile these last couple weeks. I did go to some random town to get fingerprinted as part of my process of becoming an Italian citizen that I have access to thanks to Sean being a citizen. I don’t have too much left to do and I’ve been putting it off. Now, I want to just get it done. If all goes to plan, I will be a dual-citizen with the United States and Italy. To have an E.U. passport while living in the E.U. is just helpful. I am a legal resident of the Netherlands, but if you had the option, you’d take it too, right? So much potential flexibility there.

Did you miss that we are going to LISBON in March?! I am so crazy excited. Everyone speaks so highly of it that I almost just want to move there. But let’s check it out first 😉 We are both ready to eat, drink, and be merry. So many day trips have been suggested so I can’t wait for those. Sintra seems to be a favorite! We’ll be off in mid-March, and since it’s an anniversary trip, I’ll try not to do too much blog work. Though, you can still keep up with us on Twitter or Snapchat, both are @AWlustForLife.

 

Looking ahead

This part is called “looking ahead” but I am so behind! I still haven’t booked flights or hotels for London in April and we still haven’t figured out what to do over Easter. Flights are just too expensive. So, we’ll either do a train trip somewhere relatively close, like Lille, France, or do a staycation in Amsterdam. Either way, I just want to plan it. 

I’m tell you this to hold me accountable, I will have April set by the next Monday Check-in! Hold me to it! Part of it is that I get stuck buying plane tickets. I don’t expect 20 euro tickets, but I’m kind of cheap and get very nervous when we spend money like that!

In Lisbon, the only other thing I have planned is a food tour! We ADORE food tours. I’m somewhat of a picky foodie, so they always push me a bit out of my comfort zone and I almost always love it. We’ve done them in Berlin, London, AmsterdamParis, Stockholm and Barcelona. On every single one had me eating something I’ve never had before. I even tried head cheese in Paris….

 

Paris Food Tour Montmartre | Wine

 

In case you missed it

Coming to the Netherlands in the spring? Then you must visit the Keukenhof! It’s the Garden of Europe and is stunning. Warning: If you have any kind of allergy, take a pill. You’ll need it!

Keukenhof day trip

 

I really want A Wanderlust For Life to be personal, for you and me, in addition to travel and expat advice, so this post explains why I blog. I hope it helps you understand where I’m coming from when I write.

 

Interesting reads

Since I’m all about Lisbon right now, this post is super helpful from Hand Luggage Only on where to go and what to do in this amazing city. 

I love Paris. It’s actually kind of frustrating. If we have a long weekend, I think “let’s just go to Paris”. But there are so many other places to go! It’s my own little struggle. But if you do go to Paris, here’s a nice explanation of where you may want to stay from Wandertooth.

London is epic. There’s no denying that. But if you’re looking for a little romance with your love, then there’s this great article from Roaming Required on romantic things to do in London for under £10! Score! I mean, so sweet 🙂 

Catch me on Snapchat

Snapchat-AWlustForList

Have a GREAT week!


 

Why I blog – A back story and love letter

Why I blog – A back story and love letter

I used to scrapbook. I had the rolling bag with all the fun papers, stickers, crazy scissors, photo corners and more. I even went to Michael’s craft store when they had a sale on scrapbooks themselves. So, now I have a couple completely empty scrapbooks (but I still want to keep them–even though they are in the U.S. right now).

I liked the idea of keeping memories and looking at them in a fun way. In a way that instantly brought back the feelings and memories of that activity, moment, or place.

Eventually I moved to digital scrapbooks which was much less messy! I’m looking at you, glitter and tiny pieces of paper.

But I just couldn’t get away from creating memory books. Sometimes I wish I still did that. I scrapbooked all through college (very badly, but hey, it’s something!) and only stopped closer to when I left the United States. There are certainly some pages that just never got made. Hopefully one day I will finish those.

 

Basel, Switzerland

 

But now, we travel. That’s our life. Work, travel, blog. And sometimes we even make videos. I love traveling and I love talking and sharing. That’s why I created A Wanderlust For Life. I wanted to share but I also wanted it to be my scrapbook.

I love keeping memories. You learn quickly just how fast you forget things. And anyone who has gotten married will likely agree with me that some of the greatest and most epic moments are ones we don’t even remember. I’m sure there’s some scientific reason for this, but I’m just glad we paid for a photographer and videographer that day. Oh and I did make a scrapbook for that 😉

Once we moved to Amsterdam, I didn’t have a job. There was only so long we could pretend we we’re on vacation since we were living off of savings. So, I started reading travel blogs. And they inspired me to put effort into mine. I wanted to remember this adventure.

 

Delft pottery at Keukenhof

 

My first post after moving was about the Bacchus Wijn Festival. I was still jetlagged, it was too expensive, and we didn’t understand the local transit yet, but we went because it was a little adventure in our new home.

Life should be filled with little adventures. Click To Tweet

 

That’s what it was for awhile…a bit of a travel diary. But it wasn’t very refined.

 

 

A Wanderlust For Life has gone through ups and downs. Sometimes it wasn’t updated regularly and sometimes I just didn’t know what to write. I can’t even say this has come naturally to me. Building a blog is difficult if you want to really run a blog, especially when working full time.

Between the idea generation, research, photo/video editing, linking, affiliates, courses, social media, emails, etc, it takes so much time.

 

Costa Rica at the World Travel Market

 

After going to the World Travel Market in London in 2015 I met other bloggers. I met people like me but who were much further along. Some were nomads, some also worked “regular jobs”, some were super nice, and some I never want to speak to again. After meeting all these people, I saw the community behind travel blogging. For the most part, I liked what I saw. The community is motivating and it shows me what blogging can be.

A Wanderlust For Life is its own world. The people that follow and interact on this website, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are the community around it. I adore that. When I give information, or advice that people thank me for, it feels great that people enjoy or appreciate my writing.

Here’s a look into who I am: I like to help people. Super vague, sure. But I like to be of assistance. I love helping tourists in Amsterdam. I loved volunteering in my hometown. I love putting people in contact with others when it’s beneficial to both. I love that. 

Travel blogging in general can seem a bit like following the crowd. Being “too Millennial”. The thing is, that the older I get, the less I care about how others see things that make me happy.

Technically this blog started in the summer of 2013, but I started to love it in the fall of 2015. Since then, I’ve met amazing bloggers, worked with food tours, attended conferences, and collaborated with tourism boards. I enjoy the challenge of collaborations now!

 

World Travel Market with Sabina of Girl vs Globe and Silvia of Heart My Backpack

 

My “why” regarding A Wanderlust For Life has changed over time. Started as a scrapbook. Turned into a hobby because I was bored. Then I wanted to see what it was–what it meant to me– so I tested myself to be consistent.

Now my “why” is about community and travel. I love creating content for this community. And I love the experiences that I have because of it. It tests my creativity. Running this website keeps me learning and I feel like I’m part of something.

 

Blogging computer

 

To all of you that are reading this, thank you for being part of this community. I love reading and responding to your comments. I appreciate you thinking of me when you see something and sending me a Snap. I am so grateful that content on this site is helpful enough that you share it.

To new friends I’ve made through the blog or social media. I <3 you. You enrich my life in ways I didn’t know possible.

My promise to you is that I will keep creating in a way that keeps me sounding like me and not just another article (sometimes I forget I’m not writing for a professor). I will share my experiences and my favorite things with you so maybe you’ll find a new activity you love or place you didn’t know about.

Thanks for reading!

Visiting the Keukenhof – Holland’s flower garden

Visiting the Keukenhof – Holland’s flower garden

If you’re coming to Amsterdam between mid-March and mid-May, you are in for SUCH a treat! Those bright and colorful images of flowers you think of when you imagine what it’s like to be in Holland will come to life. A day trip to Keukenhof will have you bursting with the feeling of springtime. You can’t help but leave with a smile on your face. It’s funny how happy flowers seem to make people!

 

Rows of tulips at Keukenhof

 

Popular post: Day trip to Giethoorn

In my effort to help you fall in love with my new home in the Netherlands, I want you to be able to experience the wonder that I feel so often. To make that happen, I’m creating guides so you can do more and worry less!

Without further ado, I give you Keukenhof!

 

Keukenhof garden landscape


The basics of Keukenhof

It’s not in Amsterdam, it’s in a town called Lisse but is super easy to get to. More on that in a bit.

For 2017 it’s open from March 23 until May 21. Within that time, it’s open daily from 8:00am-7:30pm. Grab a free map at the entrance. Here’s a sneak peek at the map.

There’s FREE WIFI!!

 

Many varieties of flowers at Keukenhof

 

There will be SEVEN MILLION bulbs. It covers 32 hectares or 79 acres.  Yeah…plan some time 😉

Every year has a theme, this time it’s Dutch Design. The Keukenhof’s website says “Dutch Design is characterized by Dutch sobriety combined with innovative solutions.” It should be interesting how it translates into gardens!

 

History of Keukenhof

Keukenhof translates to “Kitchen garden”, so yeah…it was just a regular kitchen garden for the (now named) Castle Keukenhof at some point. Then, many years later, a Baron and Baroness decided they wanted a real garden that had beauty and structure. So they hired Jan David Zocher and his son. They also worked on Vondelpark — the most famous park in Amsterdam.

 

Mixed colors of tulips at Keukenhof

 

The mid-20th century was when it really became what you see today. The mayor of Lisse at that time wanted to use it as a place for growers to show off their flowers. A showcase of beautiful flowers…how wonderfully Dutch! As if the Netherlands didn’t already have an obsession with flowers, this was just a super popular addition. And why wouldn’t it be? Have you seen these beautiful flowers?

 

Things to know

Keukenhof: the garden of Europe is much more than tulip gardens. To be clear, though, there are a TON of tulips. Over 800 varieties. Can you spot the differences?

They rotate flowers that are planted…even during the 2 month window that the garden is open. This is to keep the flowers you see at their peek!

 

Tulip fields in Lisse near Keukenhof

 

The rows of tulips that you see representing Holland a lot…those are not at the Keukenhof. Those are actual tulip fields. As in, they are being grown to sell. You can definitely take a bike ride through the fields, just wanted you to know that those are not in the garden itself. But they are close by!

Got allergies? Even those with mild allergies, I would suggest taking some medicine. Flowers don’t affect me too much but I felt like I got smacked in the face when I got there. Just be prepared and all is good!

There are lockers, which can be so nice depending on how you are traveling!

Restaurants are sprinkled throughout so if you’re feeling peckish, don’t fret!

 

How long to stay

Hours. Seriously. I wouldn’t plan anything else except dinner on this day. I was so disappointed when we had to leave and missed most of the garden after 3 hours! There’s more to see than you think. There’s gardens of flowers, there’s a greenhouse with flowers, there are art pieces, water features, etc. Really, for those who love flowers, this is basically Disney World.

 

Bee on flower in Keukenhof

 

What to do

Meander. Chill. Smell the roses…or whatever flowers are there at that time!

Watch out for the selfie sticks. I would bet you’ll get bopped in the head by at least one. If you use selfie sticks, just watch where you are swinging those things!

Explore the exhibits that aren’t flowers.

 

Delft pottery at Keukenhof

 

Price and how to get to Keukenhof

The entrance to the gardens is 16€ (Euro), but we use the combi-ticket that includes transit and the entrance fee because it just makes our lives a bit easier. And really, when traveling easier can be a sanity-saver. But, if you’re by car, then 16€ it is!

Related: Day trips from Amsterdam

For the rest of us in Amsterdam, I suggest using the combi-ticket and taking the bus from Elandsgracht, Leidseplein, or Museumplein to Schiphol airport, then switch to the Keukenhof express (aka bus 858) and pull up right outside the entrance. For the convenience, the combi-ticket is 29€. So, 13€ for less thinking and getting dropped off right where you need to be.

 

Clusters of flowers at Keukenhof

 

There are other options if you aren’t in Amsterdam and want to take public transit, so I will leave the link to browse through here.

Tip: Go early in the day because the line for the express bus can get a bit long!

 

Rules

Stay on the paths. Don’t pick the flowers.

Let’s really drive that home…DO NOT PICK THE FLOWERS.

You can bring dogs that are on leashes, but you must stay in the gardens area. Don’t forget to pick up after them. I’m pretty sure that’s why dogs have humans.

 

Variety of flowers at Keukenhof

 

Tips

Avoid front gate area. Seriously, get in and keep walking until you hit another end, and then start meandering through the garden. Much less crowded and stressful. You’ll probably even find some super quiet corners!

Take your new profile picture. Get lots of Instagram-worthy photos. Basically, just keep snapping away and you’ll always have the memory of the “Garden of Europe”.

 

Varieties of flowers at Keukenhof

 

How to dress

Dress for Dutch weather. This means it could be any kind of weather. Of course check the temperatures, but be prepared with layers and a poncho or umbrella. A light rain coat that can keep in the warmth isn’t a bad idea either.

Wear the right shoes. Really, you’ll be on your feet for hours and with so many people, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to sit right away if you or your feet get too tired. So, please keep that in mind when choosing your footwear.

 

Dutch pottery at the Keukenhof

 

Take it all in

I so hope you enjoy Keukenhof! It’s definitely a cool experience. Yeah, it’s a super touristy thing to do, but walking through the gardens makes me so happy. Really now, how can you NOT be happy when surrounded by colorful flowers?

 

Bright flowers at Keukenhof

 

Have fun and act like a kid in a candy store. That’s what I did because that’s how I felt. I hopped from platform to tiny platform in a pond while we tried to get funny pictures. It’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of one part of the garden, but I promise you, there’s a lot more!

Have you been to a massive and beautiful garden before? Where was it? What was your favorite part?

Day trip to Keukenhof from Amsterdam - The Garden of Europe


Monday Check-in (Feb 13th, ’17)

Monday Check-in (Feb 13th, ’17)

*waves* Hey guys!

Happy almost Valentine’s Day! Just so you know, I have so much love for you all. Seriously. Thanks for sharing in my adventure <3 Hugs!

We aren’t really doing anything special, we have our own yearly tradition for Valentines Day, more below!

 

Sean and Jess

 

I’m on these random lists now as a blogger and usually get information that I’m not remotely interested in, but this time there was an email from an agency that represents Bloomy Days who did a study on how much people spend on Valentine’s Day.

Are ready to drop that cup you’re sipping from?

Los Angeles is among the most expensive place to spend the day of love (Venice just right behind) and Prague was the cheapest. The numbers included a dozen roses, day at the spa, dinner as a Michelin starred restaurant with wine, movie tickets with snacks, and a night in a 4-5 star hotel. Sounds like an awesome day to me no matter the day it falls on. Am I right?!

So, L.A. was €1237,45 and Prague was €430,84. Sounds like Prague is the best answer here!

 

Looking back

It snowed in Amsterdam!  Usually when it snows here, it doesn’t last very long and it doesn’t really stick to anything. But this Saturday morning we had a beautiful show put on by Mother Nature and it was so pretty!

 

My new computer came! Oh it’s so beautiful and small and perfect for blogging. I haven’t put it through its paces yet with video editing, but I was told that it should be fine.  It’s so beautiful and I got such a good deal on it. Even got the fancy bag and mouse for free which were specially made for it!

 

HP Spectre

 

What is it? It’s an HP Spectre (not the x360 that does a backflip, but the normal one). I’m not normally one to go after tech because it’s pretty (and I didn’t this time either), but it is so nice to look at and use. I’m just so happy. It’s been SIX YEARS with my current HP. We’ve been through a lot but it’s just about time to say goodbye once I get all my data off of it. It’s big and bulky, the battery is shot, and it’s needed a lot of help to get this far in life. I’ve been extremely happy with my HP Pavilion, but the Spectre is my new baby.

If you’re looking to buy an HP Spectre (or anything really), here’s my affiliate link for Amazon.com. Of course it’s no extra charge for you! Just helps keep the site running.

Are you here because you’re curious as to where I’m taking Sean for our anniversary?

Well, I hope you’ll be as excited as we are! In case you missed it, each year Sean and I take turns planning a secret anniversary trip. Last year he took me to the Amalfi Coast where we got to experience some of the best cheese ever at an amazing wine and cheese tasting

Ok, ok Here you go!

Photo by Jen of everythingevolving.com

Do you know where that is?!

It’s Lisbon, Portugal! I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to share the surprise with Sean. I kind of made him guess after I set up a photo of Lisbon on my laptop and had Pastéis de Natas laid out. He got that it was Portugal right away! Can’t wait to spend 9 days there.

He is SO excited, as am I. Can’t wait to explore, eat, drink, and take day trips. Any recommendations of what we must do, see, or eat there?

 

Looking ahead

There is still quite a bit of planning to do for our trip to Lisbon. I will be pitching a few places and experiences so we can get the most out of our trip and share those amazing experiences with you. I know there are tours, tastings, and day trips that we absolutely can’t miss out on, and I am so looking forward to visiting a new country.

Sean is taking a work trip this month, so I’m going to be a little bit of super social so I don’t get lonely and super introverted and hopefully get a bunch of things on my blog to-do list done. It’s always a never-ending list! If you’re a blogger, you feel me, if not, I’m not going to explain it here. Let’s just say it’s kind of all-consuming at times!

 

plane wing

 

We have some flights and hotels to book for April because that month is coming up crazy fast. There’s a 4-day weekend around Easter that we still have no plans for though we keep tossing around ideas. Time to see where we can get some cheap flights! I think Malta or Greece would be GREAT. Or do more of a staycation. We’re saving for something big…but that announcement will be later.  

The end of April will have us in the UK! First we’re heading to Cardiff to visit The Doctor Who Experience, then we’ll be taking our time getting to London by train and seeing some of the countryside. Anyone in Cardiff or London up for a meet up?  Honestly, I would rather be going to the all-inclusive Tuscany trip, but Traverse is a commitment I just can’t miss! But if you’d rather be exploring Tuscany, sipping wine, and learning all about olive oil and cheese while seeing all come from the source, then definitely check it out. And please share that with anyone you think might be interested!

 

In case you missed it

Picking the right souvenir can be confusing. Do you really want it? Will you love looking at or losing it? We have a guide to help you with those exact questions.

How to find meaningful and unique souvenirs from travel

 

Delft is a super cute little (and I mean little!) town about an hour train ride from Amsterdam. Gotta love those day trips! If you’re in the area for a week or so, it’s a great little town that you can soak up in about a half day. Get lost in the picturesque streets and find a cafe to people watch.

A Delft day trip 

Interesting reads

We don’t write much (if at all) about being digital nomads since Sean and I both work full-time at “normal” jobs, but as a travel blogger, the thought is always there.  We frequently meet digital nomads at blogger events, and they seem to love it!  I won’t go into our thought process here, but I just wanted to highlight that it isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t always work out…and that’s OKAY! Here’s Eva’s story

 

Sean REALLY wants to go to Edinburgh so I’m hoping we can make it happen this year. When I can across this post from Travelettes, I knew I had to save it for when we go. Maybe it has some tips if you have a visit to Edinburgh in your future too!

 

Business Insider has a bit of insight on mistakes that you shouldn’t make when you’re in Europe. Seriously, these tips will prepare you for a trip to Europe so you don’t feel the need to facepalm when these things happen.

 

Follow on Twitter…I’m super chatty

Have a great week!!

How to pick meaningful and unique souvenirs

How to pick meaningful and unique souvenirs

The experience of travel means something different to everyone.  There are so many types of travelers out there — from people going to Europe for the first time, to veterans taking Caribbean cruises, to those backpacking through Southeast Asia, and of course groups taking family trips to Disney.  So, how how can you choose the best travel souvenir to take home? Will it be worth buying? Will it be worth the suitcase space or the cost to ship it home?

Well, here’s some advice to help you pick out the right souvenir for your trip!

 

Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery

 

What do you want to remember?

What will your souvenir mean to you? I’m sure we all take photos, most of which will never get printed and may not even make it onto the computer. So, what is it about your travels that you want to remember?

 

Beach memories

 

Was that beach trip spectacular? Do you want a glass of sand in your house with the name of the beach written on it? Maybe instead you can collect some seashells from the beach and have a shadow box made from them. Finding your own unique spin on what you find in the touristy shops will make it feel even more special.

 

Culinary dreamsEggs and Grits

 

Was it the food that took you over the moon? Get the recipe and maybe the brand names of the ingredients to see if you can find them at home. Or buy a few and take them with you as long as it’s allowed (not all cheeses, fruits, meats, etc. are allowed into other countries). This is a memory you could relive countless times just through making a meal!

 

Spirited souvenirs

Cider as a souvenir - What souvenirs to bring home

 

Sometimes the local liqueur, cider, beer, or wine can bring you right back to that special place. We’ve been there with Lemoncello from Italy. Why not buy a bottle or two and bring it back? This souvenir is even better when you share! But don’t forget to pack it really well!

 

Breathtaking views

Painting of Prague from local artist - Great souvenir to bring back from traveling

 

Art from a local artist can be such a treat. Seeing the city from their unique point of view and supporting the local economy by paying the artists directly instead of a tourist shop is just an added bonus. Buying high quality postcards (without the writing on the front) and making a collage with the help of a framing shop can also make for a great memory because you pick exactly the scenes you want to remember.

 

Regional specialities

Perfume from Capri in Italy - Great gift from traveling or souvenir for yourself!

 

If you’re visiting the mecca for glass-making, or the city for perfume or cologne, then there’s probably a reason. Pick something that smells nice and the scent will always remind you of that one place.  As always, try to find a local shop to get a higher quality and more unique experience.

 

Style

Scarves - Fashion as a souvenir to bring back from traveling

 

Just thinking about some places around the world and the styles they wear makes me want to find those patterns and show them off. Be practical though! A silk scarf, handmade sandals, even a bespoke dress or suit can really bring that culture and all those memories home…if you’ll wear them. You won’t remember a thing if what you buy is in the back of a closet because it doesn’t match your style. Maybe something smaller is best, like jewelry or watch.

 

Decor

Pieces to decorate your personal space can be perfect additions to your home or office. Same as the clothes and accessories though, you’ll want it to be “you” enough so you can really enjoy it with the rest of your decor. A colorful pillow in a culturally relevant pattern, or a small statue to place on a table or desk can really add fun personality and work as a conversation starter. 

 

Photos

Mixbook.com - Photobooks from travel memories

Image from Mixbook.com

 

Your photos are a great memory and represent exactly what you were seeing or doing on your trip, so be sure to sort through them and keep the ones you want backed up for future reference. Have them printed on canvas or get them framed so you see them everyday. Maybe even design and create your own photo books to add to your coffee table! There’s nothing more personal or unique than your own photos.

 

Souvenirs we collect

In the many, many years we’ve been together, we’ve collected a few things on our travels. Mostly Christmas ornaments (specifically glass baubles) and local art. I started collecting silver charms after my mom gave me a charm bracelet when I was younger, but it seems these are getting harder and harder to find.

 

Christmas ornaments are a great item to bring back from a holiday

 

Other unique souvenirs we’ve purchased to relive our travel memories are Lemoncello, a Capri Watch, and Carthusia perfume (the one pictured earlier in the post!). What you will never find us buying are magnets, shot glasses, key-chains, or other knick-knacks. While they may work for some people, they are definitely not our style.  When we find something that really “speaks” to us and we feel like we just have to have it, generally we let it go for the moment, take a note of where we found it, and realize that if we want in later in the trip, we know where to go. 

 

Postcard collage of Amsterdam

 

Top tips

  • Buy locally and not from a tourist shop if you can help it.
  • Find something that you absolutely love.
  • Make sure you have room in your luggage or can have it shipped back home.
  • If you want one of a kind but aren’t sure if you’ve picked a mass produced piece, just ask. Hopefully they will tell you the truth. If you really love it though, does it matter?
  • Be aware of your country’s restrictions if you buy food or plants. Perfect example: In the Netherlands, not all tulip bulbs can be taken into the United States or Canada. There are specially marked ones.

 

Make sure you take home something you love

What this all really comes down to is that you should take home a souvenir that is meaningful to you. If you want an apron with the Italian flag because it will help you channel that Italian grandma spirit, do it! When you see it or use it, be sure it makes you smile. That’s what it’s all about…happy memories.

 

How to Pick Meaningful and Unique Souvenirs


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A day trip to Delft

A day trip to Delft

I absolutely adore my city of Amsterdam. It’s beautiful and there’s always something to do. But now that we are all settled and we’re not in the honeymoon stage anymore, sometimes I get antsy. You know…that “I have GOT to get outta here” feeling?

We travel a lot — about once a month — to keep this feeling away. It doesn’t have to be far, but it can’t be in Amsterdam! So, how about a little day trip to an idyllic town easily accessible by train from Amsterdam?

 

Delft portrait

 

Sounds like a great time to visit Delft. It has an old town that is perfect to get lost in, find some antiques, and if you’re lucky…chocolate! Yes, I’m starting off with chocolate because it caught me by surprise and it’s CHOCOLATE!

 

What a treat

As we were walking along taking photos of the charming streets, I saw a chocolate shop. Immediately I made a bee-line for it. Not sure what it was that attracted me, but we are both oh-so-happy we went in. Sean said it may be the best chocolate he’s ever had. And yes, we’ve been to Belgium. This shop that stole our hearts is called Van der Burgh Chocolaad. Get the milk chocolate with the dark chocolate pieces. Then try not to drool while eating it. And if you visit Delft and then visit me, you’ll be my best friend if you bring me a bar…or two.

 

Delft Chocolate - Van der Burgh Chocolaad

 

Ok…so there’s a lot more to Delft than chocolate. A heck of a lot more. You may have heard of Delft due to its namesake pottery. It’s super famous! It’s the white stuff with the beautiful shade of blue painted in different patterns all over it. I love it and I love how something so beautiful represents not only Delft, but the Dutch as well.

 

Groot Markt

Delft Groot Market City Hall

Delft_Square

 

A huge square sits between the New Church and city hall. Both of which are beautiful. Seriously, if city halls were this pretty in the U.S. maybe people wouldn’t hate going so much. Anyway, I can only imagine the festivals or markets that might set up on this huge space for the community. While we were there, Sinterklaas made a visit with his helpers, Zwarte Pieten.  
Jessica with Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

 

Yes, he looks like Santa, but the Dutch are very clear that he is not Santa Claus. But the kids were going nuts…and the adults too. Obviously I had to get a photo!

 

The joy of strolling

When in Delft, just walk. Find a path and take a stroll. We found an old city gate that was not only well kept and quite a sight to see, but we realized someone lives in it! Can you imagine living in something like this?

 

Delft City Gate

 

A few canals snake through the city but we didn’t see anyone using their boat. That could be because it was so cold. It was the end of November after all! Between the canals and the small streets and the cat or two that seemed as curious as we were, it felt like we were discovering a entirely new way of life. One that is calm and quiet.

 

Door in Delft

Canal in Delft

 

Then, while walking along, we caught something out of the corner of our eyes that just didn’t seem right. Then we realized we’re in Holland and there will always be bikes in the canal.

 

Bike in the canal

 

When is the last time you took the time to just stroll along? No, really, let me know!

 

Delft houseboat

Experience the quieter side of the Netherlands

Delft is one of those places that it’s just nice to visit. Don’t feel rushed or like you HAVE to do anything specific. Of course you can always buy the walking tour map at the tourist office and do that (it’s what we did) if you want some structure. But finding a nice cafe where you can people watch is always the good option…next to being on a boat of course!

This is an easy day trip from Amsterdam and can even be combined with The Hague! Amsterdam is amazing, but for a well-rounded Dutch experience, we highly encourage you to travel outside the city as well!

For even more detailed information on trips and places the Netherlands, Rick Steves Amsterdam & the Netherlands book has a ton of suggestions and tips.

 

Pin it for later or to share!

Day trip to Delft in the Netherlands | Perfect for strolling, people-watching, postcard photos, and chocolate!

Monday Check-in (Jan 30th, ’17)

Monday Check-in (Jan 30th, ’17)

Hi hi!

It’s almost the end of January…how did that happen?! We’re already 1/12 the way through the year and that feels insane. This time last year we were super inspired by the #take12trips challenge and had already been to Berlin, Germany. This year we have something big coming up so we are going to do a few more domestic trips, but we’ll still be on the move!

 

Zaanse Schans Windmills

 

Looking back

I got a care package. Awww! My grandma likes to send me things in the mail and I so love it. She is so thoughtful and loves that we are following our dreams and living in Europe. I think she wishes she had done it too for a while. In this package, I got some long socks that are perfect for the winter and gives that extra layer of warmth under my jeans, and some other goodies that I can eat! There’s nothing like a taste of home. Am I right?!

Something exciting is getting delivered TODAY! We have a big box store for electronics and big appliances that is similar to Best Buy in the United States and they had an insane sale. Like, I was shocked. Tax here in quite high on goods. 21% of VAT (value added tax) is included in all the prices. Included-meaning not tacked on when you check out. So the price you see is the price you pay. But for this sale, they essentially pay the tax for you! So, when I saw the laptop I’ve been eyeing for awhile during this crazy even for 21% off, plus recently getting a 300 euro gift card, how can I pass that up?! I basically got my laptop 48% off. I <3 saving money. So yeah, I get it today 🙂

A friend recommended the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing so I thought I’d check it out and got it downloaded onto my Kindle (I am not a fan of having a bunch of books around and it’s just SO easy to get books on Amazon). I’m about 60% through it and I like the idea of really analyzing your stuff to see what you really want to keep. Does it bring you joy? If you only have things that bring you joy, you will be so much happier. At least that’s what I’m getting from the book. Have you read it? What are your thoughts? If not, it’s recommended by a ton of people and you can get your copy by clicking here. Do you do any big cleaning/cleaning out throughout the year? I’d love to hear any helpful tactics you have!

 

First Trip Home as an Expat

 

Looking ahead

I’ll be spending time setting up my new computer. YAY! The laptop is the lifeline for a blogger, so I can’t wait to get it exactly how I want and start writing and editing more. My current laptop is 6 years old. WHAT?! Yes. It’s time for a new one.

This weekend is an expat blogger meetup that I’m excited to go to. Networking is key for almost everyone. As a blogger, it’s imperative. Good thing I like meeting people…most of the time. It’s more content that relates to me and my situation. People know people and we can all help each other. Are you part of any networking groups? If not, think about it. You never know what kind of doors could open up for you!

We are looking for somewhere to go to in the Netherlands in February. If you have suggestions, please let us know in the comments. If you’ve found awesome blog posts of those places, feel free to link them. This is our conversation here on our Monday Check-ins, so let’s chat!

While I share a lot here, there will be even more information in the newsletter, so don’t forget to sign up for that. (Sign up here!) We live a certain style of life with our work/life/travel balance which I’ll go into a bit more later, but we’ll soon have an announcement that will shake things up a bit soon. Don’t miss out!

Remember that surprise anniversary trip I mentioned in the last Monday Check-in, well, I can ALMOST tell you. I’ll spill the beans to you and Sean in the next check in 😉 It’s so exciting I just want to squeeeeeeee! Hopefully it lives up to my expectations. The only thing I can tell you is that it’s in Europe. But that shouldn’t be a big surprise since I blog about Europe!

 

In case you missed it

I fell in love with a tour in Italy that we can’t take because we already have plans, so instead I got to get a discount for you. You’re welcome 😉 Go and enjoy. Then send me a postcard!

All the details are here!A dream trip to Tuscany

 

Flying around Europe can be cheap, but you’ll want to make the best of those famous budget airlines…since they are famous for being bare bones!

The best of European budget airlines

Interesting reads

If you’re like me and are fascinated with places like Norway for their culture and super wintery winters, then Silvia’s post on heartmybackpack.com is perfect to help you pack for such a trip!

Until we get to Ireland in October, we’ll keep getting inspired by others for now. Madisyn of therestlessworker.com has an awesome roadtrip around Ireland all mapped out!

Malta had us falling in love with it years ago and we still haven’t been. Hopefully it will be very soon! Joanna put together a post on theworldinmypocket.co.uk about a great town in Malta called Mdina. Can’t wait to visit!

 

Catch me on Snapchat

Snapchat-AWlustForList

Have a great week!

A dream trip to Tuscany for you!

A dream trip to Tuscany for you!

Recently, I found myself browsing through Instagram searching for interesting hashtags and clicking through different profiles.

 

At the villa

View from the villa

 

As I was tapping along, I came across KM Zero Tours who host slow eco tours in Tuscany. I saw some details about a trip in the Chianti area (you know…like the wine!) and was super intrigued.

After reaching out to KM Zero Tours to learn a bit more, we found it’s exactly the type of experience we love —  an immersive introduction to Italian culture through authentic regional food.  Unfortunately, it’s falls on a week we already have plans to be in London for Traverse! *cue the pouting*

Ready to cook!

 

Why am I even telling you this?

Well, like I said, I am super interested in this trip and the more I read about it, the more I love it. Because we can’t go this time, we wanted to tell YOU about it!  If you like trips like this, I want to be able to share more of them with you…and maybe one day be able to join you!

Oh, and I get to give you a discount on this one! 😉 Just keep reading!

 

cheese in Tuscany

Wineries in Tuscany

 

Seriously, this trip sounds like a dream! So, if you are interested in a unique trip in Italy, this Chianti experience seems like a great one!

 

When in Italy


The details

Without more chatting on my part, here’s what you want to know:

Tuscan villa

The villa you’ll stay in during this trip!

  • It’s all-inclusive, including 8 days/7 nights staying in a Tuscan villa. Yes. A villa.
  • A hands-on cooking class with Stefania, a Slow Food Movement Tuscan chef.
  • Explore various adorable, post-card perfect villages in the region.
  • Visit an organic goat farm and learn about cheese-making (with eating of course).
  • Visit a bee farm and try the freshest honey you’ve ever had. Sounds sweet!
  • Experience an olive farm and learn all about the culture behind olive oil.
  • It’s Italy! Wine is a must, so you’ll visit a local wine producer and be hosted for lunch.
  • Become acquainted with local sweets in Siena.
  • Witness the age-old art of silversmithing.
  • Attend a wood-turning workshop.
  • Visit a historic winery…with a wine tasting of course.
  • Enjoy a light hike through vineyards and olive gardens.
  • Taste the culture of the region through a Florentine steak.
  • Meet the Cashmere goats whose coat brings a little softness into our homes.
  • Visit an olive oil press with pairing suggestions and a tasting.
  • Take a bread-making class in your villa. Nothing better than freshly baked bread!

Download the full PDF brochure with day-by-day details here.

 

 

This is not just a trip, it’s an experience –  A look into the Tuscan way of life through the flavors, history, vistas, and people of this region.  You’ll learn a lot and have plenty of time for relaxation in the Tuscan countryside.

 

Tuscan Farm

 

It’s an all-inclusive experience, which I love because it means less thinking and planning and more relaxing! The group size is limited to 12 people so you’ll definitely have a real personal Italian experience.

What does all-inclusive mean in this case? It means your accommodation, all meals, transportation to and from excursions and activities, and of course the excursions and activities themselves. You will need to get yourself to Italy first, but after that it’s all taken care of for you.

But the small size also means you’ll want to book fast!

 

How much?

The cost is 2900 euros per person (based on double occupancy) for the 8 days/7 nights and all of this.

BUT…just wait for it…

 

Silversmithing in Tuscany


DISCOUNT alert!

I’m a sucker for a discount. Why pay full-price if you don’t have to?

Because I was so excited about this and so bummed we can’t go, KM Zero Tours is giving me the opportunity you give you 100 euros off the price!!

To get this discount and to get more information, please email arianna@kmzerotours.com. If you want to join this Tuscany experience, be sure put “Awanderlustforlife – TuscanySpring2017” in the subject line when emailing. To secure your spot, you’ll need to transfer 40% of the price when booking and the rest up to 30 days before the trip. Arianna will help you through the process and answer all your questions!

Yes, it’s a nice chunk of change. One thing Sean and I decided a while ago was that money spent on experiences is usually well-spent. And this life experience is one I know you won’t forget. When you go and love it, I want you to take a TON of pictures and send them to me so I can drool over them. 🙂 Deal?

 

Pasta class in Tuscany


Summary

The KMZero Spring 2017 Tour is an amazing sounding experience in Tuscany and is available to you at a discount of 100 euros, bringing the total to 2800 Euros.

If you love it, please let me know! Maybe we can even give you a guest blogger spot to share your experience. Hopefully we’ll be able to create a custom A Wanderlust For Life tour someday just for our readers so we can join you 😉

Book it. Love it. Share your experience.

 

Making pasta


I partnered up with KM Zero Tours to be able to offer you a discount, in return I became an affiliate and receive a small percentage of the sale. But I wanted to share this with you regardless, and you know I only share what I am excited to share!

All photos and videos are courtesy of KM Zero Tours.