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

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!

Portuguese flavors on a Lisbon food tour

Portuguese flavors on a Lisbon food tour

Culture is about the mix of food, location, and people. Once you start traveling, you start to realize that. We quickly learned in Stockholm and Barcelona how important food is to a culture. Simply being in the location doesn’t give you too much insight into the people and the culture, but once you start eating and talking, it all comes together.

This is the essence of the Taste of Lisboa food tour that took us around the Campo de Ourique neighborhood. Our guide, Filipa, wasn’t just a hired guide who was told what to say. She spent a lot of time in this neighborhood when growing up. The history, the food, the meanings are all part of her own history.

 

Canned fish at the market in Lisbon

 

The Campo de Ourique neighborhood

Getting to the meeting point might seem like quite the trek because it’s not really on the tourist route (that’s a bonus point in our book). But it’s really not that far from wherever you are. The famous tram 28 takes you right there. If that’s too full for you, the buses 774 and 701 take you there too. Uber is super cheap in Lisbon if that’s more your style. Though, I highly suggest grabbing a transit card while in Lisbon. Just hopping around without a worry is always nice.

No matter who your guide is, you’ll be introduced to a neighborhood that is incredibly local and just the place you want to be chowing down. This tour doesn’t include the touristy places you can find on your own in the downtown areas, instead it gives you a hyper local flavor.

 

Starting off the food tour on a sweet note

All of us on the tour were American, so what we ate at the first stop for our mid-morning snack was a bit of a surprise. What better snack could you have other than the World’s Best Chocolate Cake? Yeah. That surprised me too! But me and chocolate? Let’s just say, I wasn’t complaining.

 

World's Best Chocolate Cake in Lisbon


This chocolate cake looks like Heaven, but it’s not the chocolate cake I eat at home. Don’t expect a spongy and moist cake with creamy frosting. This cake a bit crusty like a macaron with a ganache-like filling. Different was very good in this case. I may have finished mine and Sean’s. #noregrets

 

Onward to the food market

Food markets seem to be making a come-back. From farmer’s market style to food stall markets for prepared foods, having a variety of food in one spot is pretty much the best thing ever. We got to learn about the local fish, where a roasted suckling pig must be roasted to ensure perfection, and a quick lesson on canned fish including its importance to Portugal.

 

Mercado de Campo de Ourique


Now, if you’re a long-time follower of this blog, you know I don’t like to spoil everything about a food tour. But I will tell you that I tried something I’ve never tried before (my personal hope for every food tour). It’s something I know some people love and can’t get enough of, but that has never interested me. Fish roe.

 

Fish Roe at the market in Lisbon

 

Yep. I put it on bread and ate it. Was it fishy? No. Would I order it while I’m out? No. Is it part of the culture and glad I tried it? Abso-friggin-lutely. This is what it’s all about. Learning about people and culture. It’s not a meal made for you. It’s about them. And I love that.

 

Rose at Mercado de Campo de Ourique


This market though, the Campo de Ourique market, is beautiful and open. Super clean spaces with gorgeous foods on display. Even the canned fish was beautifully set. If you ever go here, you must find Frutos Secos. As someone who can eat nuts if they are in front of her but isn’t a die-hard fan, I got a taste of one of them and was hooked. I didn’t get back to that stall and was quite sad about it. So, if anyone is going to Lisbon and then hopping over to Amsterdam, I’ll happily take a bag of the flavored almonds.

 

Nuts at Rose at Mercado de Campo de Ourique

 

Sit-down restaurant time

While I love a good tour, I love to plop my butt in a chair and have a nice drink while trying the local fare. From pork to mussels, a fish dish, and dessert, we got to discover some of the best spots in the neighborhood of Campo de Ourique.

How many ways can you eat pork? So, so many ways! I hope you get to discover a new way at the restaurant that adores their pork. And the wine. Ohhh, I love trying the wine so much. Great pairing too! It was nice to get a few different takes on what this restaurant specializes in. It’s not just a bite–it’s a collaboration of flavors and textures that caught me by surprise.

 

Pork dishes on the Taste of Lisboa Food Tour

 

In Portugal, you must eat seafood. Must! To accomplish this, we walked to a restaurant all about mussels and craft beer. I’ve got your attention now, don’t I? Since it’s all about Portuguese food, we got the Portuguese style mussels (Moules à Bulhão Pato). Less is more here, folks. Simple ingredients make great flavors.

We even learned a cool trick. Please tell me we are not the only ones who didn’t know this. You can use a mussel as a tool to pick out the other mussels! Mind blown.

 

Mussels on the Lisbon Food Tour | Taste of Lisboa
Finally we got to the famous Vinho Verde! The wine alongside a cod dish, was *kisses tips of fingers* delicioso! The wine was great, the cod was great and so much better than any other I had in Lisbon. It shocked me. I actually got a bit greedy with the fish. But still, no regrets.

Lisbon comfort food on the Lisbon Campo de Ourique food tour


Let’s talk about comfort food
. Admittedly, most of the comfort food I’m aware of doesn’t look like that great. It doesn’t have to because it’s about comforting your belly and reviving memories and that feeling of comfort. I don’t have the memories associated with baked beans rice, but I could certainly understand how this dish could make you warm and fuzzy all over while thinking about your grandma’s food.

Vinho Verde on the Lisbon comfort food on the Lisbon Campo de Ourique food tour

 

Gimme some sugar!

Yeah…we started off with sweets, but I am perfect happy to end-cap a food tour with a little sugar. The last stop is always a little bitter sweet (hehe). We made new friends, learned new things, and ate some great and some interesting bites.

Dessert on the Lisbon comfort food on the Lisbon Campo de Ourique food tour


With a very yellow treat sprinkled with cinnamon and powered sugar alongside glass of refreshing iced tea, we chatted about our day and what our favorite things were. I thought about the people who lived in that tight-knit area and really enjoyed reflecting on the foods they eat, the places they meet up on a sunny day (which is way more often than in Amsterdam!), and just why they do what they do.

Food tours really are the best. The people, the food, the history and stories all come together to create a unique experience. As usual, I would highly suggest you take a tour like this at the beginning of your trip. Taste of Lisboa gives a great reference sheet listed all the places you went in case you want to go back. But it also has recommendations on where to go during your stay.

Lisbon Campo de Ourique food tour


Don’t forget to ask questions!
We were chatting about going to Mini Bar (which is super amazing) and Filipa told us of a new spot that the same chef just opened up. My foodie friends didn’t even know about it! We went the next day and it was delicious. Your tour guide is your local friend who know all the cool spots, so use that knowledge!

If you are traveling foodies like us, you probably have a favorite city for food tours, so let’s hear it! Share that delicious knowledge.

 

Lisbon Food Tour in the Campo de Ourique neighborhood

This was a complimentary tour thanks to Taste of Lisboa, which we thoroughly enjoyed. All opinions are my own and we are so grateful for the opportunity to experience this food tour so we can share it with you!

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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