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

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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.

 

Monday Check-in (Jan 16th, ’17)

Monday Check-in (Jan 16th, ’17)

As January tends to make us feel like we need new challenges and new goals, I’ve decided to start a check-in of sorts every other week. This idea is not my own, as I was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Monica of The Travel Hack, who post Weekend Reads on Fridays.

For me, I like the idea of gathering my thoughts over the weekend and sharing them with you on Mondays. As a part-time blogger, this works well for me and hopefully will be nice for you to be able to get home after the first day of the work week and relax while catching up with me, A Wanderlust For Life, and other interesting blog articles from others.

Let’s see how this goes!

 

Lennon Wall

 

Looking back

The first two weeks of the year have gone super fast. We’re making big decisions and planning for changes throughout the year–personally and with this blog. Everything we are doing in life we hope to ramp up in 2017 in a few different ways. More on that to come!

Getting thoughts and ideas organized is oh-so-important, especially when taking on more to-dos and making changes. As someone who loves lists (who doesn’t?) and someone who gets crazy anxious when there’s too much to do and no system in place, I’m getting my stuff together.

Personally, I use Wunderlist which is on my phone and my computer. It has my blog ideas, video ideas, wish lists of places and things all with notes so when I go to write, I have a starting point. It also has my grocery list 🙂 I love it and use it all.the.time.

In addition, for the larger stuff with the website, brands, travel, social media, I’ve just started to use OneNote (the free app). I love how sections are divided, but am not certain how it will work long term.

As far as all the systems I use, maybe I’ll write a post on that later…but that’s just blogger stuff and I mainly write for those expats in Europe who want to travel around Europe (and those who want to :). Not just bloggers. But if you’re super curious, tell me and I’m happy to put something together for you!

This past weekend we went to the Vakantie Beurs which is like a mini-World Travel Market, but in Utrecht. This cute city is just outside Amsterdam and has a convention center that holds some really cool events. For this event, countries and regions from around the world were represented and showcased to the Dutch market.

Our feet and legs are tired, but we came away with great travel ideas and contacts of people who work with bloggers. We connect with these people so we can get the most out of our travels and show you awesome places and experiences around Europe.

 

Sunrise from the plane

 

Looking ahead

Planning ahead is what keeps us motivated. There’s ALWAYS something to look forward to. Last year we did 14 trips in 12 months because of the #take12trips challenge which we are crazy proud of. This year we want to do the same, but with a few uncertainties in the first couple months of the year, we haven’t done much planning.

We are going somewhere awesome in March. Can’t say where yet because it’s a surprise for Sean–who edits all my posts 😉 We have started a fun tradition where each year one of us plans a surprise anniversary trip for the other and we alternate years. This is my year and I’m so excited because I know he’ll love it!

I hate this…so much I WANT to tell you, but I just can’t yet. But you know what? Even though the next few months are going to be a bit crazy on our side, it sure beats a routine of boring. We fought so hard to leave boring behind and I think we’ve done a good job.

 

In case you missed it

Take 12 Trips Challenge...are you up for it?

Prague at Christma

Interesting reads

Loving this post by Sophie about how life in Paris when living there is different than the fantasy

These spots with incredible views found by Danielle of Lisbon, Portugal will have you thinking, “Stop being so perfect all the time, Lisbon!” Or not, and be super appreciate.

As a couple who is horrible at getting great pictures of ourselves (usually resorting to selfies), this is an insanely helpful post from Renee on getting great couple-y photos.

 

Catch me on Snapchat

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Have a GREAT week!

Our Christmas in Prague

Our Christmas in Prague

One of the best things about being an expat in Europe this time of year is that there are so many Christmas markets right at our fingertips! We’ve done the German thing a couple times in Cologne and Hannover, which were amazing. People refer to “German Christmas Markets” most of the time for a reason, because they set the bar high. But there are so many places in Europe that simply rock at Christmas, so how do you choose which one to visit?

 

Prague at Christmas

 

For Christmas this year, I wanted to be somewhere dreamy. Honestly, I’m a romantic, so I wanted to feel like I was in an old timey Christmas movie in a big poofy dress. I wanted to be somewhere everyone loves who has traveled there. And I wanted to be somewhere that isn’t insanely expensive.  I figured if we found a place that met all those requirements, we couldn’t go wrong. 

That’s how we ended up in Prague in the Czech Republic. Oh the city of spires. It’s skyline is unlike anywhere else. And it has famous Christmas markets!

 

Prague at Christmas

 

The thing is…we didn’t just do Christmas markets in Prague, we spent Christmas in Prague! This is the first we have traveled for Christmas, and quite frankly I didn’t know how it would go. Wrapping a holiday into travel was unknown to us. I mean…is it a holiday or vacation?  Are you taking in all that you can? It shouldn’t be this hard!

 

What Christmas is like in Prague

Prague at Christmas

 

What do you do? Are things open? Is public transit running? Can I get dinner reservations?

Prague is a great place to spend Christmas! Both Christmas day and the season leading up to it there is a great vibe everywhere with beautiful decorations and twinkling lights and of course massive Christmas trees. They have their fair share of Christmas markets, as well. The main one is in the Old Town Square but we loved the one in the Prague Castle too! It’s in the shadow of the Saint Vitus Cathedral, which is definitely worth going into for its amazing stained glass.

 

Cathedral in Prague Castle

 

To answer the questions we had: most things are open until sometime on Christmas Eve, many regular stores shut down for Christmas Day and the day after Christmas (Second Christmas or Boxing Day depending on what you called it!). The Christmas markets are actually open on Christmas day, but they closed early on Christmas Eve.

Public transit does keep running, maybe a bit slower, but it’s there. However, Prague is a very walkable city. Stay on either side of the river and you can easily mosey around to the main attractions and sights. It’s worth the walk just to take it all in.

Dinner reservations are a MUST! Trust me on this one. We found a website that kept track of all the restaurants that were open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, what the menu was, and even took reservations. We used this service to make reservations. Unfortunately, both places we went to did not have our reservation. That was super disappointing, but I showed my confirmation and they kindly made room for us. So, if you find such a website, use it for the information, but make your own reservations directly with the restaurant. Lesson learned!

For all other meals, we mostly it Yelped everything or snacked at the markets. There is plenty of food at the markets! My favorite is a round pastry rolled in cinnamon sugar. It’s seriously drool-worthy. But if you like a bit more substantial food, the Prague ham is super tasty too. Here are just a couple foods we saw.

 

Ham over a fire at the Wenceslas Square Christmas market

Ham over a fire at the Wenceslas Square Christmas market

 

Trdelnik

 

Food Tour

Before we arrived, I booked a food tour for our first day. You know we love our food tours! We do them everywhere. From London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Barcelona. It’s a must for us.

Duck with potato dumpling on Christmas food tour in Prague

Duck with potato dumpling

But this wasn’t any food tour. Nope. It was Christmas themed. Seemed like the right thing to do! We ate traditional Christmas dishes while learning about local culture around the holidays. It involved meaty dishes, tasty drinks (some alcoholic), and of course a sweet finish. I had never tried much of what we ate and drank which is one of the reasons I love these kinds of tours.

Christmas cookies in Prague

Traditional Czech Christmas cookies including one made with rum!

Czech beer

Our guide was Leona from Prague Food Tour, and as a Czech she was able to tell us the real story behind everything in Prague, the culture, and the food.  Our group was super small with only three of us plus Leona!


Old Town Hall and The Tower

Prague at Christmas

We were lucky enough to grab a spot on the Old Town Hall tour and go up in the tower. Sounds super boring, right? Why would you tour the Old Town Hall?

There are so many reasons…like history, cool spaces, and going underground. Best to show you, I think.

Prague_Old_town_hall

Old underground passages under the Old Town Hall in Prague

Weapons stored under the Old Town Hall

 

Going up in the Old City Hall Tower is a MUST. Don’t miss it or you’ll be upset with yourself. The view is incredible. Sadly we weren’t up there in the daylight which I’ve seen photos of and are amazing, but with the Christmas market right below, I wasn’t complaining.

Old Town Square Christmas Market

Concert in a Palace

We wanted Christmas 2016 to be the most Christmas-y Christmas ever. To that end, I booked us a concert in a palace. It was the Mozart Orchestra Prague and we got to listen to a string ensemble play heavenly Christmas music in the Clam-Gallas Palace. The acoustics were incredible. The room was breathtaking. And the music was perfect for the time of year. So glad I got that itch for a concert! It’s really made us want to attend more concerts and other performance art.

 

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

Wenceslas Square on Christmas Day

Everything stops early on Christmas Eve so we missed out on one of the neighborhood Christmas market we wanted to visit in Namesti Miru. By the time we headed back to the main area of the city, the others were closing too. It’s like the world was conspiring to slow us down “Ok, force me to relax!”.

It had been days of long walks! Crazily enough, we had friends staying in the hotel across the street from us so we had planned to have Christmas Eve dinner together at Kolkovna Celnice Pub & Restaurant. It was delicious and the portions were quite generous. And get this…four entrees and multiple drinks and the bill was about 60 euros. Not per person, but TOTAL. Gotta love eating out in the Czech Republic!

Christmas day consisted of sleeping in and hanging out until we were hungry for lunch. We were excited the markets were back open so we pigged out on some ham and other snacks while sipping some hot mead (honey wine). Even though it’s not super traditional, we had a reservation at an Italian spot in town. Christmas or not, it was good Italian food. Definitely check out Corto Pizza & Pasta Restaurant if you’re in the mood for it in Prague.

 

Did it feel like Christmas?

Prague at Christmas

 

Prague was great. Exploring the city, the castle, the markets and more, was a nice experience. Yes, Prague was magical at Christmas and we can’t wait to get back when it’s warmer, but I’m just not sure if I want to travel over the Christmas holiday again.  Part of this is because we had a very specific Christmas routine in the U.S. with family.  This is our third Christmas abroad and I was a bit disappointed.  Our tiny tree with ornaments collected from our travels wasn’t with us, we didn’t have any Christmas movies to watch, and we weren’t home…where we are comfortable. A hotel room just didn’t do it for me. 

Do you travel this time of year? What makes it feel like Christmas for you? Do you love it? I really want to hear your stories!

 

Sean & Jessica in the Prague Castle on Christmas Eve

 

Pin for next Christmas!

Christmas in Prague can be magical. We take you through our experience of being in Prague at Christmas time.

 

Want lots more practical info on Prague? The Rick Steves Pocket Prague book is worth checking out for lots of local tips!

One year later…The #Take12Trips Challenge

One year later…The #Take12Trips Challenge

2015 was our first full year in Amsterdam.  We traveled a bit, but not nearly as much as we hoped considering travel was one of the main reasons we moved to Europe.  We were still getting used to living in Europe, and while we knew we wanted to travel more, we had to get our feed under us first.  I first saw the #take12trips challenge on The Travel Hack and was truly inspired, and I think she was inspired by the original author on Need Another Holiday back in 2013.  Wherever it came from, it seemed like a great idea if we wanted to keep exploring Europe.  

Then came 2016 and we made our resolution, our goal, our challenge: We would take 12 trips throughout the year. It was unclear exactly how we’d do it or where we’d go, but we made it our number 1 priority.   #take12trips – Challenge Accepted!

 

Did we make it?!


Sean and Jessica in Italy 2016

 

Luckily we are given 26 vacation days each year which definitely helped with planning longer trips, but we also decided we would need to take single-day and weekend trips as well. It was a great mix! On the shorter trips we learned whether or not we wanted to go back to that destination (or just needed a Parisian fix), then on the longer trips we tried to live like locals and explored a bit more. All in all, we took 23 flights, 12 train trips, and spent 76 days traveling…and we did it!  Even we were surprised at how many trips we actually took because it was more than just 12!

Because we did about one trip a month, we’ll review the year in the easy way…month-by-month!


 

January (5 days) | Berlin, Germany

berlin_wall

 

For a while, it seemed Berlin was all I kept hearing about. People loved it. Some even moved there because they loved it so much. I’m not sure that going in January was the best way for me to get a feel for the city because I just didn’t see what everyone saw in it. But I’ll give it another shot…in a warmer month! We did make a video of our trip where we experience some really emotional places in Berlin.

 

February (1 day) | The Hague, the Netherlands

The Hague - De Passage

 

This was our first day trip of the year! We decided to visit The Hague, the political capital of the Netherlands. But we were determined to not do all the political stuff, instead we wanted to see the beach, some art, and even a great view! What surprised us most was some of the streets in the old town…they felt a bit like Paris! Our video shows a different side of The Hague away from the embassies and politics.

 

March (11 days) | Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi Coast, Italy

 

We spent our anniversary on the Amalfi Coast in Italy! It was a surprise trip from Sean and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! We stayed in Sorrento for a few days and even hung out on the island of Ischia. It’s a little-known island in the Bay of Naples where Italians like to holiday. Of course we squeezed in a trip to Capri and went to visit Pompeii while we were in the area. I can’t wait to go back to Italy!

 

April (3 days + 2 days) | Paris, France & Giethoorn, the Netherlands

Paris Bridge

 

In April, we got a visit from Sean’s mom! Because it was cheaper for her to fly into Paris, we figured we would take the opportunity to meet her there and have a weekend away. I mean, it’s Paris. We’ll take any excuse to go! Who am I kidding? I don’t need an excuse! We got to show her some touristy places for her first time in Europe and we enjoyed seeing Paris a little differently than we did the last time around.

 

giethoorn house

 

At the end of the month we really wanted to see Giethoorn in the springtime. It’s a tiny town with an idyllic section of walking and bike paths along small canals. Postcard-perfect is the best way to describe it! The trees weren’t in bloom yet, so I’d recommend late May for a visit, but it was still a beautiful place to stroll and take a boat tour.

 

May (9 days) | Barcelona, Spain + Mediterranean Cruise

Cannes, France

 

Barcelona seems to be on everyone’s list! The promise of sunshine, great food and wine, and fun is enough to entice anyone. Unfortunately, while we were there it rained.  A lot. I mean days of rain. I went on a cruise for a couple of those days…a Backstreet Boys cruise. Yep! I was on a cruise ship with a couple thousand women, a few men, and the Backstreet Boys. My favorite cruise port-of-call was Cannes, France, and I can’t wait to go back!

 

June (3 days) | Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

 

At first we weren’t really sure what to get into in June.  The weather is almost perfect in most of Europe but it can also be quite crowded and touristy. We decided on a quick 3-day weekend trip to Basel. It was mainly to visit a family friend and to relax so we didn’t get into too much. Next time I want to spend more time in the region and explore…there’s so much culture to experience there!

 

July (9 days + 1 day) | Stockholm, Sweden + Rotterdam, Netherlands

Love this city view of Stockholm

 

TBEX in Stockholm. Yes. OMG, yes. The Travel Bloggers Exchange conference is amazing for a few reasons. The hosting city is a sponsor so you are given the opportunity to explore with complimentary transit and tourist passes, and there are a few other opportunities as well. We went on a food tour and I hopped on a roof to see the city from above. I fell in love with Stockholm. July is the PERFECT time to visit, I just wish I could buy a house on one of the islands in the lagoon. Later in the month we visited Rotterdam to see a friend who lives there. She played tour guide for the day and we even made a video!

 

August (5 days) | Virginia, United States

Mountains of the Shenandoah Valley

 

Technically I did travel in August. I went to the United States for my best friend’s wedding. But it was a whirlwind 3-day trip (not including the two travel days) and I focused my attention only on her and my family while I was there.  August is a beautiful time to be in the Shenandoah Valley and on the Skyline Drive, and I made sure I did get to see some of the amazing views I’ve missed since moving to a flat country!

 

September (12 days) | United States

Until our next trip to the US

 

So…I was back in the States again. This time Sean joined me as it was a trip we planned way back in February to visit friends and family. We really did try to pack it all in. The downside was I was sick for most of the trip. I spent days in bed or on a couch. Not sure what was wrong with me, but thank goodness I was in the land of Dayquil and Nyquil. I still rested but didn’t have to feel like death the whole time.

 

October (3 days) | Paris, France

Solo trip to Paris

 

By now I was itching to travel in Europe again. My friend and fellow blogger Edna was back in Paris and I wanted to be back there too. Hopping on a train to Paris is super easy from Amsterdam. If you want a cheap ticket, you have to buy a month or more in advance, but actually getting on the train is super easy and my favorite way to travel in Europe! I spent the weekend going solo for a bit, then hanging out with Edna and getting a taste of how to shop like a Parisian on a food tour was such a relaxing time.

 

November (5 days + 1 day) | London, England & Delft, the Netherlands

Costa Rica at the World Travel Market

 

We doubled up again this month! Sean went to London for work the first week of the month, and I went for the World Travel Market the second week of the month. We also took a day trip to Delft at the end of the month. Busy times! London was great as usual. There were some WTM events and some meetups as well, where I got to see some old friends and also made some new ones!  I was able to stay with friends in the city, which was great!  

 

December (6 days) | Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

 

Prague at Christmas! This was so exciting for me. It was the first time we’ve traveled for Christmas and I wasn’t sure how it would go. The Christmas markets gave off heavenly scents of mulled wine and grilled meat along with having the twinkly lights and greenery that lets you know it’s Christmas time in Europe. Prague is simply beautiful and I hope to go back with everything is in bloom too!


There it is! We exceeded 12 trips and made 14 trips in 2016. This makes me wonder if we can do it again in 2017 and I say we can! We did all this while working full-time in Amsterdam. We are grateful for our vacation days and we TAKE THEM! Living in Europe gives an excellent opportunity to explore for pretty cheap. Can’t wait to see what 2017 holds!