Reflection and a New Beginning

Alkmaar Reflection Title

At the end of the year I think it’s always good to look back and see what you accomplished, see what you can work on, and determine where you want to go from here. So, this is one of those posts. I figure if you’re a regular reader, a friend of ours, or just curious about us as people, this is a nice round-up.

The Library Boat

Review

Since moving to Amsterdam in 2014 we have had the opportunity to travel around the Netherlands. When we lived in Virginia, I didn’t feel like we took advantage of all it had to offer. Once we knew we were leaving, we knew we had to explore the area! So we finally headed to the Maple Festival and the local Lavender Farm. But there is still so much left to explore!

White Oak Lavender Farm | Harrisonburg, VA

White Oak Lavender Farm | Harrisonburg, VA

History will not repeat itself in this way! We aren’t going to miss out on this wonderful flat country that loves their culture, adorable homes, and bikes.

Figuring out where to go is always just the start. Every town and every province has something wonderful to offer a traveler. Alkmaar is beautiful, scenic, and the perfect place to get lost. It’s known for the cheese market, but I found the crazy canal cruise to be the highlight of the trip. I’m not kidding when I say that we not only had to duck to get under bridges, but had to get on the floor of the boat. It was craziness!

Then there’s Utrecht, a very nice and livable town with everything you might need with the bonus of being a quick train ride away from Amsterdam. I feel like we only got a glimpse into Leiden and can’t wait to go back to walk around with our friend so we don’t miss anything. Even with our short trip the last time, everything we saw was very charming.

Haarlem is basically an Amsterdam suburb with a chill feeling, not overgrown, and knows how to put on a Christmas market. I know that we’ll be back to explore even more! And just to test the limits of a national train daypass, we went almost as far as we could go from Amsterdam to explore Maastricht. I would call this city a bit more grand than the others. Bigger churches, a river instead of canals, and large squares to fill the city that spans the two sides of the river Maas (Dutch)/Meuse (French).

Even though we’ve seen a bunch of other Dutch cities, Amsterdam is still our favorite. There’s always something to do whether it’s a food festival, King’s Day, Gay Pride, the Amsterdam Light Festival, or any one of the hundreds of festivals we didn’t get to. It’s stunning, and it’s home.

Paris Love Wall

We also got out of the country a few times. One of my favorites was our anniversary trip to Paris! I even got a free haircut–what a crazy experience that was.

Sean traveled for work a bit and I got to London for the World Travel Market (my first time promoting this blog!). Sadly London weather was not too friendly, but aside from that, I met some great travel bloggers, had an awesome food tour, and visited the Doctor Who store.

Side note: I have GOT to get to Cardiff soon for the Doctor Who Experience.

Yes, we’re Whovians.

December is really the month that shined. German Christmas markets are tempting when you live in the Netherlands and they are a quickish train ride away. We gave in and went to Hannover, Germany where there are multiple markets with different themes. It was so much fun and we learned about Baumstriezel (round Transylvanian bread), enjoyed mead as they did in the Middle Ages, and wandered through a man-made forest in the center of town. That was a first!

To top it all off, we met up with some good friends from home in a town near Hannover and spent about 24 hours with them. It was such a treat to experience the Christmas markets with friends we haven’t seen in so long.

Haarlem Houses on a Canal

Reflection

With so much uncertainty, 2015 kept us on our toes. We were still trying to find our place in this Dutch capital. We’ve been taking in the culture, making friends, and working to decide what we want for our future. That’s quite the difficult task–but also empowering!

Going to the World Travel Market was really the turning point for me. It helped me decide the direction I want to take this blog. It gave me the confidence, motivation, and knowledge I needed to move forward.

WTM Egypt

Making connections can really make all the difference in life. No matter if it’s blogging, building friendships, knowing what’s going on, or even finding a place to live, networking is the key. This is what I learned this year.

Blogging about places we are discovering, Amsterdam, and expat life is fun and interesting because it makes us think a little deeper and research a little more. But, I want this to be a dialog where you all get involved! Talking with you is so much more fun than just talking to you. That’s why I love when you leave comments to let me know when you’ve been somewhere and you loved it too. Maybe you have more questions that I’m happy to answer. Let YOUR voice be heard! I’d love to learn something from you, too. So leave your tips of a destination when commenting. Share the knowledge so we all get great experiences.

On the side of the IJ

Looking Ahead

Taking advantage of our home base is a must for 2016. Long-weekends, day-trips, etc, are going to be a high priority. Of course, we have jobs and aren’t full-time travelers, so we plan around vacation time given and national holidays. It’s a fun puzzle-like process to squeeze everything in! And you have to be somewhat flexible to get the best flight prices. Oh the planning involved! Good thing that’s one of my strong suits 🙂

What’s planned for the next year? A lot! But spread over 12 months, it’s totally doable and makes waiting for each adventure even more exciting!

Visiting 7 countries in 12 months as part-time travelers is awesome and we are so ready to get out there and explore. A trip to the United States is planned and I can’t wait to share some awesomeness from my home-state!

TBEX is being hosted in Stockholm this year and I’ve got my ticket. It will be my first TBEX event and now that it’s time to grow and learn, it’s the perfect time to attend. I love that there is an event specifically for travel bloggers to mingle with each other, learn a lot, and network with brands and destinations.

Of course there will be quick weekends to nearby places to discover more of Europe. I never tire of exploring…even if it’s an Amsterdam neighborhood that’s new to me.

So, cheers to a new year! If you want to help this blog grow in 2016, please simply share a post you find interesting. I would be forever grateful!

Here are some popular ones that you might be interested in:

Rules for Traveling as a Couple
How To Make Friends
Tips for an Engaging Trip to Paris
Amsterdam City Guide

Thank you Thank you Thank you for being part of our journey! We are looking forward to all the new content we’ll be sharing and of course would love to hear your thoughts. If you want to stay in touch, just join the A Wanderlust For Life inner circle.

Happy 2016 to you all!

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