An old posting series is returning! Worldly Wednesday will highlight my travels while I was studying abroad last semester. Our first destination is Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Amsterdam was not on my list of places I had to visit but I am very glad my friend and I decided to go for a four day weekend there. In connection with my photos, here are my thoughts on the city…
The Brightly Colored Sandwich: Yes, I could get a sandwich anywhere. But, my friend found this wonderful breakfast restaurant in her guidebook called Omelegg. I highly recommend eating at this quaint spot in the Red Light District but you will probably have to wait outside. We also ate at a cafe called Blushing for two meals that had delicious sandwiches as well. I did not know what type of food to expect but overall our meals in Amsterdam exceeded my expectations.
The Canals: Amsterdam is known for its canals and it was especially pretty when we visited in the fall with the foliage changing colors. We took a canal cruise as well which I recommend as we were able to take a break from walking all day and hear about the history of the city with the audio guide. If you have a map, it is a very walkable city and we walked all around each day, sometimes from one end of the city to another. We would count how many canals to cross to keep our sense of direction.
The Clogs: My friend ended up purchasing some clog slippers during the trip but I just enjoyed browsing at all of the different stores. It was interesting to see the many clog variations and see how each retailer used the shoe.
The Museums: We visited the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and of course the Anne Frank Museum during our weekend. The Rijksmuseum was neat and very large. The famous I Amsterdam sign is in front of the museum. The Van Gogh Museum is a must do but make sure to go before it gets too crowded and buy tickets ahead of time. I couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not visit the Anne Frank Museum, especially since my friend and I had done a project on Anne Frank for our English class the semester before. We were not able to get tickets in advance, but that morning at breakfast I checked online and a few slots opened up. So, I used my international data and got us in. It was such a moving experience to be able to see where Anne Frank hid and now I’m inspired to re-read her diary.
We spent a good amount of time driving while we were in Scotland since each place we stayed was a few hours drive away from the last place, but we always made tourist stops along the road trips. One of these stops was at Loch Ness, where the famous Loch Ness monster, Nessie, lives (if you believe the legend and if you don’t you will for the duration of this post).
Anyways, we stopped at Loch Ness and we put our feet in the water so I can now say that I have put my foot in Loch Ness. And the monster did not eat any of my toes. There were quite a few stores and even restaurants capitalizing on the Loch Ness tale. The area was beautiful though and while there were a handful of people near the water, it was not as crowded as I would have expected it to be.
The weather was perfect the day we were here as well with a light breeze and lots of sun. Our guide also showed us a lovely store earlier in the trip called Ness (named after the monster) but located in Edinburgh and a few other places in Scotland as well as online. Don’t click on the link if you like shopping…we found the store was almost as dangerous as the monster.
Disney Fun Fact: Disneyland Paris has the only fireworks show that uses water, fire, projection on the castle, and fireworks at night. The show is called Disney Dreams and is usually at 11pm. We noticed during our trip that it didn’t get dark until around 10:30pm in France. Disneyland Paris also has crepes as snacks at the food kiosks which is pretty cool.
My Fun Fact: I hope to study abroad in England and will hopefully make it back to Disneyland Paris then!
We woke up later this morning as our flight was not until 5pm and our ride to the airport would leave the hotel around 1pm. My parents went out in Paris to find a fabric store for my mom who enjoys sewing. My sister and I stayed at the Hotel Napoleon until they returned. We all packed up and barely fit everything back into our suitcases. I was the only family member who did not have huge carry on.
At 12 we went across the street and had a quick lunch at an outdoor cafe. We met our guides at 1pm in the lobby and were driven to Charles de Gaulle airport with our neighbors. We looked around the airport shops, got a Starbucks snack, and waited for our flight to board. Finally, we boarded the plane and I slept for most of the flight. We arrived home late at night and went right to sleep.
It was a fantastic trip but it was nice to be home where iced water and air conditioning are common!
We were a bit tired waking up this morning. I had incorrectly stated that we went on a bike ride the day before but it was actually on this day. Our bike ride was about 20 minutes long and we all were disappointed when it ended. They have one generic sized bike for everyone to use and then a few smaller ones if there are little kids. Helmets are also available if you would like to use one. One Adventure Guide biked in the front of the group and the other in the back of the group. It was a very safe route and we got off our bikes the one time we had to cross the road. We got GREAT photos in front of the Eiffel Tower on our bikes but unfortunately they are all on my parent’s cameras and phones. We also took a group photo in front of the Eiffel Tower before handing the bikes back in and walking to our bus.
It was a short bus ride to the cooking class where we were split into two groups, one with each guide. My family and I were in the group which decorated chocolate first and then helped prepare the meal second. We each got a little circle of chocolate to decorate with edible paint and the chocolate tasted very good. Each group also got three templates with which they painted a design and it went on a larger piece of chocolate which the group shared. For the meal, we had a tomato basil tarte tatin as an appetizer, a chicken dish as the main meal, and a little chocolate cake for the dessert (as well as all of the chocolate). It was fun helping to prepare the meal but it was even better eating it. This meal was one of my favorite of the trip and they kept bringing more bread to the table!
After the cooking class, we had free time on our own until our farewell dinner at the Louvre. My family and I walked around the Champs-Élysées purchasing some last minute souvenirs. My dad and mom went to the Louvre early since my mom had not gone earlier in the trip with us to see the Mona Lisa. My sister and I stayed at the hotel and met the group in the lobby at the designated time to take the bus to the Louvre. My sister and I and our neighbor all dressed up for the farewell dinner.
The farewell dinner was good, but sad. We had met many great people and wished we had more time to get to know them better! We had drinks out on a balcony overlooking the center of the Louvre and then had dinner inside. The sun was directly on our table and it was pretty hot outside. They needed blinds on the windows to prevent a few members of our table from the heat! There was a caricaturist at the dinner as well who drew pictures of the kids first and then did ones for the adults who wanted them. My favorite part of the dinner was the hot chocolate for dessert. We got back on the bus and went back to the hotel where we had a final gathering with a surprise from the guides. The sunset behind the Arc de Triomphe was AMAZING as we got back to the hotel. This picture does not do it justice and you have to be there to experience it. The girls from the Junior Adventurers Dinner performed the Camp Rock dance after a little persuasion and then groups started to say goodbye to each other.
The end of the trip is always sad even though it is easier to keep in contact with fellow adventurers with Facebook and social media. We told our guides we would see them in the morning for our departure and my dad, sister, my neighbor, and I all headed by taxi to the Eiffel Tower. We were able to see the last few seconds of the sparkling of the Eiffel Tower at 10pm. It was really neat. On our last night we finally saw the Eiffel Tower lit up in the “City of Lights.” We packed a little when we got back to the room but fell asleep pretty fast. Our neighbor slept over in my sister and my room on the pullout couch and we started wishing we could extend our trip for a few days instead of flying home on the following afternoon.