Happy Halloween, travelers!The wino was supposed to work an event tonight but was let free (woo hoo!) so we’re going out and about on the Upper East Side as Batman, Robin, & a Pan Am Stewardess. Woo hoo!
We just assume that any deserted highway out west is a place to avoid at night. 6 Places To Have A Paranormal Experience
I genuinely can’t tell if I’ve seen this before, or just feel like I have because it’s pretty much my life every.single.day. The beat of New York
THIS IS HORRIFYING. A Capuchin Crypt Full Of Well-Preserved Old Friars
Can you imagine a time when the speed limit was 4 miles per hour? Antique Cars on Display, and on the Road, in London
We love her mini travel guides and this one on Japan is no exception. Mini Travel Guide: Japan
How many have you visited? Top 20 European Halloween Destinations
And, in the spirit of Halloween, we’ll close with this slightly horrifying picture from the catacombs in Paris:
the romantic & the wino
Bruges was everything we pictured it to be. Quaint, adorable, and completely relaxing, we pretty much just strolled around the town for two days straight. Usually when we plan our bigger trips, we try and do half the time in a city, and half the time in a beach town somewhere. Because we wanted to start in Amsterdam and end in London, there wasn’t really time to get down to a (warm) coast, so Bruges was meant to be the calm of our trip, and it totally was.
Arrival – We arrived in Bruges Sunday afternoon after our morning at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. We hopped on a local train, pain au chocolat in hand, and two hours later we were in Belgium. We opted for a cab from the train station to our hotel (easier with all our stuff), but there is a bus option if you want to save a few euro.
Afternoon – After checking into Hotel ter Duinen, we spent the afternoon falling in love with the tiny town and stopping for our first official Belgian beers at a few of the bars around the main square. We also started our hunt for dinner. If rule #1 for choosing a restaurant while traveling is that it must be full during meal time and unofficial rule #2 is that it should be full with locals, then rule #3: even in the tiniest of towns, avoid eating anywhere near the “Times Square” of wherever you are. We sat outside at some of the cafes right on the main square, but ventured out to the sidestreets to find more “traditional” Belgian food.
Evening – We luckily scored a later reservation at De Vlaamsche Pot, and capped off our day at this cozy and adorable little restaurant with the most amazing stew we’ve ever had.
Day 2 — MONDAY
Morning – My favorite part about independently-owned hotels in Europe: the breakfasts. The breakfast room at Hotel ter Duinen was amazing, and it was the perfect way to start our day.
From there, we walked back into town and started our touristy day in Bruges: we climbed the tower at Markt Square, took a boat ride around the canals (MUCH better than our Amsterdam experience), and had our first experience with Belgian frites (yum oh yum).
Afternoon – In the afternoon, we went on a brewery tour of De Halve Maan brewery, which I’ll detail in another post, but I definitely recommend. (a6packofstories, did you recommend this to me? I can’t remember who did!)
After our brewery tour, we stopped for lunch and more Belgian beer (bad blogger, I don’t remember the name… but it wasn’t that exciting). We unfortunately but unsurprisingly then had to spend the afternoon on a little shopping spree for warmer clothes. I was disappointed to find how commercial Bruges felt on some of the streets, but not gonna lie, H&M came in handy.
Evening – Having had no problem getting a reservation on Sunday night, we decided we were safe to wander around and find somewhere last minute Monday night. BAHA poor life decision. We wandered for about two hours and were literally turned away from places… I don’t know if, like the Dutch, Belgians are also known for their abruptness, but I’ve never walked into a restaurant before to have someone say “no, we are full” and point back at the door. It happened to us THREE TIMES. Until L’Accident de Comptoir came to our rescue and saved us… and the awkwardness of that meal will have to be detailed in my hits and misses post.
DAY 3 — Tuesday
Morning – Bruges really is a lot like Venice in that, after a day of exploring, you’ve pretty much seen everything you need to see. It’s beautiful and worth visiting, but we felt like we had maxed out our time there around mid-day on Monday. So, we decided to head to Brussels a little earlier than expected (after breakfast at the hotel, of COURSE).
We hopped back on the train Tuesday morning and departed for Brussels… and if we thought we had seen Bruges in a day, we had no idea what was coming in Brussels.
You don’t have to tell us twice. We’re THERE. Who’s funding? Five Reasons to Pick Turkey as Your Next Holiday Destination
It’s a relief to see that face masks are unnecessary on a plane because now I will feel much less guilty about pointing and laughing whenever I see people wearing them. Not that it stopped me before, but you know… guilt. Travel Health: 7 Ways to Avoid Germs on an Airplane
As if we’re not obsessed enough with Jamie Beck and her cinemagraphs. Shedding the Light on breast cancer in The City of Lights
GO AWAY SNOW, we want it to look like this for all of November. You know, just replace the mountain with some skyscrapers since we’re in New York: Guess Where? Fall Foliage
AND in honor of Halloween, a dark & stormy photo of the day:
Have a perfect Halloween weekend!!
the romantic & the wino
As accidental as our poor planning for this trip was, hubs and I had psyched ourselves up for a laid back 10 days of city exploration… but somehow, still ended up being pretty busy during our two days in Amsterdam. Despite this and the rain/wind/hail situation happening when we arrived, we fell in love with the city almost immediately, and came away with more things that we’d recommend you plan to do than avoid while in Amsterdam.
The Hotel Pulitzer
Situated right along a canal and next to the Nine Streets, the surrounding neighborhood is everything you picture Amsterdam to be (you know, as long as you’re not picturing drugged up prostitutes everywhere, WHICH as it turns out, is more people’s impression of Amsterdam than you’d think). Even better than the location was the decor itself. Exposed brick, classic Dutch-style wooden beams, and the comfiest bed in the world? I’m actually surprised the hubs was able to convince me to go out and see the city.
The Van Gogh Museum
We’re not your traditional museum visitors… the hubs is famous for walking into each gallery, spinning in a circle, nodding, and moving onto the next. Not to say that he was much different here, but on a Friday night, they had a DJ, everyone seemed to be under 30, and there was a bar on the first floor with overly attractive people lounging around sipping wine. Oh, and one very stoned tour group that thought every piece was amazing. Even if you’re not there on a Friday, the museum does a great job of telling Van Gogh’s story through both captions on the wall and his paintings, as well as intermixing paintings from other artists that inspired him (including his inspiration for “The Potato Eaters,” which was interesting to see side by side).
Unless a restaurant is recommended to us, I have an important (and apparently annoying) rule about choosing a restaurant while walking around: if it’s during a traditional meal-eating time, there should be a fair amount of people inside. Lucky for hubs, we stumbled across Pancakes and it was packed–with locals! (That’s rule #2 for choosing a restaurant but I’m less strict about that one). It was tiny and adorable, and I’ll let the picture speak for what the food was like. The Heineken Experience
This was an obvious requirement on our trip, and it ended up being a lot more fun than I expected. Of course it was touristy, but sometimes I forget that that’s not always a bad thing. After the tour and tasting, you walk through a lot of interactive displays that we thought were hilarious, and end up at a bar where you exchange two little tokens for two free pints of Heineken. Worth it. Other recommendations:
Balthazar’s Keuken - Holy Crap. It’s not even worth putting into words. They have a 3 course menu that changes weekly, and all they ask when you sit down is “meat or fish.” Amaze.
Anne Frank Museum – Seriously make time for this. It’s really depressing and easy to convince yourself to skip it, but it’s so incredibly moving and well-done.
Lust – Cute restaurant in the Nine Streets where we stopped for a late lunch and a beer. Both yum and with a nice, laid back atmosphere
Cafe de Prins – This was the only traditional bruin/brown cafe that we went to, but it was perfect. Low, wood-beamed ceilings, large oak bar, and pro-day drinking.
The Bulldog Company – If you’re like us and this isn’t your regular thing, this was the perfect place to go.
This was super disappointing because the Rijksmuseum was actually something we had researched and were excited about. Unfortunately, it’s under serious renovation and the character of the museum was definitely compromised because of this. So I guess it’s not a MISS, but while it’s under renovation, I would plan to skip it for something else if you’re tight on time.
Blue Boat Company
I don’t know if this is true for all of the canal tours, but JESUS CHRIST was I bored. Like, fell-asleep-with-my-sunglasses-on bored. Ok, that’s not saying much because I can fall asleep anywhere (fell asleep in a kayak once, true story), but it really was boring. Seriously, the most exciting part of the tour was when we got stuck in the middle of Grachtenrace, as pictured below. I actually think we may have thrown the race for one team, so… apologies for that.
If you have time…
Cheese tasting at Reypenaer
We were on the fence about the class. We did come out knowing more about cheese than we had at the beginning. I mean, that’s not really saying much… prior knowledge was basically just “yum, I like this!” and “eww this tastes like a band-aid.” And actually, if you enlarge the picture below, you’ll see my rating system did not progress with one class. However, my issue was that the teacher we had was not the best. She knew her cheese, but she wasn’t particularly captivating. (Though she was a little more entertaining by the end thanks to the wine they paired with each cheese). Still, I’d be willing to blame any negative impressions on jet lag, because we literally went here four hours after we got off our plane in Amsterdam.Palladio
This was a cozy and intimate little find, and had surprisingly authentic (Northern) Italian food. Recommended if you’re in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t go out of my way. It’s around the corner from Hotel Pulitzer and was the perfect place for us on Friday night.
- all photos are my own
One too many attempts in college to substitute wine and liquor in activities that normally call for beer means we can safely declare this a recipe for blackout. A is for Absinthe, B is for Boozing on the New Orleans Cocktail Tour
If we haven’t already checked them off, most of these cities are on our travel short list. The World’s Most Fascinating City Neighbourhoods to Explore
I realized while we were navigating our way through the Atomium that I’m kind of scared of UFOs? It kind of felt like we were in one and I started to feel a little bit of anxiety if I thought about it taking off. That’s weird, right? Anyway. No thanks to this: Stay in a UFO in Sweden
This might be why we’re bad at packing. This list is SERIOUS. Essential packing list for the Catalonian Pyrenees
Our photo of the day is the exact opposite of what it feels like outside in New York:
the romantic & the wino
We approve that they chose Saks over Macy’s. DOWN WITH MACY’S HERALD SQUARE. No but seriously, that store gives me anxiety. World’s Best Shopping: Stores That Are Quintessentially Part Of A City
The hubs & I met a couple in Amsterdam whose first visit was on a Christmas cruise up the Rhine. And now it is our life goal. Amsterdam in Winter
As two people who have never been on a cruise and couldn’t really pinpoint why, we like Rick Steves’s take on his first experience. So, Is Cruising Really Travel?
Love wine, love free & cheap, love this list, WHY WILL NO ONE SEND US TO SONOMA? 102 Free (and Cheap) Things to do in Sonoma County
The Cotswolds keep popping up on things annnnd it’s making it really impossible to function because we just want to be there SPEAKIN’ AWL BRI-TISH-like. Where to go in November
IS THIS REAL AND WHEN CAN WE GO?!?!
I realize there has been a lot of yelling in today’s NTR, but it’s just that sort of day. BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY BIRTHDAY WINO WINO WINO!
the romantic & the wino
It’s that time of the week again! Today’s Jetsetter is solo world traveler and subject of our current envy, Lauren Juliff. She’s a twenty-something British girl (please see below for cute English words, which will inevitably result in the romantic and I attempting to speak in British accents for the day) who has been traveling around the world since July. She’s a girl after our own hearts, and you can read all about her adventures here (and here!)
Favourite Place: Santa Monica is, and always will be, my favourite place in the world. I love everything about it and will live there one day.
More importantly, favourite meal: Cheese. Or anything with cheese in. Cheese is totally a meal.
The moment you caught the travel bug: There was never a defining moment for me. I remember family holidays when I was five years old where we’d go and spend a week in a cold, dirty caravan by the English coast where it would rain everyday and my family did nothing but argue and fight. Despite all that, at the end of the holiday I’d be sat in my room crying because I couldn’t bear to go back home and wanted to stay away for as long as possible… It’s how I’ve always been.
First experience travelling alone: My current Round-The-World trip. Everyone I spoke to before leaving thought I was crazy for deciding to travel solo for years having never done it before, but I’ve never been happier and wouldn’t have it any other way
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling? When I arrived in Moscow, extremely tired and drugged up on travel sick pills. I couldn’t find where the official taxis were in the airport and so being so desperate to get to my hostel to sleep, I stupidly decided to take an unlicensed cab. I paid over three times what I should have done, and the second I got into the taxi the driver locked all of the doors and sped off crazily. I started to panic as all these crazy scenarios flashed before me. I was sat here with a random guy in his car and he could have been driving me anywhere! I spent the entire journey crossing my fingers and hoping that I would get there safely and that he wouldn’t kill me and eat me for breakfast.. Fortunately he took me right to my hostel, but I learnt my lesson and will never take an unlicensed cab again..
Worst hotel/hostel experience: I was staying in Lake Bled in Slovenia and was in a three bed dorm room and sharing with an elderly couple. I was awoken on the first night night by the sound of the two of them having very loud and very sloppy sounding sex in the bed next to mine. I had to put the pillow over my head and desperately try and block out the repulsive sounds they were making. This continued for the entire time I was there. Definitely not fun.
Best hotel/hostel experience: The amazing Flip-Flop hostel in Taipei. The second I walked in I was made to feel at home and ended up extended my original four night stay to twelve nights as I just didn’t want to leave! I met the most amazing people there and the owner was such a great guy. He was always buying me Taiwanese food to try and even invited me to his grandma’s house to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival! The place rocked.
Favourite family vacation: Going to Disneyland Florida for the first time in my life at 8 years old. It was my first time out of England and I can’t even begin to describe the excitement and amazing memories I have from my time there. I went there again at 18 with an ex-boyfriend and it just wasn’t the same!
Must-have packing item: My kindle, which unfortunately broke a few weeks ago but will be replaced VERY soon. I don’t even read that much but the 3G internet allows me to check Facebook and Twitter wherever I am, and the ability to check Google Maps when I’m lost (which happens pretty much everyday) is invaluable.
Most unbelievable travel experience: Getting to visit Chernobyl a few months ago. I have a huge obsession with ghost towns and this was the ultimate place for me. It didn’t disappoint and was one of the most harrowing and interesting experiences of my life.
Favourite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: It happened completely randomly and as a spur of the moment thing. I was staying in Hualien in Taiwan and one of the guys in the hostel had just heard of a Taiwanese aboriginal dance ceremony that was taking place in an hour. He asked me if I wanted to go with him and of course I agreed. We headed outside and he then pointed to a scooter and told me to get on! I’d never ridden on a scooter before in my life and I was TERRIFIED! Before I knew it I had got the hang of it and was zooming along the backstreets with the biggest smile on my face. It was so something so different to anything I’d ever done, or would consider doing, back home and served to show me how much my life has changed. It’s one of my favourite memories of my trip so far.
Place you can’t wait to return to: Pretty much anywhere in Taiwan. I stayed for a month and still didn’t want to leave. There are so many places along the east coast that I didn’t get a chance to visit and there are hundreds of things I still need to see in Taipei!
Place you can’t be paid to return to: Shanghai. I had an absolutely terrible time there. There was nothing to do but shop, I got scammed out of £50 and someone tried to rob me. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Any exciting trips coming up? I’m currently travelling for the foreseeable future, and that’s pretty exciting
Dream vacation: I’ve always wanted to buy a VW Campervan and drive the Hippie Trail from London to Nepal. One day… When it is safer…
Favourite tourist attraction: I loved exploring the Great Wall of China.
Favourite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction: I always seem to look like a tourist.
This time last year, I had (selfishly) convinced the wino to move to New York, and it’s hard for me to believe that one year later, she’ll be spending the same weekend moving out of her first New York City apartment. I’ll miss her so, but tonight we’re celebrating as real Upper East Siders, with dinner at Flex. Along with mussels & frites & donuts, tonight is sure to include lots and lots… and lots of wine.
So wino, how about October 26th in Paris next year?!
xo always always!,
We would like to take the Kancamagus National Scenic Byway in New Hampshire both because it looks pretty AND it is called Kancamagus. Say it out loud. Kaaaaancamagus. America’s Most Scenic Drives
Alright, you’ve convinced us. 87 Reasons to Love Fall in Portland
We like this girl. “It doesn’t cost as much as you’d think to travel. You don’t need to save $50,000 to spend a year overseas. If you’re young, willing to sleep anywhere (hello, couchsurfing!) and go to countries off the beaten tourist track, then you can survive on much less (I’ve heard as low as $1000/mo).” 8 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 22
Photo of the day: We recommend you take time to look through all of these, but Out Skerries makes us pretty positive we’d be ok settling down forever in a little town of 65 Scots. Population Seven Billion
the romantic & the wino
I know this will come as a surprise, but Hubs and I didn’t take much into consideration before deciding on Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels, and London for our fall trip this year. Eastern Europe was at the top of our list, but we knew we wouldn’t have enough time to plan that trip the way we wanted to…. and you might recall that thanks to Fashion Week, our foresight couldn’t have been more correct. Lazy or not, we were in serious need of stops that did not require much in the way of advanced planning. We were lucky to find that this was the case, and we weren’t even THAT affected when we got to JFK and realized we had left all of our guidebooks in our apartment. All of them. Seriously.
Despite everything, we had a pretty jam-packed 10 days, and I’ve been having trouble deciding how to share our trip and resulting advice for each city. More picture-heavy posts to come with our hits and misses throughout the trip but without further ado: my completely doable guide to two days in Amsterdam.
Day 1 – FRIDAY AFTERNOON
Arrival! – We arrived in Amsterdam around noon, took a cab to our hotel, and checked in at The Hotel Pulitzer. People have strong feelings about how they adjust to time changes, but hubs and I are pro-midday nappers on the first day.
Afternoon – Showering (ew airplane skin) + napping was followed by a cheese tasting and wine pairing at Reypenaer — originally read about here, back when we first started this here bloggy blog. OH fate. It was amazing, but more on that soon.
Evening – We got very lost wandering around trying to find the Van Gogh Museum (seriously, we’ll blame it on too much cheese and not enough sleep, but it took us embarrassingly long to get there).
After the Van Gogh Museum, we headed back to our neighborhood for dinner at Palladio (an accidental but worthy find).
DAY 2 – SATURDAY
Morning – Jet lag did kind of kick our butts, and we woke up at 5:30 am, passed back out around 7:00 am, and woke up at 9:30 am. We got a little bit of a later start than we intended, but we treated ourselves to Pancakes for breakfast and all was right with the world.
After breakfast, we walked around The Nine Streets, which was a really adorable little shopping area surrounding our hotel.
we Hubs got bored of window shopping (faster than you’d think), we made our way back towards the Van Gogh Museum, this time to hit up the Rijksmuseum.
Afternoon – From there, we headed to the required The Heineken Experience, which we found to be much more fun than expected.
… which also made the Amsterdam Canal Tour with the Blue Boat Company much more fun than it actually was.
SOMEHOW in all of this, we managed to miss lunch? It was seriously unlike us, so we hiked it back to our neighborhood (where we were meeting a colleague of mine who lives in Amsterdam) for a quick beer and chips at Lust, followed by drinks with the aforementioned colleague at Cafe de Prins
Evening – We got seriously lucky, and thanks to our new Dutch friend, we scored a last-minute reservation for dinner at Balthazar’s Keuken. Fair warning that I’m going to go on and on about this place in another post, but seriously. If you’re in Amsterdam: GO.
After dinner, we made our required trip to the Red Light District (and yes, The Bulldog Company) and wandered around a bit before heading back to the hotel to pass out.
Technically Day 3 (but barely!) – SUNDAY
Morning – We spent the morning touring the Anne Frank Museum before we left, and though it was extremely sad, it was one of my favorite sightseeing stops in Amsterdam and definitely recommended. From there, we made our way to the train station for a mid-morning train to our next locale.
After our days in Bruges and then Brussels, I do wish we had spent one more day (and night) in Amsterdam–we definitely could have made it fit, and there were so many cute little neighborhoods where I wished we had more time to explore. Amsterdam is officially on our “will return!” list.
Up next: BRUGES!