Missus McTraveler

Travel blog with bits of life thrown in

Aruba August 4, 2014

Filed under: Travel — Missus Mac @ 4:51 pm

For our last trip of 2013, we did something close to home- a lovely little island called Aruba. Wes’s parents came with us on this trip and provided their company as well as babysitting duties. We had a very nice time and stayed at our first all inclusive resort, the Tamarijn Aruba by Divi resorts.

1469938_970408347286_1093416655_n 1450663_970409040896_623403806_n 1454786_970409470036_263414052_n 1461065_971369096936_804275457_nWe mainly stayed at the resort on this trip, relaxing poolside or swimming in the ocean. We did get out to a nice dinner and for a snorkeling booze cruise one day. It was cheap and the water was beautiful- what more could you ask for?

 

Ireland

Filed under: Travel — Missus Mac @ 4:37 pm
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We arrived in Dublin late, so we slept in the next morning (as much as the baby would allow) before setting out to explore Dublin. We walked across the city to the national museum, taking our time and drinking in the sights along the way. Too much time, I think, because the museum was closing as we walked up! Frustrated, we sat down for a minute so I could nurse the baby and the hubs could figure out how to get us back to our hotel. We walked back the entire way, stopping to snap a few pictures of the Guinness brewery and to eat a nice dinner at Harry’s.

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The next day, we took the train to Limerick and then a bus to the Shannon airport to rent a car. Then, we drove to Dingle through Connor Pass. That was a long day, but Ireland is so beautiful that it made up for it.

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We arrived at our hotel in Dingle, the Dingle Skellig, which was very family friendly and set on the beautiful southwest coast of Ireland. Every day we looked out our window and could see the water and, if we were lucky, we could spot boats chasing Fungie, the local celebrity dolphin. The next morning, we hiked to the watch tower on Dingle Bay and enjoyed piddling around town. The next morning we left bright and early for the Slea Head Drive, which was spectacularly beautiful. On our last day, we drove to Shannon via Killarney and spent the night before our early morning departure the next day.

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On the hike to the watch tower on Dingle Bay

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Boats chasing Fungie the dolphin

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Reask Monastic ruins

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Gallarus Observatory

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Brandon Point

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Inch Beach, County Kerry

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Inch Beach, County Kerry

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Inch Beach- Keela’s first time at the beach

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<3

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Enjoying the heated pool at the hotel

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Killarney

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Killarney

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King John’s Castle in Limerick on the River Shannon

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King John’s Castle in Limerick on the River Shannon

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Scotland

Filed under: Travel — Missus Mac @ 3:57 pm
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The Elephant House in Edinburgh, where Harry Potter was born.

The Elephant House in Edinburgh, where Harry Potter was born.

Wes’s wonderful parents joined us on our first big trip with the baby, and it was such a blessing to have them! Not only did we have four extra hands to help with all the baggage that a baby warrants, they even babysit for us so we could have a few romantic dinners.

Even though it has been a year since this trip, I did take some notes on my phone while we were gone, so I’ll copy and paste those as well as edit them to make some sense!

Day 1: security in Dallas was fast and efficient, and I wore Keela in my Beco Gemini so as to avoid taking her in and out of the stroller, but they still pulled me aside and swabbed my hands.
Keela fell asleep inthe plane bassinet almost immediately, but the last 5 hours of the flight she was miserable.  We were totally those people with a screaming baby. Teething tablets, tummy massage, shushing, babywearing… nothing helped.
We arrived in Amsterdam exhausted and with a couple of hours to kill, so I walked her to the VIB (Very Important Baby) room in Schiphol. The VIB room is dimly lit and quiet so babies in the curtained crib booths can have some sense of normalcy in the middle of this bustling hub. There is also a long counter with changing pads and deep sinks in case a poosplosion requires a bath! If you are a parent traveling with a baby, do not miss it. It’s a great place to nurse in quiet.
Wes and I also enjoyed some relaxing time with some masseuses in terminal D- we highly recommend the stress relief massage!
Once boarded onto the plane bound for Edinburgh, Keela was feeling rested and chipper, but after waiting on the plane for an hour (some git didn’t have the proper visa), she started to get fussy again. Luckily, the flight was only an hour and between me, Wes, the flight attendants and a few sympathetic passengers we were able to keep her happy for the most part.
Upon arriving in Edinburgh,  we were utterly exhausted and had not slept in almost 24 hours, and as I was  still a nursing mother to a 6 month old I did not start the trip very well rested. A nice Edinburgh customs agent saw us carrying Keela and took us to the front of the line, and for some reason that simple kind gesture coupled with some questioning of the next customs officer just broke me and I was stifling sobs as we went through to baggage claim. I sat down and gathered myself as we waited for our bags. As it turned out, one of my mother in law’s bags didn’t make it from Amsterdam, so we spent an extra hour at the lost baggage window sorting that before heading to the car rental counter.
At the car rental counter, which is a long hike from the airport, we are told that the reservations we made online are no where to be found in their system.  An hour later we  load into a car and are on our way to the Hotel Indigo in Edinburgh, only a 5.4 mile drive but it felt like the longest drive ever. As we’re leaving the rental center, we notice the clutch is sticking. A couple of miles later, I smelled smoke- the hood was clouded in it! Deluded by exhaustion and with no where to pull over we still thought we could make it… With 1 mile left, the car stalled and limped to the side of the road. At that point, I just wanted to get the baby into a bed so she doesn’t have to suffer through any more travel. The hubs, his mom, and I take Keela and walk the rest of the way to the hotel, leaving his dad with all the luggage to wait for a tow truck. We felt awful about it, but there was no point in all of us staying.
That evening, after everyone had a long nap, we strolled past St. Andrews square, down to the river and over to Rose street where we had a lovely meal at The Rose Hip.

Keela and her papa in front of Edinburgh Castle

Keela and her papa in front of Edinburgh Castle

Day 2-we went to the national museum of Scotland, lunch at Nandos and up the royal mile to Edinburgh castle. Dinner at Mussel Inn, whose mussels were the best we’ve ever had. That night, we notice Keela has teeth ready to pop through which could explain the plane disaster.

 

The hubs and me at the castle

The hubs and me at the castle

Day 3: lunch at Conan Doyle before taking new rental car to Ft. William.  Hit concrete pole in the parking garage immediately after picking up the car… assess damage and decide to carry on with the trip since we have rental insurance. Dinner in Glencoe. Get to Glen Tower Lower Observatory and it’s a wonderful little B&B, the owner’s son even plays his bagpipes for us. Wes and I make a friend at the Ben Nevis pub and enjoy the view.

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Day 4: breakfast of salmon and eggs and haggis (not bad). Head to Inverlochy castle and gondola ride hike. Loch Ness, dinner at Crannog seafood and boat cruise in Ft William.  Keela pushes herself to sitting position for the first time.

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Ben Nevis – Ft. William

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Inverlochy Castle

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Inside the Inverlochy Castle

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Loch Ness- Caledonian Canal

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hiking Ben Nevis with her papa

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Loch Ness

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The Hogwarts Express! As seen from the Loch Eil boat ride. They used this train for long shots of the train in the movies.

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Day 5: head to Loch Lomond, dinner in beautiful Luss
Day 6: Loch Lomond shores (tourist trap), Bunratty Castle, dinner at Village Cafe in Luss. Wes’s parents leave for home.

Day 7: The very eccentric yet very nice owner of Loch Lomond Lodge drives us to games in Balloch. Taxi to Glasgow airport and to Dublin late.

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Luss at dusk

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View from our Inn

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View from our dinner table at Loch Lomond Lodge

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The fanciest port a potty I’ve ever seen. It told you when to close the door, sit down, stand up, and exit after it washed and dried you. Heaven forbid you miss a cue.

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Madrid, Spain

Filed under: Travel — Missus Mac @ 3:20 pm
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Wes took his brother on this trip in March of 2013. I stayed at home with our then 3-month old baby and was not a bit sorry about it! Being the guys they are, they didn’t take as many pictures or as many notes on what they did, but the main thing you need to know is that they went to a Real Madrid vs Barcelona FC game! They saw CR in the flesh- even if RM waited until the last 5 minutes of the game to put him in.

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They rented a car and drove to see the roman aqueducts and a castle not too far from Madrid. They said driving in Spain was the most harrowing experience of the trip!

Wes says that the food was the best of any trip, hands down, and wants to go back just for some tapas. Go figure.

 

Tahiti Babymoon 2012! July 1, 2013

Filed under: The Good Life,Travel — Missus Mac @ 11:17 pm
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The most beautiful public beach in the world!

The most beautiful public beach in the world!

I know this is, like, almost a year late, but better late than never!

Tahiti was fantabulous. I really feel like a new woman, so relaxed and refreshed! Amsterdam and London were great, but nothing compares to a vacation where nothing much is required of you other than to plop your ass on a beach for 6 days. Last time we were there, for our honeymoon 3 years ago, we dived, parasailed, hiked, and snorkeled our way through the islands. This time, we did more lounging and only snorkeled a few times, which was about as much as I wanted to do this time, at 5 months pregnant.
We spent the first 4 days on Moorea at a bed & breakfast, which was gorgeous but we learned that we’re more resort-type people. Sad, I know. They fed nurse and black tip reef sharks off the dock every day at 5, so we got some great pics and video of that frenzy. Our last two days on Moorea we rented a car and drove around the island, getting pics from a lookout point and snorkeling the most gorgeous public beach in the world!
The day before we flew out, we spent the night in an overwater bungalow at the Intercontinental Resort and Spa on Tahiti, which was fabulous! We really loved jumping off our private deck and snorkeling around. The hotel had 3 pools, one of which is a lagoonarium, where they’ve enclosed their own little reef to snorkel around free of current or sharks. Not as exciting for experienced snorkelers/divers, but still a neat concept. The food was excellent everywhere, and we ate a ton of French and Polynesian food.
Wes’s luggage was lost for 5 days, so he was dining in his Crocs.
The pictures are here: http://tahitibabymoon2012.shutterfly.com/
Videos:
From the private dock of our B&B, looking back toward our bungalow-http://youtu.be/V4aMOKMCdiQ
Shark feeding- http://youtu.be/5GCx6g9Hv1Q
Tamae beach (public beach we snorkeled off of)- http://youtu.be/yw6OAPbsIi4
View of Temae beach from a scenic viewpoint above, the Sofitel Resort and its overwater bungalows on the right- I think we want to stay there next time- http://youtu.be/ZZkm-MvkClQ
Belvedere Lookout point on Moorea, we drove up the mountain and were able to see down to the two bays below- so gorgeous! http://youtu.be/z7d3UD9sch4
Our overwater bungalow at the Intercontinental Tahiti- http://youtu.be/S3xLcmQ_O_0
View from the hotel lobby at the Intercontinental. The island in the background is Moorea, where we’d spent the previous days. You can see the Lagoonarium in the foreground. http://youtu.be/aZSbdOE1ZzM

Since we returned from this trip, I lost my job, had a baby, became a SAHM, and Wes has been promoted, so we’re in the process of moving. All of THAT is why this post is a bazillion years late.

As always, if anyone has specific questions about the trip, feel free to ask!

 

 

London and the Olympics August 14, 2012

Filed under: Travel — Missus Mac @ 5:13 pm
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We returned from our fabulous trip to London last week and I’m still on cloud 9 from the entire experience! Neither Wes nor I have ever been to London, so what a time to take our first trip there, right? It was not nearly as crazily crowded as I’d feared, but then again a local said that they’d all been encouraged to work from home and take vacations to allow for Olympic traffic.

We left on August 3rd from Atlanta at 4AM (yay for Delta delays! Not. At least we got to enjoy a nap at the Minute Suites in Concourse B) and arrived in London at about 5 PM local time. I was a little worried about what our hotel, the St. Giles, would be like since I only booked it in April and it was one of the last rooms available in central London, but it was really quite nice!

After arriving we met with our Yahoo liaison, Lluis, who we’ve only communicated with through email. Lluis is a very nice young man who was a pleasure to speak with in person, and we are so grateful for all the trouble he has gone through to book these trips every year… thank you, Lluis! We were given our Olympic event passes and some great advice on getting around town and eating out, so after meeting with him we struck out to find dinner.

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View from our hotel room- the Tower of London!

The hotel is conveniently located near Covent Garden, which has hundreds of restaurants to choose from so we took a chance on a French place. I was definitely under-dressed in my maternity shorts, shirt, and flip flops, but we were too hungry to care and they must have taken pity on us and let us in. We were put in a room by ourselves to eat, but we kind of liked it… we even had a blinged-out dinosaur skull to keep us company! I’m a terrible tourist and cannot, for the life of me, find the name of that restaurant but it was really good. If anyone knows which one I’m talking about (there can’t be too many gold dinosaur skulls around London, right?) please email me so I can give them credit!

The next day, Sunday, we slept in and then made our way to Buckingham Palace for a tour and to see the changing of the guard. While waiting for the changing of the guard outside the palace gates, we met some USA Olympic swimmers, one of which was Claire Donahue who won gold on relay medley team! They were all very nice and even posed for a picture with me. We toured Buckingham Palace but of course there’s NO photography allowed, because, you know, it’d reallllllllllly hurt their ticket sales *eye roll*. The palace was breathtakingly gorgeous and we even saw the special Diamond Jubilee collection. Holy carats, Batman!

Also, I got a behind-the-scenes tour of Buckingham Palace because baby girl was kicking my bladder and I definitely cannot hold it for three hours these days. The palace bathroom was very nice and, lo and behold, the only other commoner I saw there was another pregnant lady who had a nifty pin on her shirt that said “Baby on Board!” I acquired that pin by the end of the day, trust.

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After that, we took the tube (underground train system) to Covent Garden and enjoyed window shopping before having a quick snack at The White Lion. Their sampler platter was delicious, and we would have loved to try their main courses but the service was so slow that we had to leave. An hour for an appetizer is a bit much. Later that night we ate a small Italian place that was also very good, but of course I can’t tell you the name of it. Sorry!

You can view all of the pictures from our first couple of days in London here.

Now, I know there’s something wrong with me, but there was a part of the trip that I was even more excited about than going to the Olympics: The Harry Potter Experience. We didn’t quite give ourselves enough time to get to Leavesdon, but several train stations and one crying episode later, we made it to the Warner Brothers Studio 30 minutes after our scheduled time. The guy at the ticket office had a nice laugh at me when I rushed up and asked if we were too late to be let in for our tour, because even though the website says to arrive 30 minutes BEFORE your scheduled time, they DO let you in later. It’s really not a big deal- my pregnancy hormones just thought it would be the end of the world if I didn’t make the tour *dramatic exhale*. So, we entered with big smiles on our faces and stood in line for an hour for the tour!

Now, we are not big “tour” people, but what they’ve put together here is truly amazing. Everything at the HPE is authentic from the costumes to the sets and even props like Ron’s Chudley Cannon posters next to the bed. I seriously died and went to heaven for about 3 hours and I took more photos here than I did anywhere else in London because I never want to forget what a truly magical place it was! We tried butterbeer and stood in Dumbledore’s office *dies*.

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Diagon Alley- SPECTACULAR!

To see all the photos from the HPE, click here.

That evening, we went to have dinner near the Tower Bridge so we could see the Olympic Rings lit up, and let me tell you- it was a surreal moment to stand on London Bridge and see the rings we’d only seen on TV! We also walked around the Tower of London but it was already closed for the day and we were hungry so it was a brief tour, but I really regret that we didn’t have time to go in at some point during the trip.

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Taken from London Bridge looking toward the Tower Bridge

Tuesday morning we were at Olympic Park at 9AM with only about 10,000 other people. By the time we left, three hours later, the crowd had swelled to at least 100,000. Kid you not, and pregnant lady had to pee!

The Olympic park is huge and has a theme park feel/layout to it, and the Olympic Stadium is the first thing you see and it makes your heart swell with excitement, kind of like when you walk into Magic Kingdom and see the castle! Our event wasn’t in the stadium, so they wouldn’t let us in, but we could easily hear the roar of the crowd within as we passed by to the Copper Box, where our handball game was.

Now, we didn’t know a thing about Handball but it was the only event we could get tickets for that would put us inside Olympic Park to get the whole experience of the games, but really enjoyed the sport! We saw the women’s quarterfinals that put Brazil against Norway. We rooted for Brazil since we’ve been there and loved it, and that seemed like a good enough reason to us. Brazil kicked booty and we had a great time!

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Wes in front of Olympic Stadium at Olympic Park

While walking through the park we saw some Team GB athletes being interviewed:

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Brazil vs Norway Handball game on August 7, 2012

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Brasil had some very entertaining fans!

After the game we walked around Olympic park to peek at the venues such as the aquatics center where Michael Phelps made history and the great white basketball arena. We also souvenir shopped at the London Megastore there which was huge- think Super Walmart in size- and people had to be let in in waves so the store didn’t get too crowded. The store was still incredibly crowded but we were able to get some really neat things including a onesie set for our baby girl. They were sold out of newborn sizes so she won’t get to wear them for a year, but by golly she got something from the Olympics!

Our next event was at Wembley Stadium, about 20 miles outside of London, for the Mexico vs Japan quaterfinals soccer (football) game. We were particularly excited about this game because we are huge soccer fans and Wembley Stadium is like the Rose Bowl of soccer over there. It’s a magnificent arena!

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It was a sold out crowd of 88,000 people, so getting in took an hour or so but the atmosphere inside was electric! We sat next to a British guy who was very friendly and quite surprised that we were rooting for Mexico when we they give us “so much trouble”. I told him that, yes, we do have issues but they’re still our neighbors and quite frankly I’ll take a good taco over sushi any day.

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The game was very exciting and Mexico triumphed 3-1 over Japan. I gotta give it to the fans in the crowd- they kept the Wave going in two directions even AFTER they collided. Now that’s an experienced crowd! We left a little early so I could avoid the crowd, which was definitely a smart move on our part because we were able to get back to our hotel in about an hour.

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On our way back to the hotel via the tube we stopped at King’s Cross station so I could get a picture of Platform 9 3/4, so here’s a picture of that for my fellow HP nerds!

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We left for Atlanta the next day a little after noon and I wish we could say we had a smooth flight back, but in fact we experienced the worst turbulence ever! We were about an hour from Atlanta and we’d had turbulence almost the entire way, but at that point the plane dropped in midair so much that people hit the ceiling and hit the floor. Luckily, I was sitting with my seat belt fastened in between one of my many bathroom breaks but I did feel my whole body go toward the ceiling. One of the flight attendants was injured and I hate to think what could have happened if I’d been up at that point. Two of the flight attendants working that flight were on our flight back to Dallas and so I was able to ask them what they thought of that incident and they both agreed it was the worst turbulence they’d ever experienced, too.

So, PSA: Wear your seat belt when you’re seated!!

 

We really enjoyed our trip to London, and I can’t wait to go back! The people are friendly (the days I wore my USA shirt random people would shout “USA!” and give the thumbs up with a huge smile), it’s easy to get around, and it’s a beautiful city to just walk around and enjoy the sights.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions about our trip feel free to email me at missusmctraveler@gmail.com!

To view all our photos from the Olympics, click here.

 

Amsterdam July 27, 2012

Filed under: Travel — Missus Mac @ 4:33 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

First of all, I really should explain why I’m writing a trip review of Amsterdam a full two months after our return. The day after we returned from Amsterdam, my husband and I found out that we’re expecting our first child! So, since then I’ve been a little preoccupied preparing for our new arrival, so I do hope you’ll accept that as my excuse for being so tardy to post.

On to Amsterdam! We flew from Dallas to Amsterdam via New York City (JFK), and since I’d never been to NYC before I was in awe of how HUGE the city really is. I’m sure this sounds dumb since we all know it is one of the largest cities in the world, but it was even larger than I realized! I think this is because they show the same buildings over and over on TV. Anyway, during our layover at JFK we witnessed a plane engine catch on fire during takeoff, and while the plane was able to land safely it was quite scary.

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The flight to Amsterdam was only 6h45min, but of course I couldn’t sleep so we were exhausted when we got there. Here I am in front of our hotel, Hotel Estherea, fresh off the flight. Despite having issues with check-in (not the hotel’s fault, but our agent’s), we really enjoyed staying there and would recommend it to anyone traveling to the city.

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Our first day we took it easy, ate at a nice bakery that had excellent French and Belgian pastries and then went to bed early.

Our second day there, we started with a canal tour with Holland International. This tour was included in our Holland Pass tickets, which is a nice way to save if you’re going to do a lot of touristy stuff. We chose the Holland Pass instead of the iAmsterdam card because we wanted to see less of museums and more things that the Holland Pass included that the card didn’t. Anyway, I suggest you research what both offer to see what works best for you!

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Canal Tour

That afternoon, we continued on to the Van Gogh Museum and the Heineken Experience. The Van Gogh was neat, of course, but we loved the Heineken Experience- very interactive, interesting and fun!

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They even had horses! If you know me, then you know that was my favorite part :)

That evening, we had dinner with Jon and Amanda, relatives of mine who moved to Amsterdam last year. They have the cutest new baby, Aletta, whose first outing was with us to dinner at fantastic French restaurant down the street from their house.

The next two days Wes was sick so I struck out on my own and took hundreds of pictures. I loved the architecture in Amsterdam, which you’ll be able to tell by viewing my pictures!
We went to Keukenhof to see the gardens on our last day, and it was definitely a must-do!

 

If you have any specific questions about our trip or would like food and activity recommendations, please feel free to email me at MissusMcTraveler@Gmail.com

To view all of our photos, select from the albums below:

Welcome to Amsterdam!

Exploring Amsterdam

Keukenhof & Goodbye, Amsterdam!

 

We leave next week for the Olympic Games in London! We’ll be attending the men’s football (soccer) quarterfinals and women’s handball quarterfinals!

 

 
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