travel

How to Spend a Rainy Day in Amsterdam

There are certain things in life we just have to face.

Food that is good for you so rarely tastes as appealing as food that is not; people get older and wrinklier as long as they’re alive; when you go to Amsterdam, it will probably be raining.

Canal Tour in Rainy Amsterdam

Of course, there are many options for rainy days when you’re in a city, especially one as full-to-the-brim as Amsterdam. Find a cafe, sip a coffee, and people watch. Eat some bitterballen under the heated and umbrella-covered Leidseplein. Go shopping, visit one of the many museums, or, hell: embrace the plain reality of Dutch weather and just soldier on in your outdoor exploring.

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Road Trip – Great Ocean Road

Like any traveler worth her salt, I enjoy a good road trip (and pretend to when I don’t). You may have noticed; I’ve talked about them once or twice before.

Great Ocean Road

But we haven’t talked about this yet. This, the mother (or at least the bossy oldest sister) of all road trips. This, something that requires little fanfare and little introduction — both of which I’m going to give you, anyway. This, the Great Ocean Road: a scenic highway stretching for approximately 250 kilometers along the southern coast of Victoria, Australia.

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Visiting Nijmegen for the Vierdaagse

Nijmegen Vierdaagse

Like most reasonable people who have recently committed to renting an apartment, and who have a multitude of tasks ahead of them (including but not limited to: installing new appliances, painting till their arms fall off, eviscerating dust bunnies, and constructing furniture from plastic nails and hopeless dreams), we decided to do literally none of that and go away for a couple of days last week instead. Because, you know. Priorities.

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Parc Güell – Barcelona

Parc Güell - Barcelona

I feel like, so far, every post I’ve made about Barcelona has involved some kind of happy accident. Whoops, we just happened to ride up this hill during a beautiful sunset; whoops, we went on an angry walk and just happened to wind up in this awesome park that helped me refocus my entire life. You’re probably thinking, “yeah, whatever, who in Barcelona is paying you to promote it as the city of miracles?” Well, I’ll tell you: no one, but I’m all ears if you know anyone who would.

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Strategic Bicycle Dodging, and Other Tips for Exploring Amsterdam

Some Tips for Exploring Amsterdam

Despite the assumptions of a good many people who know me (and, frankly, should know better), the fact that I live in the Netherlands does not actually mean I live in Amsterdam.

I don’t.

Actually, I live on the other side of the country from the Dutch capital city. How do you like that?

Of course, if you want to get nitpicky (and really, who am I to talk?), the “other side of the country” is only an hour and a half away by car, inevitable traffic notwithstanding. I visit Amsterdam fairly regularly; and while I’m hardly a local, I have learned a few lessons that — being a sympathetic fellow tourist — I’d like to share with you. (I think this is the small-town-influence kicking in. Enjoy it while it lasts).

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Sailing Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is one of approximately five zillion places in New Zealand and Australia named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. You might think I’m kidding, but I’m really not (and don’t even get me started on James Cook).

Sailing Abel Tasman National Park

But please, don’t be fooled: its name might be generic, but the rest of it is not. Actually, Abel Tasman is a unique and extraordinary place, filled with flora and fauna that is distinctly Kiwi.

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Hostel Backpacking: Do You Have What It Takes?

What Makes a Good Hostel Backpacker?

I’m not sure where I stand on the whole nature-nurture debate (or, for that matter, where anyone stands — the last time I heard anyone talk about that was eighth grade biology). So I can’t tell you if great backpackers are born or made, and I also can’t tell you if that matters.

What I can tell you is somehow, I’ve ended up with a few traits that have made it a hell of a lot easier for me; and if you share any of them, perhaps it’s time to accept your destiny — nay, embrace it — and get backpacking. (There are worst destinies to have, trust me.)

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Parc de la Ciutadella – Barcelona

Parc de la Ciutadella - Barcelona

I’d like to paint a picture for you all in which I am always a carefree traveler, my possessions light on my back and my feet light on the ground, dashing across this fair world of ours with nary a worry or obstacle in my way. Huzzah!

In a reality that will surprise approximately no one, that’s not always how it goes.

Parc de la Ciutadella - Barcelona

For instance, the day we visited the Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, my day did not start off on the right foot. It’s hard to say why, exactly. My parents wanted to visit the Picasso Museum; but while I generally maintain at least the pretense of enjoying cultural activities, I wasn’t so keen on the massive line. So Simon and I split off on our own, and that’s when things went…awry.

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Waterlooplein Markt – Amsterdam

I’m a bit of an imposter when it comes to this whole “outdoor flea market” thing – it’s time I just came out and said it.

Waterlooplein Markt, Amsterdam

In my dreams, I stroll through such markets at a leisurely pace, lovingly eyeing old rotary phones and vinyl records, chatting to the stallkeepers who have worked there for decades, and then magically discover something breathtaking that I will cherish forever (/sell to someone else for 100x what I paid).

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Sunset Ride to Montjuïc – Barcelona

Sunset Ride to Montjuïc - Barcelona

I’m fairly certain we didn’t plan on visiting Montjuïc at sunset. 

After all, Simon and I had just arrived in the northern hemisphere for the first time in two years via three planes and more than thirty hours of traveling. We didn’t even know what season we were in, let alone what time the sun would set.

Also, I’m not great at planning. I eat when I’m hungry, I sleep when I’m tired, and I follow my boyfriend around because I can’t read a map properly. I’m a bit skeptical about my ability to coordinate solar movements with the timetables of not one, not two, but three modes of transportation. (As the saying goes: it is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.)

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