After a tearful goodbye to Paris, we hoped on another train to take us to our final destination of our European vacation; Amsterdam! Amsterdam was absolutely charming! We were in the city for 4 chilly, but mostly sunny days. My absolute favorite thing about the city is that the canal houses have pulleys on the top of the building to lift furniture up and through the windows because the doorways and stairs are too narrow. Just a fun fact about this little city.
Everything about this city was good. A little cold, but so good. Plus, Nutella seemed to be on every corner. So I know that if I ever live here, my sweetooth is in good hands.
Where we stayed: This AirBnb in Amsterdam-Oost. Our AirBnb was a bit on the smaller side, but perfect for two travelers that plan on just using the apartment to sleep, haha. The apartment was located at the very top of a narrow and steep set of stairs on the 4th floor. Each time we got to the top of the stairs we were so vertical that it felt like we were actually climbing up the stairs. From what we’ve heard this is totally normal in Amsterdam! The location was great and only a 10-minute walk, or a 4-5 minute bike ride into the city center.
How to get around: Bikes!
What we loved: Riding bikes with the locals, wandering around the canals, sampling every flavor of cheese, stroopwafles, Febo, frites and fritesauss, pancakes, small beers, Zaanse Schans, windmills, techno music playing all over the city, finding “our bar” and “our bartender”, watching Luke karaoke with the locals.
Recommendations: We also found that every person we encountered spoke English, which made communication with locals very easy.
We really recommend to try and bike everywhere. It’s a huge part of the local culture and once you get over the initial shock of the number of bikes going in every direction, it’s a fun way to see the city.
Visit the Anne Frank House. You’re not allowed to take pictures here, but the experience walking through the house is incredibly moving. Purchase your tickets online in advance, otherwise you’re likely to wait in a 2+ hour line to get in.
Eat all the cheese you can get your hands on!
– Photos © Holly Copeland –
Paris was the second stop on our European vacation. We took the train from London to Paris very early in the morning on our 4th day. We ended up spending a week in this magical city (including Christmas day!) and it just wasn’t enough. We simply didn’t want to leave! We fell in love with every part of the city. From walking aimlessly through the streets of Paris to the decadent food. Paris just knows the way to my heart. Every second spent in this city was pure magic.
Where we stayed: This AirBnb in the 11th
arrondissement (we highly recommend!). We usually stay in AirBnb’s when we travel and this one was exceptional – we felt like locals for the
A Few Food Tips: If you’re unsure of where to eat, pull up Yelp on your phone. It will give you options closest to you and you can scroll through reviews and photos to find the best place for you. Follow @topparisresto on Instagram for the most beautiful photos of food around Paris. We were initially intimidated by the Paris food scene, as there are so many amazing places to go – but using Yelp and following @topparisresto really helped us find some great places.
How to get around: We arrived in Paris from London on the Eurostar, which was a super easy train ride into the city. Just make sure to book your tickets in advance to get the best fares. Once we arrived in Paris, we took the Paris Metro everywhere. There are automated ticket machines in the train stations and they have different language options, so you can purchase your tickets in English, rather than trying to translate from French, if you don’t know the language. We purchased a 5-day metro ticket (the Paris Visit Pass) for €38.35 and used it all day, every day. It’s an unbelievably affordable option to get around the city. It equals out to be €7.67 per day. Imagine what you’d pay if you took an Uber or a taxi. I’ve had friends visit Paris that spent hundreds of Euro’s on transportation. I must add that the metro system is ridiculously easy to navigate as well. Everything is color coded, and simply listed. Both Luke and I agreed that the Paris Metro was one of the easiest transportation systems to navigate.
Another fun option to navigate the city is Vélib’! Vélib’ is the bikeshare program in Paris. Download the app for your phone and you can find bikes located all over the city. You can choose a 1-day pass or a 7-day pass. See this link for pricing, as it seems they’ve adjusted their pricing structure since we last rode the bikes. It’s still a very affordable option and a great way to see the city!
What we loved: Everything. Dining outside, the food, the vin rouge, Rue Cler, rooftops, riding bikes with no destination in mind, wandering the hallways of the Musee d’Orsay, Christmas Markets, the Eiffel Tower, Parisian life, European life, French accents, our apartment, our neighborhood boulangerie and market, Montmartre, the metro system… We really loved every aspect of this city.
Recommendations: We found that the negative stereotypes that we grew up hearing about the French to be completely false. We came across some of the most accommodating and hospitable Parisians. We made it a point to learn some basic French before visiting (we practiced with DuoLingo). Being able to greet people and show them that you’re trying really does go a long way. Some basic phrases I would recommend are listed below. For more phrases, just google it!
Oui = Yes
Non = No
Bonjour = Hello
Bonsoir = Good Evening
Au revoir = Goodbye
Merci = Thank you
Pardon = Excuse me / sorry
S’il vous plaît = Please
Table pour deux s’il vous plaît = Table for two, please
Je ne parle pas très bien français = I don’t speak French very well
Parlez-vous anglais? = Do you speak English?
– Photos © Holly Copeland –
Luke and I recently checked a few items off our bucket list. We traveled to Europe over the holidays! We visited London, Paris and Amsterdam over the course of two weeks. We had saved and planned for this trip for years… and it was worth every penny spent. We’ve been back home and to our normal routines for over a month and a half now; so it’s time to share everything from our trip! Take a look at what we did in London and how we navigated the city, on our first destination.
Where we stayed: This AirBnb in Kings Cross. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this specific place. We were very disappointed with the cleanliness of the place and there was little separation between our living space and the individuals that occupy the adjacent space. We booked this space because we found London to be quite expensive and opted for more affordable accommodations and a close location to the train station. It wasn’t horrible, just bout our favorite place.
Where we ate: Granger and Company, Dishoom (Dishoom was one of the best restaurants that we’ve experienced! It definitely now holds a spot on our “top 5” list), Golden Union, Franco Manca, Christmas Markets. We ate a a few restaurants that we didn’t love so I didn’t list them here. Honestly, we ate a lot at the Christmas Markets as we visited London over the winter holiday.
How to get around: We flew into Heathrow airport and took the London Underground (locally referred to as “the Tube”) into central London.
We took the Tube almost everywhere! We did some research beforehand and purchased Oyster Visitor cards in advance of our trip. The Oyster Visitor cards are pay-as-you-go and come
pre-loaded with your chosen amount. If you’re unsure how much to initially load on your card I would go with a smaller amount, as you can always add more funds to your card at a train station ticket machine. We purchased online and had the cards mailed to our house before our trip.
What we loved: The Science Museum, Christmas Markets, the Tube, walking along the River Thames, hot cider, gorgeous row houses, British accents, the pubs.
Recommendations: If you’re visited from the US, be prepared to pay a little more, as the Pound to Dollar exchange rate is definitely not in our favor.
– Photos © Holly Copeland –