Monday, January 30, 2012

Europe 2011 day 3: Venice

The next morning (Sept. 15) we woke up early in Amsterdam and headed to the airport to catch a flight down to Venice!  Easy, quick flight and we landed at 10:45 a.m.  This was my third trip to Venice (first trip was with my parents, second trip was with my study abroad friends) and I was so happy to be back in Italy!  (I'm half Italian and studied abroad in Rome so Italy is very dear to me and I was so happy to be back in the motherland).

"You may have the world if I can have Italy"
-Giuseppe Verdi

We landed at the airport, took a vaparetto into the city and by a stroke of luck found our hotel (in all my planning I neglected to write down the address - not my smartest move)! Our hotel was in a great location right off of a vaparetto stop at the Grand Canal so it made getting around really easy.

Our first stop was to show Nick St. Mark's Square.  We decided to tour the Basilica later but I at least had to show him the square.

hanging out in St. Mark's Square 

St. Mark's Basilica

We dropped off our bags and once again hit the streets in search of food.  We found some delicious sandwiches and then made our way to La Boutique del Gelato.  I did lots of food research for the trip and this is supposedly the best gelato in the city - we certainly thought it was good.

strawberry + chocolate gelato

nutella gelato

We did a little more walking around the city and then stopped at a bar for some more coffee (still had a tiny bit of jetlag). We then headed back to the hotel where even after the coffee I was in need of a nap.

 Rialto Bridge

After a nap I felt much better and we headed out to dinner. We then went to dinner at a place called Ristorante Accademia Foscarini on the canal right at the foot of the Accademia bridge. It was a pretty touristy place, but it was really fun to eat right on the canal.

view from our dinner table 


our dinner spot

Perfect way to end our first day in Venice! We spent the rest of the evening strolling around the San Marco district, taking pictures and enjoying the lovely city.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Europe 2011 day 2: Amsterdam

We woke up on day two (Sept. 14) of our trip in Amsterdam and went out for a "traditional Dutch breakfast" - basically eggs, toast and bacon.  Sealed the deal we are not fans of the Dutch cuisine.

Then we went to the Anne Frank House for our tour.  My good friend Carrie recommended we get tickets online so we could skip the line and walked right in.  Cameras weren't allowed inside of the museum but it was really an amazing experience.  Like most young girls I read The Diary Of Anne Frank growing up so it was pretty surreal being in the attic she lived in.  Everything was in its original places and it was a very moving experience.

sign at the door

The attic where Anne Frank lived

After the Anne Frank House we moved onto some lighter things on our Amsterdam to-do list:

We went to find the "I am sterdam" letters in front of the Rijksmuseum...

Went and walked around the flower market...

tulip bulbs

Tried pickled herring and as you can tell from the picture it was awful!  We figured we should at least try it since it was another Dutch food - but again sealed the deal Dutch food is not good.

the pickled herring stand Rick Steves recommended

picked herring = yuck!

Did a canal cruise (interesting fact there are more canals in Amsterdam then there are in Venice) and it was a great way to see the beautiful city.

And something that was very high on my list - riding bikes around the city!  I felt so European and tried to blend in with the locals.  They even have special bike stop lights for the bike lanes.

off we go on our bikes!

riding along the canals

biking through the park 

they have special bike lanes with their own stoplights 

And lots of coffee to keep us going

coffee #1

coffee #2 (look how tiny it is)

coffee #3

Since we were way over Dutch food, we read in Rick Steves that Indonesian food is very good and really popular in Amsterdam so went to a restaurant he recommended called Kantjil En De Tijger. The food was fantastic!

Indonesian food + Belgium beer = happy travelers 

After dinner the last thing we had to do on our Amsterdam list was check out the Red Light District.  It was needless to say very interesting.  We felt safe the whole time, there were lots of police officers and it was mainly tourists like us not there to "shop" but just check out the area and see what it was all about.  And as as you would expect, everything is just right there in the open - the ladies just stand there in their "shop window" waiting for "customers."

After our Red Light walk we kept walking around the city and took some night pictures of the lovely city.  We had a great couple of days in Amsterdam and are so glad we added it onto our trip!  Next stop - Venice!

goodbye Amsterdam - may we meet again!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Europe 2011 day 1: Amsterdam

Time to finally getting around to blogging about our Europe trip back in September!  Our first stop was Amsterdam!
fresh off the plane exploring the city

Nick and I landed in Amsterdam in the morning (Sept. 13) and made our way through the huge airport.  We then took a train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station and then took the tram to our hotel.  It was an easy flight and figuring out the public transportation once we landed was really easy too.  

Nick and I were staying the the Jordaan neighborhood - right in the center of town.  It is very picturesque and one of the hippest and most popular places to live in Amsterdam!   

lovely day, lovely city

I was really excited for this stop because I was meeting up with my friend Anne from my old workplace at Fred Hutchinson.  We've remained friends and since she was studying abroad (she is getting her Masters in Urban Planning) two hours north in a town called Groningen she said she would come down at meet up with us. Yay!  

Anne took a two hour train ride to come visit - so nice of her!

Even after a long flight from Seattle we weren't about to slow down on our first day of the trip, so we dropped off our bags, did a quick freshen up at our hotel and hit the town with Anne!  

The Jordaan neighborhood was was so pretty but a little confusing with all the canals.  We broke out the Rick Steves book and did his Jordaan neighborhood walk and saw some of the sights he pointed out.

standing in front of the smallest house in Amsterdam - it's only a little wider than the door

all the unique rooftops of the city

bike + cheese = stereotypical Amsterdam 

touring the city

After our walking tour the three of us made our way to Vondelpark and walked around and did some people watching.  

 After the park we decided to make our way to dinner for our first taste of traditional Dutch food - to be honest, pretty boring food.  I wont be making my way to any Dutch restaurants anytime soon.  One thing I read about Dutch restaurants is that they are slow - very slow.  And we found that to be true.  It's not that they are trying to be rude - they just want to give you your time to eat, even more so than what I have experienced in Italy and France!   After dinner we saw Anne off on her train and then strolled home and I took some night pictures on the way.   

The Royal Palace in Dam Square 

Westerkerk church


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