What’s not to love about Amsterdam?

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Writing about Amsterdam may be the hardest post to write. We loved it so much there, I don’t even know where to start. We spent a week in Amsterdam and it almost wasn’t long enough. It’s an incredibly romantic city with so much to see and do. It’s so clean with parks, bikes, and walking streets – getting lost is crucial to your time in Amsterdam. Towards the end of our time there, we daydreamed about moving there.

We were excited to go to Amsterdam for a number of reasons, some I won’t say here 😉 The beautiful canals, the people, the things to do, the parks, the food… it’s a little city that has it all.

Walking around was easy, as everything is pretty close together, and using the transit system was even easier. We spent half of our time in a hotel and half of our time in an apartment share we found on MyTwinPlace. This is a website where you can list your place and swap with other travellers for no cost (just a small insurance fee). We were lucky to get a beautiful apartment near the canal for three nights, all to ourselves!

IMG_20150716_113905Like Paris, we spent most of our time eating and having picnics. We loved waking up and getting breakfast at a grocery store to eat next to a canal. Eating in Europe is so cheap (and delicious) if you’re getting yogurt, fruits, and sandwich and salad stuff for small meals. This is one way we save a ton of money on our travels.

On the weekend, we went to a music festival called Electronic Family. It’s an all trance music festival during the day just outside of the downtown area in a huge park. The festival was really well done and we enjoyed seeing some of our favorite DJs. It had been almost a year since we experienced anything on a large scale, so we were happy campers.

IMG_0578We met up with my old friend Tim and his girlfriend and got to check out the Red Light district. The Red Light district is pretty cool to see, however also pretty packed with tourists. I didn’t like hearing people making fun of the working girls, so that was a downer on the experience. I’m not sure why people would go to the Red Light District just complain. We had nothing to complain about – many of the girls were bombshells and it’s cool to see the industry.

All in all, Amsterdam was an absolute highlight, and such a refreshing change of culture, atmosphere and ambience. For us, it would be our favourite city in Europe. Eventually, I would even find out that Amsterdam is where Luke had my engagement ring hand-made and designed, so we can carry our time in the city with us forever.

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A light show in Paris

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Finally, we’ve arrived in Europe! We had planned our Eurotrip for so long, it was surreal to finally touch down.

We had a tight budget for Europe, since a) we wanted to come home with savings and b) we had a lot planned. So, we turned to CouchSurfing for this leg of the trip. CouchSurfing is a website where people basically let you crash on their couch (or spare room) for free. It’s a great way to meet locals and see a different side to each city. Luckily, Kamil accepted our request, so we headed to his house, which was just outside of Paris.

Our first order of business: meat and cheese. As we headed out on day one, we stopped by the nearest bakery for croissants, then stocked up on various meats and cheeses at the grocery store. We had missed eating these sorts of luxuries in SE Asia! We had a picnic outside of the Louvre before heading in.

The Louvre was massive and definitely a bit overwhelming for us. We had no idea what we were doing as we wandered around. The Mona Lisa is a mob of people with selfie-sticks trying to catch a glimpse, which was disappointing. We walked around until our feet hurt and decided to head out for dinner.

We headed towards Montmartre area for dinner and loved walking around the IMG_20150713_183453cobblestone streets and visiting the “Love Wall”, which has “I love you” written in every language. We enjoyed a three-course prix fix dinner (which is a must-do in Paris) and grabbed some gelato for dessert.

At sunset, we headed up the Montmartre hill to see the birds-eye view and the stunning Sainte-Pierre church. There’s plenty of benches on the hill, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the sun go down. Just be careful of the scam artists trying to tie string onto your hands – they want money! And, as always, watch out for pickpockets.

The next day was Bastille Day, French National Holiday. We got lucky, since this meant it was the day they set off the iconic fireworks on top of the Eiffel Tower. We grabbed picnic stuff, a few bottles of wine, and set out our blanket early to get a good view. A orchestra played and there were people selling anything you needed, making it perfect for laying down and relaxing.

The fireworks were spectacular, which was to be expected. The orchestra played two songs synchronized to the fireworks, which was really beautiful. We’re not sure how we’ll ever be able to look at fireworks the same again.

Our trip in Paris was short, but it was the perfect amount of time for us. Walking around, enjoying bread and coffee, was a great welcome to Europe and what was to come for us.IMG_0397

Going out with a bang (and BIG NEWS)

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As our trip is coming to a close, I just wanted to interrupt our normal posts to share some special news.

We spent the day in the sun, wandering from town to town. Hvar Island, Croatia is filled with gorgeous, sleepy little towns all overlooking the water. We found some secluded beaches to go swimming at, and after a cute little dinner we headed up to the castle that’s perched at the top of the island. With a beautiful view of the city below, Luke set up the GoPro on a timer (like we often do). This time, however, I was in for a surprise.

It’s with extreme joy and happiness that I can say we’re now ENGAGED. We wanted to share it with all of our friends and family, and of course, our blog. This trip has been amazing, but if anything, it’s taught us how to live with each other, compromise, and put the other person first.

We’ve experienced so much on this trip and we’re looking forward to continuing to travel and see what this next chapter has to offer.

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