Throwback to Japan

Facebook is great at remembering dates that happened, “On This Day”. Eight years ago this month, I made my way to Tokyo while a friend worked abroad there. Memories made, some remembered vaguely, and the experience of a lifetime ensued next. 

After 20 hours of flying leaving Boston on a Friday at 10:30am, I arrived to Tokyo on Saturday at 5:20pm with a 13 hour time difference. Meeting up with my friend Katie, we made it to our hotel in the Shinagawa ward of Tokyo after an hour train ride from the airport to the city. Having dinner and several Kirins, we ended up meeting an Australian couple at the hotel bar who was in town for breeding horses. I end up doing a couple of tourist attractions with the couple later in the week as well. 

The next day we made our way over to the ward of Asakusa with open air markets and several shrines. Japan has two primary religions: Shinto and Buddhism, which co-exist and are complementary to each other. Here we could participate in a few rituals such as wafting smoke to inhale from burning incense, collecting water from a fountain with a cup but then drinking it from your hand to then spit back out, paying to write prayers on piece of paper to attach to an outside post to the shrine, or participating in yoga like prayer while tossing coins into a tin collection. We also experienced a customary lunch that day which required your shoes to be taken off and sitting crossed legged on pillows as you cooked your meats and vegetables in a hot broth being boiled on your table. 

Asakusa with Katie

Asakusa with Katie

Buddhist ritual

Buddhist Ritual

Park in Asakusa

Park in Asakusa

That evening we took the subway to Shibuya, with an equivalency comparable to NYC Times Square. An immediate difference, however, is the cleanliness of the city and the politeness and friendliness of the natives to foreigners. The area hosts thousands upon thousands of people shopping, eating, and walking about. Great entertainment if you enjoy people watching. While having dinner that evening at a restaurant called 603, we felt our first earthquake and learned the experience was somewhat common and experienced several more throughout the week. This happened to be a year and half before the terrible earthquake and tsunami hit Japan 2011.
Shibuya

Shibuya

“Franklin”

Famous Shibuya Crossing

Famous Shibuya Crossing

The next day I ventured solo, south of Tokyo by train, to Kamakura. I ventured to Engaku-ji Temple which houses monks and an 8 foot bell at the top of a hill which requires you to take several flights stairs to access. I made my way around the small city center to do a bit of shopping and to tour the Great Buddha, otherwise known as Diabutsu, within the Buddhist temple of Kōtoku-in. It is a bronze statue that stands 37 feet tall. It was massively impressive. Making my way back to the train I visited Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, one of the most important Shinto shrines in Kamakura and where one of my favorite photos of Sake Barrels was taken.

Engaku-ji Temple

Engaku-ji Temple

Komyogi Temple Bell

Komyogi Temple Bell

Diabutsu

Diabutsu

Kōtoku-in Temple

Kōtoku-in Temple

Giant Buddha

Giant Buddha

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū

Sake Barrels

Sake Barrels

The weather in August is hot, humid, and some days full of rain. This day happened to be one of them, as were most of the days of my trip.

The next morning we were awoken to our 16th floor hotel room shaking at 5:02am. We were experiencing our 2nd earthquake. Unsure of what to do for the 30 seconds that seemed forever, I vaguely remember hoping into the tub. Unsure of our rational back then, it seemed like the most logical solution. By the way, Japan’s technology seemed to be quite ahead of Americans, that even the toilets and showers light up, heat up, and self clean. But I digress. Eventually the shaking stopped but we were pretty rattled ourselves so decided it was a good time to head over to the famous Tsujiki Fish Market in Shimbashi district.

Tsujiki is the largest fish market in the world. We probably saw every type of fish imaginable, along with whole Tunas that was claimed to be the most expensive in the world. The workers were quite disgruntled with having to work around the tourists and it being already close to 100 degrees by 6am, I can understand why they would be annoyed. 

Tsujiki Fish Market

Tsujiki Fish Market

Tsujiki Fish Market

Tsujiki Fish Market

Making our way back after an incredibly hot and humid trip, I showered up again and then took a bus tour from the hotel to Mt. Fuji and the town of Hakone. After a 2 1/2 hour bus ride, we made our way to the 5th station (out of 12) and also the highest point cars can drive up to Mt. Fuji. We were given some time to explore, shop, and walk around. I hiked a bit of a trail but unfortunate you could not see the peak due to the clouds. 

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji

Hiking up Mt. Fuji

Hiking up Mt. Fuji

Hikers at the 5th station

Hikers at the 5th Station

View from 5th Station

View from 5th Station

Views from Mt. Fuji

Views from Mt. Fuji

2,305m up from sea level at 5th Station

2,305m from sea level at 5th Station

We then continued to drive on to Hakone, which houses sulfur hot springs and Lake Ashi. Upon arrival, we took a cable car up to the hot springs. Unfortunately, The cloudy weather stuck with us and made it difficult to see anything. However, you could certainly smell the sulfur. Here you could participate in a ritual where one is supposed to eat a boiled egg from the sulfur water that turns the egg black, claiming to add 7 years to your life.

We drove our way back down to the Lake, where we got on a large Pirate looking ship and took a cruise. Our tour ended with taking the Bullet train back to Tokyo. The ride was incredibly fast, lasting 30 minutes. I was also on the tour with the Australian couple we met earlier in the week, in which I found out the husband, Kerry O’Brien, had participated in the ’68 & ’72 Olympics for the Steeplechase. The world is so interesting!

Kerry O'Brien, Australian Olympic Athlete. Photo from: Racing Past

Kerry O’Brien (2), Australian Olympic Athlete. Photo from: Racing Past

That evening we had dinner with them, a couple of their associates, and I ended up going to a traditional Japanese Karaoke Bar late night. However, word of advice, don’t leave your friends overnight, in a foreign city, without a working cell phone.

The next morning I toured parts of Tokyo. When I got off the subway a Japanese University student named Takashi, wanting to practice his English, offered to help show me around. We went to the Imperial Gardens where the emperor lives. We went to Ginza, which reminds me of 5th Avenue or Newbury Street. We then made our way over to Roppongi and viewed the Tokyo Tower. 

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Nakagin Capsule Tower

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

After several days of jet lag, I finally slept through the night and got an early morning start the next day to visit Harajuku and Ueno. Harajuku is famous with the Japanese youths for shopping including American/British style clothing and some girls that dress up like baby dolls. A colorful area for sure. After, I made my way to Ueno park and visited the zoo and Tokyo National Museum of Western Art.

Harajuku

Harajuku

Harajuku

Harajuku

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

The city is vibrant with culture and history but also modern with advanced technology. I’m lucky and happy to have made it to that side of the world. 

Hachikō, the loyal dog and a couple of other Huskies

Hachikō, the loyal Akita dog and a couple of other Huskies

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456 Hot Air Balloons

I’m always searching for something interesting to see or do, to broaden my horizons or purely satisfy my curiosity. 

Luckily for me, I’m living about a 30 minute drive away from the annual Mondial Air Balloons held at Aérodrome de Chambley in Hagéville, France. 

It’s an annual week long international Hot Air Balloon Festival held at the end of July. Several countries participate with, weather depending, morning and evening flights.  People can come watch and peruse local vendors with outdoor activities for the kids. And best of all it’s free.

This year was particularly special because they were planning for what’s called “La Grande Ligne”. This was a plan in hopes for the most hot air balloons to take off at once, to set a world record. The days for take off kept shifting due to storms and wind but finally was set for a 6:30am on Friday July 28. I didn’t want to miss it!

I woke up at 4:30am and drove the half hour to claim a front row view. Then I waited. I wasn’t alone with some other brave early risers but the weather was cool and damp, with no indoor waiting area, and nothing to look at. We were staring out to empty runways and I think most of us were hoping we were in the right area. We waited some more as 6:30am came and went with no action. But around 6:45am we started to see cars with trailers, what seemed like thousands, driving out to line up on the runways. This went on for a good 45 minutes. Then the pilots and crew started setting up by laying the ballons on the ground, attaching baskets or single seats to the balloons, checking the ignitions of the fire and then started to blow the balloons up. What seemed to take forever and seemed like thousands of balloons, was actually 456 balloons that anti-climatically lifted off around 8am. With a suttle wind, the balloons were seemingly all in flight and began quickly drifting north all within minutes. 

I grabbed as many photos as I could and ran to catch a great action shot. I watched them raise higher and drift more north as I made it back to the car and started to drive home (which was north). So surprisingly for me, I got a great view of them as I headed back home.

Are we in the right place?

Starting to see some action

And it’s take off


Such a cool experience. I highly suggest catching a festival, maybe next year I’ll make friends with a pilot and be on one!

Sweet Oporto

What an amazing week I’ve had! Not only did I begin training for my 10th marathon for Berlin in September and adapted my nutrition to start following a ketogenic meal plan (high “good” fat and low carb), more to come on these on later posts, but I also spent a long weekend visiting Porto, Portugal. 

Visiting the 2nd largest city in Portugal started as a trip to visit a couple of American friends traveling through. However, a friends flight got cancelled twice, due to strikes, cutting 4 days out of her trip so she decided to stay back, meaning I was venturing on my own. I took a 2 and a half hour direct flight late Thursday afternoon from Luxembourg to Porto. From the airport I was able to get a metro ticket for less that 2€ to get me towards Trindade stop in the historic portion of the city, and also where my airbnb was located. After a quick check-in and shower I took to Google trips to get myself acquainted with sights to see nearby. Here’s a recount of what I did daily:

Thursday:

Livraria Lello

Famous Bookshop

Famous Bookshop

Red Staircase

Red Staircase

 

The Historic District

Town Hall

Town Hall

Ingreja da Santíssima Trindade

Ingreja da Santíssima Trindade

Typical tiled buildings

Typical tiled buildings

Praça de Carlos Alberto

Praça de Carlos Alberto

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo

French inspired architecture

French inspired architecture



Street Art 

Street art is legal with a permit. It brings bright colors to the already lively city.

17th Restaurant & Bar

Views of Porto

Views of Porto

Rosé on steroids

Rosé on steroids

 

Dinner at O Buraco

Fresh and inexpensive traditional Portuguese restaurant

Fresh and inexpensive traditional Portuguese restaurant


Porto Walkers Pub Crawl
I signed up for a pub crawl for 12€ which started at 11pm going til 5am, if you could make it that long. With 5-6 stops visiting bars mostly on Galeria de Paris, a drink special was included at each stop. I’m glad I went because I met a bunch of English speaking backpackers from US, Canada, and Australia. Albeit, I was the oldest by 10+ years, but was able to dance the night away (or at least until 2:30am, I admit I couldn’t quite hang as long).

Friday:

Early Morning Run

Free Walking Tour
I can’t recommend enough taking this free 4 hour walking tour with a passionate local from Porto Walkers (Do this!) I learned a lot and felt it was necessary to share a few important points…

1. Porto’s tourism is relatively new (think 15-20 years new). Thanks to UNESCO and budget flights like RyanAir, the city has seen an influx in visitors and most of the locals are appreciative for the economic boost but…

2. In the poorer sections of town, where the buildings create narrow, quaint winding, colorful, clothes-lined drying alleyways, some families monthly wage is 500€. There used to be laws to protect them, where monthly rent was grandfathered over to keep prices low to protect them from losing their homes. Due to greed and a change in law, rents have skyrocketed from 50€ per month to 800€ per month, to create Airbnb’s for tourists like myself. This results in families getting kicked out of Porto or ultimately leaving them homeless.

3. Here’s what we can do to help: Don’t rent Airbnb’s within the Riberia district or support the overpriced, tourist restaurants and shops along the river front. Do eat at local Portuguese restaurants and shop off the typical tourist beaten paths. You’ll know the difference immediately because there will probably be a wait to get in because they are small and the prices will be extraordinarily less expensive.

Ponte Luís I

Ponte Luís I

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

View of Douro

View of Douro

Old Tram

Old Tram

Igreja paroquial de Santo Ildefonso

Igreja paroquial de Santo Ildefonso

Inside São Bento Train Station

Inside São Bento Train Station

 

Port Wine in Vila Nova de Gaia

I did a self tour visiting several wineries of the sweet port wine.

Ramos Pinto

Ramos Pinto

Croft

Croft

Inside Taylor's

Inside Taylor’s

Taylor's Courtyard

Taylor’s Courtyard

Taylor's

Taylor’s Port Wine

 

Saturday:

Praia do Molhe
I got up early and took the old Tram line 1 along the river to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean and spent most of the day at the beach. 

Dinner at Tapabento
Ranked #1 Restaurant in Porto, there are advantages to eating solo. I didn’t need a reservation! Fine dining in a quaint restaurant, you’d never know from the outside. 

Seated Tuna

Seared Tuna

Red Mullet

Red Mullet

Pistachio Sufflé

Pistachio Sufflé

 

Sunday:

Last day in Porto and started it with another early morning run. Expecting to find the streets deserted I was actually weaving in and out of the drunks making their way home at 6:30am.

Breakfast at Zenith
Best Brunch Ever

Detox Smoothie bowl (I also got 2 eggs with avocado not pictured)

Detox Smoothie bowl (I also got 2 eggs with avocado not pictured)

Armazém
Vintage Flea Market and bar. Cute, artsy and unique.

Portobello Rooftop Bar

Finished the trip with a couple cocktails at Base

I hope you all get a chance to visit and take into account the need to respect their culture, heritage, and people. And drink all the port wine 🍷. If you’re waiting for a reason to go, the weekend of June 23rd is a huge street party for Saint John (Sao Joao) with plastic hammers, drinking, dancing, and fireworks. A celebration not to be missed 🎉

A Day Trip to Nancy, France

Since being in France, and more specifically living in the Lorraine section, Nancy has been on my list to visit. Over the past year I’ve driven past Nancy several times with it being about 45 minute drive away, have received Facebook event notifications for concerts and local races there, and have been warned by Metz loyals that “La Lorraine est grenat”! (Metz’s football team colors and Metz and Nancy rival each other in soccer/football). I could get backlash here for being a Metz girl in Nancy but I’m fine with it because, let’s be honest, I’m all Boston anyway.

Photo courtesy of La Lorraine République

Photo courtesy of La Lorraine République


About a week ago I had the chance to make a midweek train visit to Nancy, which by the way is only a 35 minute ride at 14€ RT. Considering how convenient that is, I can’t believe it took me this long to get over there.
Stepping out of the train station, which is about a 400m walk to the center of town, I immediately saw a cathedral mimicking a smaller version of Notre Dame in Paris, called Cure Saint-Leon IX.

Cure Saint-Léon IX

Cure Saint-Léon IX


Using Google travel guide and Trip Advisor, I was able to make a walking plan. Starting at Porte Stanislas, I headed towards Place Stanislas. Here marks a vast and beautiful pedestrian Plaza with open air seating for several restaurants, surrounded in gold plated fences and sculptures with magnificent views of the Musee des Beaux-Arts and L’Hotel de Ville (Mayor’s Office).

Porte Stanislas

Porte Stanislas

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas

View of Hôtel de Ville

View of Hôtel de Ville


After a quick rest and a glass of white wine to take in some of the views, I made my way towards Palais du Gouverneur Militaire and Parc de la Pepiniere which was in full bloom with spring flowers. From there I made my way towards Porte de la Craffe which resembles the Porte des Allemands in Metz. I then found Place Carnot that was in the middle of hosting a spring carnival. After having walked a couple hours, I built up an appetite and found a Made in France sandwich shop close to Basilique Saint-Epvre.
Walking towards Governors Palace

Walking towards Governors Palace

Parc de la Pépinière

Parc De la Pépinière

Porte de la Craffe

Porte de la Craffe

Place Carnot Spring Carnival

Place Carnot Spring Carnival

Basilique Saint-Epvre

Basilique Saint-Epvre


After replenishing some carbs, I walked across town to Cathedrale Notre Dame de L’Annonciation. I circled around to find Jardin Dominique Alexandre Gordon with more fragrant flowers and finishing up my tour back through Place Stanislas to several shopping boutiques before catching one of the trains, that come every 30 minutes, to head back to Metz.

Nancy Cathédrale

Nancy Cathédrale

Jardin Dominique Alexandre Gordon

Jardin Dominique Alexandre Gordon

Shopping Center

Shopping Center

Nancy Street Art

Nancy Street Art


A beautiful, walking city, Nancy hosts an array of shops, sites and bites to eat. Having gotten a glimpse on a sunny, spring day helped build my admiration of Nancy. Maybe next time I can even convince Juju to come with me!

Two-fer: Milan and Paris

Still revering from my post marathon in Rome, with small aches and pains, I came back to Luxembourg for a couple days of work. I made a small attempt at a 5km run but had some persisting right quad and left heel pain so took a couple more days off from running. Which was a good thing as I had a busy weekend heading back to Italy, but this time Milan and then end the weekend in Paris to watch Julien run in the Paris Marathon.

The Milan trip was purely for pleasure. I had bought a ticket for my 82nd show of seeing Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds back in October. They were returning to Europe after a 10 year hiatus. This trip was planned even before I knew I was running in Rome. I was so looking forward to this, almost as a reward following my race, some R&R with wine, limoncello, music and touring a new city.

Milan is a small but lively city. I stayed at a small B&B Bicocca located a mile from the theater Dave was playing at and a quick metro ride to the center of the city. Being back in Italy meant amazing food…again! I arrived Thursday evening and after checking into the hotel I made my way towards a pizzeria a few minutes walk away. That night I went to bed fairly early falling asleep to Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. The next day was the show and I couldn’t sleep in due to all my excitement. I got up early and ran to the center of the city (5km away). The early bird does catch the worm because I got the Piazza Duomo, where the Cathedral and Galleria are, pretty much to myself besides a few other runners and some photographers catching the sunrise. 

Duomo cathedral

Duomo cathedral

Piazza Duomo

Piazza Duomo

Sunrise over Duomo

Sunrise over Duomo

Running in Duomo

Running in Duomo

More Pizza

More Pizza


From there I walked through the shopping centers and made my way towards Castle Sforza that led to a beautiful park.

Parco Sempione

Parco Sempione

Castle Sforza

Castle Sforza

Castle Sforza

Castle Sforza

Castle Sforza

Castle Sforza


After walking through, I made my way another 2km towards Cimitero Monumentale Di Milano. This cemetery is famous for its outlandish sculptures. It was peaceful and quiet when I first arrived when it opened at 8am and was happy to not have missed this Garden of Remembrance.

Monumental Cemetery

Monumental Cemetery


I saw most of Milan before 10am! I was able to get back to the hotel and nap and shower and then head out for lunch. I went back towards Piazza Duomo and found the 7th floor of la Rinascente, a designer department store next to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. I had an outdoor view of the Cathedral while I snacked on Mozzarella, Italian ham, and sipping of Aperol Spritz.

Obica Mozzarella Bar

Obica Mozzarella Bar


I still had time before the Dave and Tim show, so I read that one must take the tour on the roof of the Cathedral. I paid 9€ and chose to take the stair and got a panoramic view of Milan.

On top of Duomo

On top of Duomo


After seeing most of the city, I was ready for the concert! I had found an Italian fan based group that was having a pre-show meet up and then met a few other Americans traveling and touring the Europe shows. The night was magical and I got a set list and guitar pick from Tim 😍

Dave and Tim

Dave and Tim


After a memorable few days in Milan, I jet setted to Paris. We had little time for touring, and I jokingly say I’m not a tourist anymore, but I am still!! The main reason was to watch Julien run the marathon. I mentioned in an earlier blog his goal was to achieve a sub-4hr run. Well, I’m proud to announce all his hard work paid off! He finished in 3:40:59. I’m so happy for him!!

Paris Marathon

Paris Marathon



Now it’s time to take a break and replenish my energy (and bank account) to get ready for my next race, ING night half marathon in Luxembourg. 

Don’t Become Complacent

When I moved to France, I entered into a newlywed ideology that this move would be like a honeymoon. I was in a foreign place, new to the customs and language, but felt free to explore and be adventurous.  I’m sure this can be relatable for many in any form of life change like moving anywhere, starting a new job, actually getting married, or having kids.

Within a year of having accessibility to travel within Europe, I visited 8 countries and luckily for me it was overwhelmingly for leisure including snowboarding, running, rest and relaxation along with tourism. Even where I have established my new home, I would ride my bike, take a bus or train to neighboring villages or cities. This curiousness and willingness to take in new sights and sounds even surprised my boyfriend, Julien, the native French national who has expressed I probably have seen and know more about France or Luxembourg than him.

Although I love traveling and consider myself an interested wanderer, I was fearing that I was becoming a bit too comfortable and not having a need to travel. I mean, I was starting to make a life for myself here with a part time job and having started French classes (yesterday), I was starting to get into a routine of doing everyday tasks. The excitement of travel seemed to be taking a backseat as I was starting to get accustomed to the architecture and history surrounding me and all of it was starting to feel less novel to me. So even on my days off, when I should still want to be out touring new towns, I occasionally slacked because I felt, “Hey, what’s one more building to see?”

A couple days ago I thought to myself, “Get over yourself”. So I visited Saarbrucken, Germany an hour train ride away. I had been before for a day trip to go shopping before Christmas in 2015 as Germany is known for being notoriously cheaper than it’s neighboring countries. This time I went to Germany to experience the hype of the Karneval or Fasching, which is a long weekend party where everyone gets dressed in costumes and watch parades, and have plenty of booze before Lent comes and you have to behave. Widely celebrated in Colonge but also around most of Germany and Belgium, the Karneval is celebrated but it winds down after the Rosenmontag, the Monday following the festivals. Some cities actually designate it as a holiday but for most it’s not, however most towns recognize it and give acceptance to miss school or work. This is typically the last day of dressing up and drinking, you know, to cure the hangover from the weekend.

Photos on Instagram of the karneval

Photos I found on Instagram to give you an idea of the Karneval


I showed up to Saarbrucken around lunch time not sure what I was expecting. In fact, I was only informed about the Karneval through events on Facebook and not even from anyone who actually celebrates it. I had done most of the research on my own regarding the Karneval on the internet. I got out of the train station to a big pedestrian walk way, lined with shops and restaurants, and immediately saw college age kids in Pokemon and unicorn onesies and I thought to myself, “I’m in the right place”. There were no parades going on specifically here but I had read of a couple of towns nearby that were having them. I decided to stay within Saarbrucken and take in the city a bit more than some shops I had seen last time I was there. There is a river that parallels the pedestrian path and brings you towards the town hall and a couple of churches and open markets. Once I made my way through the quiet alleys and realized most of the shops were indeed closed for the non-official holiday, I decided to make my way over to a couple of bars that were playing loud German 80’s pop music surrounding the Schnokeloch St. Johanner Markt.

Saarbrucken, Germany

Saarbrucken, Germany


Inside came all the glory, color, dancing, and happiness of the perceived Karneval Rosemontag. People were dressed as hippies, clowns, Super Mario characters, cats, military pilots, fitness instructors, and of course there was a Donald Trump. I felt mystified and in awe on this Monday afternoon party. The place was decorated in streamers and balloons. The music was pumping and the people were all in a good mood, despite hangovers, but seemingly possible because they just happened to be drunk all over again. Beers and Champagne were flowing and ridiculously cheap. I made conversations with a few of the locals that spoke English and enjoyed my afternoon, taking in the sights and sounds that I brazenly thought I was too experienced in European culture to venture out to see. I patted myself on the back for being brave enough to leave the comforts of Metz and experience the culture of this bizarre yet awesomely fun party.

My advice is purely to myself…Don’t become complacent.

A weekend in Amsterdam

One of my best college friends, Katie, came to Amsterdam for a work conference this past week. I was able to find a reasonably priced flight so I made my way over for a long weekend. 

With my flight delayed by an hour and 25 minutes, my Thursday night arrival was pushed back to 9:30pm. Unfortunately missing dinner, I was able to grab some beers at a bar called Louis with Katie and a couple of her associates. An earlier bedtime allowed for a Friday morning breakfast and 5 mile run around the city.


Words of advice, running around Amsterdam is hard. You’re constantly having to watch out for cars, trams, bikes and people on very narrow side walks. My first two miles from the train station to the Rijksmuseum took closer to 30 minutes instead of 20. My suggestion is to be an early riser and get your run out of the way to avoid people in general. 

Once I got to the museum there were hundreds of tourists moving about to get into and out of the museum and to see the I Amsterdam sign. Not quite the same midweek view my dad, sister and I got back when we visited the sign in April when the sign was by city hall. 

In April:


In October:


By the museum I did get some breathing room as parks opened up a bit however I knew my return home would be just as shot as the way there, so I took my time back taking photos along the way. Although you can’t get a speedy run in, the architecture, canals and characters you pass along the way make sightseeing worth it. 


Friday evening we were recommended to go to the area Leidseplein to have dinner and drinks. We ate at BarBQ Castell, a dark but warm and cozy steak house, with super friendly servers and delicious pieces of meat. Fortunately within walking distance of plenty of coffee shops and bars, we enjoyed the rest of our evening living it up with locals and tourists alike partying at a piano bar and ending at a club at 5am playing only 50 cent, extremely appropriate as it was one of our favorite artists back during our Northeastern University days.

Saturday didn’t start until about 2pm, which was no problem as we had both been to Amsterdam before and we had no real touristy plans to accomplish (for instance the Heineken museum or Anne Frank House, although Katie would have liked to have gone if there wasn’t a two hour line), but we did make our way over to Winkle 43 for their famous Dutch Apple Pie. After walking through a market and having our dessert first, we decided to people watch at an outdoor cafe with unknowingly crappy service and  unfortunately even worse food. 

At this point we were lazy but were able to find an unlimited drink canal cruise for 15€. It was really quite lovely as we took it at dusk and was able to drink and cover ourselves with blankets on the hour tour. 


We made it back to the hotel around 8pm and asked for a restaurant in similar style as BarBQ Castell but within walking distance and ended up at Van Speyk. Another wonderful suggestion by the hotel concierge as we were not disappointed with meal, wine or decent pricing. 

Sunday was our departure and we left with weekends full of laughable memories and teaching Katie how to use Snapchat 😂