Spring Trippin' Part 1....Amsterdam & Belgium

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I was SO excited for this trip.  I'd worked really hard planning it and had a hell of a time finding accommodations in Copenhagen and Stockholm.  Not just because of pricing, but also limited choices...I almost had to book a hotel! (eek!)  lol
Our first stop was Amsterdam...and by far the most unique of the trip.  We rented this amazing houseboat right on the canal.  This thing was just bad ass.  I fell in love with it online and it was even better in person.  What we weren't prepared for...it was COLD!  Here I was thinking I'd get to see the fields of tulips!  Yeah, no.  We were a few weeks too early.  Now, I was totally all for a break from the Saudi heat...but man, we just weren't expecting this.
Amsterdam is such a unique city.  I just fell in love with it...even toying with the idea of what it would be like to live there..but, the abundance of "coffee shops" made me think twice about raising the kiddos in a city like that.  Oh sure, you think there is nothing wrong with coffee shops....hence my quotation marks.  Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are happy places...oh yeah, as almost all know...weed, hash and even shrooms are legal there.  So, the coffee shops line the streets and just walking past you could easily get a second hand high with the fumes wafting out from inside.  It was really pretty impressive.  And of course, you have the Red Light District...and yes, we went.  It was a rainy, cold night and we decided to grab a bike taxi to take us home.  We thought...hey, why don't you just drive us down the famous street?  We won't get out...but I mean, we gotta see what its all about!  So, we headed off...we deftly kept the girls looking out the one window that looked over the canal in a constant search for swans...while the hubby and I peered the other way.  A whole block full of establishments...window boxes on display and each containing a barely dressed young girl.  And that was it.  Okay.  Check.  Saw it...moving on.

Speaking of bikes...I was totally in awe of the bikes!  Everyone of every age was on some form of bicycle.  They would be piled up all over the city and there was even a HUGE parking garage...for bikes only!  No matter what the weather was like...they were all out there.  It was so fun to sit on our houseboat and just watch them go by.  And...I guess this goes hand in hand...but nearly every person was fit!  You had to look really, really hard and for quite some time to spot anyone overweight...and 9 times outta 10....they were tourists.  yah, so.
The buildings are everything we hoped they would be...crooked, leaning, multiple colors, narrow...just stunning.  We were pretty lazy on this trip.  One we didn't want to leave the houseboat and two, well, it was fun just to wander around.  The food there was ok, nothing amazing...EXCEPT for the tomatoes.  Seriously.  Holland makes their own version of a cherry tomato and it is unlike anything I've ever had.  Sweet and bright red...I should have turned into a tomato after the amount I consumed.  You can't find them anywhere else either...which makes me want to cry.

views from our houseboat and one from a lovely little place we had lunch

one of the many cafes (note the signage), my gorgeous, yummy tomatoes, Matt found a lovely dutch lady, and me chillin' on our houseboat...despite the freezing temp

cold or not...we enjoyed the outdoor market (and then scrambled to find a warm place for lunch!) the lovely canals and amazing row houses

can't forget the meats and cheeses!  and more awesome architecture 

a killer night shot, a pic of our houseboat from the outside, the girls trying on the famous wooden shoes, and more pretty row houses

it was too cold yet for the tulips to be in bloom everywhere, but I managed to get some at the local market :)

We did decide to take a couple of day trips while we were there.  The first was to Belgium.  Yeah, we straight up headed over to another country for the day.  They have this famous town called Brugge.  Old and quite with a cute little canal running through the town.  It was calling to me.  So, we rented a car and headed off.  Girls content in the back with movies and Matt and I enjoying the countryside.
We arrived in Brugge and had to force ourselves out of the car.  It was COLD!  Girls weren't too happy, but we told them they could go up a tower...so, yeah, that works everytime.  I think if we had been there a few weeks later it would have been jaw dropping.  To say the least it was just lovely.  So old...cobblestones, quirky buildings...just wow.  We took a boat ride and the girls really enjoyed that.  Had a nice little lunch with some killer Belgium beer and of course sampled the chocolates and waffles!  Really wish we could have spent more time there...loads more we could have seen.  Would definately go back.

chocolates and waffles!

hot chocolate was perfect on this freezing day!!  Matt had to sport the Smitty shirt (for my brother)...he was half frozen after I finished taking the pic!

loved the architecture!

Our second day trip was to head out to the town of Zaanse Schans.  This was an absolute must because we all wanted to see real windmills.  We rented a car and headed off.  Today would be THE coldest day of our trip.  The wind was blowing and the temps were near zero.  COLD.  But, it was worth braving the elements to see these beautiful windmills in action.  The little town was so quaint, I can only imagine how pretty it would be once spring actually showed up.  We wandered through old buildings, saw the inside of a windmill in action, and watched the making of the famous wooden shoes.  After a much needed warm lunch, we headed back into Amsterdam and our lovely little houseboat.  We toyed with the thought of touring Ann Franks house, but when we saw the HUGE line we changed our minds.  Besides, not sure I wanted the girls seeing those photos just yet...they are still so young and innocent!  ;)

All in all, it was a great start to our Spring trip.  I really wish the weather had been a bit warmer and we could have seen the famous tulips, but well, I'm just happy we were able to go and that we all had a great time....
Next stop....Copenhagen!!


Lady Lilith Bloodcrave

Sounds like a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing your photographs.


Glad you enjoyed them! :)

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