Traveling Tips for Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, oh Amsterdam you didn't disappoint and it wasn't for reasons some of you might think. Personally, I've always thought of Amsterdam as the place where travelers go to smoke weed, visit the Red Light District, and parrrttyyyy.

There was way more to this city than the rumors that have been circulating through our imaginations since we were kids. In all honesty, you had to seek out the Red Light District, "cafes", and the nightlife seemed like any other metropolitan city. Rather, I fell in love with the canals lining the many rows of trees, cobblestone streets, and bikes that flooded the streets. I had never seen that many bikes in my lifetime because this city was meant for bikers and no other means of transportation.

If you can tell from the pictures above there was a lot of jet lag included with the first city we visited. I was one sleepy person, but that never stops me while traveling.

Danny's Bike Shop is a great place to rent bikes from for 10 Euros a day. We biked around the Jordaan and De Pijp area which are two neighborhoods I would recommend checking out. We also visited the city centrum and the touristy "I am Amsterdam" sign. Behind the sign is a beautiful park that a lot of people picnic in. One of my favorite things we did was grab food and wine from the local grocery store and enjoy the park.

We went to our first restaurant that Anthony Bourdain, the American chef and TV personality, recommended called the Upstairs Pancake House. This was one of my favorite experiences in the city because the restaurant had only four tables and was owned by an older woman who was delighted when you raved about how delicious her pancakes were (and that was no lie, they were AMAZING).

The food was amazing everywhere but two specific things I would recommend trying would be the Stroopwafels from a street vendor, think warm soft cookies with caramel in the middle, and Bitterballen, think fried goodness with gravy and meat in the middle.

Overall, this city exceeded my expectations. There is a ton of culture and beauty within the city streets and along the beautiful canals. For such a vibrant city, it has a peaceful onset that attracts visitors from all over the world. Until next time, Amsterdam.

Old Town Street Style (Dubrovnik, Croatia)

After getting back into my normal routine I'm missing Croatia more than ever. Since Dino had been there a handful of times it was awesome having a personal tour guide to show me around. We stayed in an Airbnb right outside of the Old Town. Our host didn't speak a word of English so it was fun seeing Dino translate, plus she loved that he spoke the local dialect and gave us a lot of extra cookies and local beer.

These pictures were taken on a hidden street in the Old Town. The thing I love most about Europe, especially a small city like Dubrovnik, is the charm every street has to offer. Coming back to Chicago I missed the architecture, hidden gems, and cobblestone streets that Europe has. It's completely different than the giant stores, concrete sidewalks, and chain-stores that flood our cities.

This outfit is from Mango and the shoes from Target.

Traveling Tips for Dubrovnik, Croatia

I wanted to share some tips to anyone interested in visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia. We are sad to back from our adventure, but I hope these tips encourage others to visit this amazing part of the world.
Top 5 Restaurants to Visit:
1. Nautika - Expensive, but amazing views, food, and service. It's located right outside the gates of the Old Town. There's a popular beach below where you might be able to catch a taping of a show such as Game of Thrones or something for the History Channel (Pictured above).
2. Rozario- Charming, family-owned. This is a typical restaurant located on a side street of the Old Town, but it has amazing food and great tables outside.
3. Lajk- Located on a side street in the Old Town, this restaurant has great breakfast for a low cost. It's very charming and family-owned.
4. Taj Mahal- The most amazing Bosnian food in the Old Town. This place is always packed so make sure to make a reservation!
5. Above 5- The food was pretty good, but the views were the best part because you get a view of the whole city.

Top 5 Things to Do:
1. Climb the city walls (Pictured above).
2. Visit Cave Bar More and watch the sunset (Pictured above).
3. Walk on the Stradun and visit mom and pop shops and restaurants (Pictured above).
4. Go to the beach - private (I recommend Sveti Jakov) or tourist (Banje).
5. Rent your own private boat to visit The Elaphiti Islands- Lopud, Sipan, Kolocep. Ask around for Loren, he's the best!

De Pijp Cool (Amsterdam)

There's so much to say, but I hope these photos clear up something. Amsterdam cleared my palate, it reminded me why I need Europe. I need Europe for the small, cobblestone streets, the chattering of languages that I'll never know, and the sense that I'm just a small part of this world.

This trip was meant to test our patience (they lost our luggage the first day). This trip was meant to question my lifestyle, no, not just is it really okay to eat THIS much bread? But that life is meant to be slowed down, that traveling by foot is much better than by car, that life is much simpler than we all could imagine.

The conclusion: I am lucky, I am lost, I am happy, I have the best life, I want to change my life. I'm thankful that love is greater than anything else and that I've found it.

This post is just the beginning of a slew of posts about my Europe trip (Netherlands, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia). These pictures were taken in our Airbnb in the hipster neighborhood of De Pijp.