Traveling to Amsterdam During Winter

Traveling to Amsterdam During Winter

After my day in Brussels, the next morning I made my way to Amsterdam. I have never really felt an urge to go to Amsterdam, but it was an easy place to go to after Paris (and a cheap flight back to Helsinki) so I thought I would check it out. And I am so glad I did! This city was so surprisingly beautiful and has so much to do. Even in the winter it was a great city to visit. So if you are wanting to travel in the winter, Amsterdam is a great option. Here are some of the fun things to do during your stay!

Check out the Canal District

Traveling to Amsterdam in Winter

This is a UNESCO World Heritage sight, but also walking along the canals is beautiful. Even in the winter I could have walk around for hours. I can only imagine how beautiful it would be during the warmer months. Find a nice cafe and enjoy the views!

Go to the Anne Frank House

Traveling to Amsterdam in Winter

Going to the Anne Frank House was at the top of my list of things I wanted to do in Amsterdam. I read her diary that was made into a book as a little girl and it really opened my eyes for the first time of what Jewish men, women, and children experienced. Walking through the small hideaway that they lived in for so long was humbling and I really suggest going. I also recommend getting tickets ahead of time on the website. They are available to book two months before you want to go. You can get in line at the time that you booked.

Go to the Van Gogh Museum

Another place on the top of my list to see was the Van Gogh Museum. My favorite style of painting is Impressionism and while Van Gogh is not my favorite painter I still enjoy the style. This is another museum I would suggest booking a time before going. You can order your tickets on the website.

More Museums

Amsterdam has a neighborhood called the Museum District because there are so many! Here are some that you can visit:

  • Rembrandt House Museum
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
  • Hermitage Amsterdam
  • Science Center NEMO
  • Sex Museum
  • Red Light Secrets

Take a Picture with the IAmsterdam Sign

Traveling to Amsterdam During Winter

I should say “try to” take a picture. There are so many people here climbing and taking pictures that it is really hard to get one. This sign is located in the Museum District along with all the museums.

Check Out Begijnhof

Traveling to Amsterdam During Winter

This is a little community tucked away in the center of the city. It’s the oldest hofjes in Amsterdam and also just really pretty. I loved the architecture of the houses here!

Walk Through the Red Light District

The Red Light District was nothing like I imagined. I thought it would be this dark alley with sketchy men standing around, but it was nothing like that. While yes there were partially dressed women in windows, they weren’t naked and it was more of like a regular street in Amsterdam. There were so many tourist and even children. I will say this street did have more bars and placed for live sex shows, but that is the whole point of the neighborhood.

Go to a Coffee House

A coffee house in Amsterdam is not a place to get coffee. It’s where you can buy weed. I personally did not go to one while here since I was solo, but I’m going again in April with a friend so if we have time I will have to check one out.

Eat Pancakes, Stroopwafel, and Cheese

Danish pancakes are like crepes except bigger and are not folded. You can get them sweet or savory. I tried both ways and I will say both are really good. There are many pancake houses all over the city to try! When you’re in Amsterdam you have to try stroopwafels. I even brought some back with me they were so good! They are two thin waffles that have caramel in the middle. So delicious. One of my favorite parts of my visit was walking into the cheese shops and getting to taste the cheese. You can walk to each cheese shop and sample their cheese for free, so if I needed a snack I would just stop into one 😉

Going to Amsterdam During Winter

Amsterdam was amazing and I am excited to go back again in the spring!

What city would you love to go back to?

 

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Three Things You Should Do in Brussels

Three Things You Should Do in Brussels

Have you ever traveled to a city and literally planned nothing? I mean nothing. Not even how you get to your accommodation. Well that’s how I showed up in Brussels. When I got off the bus from Metz I suddenly realized that I probably should have at least looked up how I get to where I’m staying.

I stayed one night in Brussels before heading off to Amsterdam. Honestly I never had any interest in going to Brussels, it was more of a pit stop on my way to Amsterdam so that the bus ride wouldn’t be too long. I’m glad I checked out Brussels and was able to do these three things you should do there!

 

Try Some Belgian Specialities

Belgian beer, waffles, and fries! These three things were the main attraction on my trip. Check out Delirium and try their cheery beer. For waffles, these are the things you will crave when you go back home. You can get them plain, with Nutella, whipped cream, or powdered sugar. Honestly any way you get them they are delicious. Belgian fries are special because they don’t just fry them once, but twice. This makes them crispy and extra tasty. You can even choose from multiple sauces to dip them in. There are many vendors around the city that sell them!

Check Out the Grand Place

Grand Place is the central square of Brussels. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All the buildings in this square are decorated in gold and looked beautiful with all of the Christmas lights. Here you can find the City Hall, The Museum of the City of Brussels, a Beer Museum, and also many shops and restaurants.

Find the Cities Famous Statues

Brussels famous statues are a little intersting. They are all of people or animals peeing. Not joking. The most famous one is “Manneken Pis” or little boy peeing. The others are “Jeanneke-Pis” young girl peeing and “Zinneke Pis” dog peeing. These three statues are located at different parts of Brussels and are fun to see if you can find them all! Brussels does have other statues, but for some reason these are the most famous ones.

 

I would say even though I did not plan anything, I saw (and ate) a lot in Brussels.

Have you ever traveled to a city and not planned anything?

 

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Two Cities in France You Need to Visit That Aren’t Paris

Two Cities in France You Need to Visit That Aren't Paris

 

When you hear “France” you most likely think of Paris. It’s the capital and I would say where everyone usually visits when they decide to travel to France. This winter I learned that France has a lot to offer! I was able to go with my friend, Julie, to her family Christmas. We stopped in Paris for a night first, you can read my post about our day HERE.

Julie’s mom lives in a small town called Post-a-Mousson that is between Metz and Nancy. During my time with her family we were able to make a trip to visit both cities! I was so surprised with both cities and how much I liked them. It made me want to explore France even more!

Metz

Two Cities in France You Should Visit That Aren't Paris

Now apart of France, Metz was part of Germany in the past. You can still see this from the houses and building around the city that are designed like those you would see in Germany. Metz is also known as France’s “Green City” because of the high amount of green space.

Things to do in Metz:

 

Two Cities in France You Should Visit That Aren't Paris

Two Cities in France You Should Visit That Aren't Paris

It was dark when we visited (which was like 4pm because it was winter) so I was not able to get good pictures. I found these HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Nancy

Two Cities in France You Should Visit That Aren't Paris

Nancy really surprised me! When you walk into the square you almost feel like you are at Versailles. There is gold everywhere! We visited around Christmas time so we got to enjoy the Christmas market and also ride the ferris wheel! It gave amazing views of the city.

Things to do:

These are just a few things, but there is so much to do!

Two Cities in France You Should Visit That Aren't Paris

Two Cities in France You Should Visit That Aren't Paris

 

Both of these cities really surprised me in how beautiful they are! After visiting them, I want to explore France even more.

Also- both cities are located in the Lorraine region of France so you should of course try a quiche Lorraine since you are there 😉

What’s you favorite city in France?

 

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How to Spend a Day in Paris in Winter

How to Spend a Day in Paris in Winter

 

I have always had a love for Paris. Even before I ever visited the city, I knew I would love it. I’m convinced I was a Parisian in my past life 😉 Four years ago I was finally able to visit the city of my dreams. We would be going to Barcelona, London, Paris, Rome, and Naples and I was ecstatic! The moment I stepped off of the train I knew this was my city. From the romantic feel in the air to the fresh baked baguettes you could get every morning, I loved it all.

Fast forward to this year- I wasn’t able to go home for Christmas and was telling a friend I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then she told me her mom had just moved up to a city only three hours from Paris and would be going home for Christmas. She then went on to invite me to her family Christmas and suggested we stop first in Paris. I immediately said yes! Paris was amazing in the summer so I figured around Christmas time it would be a great time to visit and boy was I right!

So today I share with you how you can spend your day in Paris!

Check Out the View From the Arc de Triumph

The picture above was taken from the top of the Arc! It gives you a 360 view of the city and it is amazing. The entrance was only $9 or is free if you are an EU member under 26. When we went there was also no line which I think has to do with the time of year.

Head Over to Montmartre

How to Spend a Day in Paris in Winter

This little city inside a city was the hub for artists back in the Impressionist period! You can visit Sacre Coeur, pictured above, and Moulin Rouge. I definitely suggest taking the metro over and checking out this neighborhood!

See the Eiffel Tower

Of course! What visit to Paris doesn’t include the Eiffel Tower? You can go up the tower to see the view of the city also. I would suggest going during the day and also at night to see it light up.

See the Decorations at Galeries Lafayette

How to Spend a Day in Paris in Winter

Embarrassing story: at first I thought this was a museum until we walked in and it was a mall. Every year the mall has elaborate decorations and I have to admit, it is pretty cool!

Walk the Champs Elysees

How to Spend a Day in Paris in Winter

Not only is it famous for all of the shops, but in the winter it is decked out in lights! Grab a coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy a nice stroll!

See the Mona Lisa at the Louvre

This museum is huge and you could honestly spend all day looking around. I would suggest if you only have a day in Paris to stick to one section of the museum and also go early so you have enough time to explore the city.

 

When we were planning what to do with our time in Paris, my friend and I were joking about “how many times do you have to visit Paris to do all the things you want to.” But seriously! I’ve been twice now and there are still things that I want to do that I didn’t have time for! I guess that means that I will just have to plan another trip 😉

Do you have a city you love even before you visited?

 

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Four Countries You Need to Visit in 2018

Four Countries You Need to Visit in 2018

And just like that we are in 2018! I still can’t believe it. But with a new year comes new travel plans! Have you already started planning your trips for this year? I have a couple planned, but only until May. When I start thinking of my next trip it feels almost overwhelming. Like where do I even start? There are so many places that I want to go that it’s hard to choose. Today I’m here to help you choose the countries you should visit in 2018!

Estonia

Four Countries You Need to Visit in 2018

The capital of Estonia, Tallinn, is like what you would imagine a city in a fairy tale would look like. It gets even better because not only is the city beautiful, but it’s also cheap! What more reasons do you need? 🙂

You can read my blog post on my trip to Tallinn HERE.

Georgia

Four Countries You Need to Visit in 2018

Georgia lies right on the boarder of Europe and Asia. It’s capital, Tbilisi, is filled with old winding streets and beautiful architecture. While in Georgia you can visit the Black Sea and also the Caucasus mountains. This beautiful country is definitely one to check out this year!

Photo was found here.

Chile

Four Countries You Need to Visit in 2018

Located in South America, Chile is a country that should be in your travel plans this year. Chile really has everything! There are mountains, oceans, rivers, lakes, and big cities! So if you want to surf, you can surf or if you want to go hiking, you can go hiking. Chile is also home to Easter Island. What more could you want?! Chile is the perfect destination for 2018.

Picture found here.

South Africa

Four Countries You Need to Visit in 2018

This picture alone makes me want to buy a plane ticket! South Africa is located at the southernmost tip of Africa. You can enjoy beautiful weather all year round here in South Africa, so it’s perfect for whenever you plan your trip! South Africa is another country that has so much to offer with beaches, city life, safaris, hiking, and a vibrant culture. You do not want to miss out on this country!

Picture found here.

What are your travel plans for 2018?

 

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Three Things to Remember When Planning a Trip to Europe

Three Things to Remember When Planning a Trip to Europe

When you’ve never been to Europe before it’s hard to plan because, you’ve never been there. You don’t know how things work or how easy they can be. I remember people telling me that traveling around Europe is cheap and easy, but how?! After helping a friend plan out her first trip to Europe I remembered what it was like planning that trip for the first time. To help you plan your first trip, here are three things to remember!

Don’t Over Do It

I know you want to go everywhere possible when you’re in Europe. I remember wanting to fit as much as possible into the trip. Because if you’re there then yo might as well go. But this isn’t the case. Pick an area or country you want to see and try to stay around there. You will spend less on travel time and money getting to those places.

Here is an example of wanting to go to too many places in two weeks!

After showing my friend this map of how far every country she wanted to visit was and that she would need a plane for every trip, I helped her plan a better route.

Utilize Trains, Ferries, Buses, and Public Transportation

In America these things are not that common to use to get to places. But in Europe they are so easy, convenient, and cheap! I would have never thought to take a ferry to Tallinn from Helsinki, but it was cheaper than flying and a cool experience. Look at all the options you have to travel to your destination when planning. Also, public transportation in awesome. You can get where you need to be quicker than walking. Don’t be daunted about trying to figure out a metro system in a different language. You will probably get lost, but that’s normal and you will figure it out!

Take Time to Go to Less Touristy Spots

While of course I think you should check out the famous tourist things, because those things are really cool! But also there are so many other cool things that are not as famous. You can also really see a culture better when it’s not overrun with tourists.

Wherever you go, have a blast! And I hope these three things help when you are planning your trip 🙂

What advice do you have for first time travelers? Or where is your first trip to?

 

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What to Do When You Are Spending the Holidays Away From Home

What to Do When You Are Spending the Holidays Away From Home

This year I will spend the holidays away from home for the first time! My whole family is together on Thanksgiving and on Christmas so it will be really different for me. I am thankful though that I do get to experience a new culture. And I will also be in France, so no complaints here 😉

Since I have already spent Thanksgiving away from home and Christmas is coming up I thought I would share what you can do when you are spending the holidays away from home!

Share Your Traditions

Thanksgiving is only celebrated in the U.S. so I knew coming that I wouldn’t be celebrating it. Luckily though my host family said they would love to celebrate it with me. They invited some friends over and I was able to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal for them. We also went around the table and said something that we are thankful for. Everyone loved the meal and the celebration and it was awesome for me to share a part of my culture with them!

Create New Traditions

If you are staying were you are for a while try creating new traditions that will keep you excited about celebrating the holidays! Even if you are not staying for a while in that location it could be fun to start a tradition that you can bring home.

Celebrate the Holidays Like Locals

If you get the chance, you could also celebrate the holidays like the locals do! Doing this you can also learn more about their culture. And as said above you can create a new tradition.

Find a Group to Celebrate With

If you came alone and are worried about spending the holidays alone start looking for groups to spend them with. Join Facebook groups for travelers or for example I’m a part of “Americans in Tampere.” So look for groups like that. There were people in the group offering to celebrate Thanksgiving with each other. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make the first move either!

Take a Trip

Maybe none of the above appeal to you and you want to do something different. Take a trip over the holidays to make them exciting!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday celebration!

How do you celebrate holidays when you are away from home?

 

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Celebrating 100 Years of Freedom in Finland

Celebrating 100 Years of Freedom in Finland

This year Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence!

Before coming, I had no idea what their history was or who they gained independence from. On December 6, 1917 they officially became on independent state from the Russian Republic.

Finland was part of Sweden for over 600 years, but during this time Sweden and Russia fought over the land. In 1809 Finland was officially part of Russia after they won the war against Sweden.

When World War I was almost over, Finland separated itself from Russia after the Parliament accepted the declaration of independence. This then made them an independent country.

If you would like to read more about Finland and their history, you can go HERE where I found this information!

100 Years Celebration

I was able to celebrate the 100 years in Helsinki, the capital. There were so many activities! The celebration started on December 5th and continued until the 6th. The whole market square was filled with people and the national flag.

This years theme is ‘together’ to celebrate the country as a whole community. The Suomi 100 official website encourages Finns to go and do something big or small to contribute to their community.

The Suomi 100 official website states, “The centenary of Finland’s independence in 2017 will be the most significant commemorative year for this generation of Finns. The centenary emphasises Finland’s strengths, such as equality and democracy by offering Finns and friends of Finland diverse and international centenary programme in Finland and abroad. The centenary year provides opportunities to better understand the past, experience the jubilee together and set the course for Finland’s future success” (suomifinland100.fi). This statement really shows how they feel about this big event and how special it is for them!

 

I’m truly happy I was able to have this experience and learn about the country more!

Have you ever celebrated a holiday in another country? Tell me about it!

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What I Learned From Traveling Solo

What I Learned From Traveling Solo

If you told me a year ago, maybe even three months ago, that I would be traveling solo I don’t think I would believe you. Before I came I think I had it in my mind that there would be so many other people that would travel with me. While it is true that there are people here that want to travel, sometimes times and places don’t work out. So instead of not going, I decided I was still going to travel. And I’m so happy I decided to do that! So if you’re thinking of taking a trip by yourself and not sure, here are some things I have learned from traveling solo 🙂

You can navigate a city all by yourself

I think this is one of the things that worried me the most. Not knowing where I’m going and not able to speak the language. Figuring out the public transportation or getting to and from the airport. Maps on iPhone has saved my life, but I did it! First I usually figure out the way I should be walking and then start walking. That way I don’t look at my phone a lot so people don’t think that I’m a tourist. I guess I’m pretty good at it because every time I’ve traveled someone has asked me for directions because they think that I’m a local! I then have to admit that I have no idea where I’m going also 😉

Having meals alone isn’t that bad

We also picture in our minds this image of people eating alone as sad, but really it’s not. I bring a book or sit at the bar. When you sit at the bar you can usually meet other people there too.

You don’t get as lonely as you think

Honestly by the time the day is over I’m just ready to go to bed than socialize with people! When you are traveling you are probably going to be sight-seeing all day which means you will get tired by the time night comes. But, if you still want to go out, reach out to the people in your hostel or the front desk to see of any bar crawls going on.

You’ll be happy you didn’t miss out on seeing a new city!

I think this is the biggest one. I’m always so happy that I got to see a new city and experience everything about it. What if I didn’t go just because I was going alone, I would have never got to experience it. So lesson of the story is- GO FOR IT!

If you’re interested in seeing my two trips (so far) that I went solo you can read them: HERE(Prague) and HERE(Copenhagen).

Have you ever traveled alone? What was your experience or favorite thing?

 

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6 Beauty Products I Can’t Travel Without

6 Beauty Products I Can't Travel Without

Makeup and traveling is tricky. You wan’t to bring everything, but you don’t have room and sometimes you don’t even end up wearing it. After taking some weekend trips I have figured out the products I can’t travel without! These are my go-to things and are also super easy.

6 Beauty Products I Can’t Travel Without

  1. Concealer: I really like Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. It is thick and covers what you need it to without being too much! Usually I will just wear concealer and not any other face makeup.
  2. Sunscreen: Lately I have really been into sunscreen. I have come to realize that being wrinkle and cancer-free is much more important than tan! I mix sunscreen and my coconut oil moisturizer together in the morning. I currently us ACO sun face fluid that is also mattifying.
  3. Mascara: My favorite all time mascara is Better Than Sex by Too Faced!
  4. Wave Spray: I love love love OUIA products and especially their wave spray. I once got a sample of it and fell in love! It isn’t too heavy and is a super easy way to get beach waves without the beach.
  5. ColorPop Ultra Blotted Lip: When matte lipstick came out I was allll about it, and I still am! I am the type of person to mess with my lipstick until it comes off, but with matte lipstick I leave it alone. I love this color, Zuma, it is a perfect daytime lip color that goes with everything.
  6. ColorPop Blotted Lip: In Sucker and it’s a color that I love. This is a light red/orange that adds a little brightness to your lips!

My daily makeup routine is super simple and easy so it makes it easier to pack and go!

What are your favorite travel beauty products?

 

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