Monday, May 7, 2012

Quick Trip List

This is more for me (so I don't forget what we did/ate etc. during the past 10 days), but here's a quick list of our latest (and greatest) European Adventure:

Day 1:
Arrive at Schipol airport at 8:00 a.m. Gaze in wonder at the hordes of Dutch people who are all at least 6 feet tall and constantly smiling.
Drive to Haarlem to wander the quaint cobble-stoned streets and eat lunch at V&P overlooking the city.
Drink 5-hour energy to stay awake and spend the rest of the afternoon jazzed and having to use the bathroom every five minutes.
Buy loads of tulips to decorate the house and drive through the surrounding tulip fields.
Eat a glorious cheese fondue dinner at Grande Cafe Batifol in Heemstede.  The cheese and bread were amazing.  There may or may not have been enough sherry in the fondue to get me a little tipsy...actually, that was most likely just the jet lag.
Fall into bed almost comatose at 9:00 p.m. and fall immediately asleep even though it was still light outside.

Day 2: 
Wake up early (but not too early) and have a lovely breakfast at Kirk & Ali's house.  (Blake's brother and sister-in-law just moved there and live in a quaint, perfect little town outside of Amsterdam called Heemstede.
Drive to The Hague and get lost several times along they way before landing in Chinatown and walking all over the city.  It was gorgeous. 
Go to Zara Home for the first time (it's been on my list for while) and lust over the linens.
Drive back to Heemstede for a quick rest.
Spend the rest of the day at Zandvoort on the beach on the North Sea.
Enjoy a beautiful dinner at The Beach Club in Zandfoort and walk along the boardwalk at sunset.

Day 3: 
Wake up to the most beautiful weather and drive to Keukenhof in Lisse.
Spend the next four hours absolutely mesmerized by the beautiful tulips, rolling hills, and streams of the Keukenhof.
Leave Keukenhof around 1:00 when the garden went from "pleasantly busy" to "unbearably crowded."
Head back to Heemstede for lunch and walk around the town while dodging bikes (they have the right of way over cars and pedestrians in the Netherlands!) and enjoying the karaoke-singing, orange-clad Dutch as they celebrated Queen's Day.
Eat dinner at a local pancake house where I got the most glorious brie/bacon/chives pancake (yep, pancake) I've ever had.

Day 4:
Blake's Birthday!  (Isn't he lucky: this year his birthday was in The Netherlands, last year it was in Paris and Venice!)
Drive into Amsterdam and get lost several times trying to get off the right exit (freeways in Europe are so confusing!  Especially when all of the signs are in Dutch and are about a hundred letters long with plenty of t's and z's and virtually un-pronounceable).
Navigate through the Queen's Day refuse from the city-wide party the day before.  Try to convince Blake that the last time I was there I thought Amsterdam was the cleanest European city I'd ever been to.  (This convincing didn't go well as we were mucking through beer cans, pot, and overflowing urianals on the street, and floating garbage piles in the canals- gross!).
Boat tour on the canals.
Visit the Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum.
Dinner at La Via where we got the most amazing housemade pasta and the tiniest glasses of coca lite that I've ever paid $3.00 for.  Darn you Europeans and your lack of re-fills or free tap water.
Cake with fresh fruit and chocolate sauce at home and a surprise gift for Blake.

Day 5:
Amsterdam again.  Fewer detours on the way there.  A LOT less garbage and far fewer overflowing urinals.  Blake starts to understand why I loved Amsterdam so much in the first place.
Several hours in the Van Gogh museum where I steathily take a picture of my favorite - The Peach Trees without getting caught.
Another canal boat tour - even more beautiful without all of the stinky floating garbage.
Dinner at Nobel in Haarlem where I had the most beautiful filet of Red Perch I've ever had.

Day 6:
Wake up, have breakfast, and get in the car to drive to Paris.
Drive 5 short hours through the misty fields of The Netherlands, the rolling hills of Belgium and the blooming mustard fields of Northern France.
Arrive in Paris to the most glorious 70-degree, blue-skied day Paris has ever seen.
Check into our beautiful, pricelined hotel - the Melia Alexandre Boutique Hotel in the 16th and wander up the street to the Arc de Triomphe.
Walk around the city being almost heartbroken at its beauty (you know when you're having the most beautiful day and it almost breaks your heart because you know it'll never be that perfect again?)
Grab dinner from a bakery and eat in the park.
Make our way to the Eiffel Tower and time our boat cruise perfectly so that half was during the sunset and half in the dark with the beautiful bridges all lit up.
Return from the boat tour and enjoy the once-an-hour sparkling of the Eiffel Tour amidst oohs and ahhs of the surrounding pedestrians.

Day 7:
Wake up and have a lovely breakfast of fresh pastries, bread and fruit from the bakery and grocery store.
Make our way to the Luxembourg Gardens.
Head from the gardens to the chic shopping area of the Saint Germaine and spend an hour in Hermes feeling deliciously out-of-place and trying not to touch the $5,000 dresses with my grubby tourist hands.
Walk to the Notre Dame and sit, overwhelmed by the beauty and the crowds, in the plaza at the center of Paris.
Have lunch in the Latin Quarter at the same bakery Blake and I ate at a year ago.  Consume 9 pastries between the six of us for dessert.
Visit my old school and meander the winding streets of the Marais.
Head back to the hotel, take another quick jaunt through Zara Home (I couldn't get enough of that place!), and take a short nap in our room.
Dinner at the XVIeme Avenue Cafe in the 16th.  Glorious sea bass cooked in loads of glorious butter.  I love French cooking.

Day 8:
Wake up and have another lovely bakery breakfast.
Pack up and check out of the hotel.
A quick drive to the Marchees Aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.
Antique hunting and general flea market euphoria for the next three hours.
Jump back in the car for the drive back to The Netherlands. 
Have the 5 hour drive turn into an 8 hour drive - complete with unexplained stand-still traffic getting out of Paris, several detours through tiny French and Belgian towns due to faulty directions and confusing highways, and almost running out of gas in the middle-of-nowhere Belgium and puttering into the gas station while our beeping car was running on fumes.
A late dinner at La Via again to enjoy the out-of-this world salmon pasta that is their specialty.

Day 9:
Wake up, pack, have a leisurely breakfast.  Take one last look around the neighborhood canals.
Head to the airport where we waited in the worst security line this side of JFK.  Actually...worse than JFK.  Much much worse.
Survive the 8-hour flight without tossing my cookies due to motion sickness.
Make it home at 5:00 p.m. to our jungle-like grass and piles of unread mail.

Phew. We fit a lot in. No wonder I'm tired. 


  1. "Walk around the city being almost heartbroken at its beauty (you know when you're having the most beautiful day and it almost breaks your heart because you know it'll never be that perfect again?)"

    YES. YES. YES! You put it so well.

  2. @Jane: I may or may not have started to cry a couple of times because it was so beautiful and I was so happy. I am not ashamed :)

  3. Rachel, what a fantastic trip! I enjoyed it vicariously :) You always were good at planning a trip!