Happy Monday, my friends. And happy 500th post from me! It’s hard to believe I’ve written 500 posts on this blog and the first few are quite embarrassing to re-read and I won’t even link to them for fear that you will read them. Thank you for reading and I hope you keep following along.
This past weekend we went to the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, which is the world’s largest pumpkin festival. Isn’t that crazy? We visited last year and had so much fun that we just had to visit again. And, of course, Copley had to put on her pumpkin costume!
It was awesome to cross something off my fall bucket list and walk around the gorgeous ground of the Ludwigsburg Palace, looking at all the pumpkins on display, hearing everyone call Copley “Kürbis Hund” (pumpkin dog) and enjoying the gorgeous weather.
What’s there to do at the Pumpkin Festival? Well, there’s a store with decor, pumpkin prosecco, pumpkin purees. There’s food stands all around with pumpkin ice cream, waffles, bratwurst, pumpkin soup and more. There’s a playground for children and gorgeous structures made from pumpkins.
And now for a photo dump.
On Monday I posted all about my girls weekend in Amsterdam with my best friend, Megan. Megan and I have traveled together before a lot. We’ve been to Venice, Italy, NYC twice, Chicago too many times, Stuttgart and now Amsterdam together. It’s so great to have some quality time together and it just makes me realize how wonderful it is to have great girlfriends and how precious and necessary girls weekends are.
There is just something to be said for a girls trip. I always leave them feeling incredibly content, happy and #blessed. If you are on the fence about planning a girls trip, here are 5 reasons why you should definitely do it!
1, No agenda
It’s nice to have a general idea of things to do when visiting a new place but when traveling with girlfriends, it’s nice to not have a set agenda. You are open to wake up whenever you want with no dog or kids needing your attention at the crack of dawn, you can stroll wherever you want and can stop when you find a cute little bar or restaurant.
Depending on where you go, pool or beach lounging might be the only thing on the agenda, which is no agenda. You can honestly just enjoy your vacation.
2, Life/Boy/Kid talk
There’s just something about girl talk that helps me clear my head. I love being able to talk about what’s going on in my life and hearing what’s going on in my girlfriend’s life. On my most recent trip, we talked about everything from work to where we want to live to how much we want to organize our apartments to married life and future plans for children…and admittedly, a lot of conversations about reality tv stars. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who you know won’t judge you at all, knows who you are and your background and will listen to every small detail of your life. Add in a glass of good wine and you’re all set.
3, Chill time
Sometimes life is just so hectic and we need some quiet time. Girls trips are great for relaxing, sans alarm clock and easing into the day. There’s time to read a book in the morning, enjoy coffee and not have a to-do list staring at you every five minutes. Megan and I would wake up and watch some tv while getting ready or we’d come back after sight seeing and take a quick nap before dinner. Again, no agenda and time to relax.
For one of my friend’s bachelorette parties, we went to Florida and I just happened to wake up before everyone (I think I was training for a half marathon and my body clock got up super early) and I went for a run and then had coffee and read my book on the screened in porch. It was just magic. Having time to reset is so necessary.
4, Reverting to the good ol’ days
Remember in college how you would all get ready in one room, listening to Pandora and pregaming before hitting up the bar on on Thursday night? I mean, I was studying but that’s what my friends tell me, promise, Mom! Well, there’s always at least one night on a girls trip that takes you back to the good ol’ days. If you’re staying in a hotel, it’s much easier to make this happen, but cranking up music, swapping makeup, doing your hair and asking about your outfit make getting ready usually more fun than actually going out. And then going to dance always reminds me of college and early 20’s life. It’s so nice to relive that time but, man, I do not bounce back at 29 like I did at 21.
5, Makes you a better wife, mother, person
And the number one reason you need a girls weekend is because it will make you a better wife, mother, person in general. Everyone needs time to do things that make them happy, that help keep them sane, that connect them to other women. A girls trip can include a spa weekend, an overnight stay at a fancy hotel in your hometown or even a night on the couch when someone’s husband is out of town. The thing is, it doesn’t matter what you do or where you do it, as long as you make it happen. You will come back to your normal life with more of an appreciation, more patience and love.
Do you plan girls weekends? Where did you go? What did you do?
Last week I was in Amsterdam for five days having a relaxing girls weekend with my best friend. I haven’t seen her since her wedding and we had a blast getting ready and listening to music, finding British dating shows on TV, getting in a few workouts, grabbing cocktails, eating delicious food, exploring the great city of Amsterdam and dancing the night away.
It was lovely to have time to chat, have no agenda and just spend quality time with my best friend. And Amsterdam was the perfect choice. We originally wanted to go to London but with all of the recent terror attacks, we decided to give Amsterdam a try. Megan had never been and we’ll go anywhere the housewives go! (Beverly Hills goes to Amsterdam in season 5). I thought I’d share what we did, where we went and why Amsterdam is the perfect place for a girls weekend.
We stayed at the W Amsterdam, which is in the most perfect location. It’s right smack dab in the middle of everything and we could walk everywhere we wanted to go. Our room was fantastic and we definitely utilized the on-site gym quite a few times. The products in the room were fantastic, like the in-room Nespresso machine. And we really appreciated the free water bottles and fruit. We did order some room service, which was just okay, so I would eat other places.
We chatted beforehand about all the things we wanted to do while we were there. We didn’t want to have too specific plans, we knew we wanted to hit the major sites. We visited the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum, both of which I highly recommend. The museum was great and surprisingly small and it’s where the iAmsterdam sign is, so you definitely have to get that iconic picture. Although, getting that picture is really difficult and you just have to jump in there and hope for the best, even if that means there’s lots of children in there.
A canal tour is also a must-do. We did the Friendship Amsterdam tour, which takes off in the Red Light District, because you can drink on that boat. The boat ride lasted an hour and it went by really quickly. We got to see amazing things like the skinny bridge, the leaning houses and the 7 bridges. It’s only 15 Euro and definitely worth it.
A note on the Red Light District. Vinn and I didn’t go see it when we went to Amsterdam last year, so I definitely wanted to see it this time. It’s not exactly what I pictured, like the oldest church in Amsterdam is across from the “working ladies” rooms, but it was also like I imagined. There really are women in the windows and there are a bunch of stores and clubs around, but overall it’s just another area of town. There were little kids and families eating lunch at the restaurants even. I would recommend a quick stroll through and definitely see the Old Church, it’s spectacular.
Of course shopping is a must on any girls weekend. The Jordaan district has some great trendy, boutique shops where we found some great jewelry, scarves and clothes. We also wondered through Hudson Bay, the Amsterdam department store. It’s really cool and huge!
We pretty much just woke up, ate breakfast, did a tour, worked out and then grabbed drinks before dinner. Aimlessly walking around Amsterdam is so worth it, too. Everywhere you turn is a picture-worthy moment.
Girl talk just can’t exist without some cocktails. The perfect place for this is Bubbles & Wine. It’s dark, has small plates and is known for wine and champagne flights. It’s great for a pre-dinner drink and to chat about what’s happening in life.
After dinner one night, we wanted to drink and dance, so we headed to Cafe de Paris. It’s on the main street and played the most amazing music. We had some Heinekens (for 3 Euro each!) and danced our faces off! It reminded me of college and was so much fun.
The food in Amsterdam is just amazing. (Did you see my post on the Eating Amsterdam Food Tour?) It’s a great way to try all the Dutch dishes in one day. Megan and I both love food and visiting different restaurants so we had quite a list of places we wanted to visit. Megan found a Michelin starred restaurant, Bord’eau, and we had reservations for Saturday night.
This restaurant is stunning and the service was top-notch. We chose the pre-set five course meal and just ate and ate and ate. While the food was delicious, it was definitely more about the experience than the actual dishes, which are quite fancy. It was expensive, so if you do visit, be prepared for a hefty bill.
Breakfast cafes are everywhere in Amsterdam and have some of the best food around. We visited Pluk, which had the most stunning bakery bar, and had lattes and avocado toast. And no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without some pancakes! We managed to get a reservation at Upstairs Pancakes, which the housewives visited when they went to Amsterdam, for some sweet and savory pancakes.
These pancakes were divine. And the restaurant is super small and up a flight of very steep stairs. There are only four tables, so you definitely will want to get a reservation for fear of being turned away. We downed our strawberry and cream and bacon and cheese pancakes and had to walk around for hours before getting another meal.
Stroopwaffels are also a must, I’ve shared my love for them before, and we found a little bakery that sold waffles covered in chocolate and other toppings. So yummy. A Nutella waffle is also a great snack while you’re strolling the canals.
Other dinner places to mention are: Moeders for authentic Dutch food, Mappa for Italian, De Luwte for great wine and beef and La Perla for pizza. The restaurants are absolutely amazing in Amsterdam, you will not go hungry, that’s for sure.
Amsterdam was the absolute perfect choice for a girls weekend. There’s culture, great food, great drinks and bars, plenty of things outside of the thing you normally think of when you think of Amsterdam. Thanks to Megan for taking the extremely long travel time to come hang out with me for a few days. It was so wonderful to see you, catch up and just be friends. I am so lucky to have a friend like you!
Where would you love to go on a girls trip?
When researching for fun things to do over a long weekend with my best friend in Amsterdam, different tours kept popping up. There were walking tours, brewery tours, canal tours, you name it. One that caught my eye, especially after hearing some friends rave about it, was the Amsterdam Food Tour. I mean, what’s not to love, food, drinks, history all at once? Sign me up.
Full disclosure, I reached out to Eating Amsterdam about a potential visit and they offered me a discounted ticket in exchange for this blog post. This post also contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission but the price doesn’t change for you. All opinions are my own.
There are several different tour options and I went with the most popular, the Jordaan Food and Canal Tour on my final day in Amsterdam. My friend had to take an early flight back to the States, so I hit it up alone. Tours are available from Tuesday – Saturday, departing at 10:30 AM and lasting about 4 hours. I ended up leaving around 3:30 because I was having so much fun!
What to Bring With You
My Eating Amsterdam Experience, What You’ll Eat
I arrived at the meeting spot around 10:10 AM just to make sure I would be able to find the spot. Amsterdam Food Tours sends you all the information you need in your confirmation email and in an email the day before. Our tour guide, Rene, arrived promptly at 10:30 and we got started right away.
Actually, the first stop is the meeting spot, Cafe Papenieland, where we introduced ourselves to the group, drank coffee (several people ordered Irish coffee) and learned some history of Amsterdam. The highlight of the first spot is the apple pie. Now, I am not an apple pie person but I appreciated this pie. And the whipped cream was amazing. I mean, just look at those layers! And the whipped cream was to die.
Next, we started walking, which was welcomed after eating a piece of pie. We stopped along the way to our next destination to talk about house boats, the interesting laws restaurants must abide by and other interesting Amsterdam facts. Rene was so knowledgeable and took the time to answer all of our questions, like, how big is a house boat? Quite big actually, about 200 square meters or 2,000 square feet.
Our next little tasting was at a local butcher where we tried cold, smoked beef sausage, grilled sausage, semi-dried sausage with cloves and smoked pork ham. The smoked ham was my favorite because it tastes just like prosciutto. I should point out that everything is ready and waiting for you at each stop. You can really tell that the company has built relationships with the locations and have a great rapport.
We continued to walk throughout the Jordaan district, which is so beautiful and has quite a history. Rene talked about how one of the streets used to be a canal but was built over because residents continued to fight each other and even started to fight with the police.
Our next stop brought us to a local Indonesian restaurant where the owner was right there presenting the food to us. She had chicken satay with peanut sauce and fried onions and prawn crackers and pickled root vegetables all ready for us. I actually quite liked this one, too, and I’m not a fan of food that’s on the spicy side. It was so cool to be in this small shop and get to experience food that I would never order myself.
Our next stop was a fish market store. A couple had done the tour before (so it’s perfect for repeats!) and said that this stop was his favorite, so I had high expectations. The workers at Urger Viswinkel had everything set out for us already. We tried brined herring, an Amsterdam specialty, deep fried cod and tulip vodka. The cod was the best fried fish I’ve ever had in my life and I definitely went back for second…and thirds!
Everyone loved this stop and we then made our way to the canal tour part of the day. That’s right, not only does the Amsterdam Food Tour include food and walking, it also includes about 45 minutes of a canal tour.
We hopped on “The Tourist,” which is a beautiful boat where our captain took us all around the canals of Amsterdam, giving us tidbits of history as we went through the Red Light District, the university section, through the Jordaan and back. We had some deep fried balls of veal and some beer while on board. It was a great time to sit and chat with others, ask other Amsterdam questions and to really see Amsterdam as it’s meant to be seen, from the water.
Once we docked, we headed to the last stop of the day, Cafe de Prins, where we had poffertjes (the little pancakes) and more drinks. I ordered a Heineken because when in Amsterdam. Oh my goodness, these little pancakes are amazing!! I could have eaten three plates of these and were the perfect end to the day.
Again, there was a big table ready for us and we all chatted, exchanging travel stories and really just had fun! It was hard to leave because I was having so much fun but all good things must come to an end and we all said our goodbyes and continued on with vacation.
Overall, I think this tour is the perfect way to explore and experience Amsterdam. You get to taste the food that makes Amsterdam so great, you get to learn about the history of a trendy area and get a canal cruise. The price includes all the food, drinks and the cruise. It’s definitely worth the money for sure. There are other locations throughout Europe, like London, Prague and Florence, and I absolutely want to do it again!
Thank you to Eating Amsterdam for letting me get to experience your amazing Amsterdam Food Tour at a discounted price. It was a great time!
*This post contains affiliate links.*
Vinn and I have flown with our dog, Copley, about 15 times. She’s flown on a round trip flight from Germany to Chicago and, of course, the initial flight when we first moved to Germany. Read about that experience here, it’s a good one because I flew by myself with her. Copley has been on flights to Amsterdam, Nice and Croatia, to name a few.
We are lucky because she is so small and can fly in the cabin with us. We don’t have to deal with going to cargo or worrying if the airline will forget to put her on the plane. She is with us at all times. Thank goodness. We use this airline pet carrier and have had no issues.
She is a well-behaved dog, for the most part. She barks a little bit at the beginning when we’re just taxing or about to take off and then again when we taxi after we land. I mean, I would, too, because there are a lot of weird sounds and movements that happen on a plane. But once we take off, she barely makes a sound. I forget she’s even with us. One time, she popped her head out her bag (I leave the zipper a little unzipped so I can put my hand in there if she does start barking or whining), looked around for a minute, realized we weren’t ready to take her out and went back inside. She is an angel.
Flying with a dog does have it’s drawbacks, though. It can be expensive, we don’t really get to relax because we’re walking her around the airport making sure she’s had enough exercise and we have to deal with some of interesting questions, insights and comments from other passengers. Some of them are outlandish and some are quite funny, especially now that they’re over. I thought I’d share of of the strange things that have happened to us when we’ve flown with our dog.
I’d love to hear if you have any experiences with this or other rude comments from people when traveling?
“And you aren’t going to put your dog up there?” Seriously. On our flight to Croatia, we were flying Eurowings and the plane was three seats per side of the plane. Vinn and I had the middle and aisle seat on one side. Normally, I would sit in the middle because Copley does better if people aren’t walking by her and I’m smaller, so Vinn doesn’t have to worry about sitting in the middle.
On this particular flight, a passenger is already sitting in the window seat as I start to put Copley under the seat in front of me. She looks visibly shaken, like moves out of the way so the dog won’t touch her. I just smile, waiting for her to say something. Here’s how the conversation goes:
Woman: Oh, is that a dog? I’m allergic.
I stop putting Copley under the seat and just sort of freeze trying to figure out what to do.
Woman: And you’re not going to up it up there? She points to the overhead bin.
Me: Put my dog up there? No, shaking my head with quite a bit of condescension in my voice. She’s hypoallergenic, though, and been on many flights. She will be quiet the whole time.
Woman: I mean, I’ll just be sneezing the whole time.
We summon the flight attendant to see if the other woman can trade seats with someone and ultimately determine that if Vinn sits in the middle and I sit in the aisle seat with the dog underneath, that’s fine. Apparently, being an extra three inches away from her will prevent her from sneezing.
And do you want to know something, bitch didn’t sneeze one time the entire flight.
Moral of the story: Don’t ask if I’m going to put my dog in the overhead bin. Would you want to be put up there? Would you ask a person with a baby to put their baby “up there?” No. Shut your pie hole.
I would also like to point out that 99% of the time, everyone is lovely on our flights with our dog. People come up wanting to pet her or don’t even realize she’s there until we let her out at baggage claim. This particular woman was just super crabby. She even yelled at a flight attendant for giving her soda water when she wanted a diet soda. She was not pleasant and is the reason Americans get a bad rap.
“Oh, is there a dog on here? That’s not going to work.” This happened while on a trip back to Germany from Chicago. We were boarding, Copley barked a little bit because babies were crying and people were moving around quickly. A woman a couple of rows back says, quite loudly, “Is there a dog on here? Well, that’s just not going to work.” Again with this attitude like my dog is a huge inconvenience for her. So, I said, “No, that’s me,” very, very sarcastically. She gave me the death stare, I gave her one back and then we went about our flight. Copley did not make a sound the rest of the flight. The intercontinental flight. With at least 4 screaming babies.
I do get it, no one wants to hear a dog barking for 8 or 9 hours, I don’t either. Vinn and I do everything we can to make sure Copley behaves while we are flying and traveling in general.
“Aww, look at your dog!” This is the majority of what we hear when we bring Copley to the airport. Most people see her cute face and instantly smile. She brings joy wherever she goes!
“Your dog did so well.” Several flight attendants have stopped me to say what a great job Copley did on the flight. Then they tell me some horror story of a dog barking or whining the entire time. I imagine this is what parents feel like when their children behave or exceed in school. It makes me feel so good when she behaves and then to get complimented on it is extra special.
Overall, flying with Copley isn’t a bad experience and getting to visit all these amazing places with her is just the best. If you are traveling with your dog, please be prepared for some people to say some nasty things to you and for others to obsess over how cute she is. I like to realize how funny some of these things are and that she is a great dog. Plus, I know I’ll never see these people again, so who cares!
Have you ever flown with your dog or child and had someone say something nasty or judgmental to you? How did you handle it?