Koninginnedag!

For all the Amsterdammers celebrating Koninginnedag (or Queen’s Day) – Enjoy! It was one of my favorite days last year and one of the many reasons why the Netherlands is the best. It is a national holiday where the streets and canals are filled with orange-wearing revelers eating, drinking and blasting music all day long. For reasons unknown (other than the Dutch royalty likely having a contract with Mother Nature herself), there is always beautiful weather on Queen’s Day. Here are some pictures I took last year.

Queen's Day, Amsterdam

Queen’s Day, Amsterdam

Queen's Day, Amsterdam

Queen’s Day, Amsterdam

Queen's Day, Amsterdam

Queen’s Day, Amsterdam

Wish I could do this again! Guess I’ll just wear my orange today to pay tribute.

Party on.

xxx

P.S. Here is the original photo gallery I posted last year.

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What is love?

Leave it to kids to remind us that things can really be quite simple. I’m completely enamored with this video. Dare you to watch it and not smile. Enjoy.

xxx

Happy Holidays

Hi friends. As you know, our expat life came to an abrupt end and we have been busy enjoying this time with our families and friends. Sorry I haven’t posted anything in awhile. I miss it and want to get back on track.

Since we are no longer expats, I have to think about the direction of this blog and the stories I share. We may not be living abroad anymore, but I like to think our life is still pretty interesting. We have a cross country move on the horizon. A house to buy. A life to get on with. New things to do, more places to see. You get what I’m saying.

I’ll be back soon to share some happenings from the past two months. There’s been a lot.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wish you all a truly happy holiday. We have taken much comfort being surrounded by family and friends and have realized, with new and profound perspective, how special these relationships are.

Cherish each other this holiday season and always.

With love,
Julie

Road trip: Swiss Hits and (mostly) Misses

See what I did there? Switzerland was, overall, a big miss in my book. But let me explain…

After driving through the Alsace, we realized we were pretty close to Basel, Switzerland and decided to check another new country off our list. As we crossed the border, we were stopped. Customs check, right? Passports, car insurance, etc? Nope. Just needed to hand over €40 for a highway sticker. Just to drive on the roads. And thus began our expensive journey through Switzerland.

The thing is, I don’t mind paying good money (whatever that means) when something is worth it. The problem with Switzerland is that I felt the value of what I was getting was far, far less than the money I was paying for it. Commercialism there is, quite franc-ly, a huge rip off. One hundred and fifty Swiss Francs for a musty hotel room in a nondescript town with sheets that look like they’d been there since the 70’s? Forty Francs for a 6-pack of beer, and a few vegetables for a campsite dinner? How about thirty Francs for one portion of fondue (melted cheese and cut up raw vegetables) at a touristic “chalet”? What about four Francs for a small beer? Same for a plain, filter coffee. Or my favorite, how about paying 70 Francs for a “thermal bath” experience at Thermal Centre Yverdon-Les-Bains, only to find out it’s for the geriatric set and we were the only couple there for leisure purposes (everyone else appeared to need rehabilitation)? Here is the misleading website. That wins for most awkward morning of the trip, especially since the saunas were co-ed and nudity “encouraged.” Reminder: We were the only people under the age of 70. …No Francs. Get it? Additionally, the camping throughout Switzerland was the worst we experienced throughout the two weeks. Campsites were poorly equipped and terribly located; One night we were directly next to a loud highway and the other we were quite literally in someone’s backyard. Unbelievable, disappointing, and downright pitiful for a country that claims to be the greatest outdoor experience on earth.

Now, Switzerland does have its charms. Gorgeous, dramatic scenery is around every curve of the road. Cities like Bern (lovely, despite the strange Bear Park), lakefront towns like Montreux & Lucerne (the lakes are stunningly beautiful) and tiny villages like Gruyere (most fake real place I’ve ever seen) are all very pleasant to look at and stroll around. Matterhorn? Eiger? The Aletsch Glacier? (which cost 80 Francs to see). Mother Nature at her finest, certainly. And, it’s one of the best places to master manual driving (as I did, woo hoo!).

We stayed a night at La Tour-de-Peilz on Lake Geneva (next to the highway), another in Interlaken (in someone’s backyard- good morning!), and a third in no-big-deal Sarnen (the scary hotel room). The hotel was, franc-ly (hah), out of desperation as we booked it around 9pm and we didn’t want to camp in heavy rain. Because of the ridiculous expensiveness, we didn’t have a single meal in a restaurant. Unless you count Tak Rai, a Thai take out place in Lucerne that somehow earned a good review on Lonely Planet. For microwave-sized portions, our “cheap” take out dinner for two was 39 Francs. …No Francs.

Still glad we went. Just not sure if I’ll be returning anytime soon. I sort of hate it. Here are some pics that might convince you it’s worth it.

Ahead: Paragliding in Interlaken. That adventure needs its own post.

xxx

Walking on a dream

Happy October everyone! I, for one, cannot believe it’s already October. What happened to September? My life has been a bit of a tornado lately…

Speaking of tornadoes, we just got back from an epic two week road trip through Europe. No plans, just a sense of adventure.  Here is a little photo montage I put together of it. These are edited down for time, but as you can see we take LOTS of pictures. Will be sharing specifics soon, but I thought this was a fun way to sum it up. What is your favorite part? Mine a tie with the gondolas in Venice (love how Jaro shot that) and those kraut fries. Haha. Let me know what you think! Might start doing this with all our trips.

Have a good Monday, pals.

xxx