Monday, July 29, 2013

{Backpacking Through Europe: Amsterdam}

excerpts from my travel journal 
Amsterdam: The city where everything is acceptable. The city full of life. The city with far more bicycles than vehicles {and honestly I would've been more scared to ride a bike than drive a car}.  This city was absolutely beautiful. Amsterdam was full of old buildings, more canals than Venice, and full of history. Amsterdam is marvelous. 

We arrived at  CocoMama hostel on June 19th. This hostel was AMAZING. It was run by young women that were all about having fun and encouraged you to live it up in Amsterdam. We walked in and were automatically welcomed. The young woman gave us a map, told us everything we needed to know about the city and lead us to our room. 

In our hostel, each room was "themed" we got the red light district room. sexy. Be thankful I did not post a picture of all of the naked women that was plastered all over the walls! The four of us each had a bunk bed. This was probably the nicest hostel we stayed in. We had a private bathroom and didn't realize we took for granted how big our shower was. 

After we freshened up at our hostel, we ventured down the streets of Amsterdam for some food. We went to Leidse Plein for dinner. Many places close around 9:00 so we had to find something quick. Our dinner was AMAZING but we paid a pretty penny for it! Our first dinner cost 45 EURO!
Go ahead and get used to seeing that sexy headband....

The next morning, June 20th we took a stroll through Albert Cuyp Market-- one of the largest open air markets. we ate these delicious mini pancakes. Talk about deliciousness!

After going to the market we decided to get some real food and go hang out in Vondel Park. This is a great place for people watching and getting a feel of the local culture.

Later that night, we went on a pubcrawl with our hostel. SO MUCH FUN! Our guide took us through the red light district, which was a lot different than I expected it to be. I didn't take pictures because apparently they throw pee on you if you take their picture. gross.  We also paid a pretty penny for the pub crawl, stayed out way too late, danced our booties off, but most of all made some fun memories that night!

The next morning, June 21, we slept until NOON, guess our bodies were not adjusted to the time change yet. We took a tour of the Anne  Frank Haus, which was kind of disappointing. Every one said "you HAVE to tour the Anne Frank House..." Well we did and we were disappointed. We couldn't take pictures and the house was turned in to a museum and all of the originals were ripped out of the house. All we had to look at were some messily old pictures. Blah.
We were too tired from the night before that we went to the market, bought some items for dinner, and cooked at our hostel.

June 22: TRAVEL DAY: we woke up , packed, and headed to breakfast at the Pancake Carousel. YUM!!

Bye Bye CocoMama!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

{Backpacking Through Europe: One Bag}

I haven't blogged in FOR EV ER! Main reason being we traveled to Europe this summer for three weeks!!

Europe? Sounds expensive just saying that word. When we decided we were going to make the trip to Europe for three weeks of the summer 2013, the cheapest way possible would be to backpack. Backpack? ME? Ok on a weekend trip I pack an entire suitcase and another bag of toiletries. How in the world was I going to pack for THREE WEEKS in one bag?

We did an extensive amount of research, looked at a lot of blogs on how to pack for a backpacking trip. 
The easiest thing we found was to pack basics. Boring, I know, but functional. 

Here is what would would have found in my bag

4 solid shirts with sleeves
1 long sleeve shirt
2 tank tops
1 dress
2 pair of shorts
1 pair of work out shorts and top
1 maxi skirt
1 cardigan
1 raincoat 
4 {yes only 4} pair of quick dry undies
1 bathing suit
1 pair of light weight pjs
1 sheer scarf
and 1 pair of jeans. 

We also had to make room for some non-clothing items. 

We packed a cocoon and PRAISE THE LORD we did! This thing was a lifesaver--a must have on your packing list. You see, we stayed in hostels. I will hardly sleep in a hotel and let my face touch the pillow there, much less a hostel. This coccoon was a like a sleeping bag but just a tiny, thin, sheet. Perfect for the summer! And it had a little insert for a pillow so you didn't have to lie directly on a pillow that wasn't yours.

Another must have for a backpacking adventure is this REI quick dry towel. Looking back, I wish we bought the XL towel so that it would've covered more of our body, but whatever, we lived. The hostels we stayed in did not supply a bath towel so we were very thankful we took these.

Shower Shoes!!! Put that on the top of your list! If you are staying in a hostel, you will be thankful you had these!!

1 pair of tennis shoes and 1 pair of chacos. I took TOMs but they got soaking wet in Pairs and smelled SO BAD that I ended up just throwing them away. 

Laundry sheets--these little sheets were PERFECT considering the fact we each took only 4 pair of unmentionables. We could wash them, hang them on the line, and they were dry before we left for the next city!

A platypus water bladder. Honestly, we could have left this thing at home. The one thing it was good for was the long plane and train rides!! However, when we were walking around the cities we just purchased 1L of water.

Make up--the basics

Hair Accessories--2 head bands and a fedora. THAT IS IT. I didn't even take a brush. Not because I didn't want to, I honestly forgot to pack it. Yes, I didn't brush my hair for 3 straight weeks. 

I got all of that in a 22 lb pack!!